This interview was originally published by “club Zy.” in Japanese. JROCK NEWS is partnering with club Zy. with the aim to popularize Japanese visual kei globally. Learn more about our partnership here.

In this episode of the extremely popular program “Izakaya Hakuei”, broadcasted on March 11, it features a special guest from the same agency as HAKUEI himself, Kiryuin Shou from the band Golden Bomber! As expected, the energy in the room ran high during this explosive talk. Before the broadcast however, the two arranged some time to chitchat.

From their first meeting to private discussions, we had the chance to listen to them talking about each other, exchanging valuable stories. With two vastly different personalities, what kind of thoughts will be revealed? Look forward to it!

“When I went to the office the first time, someone told me ‘PENICILLIN is currently in the recording studio just below us’, all I thought was ‘You liar!'” —Kiryuin Shou

It may be a bit late to ask… But when did you two meet for the first time?

Kiryuin Shou: More than 10 years ago. We met just as my band Golden Bomber entered the label’s office.

HAKUEI: Time flies, doesn’t it [bitter laughs]? 10 years sounds really long, but as you get older, our sense of time changes and feels shorter, don’t you think? It feels like time passes a lot slower when you’re 10 years old until around 20, but after that, time seems to fly by.

So Kirishou (Kiryuin Shou), you mean you met HAKUEI at the same time you joined the company?

HAKUEI: They came to the office for a meeting, right?

Kiryuin Shou: Ah, yes indeed. Before joining the company we went there to hear out their offer.

HAKUEI: Yes! This is the day we met. My band PENICILLIN was recording in the basement studio. At that time, Golden Bomber wasn’t popular yet, but we had heard of them.

Kiryuin Shou: We were totally unknown [bitter laughs].

HAKUEI: The manager of PENICILLIN at that time was sometimes called in by Euclid (the company Golden Bomber is affiliated to) and helped out with machine’s activities (the duo project by HAKUEI and Kiyoshi).

He really loved Golden Bomber and recommended them to me saying “HAKUEI, you will love them for sure!”. He added that “They cook and eat yakiniku during their guitar solo!”, so I thought “What the hell? I need to see that!”.

Kiryuin Shou: At the time, we were looking for a suitable label and were in contact with several of them. However, this time around the company told us “PENICILLIN is currently in the recording studio just below us”. All I thought was “You liar!” [bitter laughs].

Actually, at first we were suspicious of the company [laughs]. We had never heard of it before so we wondered if it was really safe. Moreover, there are many nasty rumors about record labels circulating in the music industry, stories about stealing money etc.

Anyway, nowadays our company is really helpful but yes, back then we were doubtful so there was no way that PENICILLIN could be so close to us! They asked us “Do you guys want to go say hi?”, and we thought that would be amazing if it was true, so we went down and there they were, oozing off this aura, they were the real deal…

HAKUEI: [Big laughter]

Kiryuin Shou: We were terrified, all of us. They were all wearing sunglasses so they looked even more intimidating. On our way back, we were so shocked that we asked our bassist Jun Utahiroba—who knows a lot about bands—if they were fake, and he said  “They were real… The tattoo on his neck!”.

HAKUEI: [Big laughter]

Kiryuin Shou: “This was the real PENICILLIN! That’s crazy! Let’s join that company!”, so we did [laughs]. It’s all thanks to HAKUEI!

HAKUEI: No way [laughs]. But I had heard a lot about you during this period, so I was really happy that you joined.

Do you also remember the moment when Golden Bomber came to the studio to greet you, HAKUEI?

HAKUEI: I do! Actually, I was interested in them. Since they joined Euclid, we met quite often at the office. One day, Kirishou gave me a self-made DVD which included highlight moments.

Kiryuin Shou: Ah, the live DVD right? At that time we had to make it ourselves and sell them. We sold them for 1,500 yen.

HAKUEI: I brought it back home and watched it while having a drink, and I thought “What the hell is this?” [laughs]. They even carefully created some special content.

Kiryuin Shou: Well, they were mostly videos of us fooling around [bitter laughs].

HAKUEI: Wasn’t there a video of you guys jumping into a river?

Kiryuin Shou: There was! I was fighting with our guitarist Kyan Yutaka by the riverside, we were just acting. Kyan Yutaka was mad at me and set me on fire, so I jumped into the river, that kind of thing.

This is quite extreme [bitter laughs]. Kids, please don’t imitate them, ok?

Kiryuin Shou: These were bonus footage. I don’t really understand why it was “special” though.

HAKUEI: It was hilarious though [bitter laughs]. After watching the whole thing, I had another go.

Kiryuin Shou: At that time, the manager of PENICILLIN kept saying “HAKUEI loves eccentric things. So I’m sure he will love Golden Bomber”. But I assumed that was a bit too much—even for you. Anyway, we were quite an indecent band back then… Well, we haven’t really changed much [bitter laughs]. But indeed, I think we can be considered an eccentric band.

HAKUEI: I think so too. Although, whenever I go see Golden Bomber live, every time I’m like “Stop it with these half-assed jokes” [bitter laughs].

“In Kirishou’s case, I thought going drinking with him might be interesting.” —HAKUEI

HAKUEI, you seem to have a particular power that attracts people to you, or should I say your life is full of many accidental encounters. Even with the ramen shop “Ginza Hakuei” that you are managing, you unexpectedly met that handsome man who became the shop manager.

HAKUEI: Ah indeed, maybe I have a lot of that kind of opportunity.

Kiryuin Shou: When I’m with HAKUEI, I sometimes wonder if I had that kind of attractive aura around me, I think I’d end up being much more cautious and suspicious of people. This kind of feeling makes me realize HAKUEI is much more experienced than me in that area.

That means you are skilled in avoiding danger!

Kiryuin Shou: Not only attracting people, I think HAKUEI also has the ability to repel bad people.

HAKUEI: Ah, I’m happy to hear that.

I think you are the kind of person who follows his own intuition, HAKUEI.

HAKUEI: I just think that I can simply draw a line between what I like and what I dislike.

It’s just my personal impression, but compared to HAKUEI who follows his intuition and gives priority to his feelings, you seem to be more the type of person who tends to carefully analyze things around you, Kirishou.

Kiryuin Shou: Ah, yes it’s true. I usually think in a down-to-earth way [bitter laughs].

But despite these differences, it’s really interesting to see that your preferences are quite similar. What brought you closer together in your opinion?

Kiryuin Shou: What could it be… But you know, since I met HAKUEI, he hasn’t changed in the slightest. Despite him not really knowing where we came from, he was always speaking to us politely and with respect, like the time he told us that our DVD was funny.

HAKUEI: Although, after our encounters at the office, about a year after that, we didn’t have a lot of chances to talk. Actually, I am not really the kind of person who hangs out with younger artists. Of course I would gladly share a drink with them if we met by accident in a bar, but in Kirishou’s case, I thought going drinking with him might be interesting.

Your natural intuition again [laughs]!

HAKUEI: Exactly [laughs]. But seriously, I usually don’t invite people to hang out. But we were in the same company, and Golden Bomber’s performance in Budokan had been decided, I guess it was around that time that their manager gave me his contact address, and we had a meal together. That day, we drank quite a lot [bitter laughs]. Kirishou didn’t specifically ask to go drinking but he started drinking like a fish, so I followed him and got dead drunk. So drunk, I forgot my jacket in that shop and went home [laughs].

Kiryuin Shou: I wonder why we drank that much [bitter laughs].

So, I guess it was a “date”?

HAKUEI: That was it, I think.

Kiryuin Shou: At that time, I never really hung out with more established bands. And there was our common acquaintance Tatsuo (guitarist of the band “everset” who also had a hand in the composing and arranging of Golden Bomber songs). One day, we were asked to play as the opening act for one of everset’s shows. At the end of it, we were invited to our first after-party and for the first time, I drank beer from a bucket.

Bands from the old days usually do after-parties, don’t they [laughs]?

Kiryuin Shou: I was never forced, when I drink, it is my choice. Drinking with people older than me has always been like that, doing as I pleased.

HAKUEI: Is that so [laughs]. Now that you say it, the first time we drank together, you were like “Let’s drink!” while raising your glass high [laughs]. I remember we laughed a lot.

Kiryuin Shou: HAKUEI is definitely not the kind of person who would force you to drink. I just do what I want.

So, you don’t really remember what you’ve talked about that day [bitter laughs]?

HAKUEI: There was something I personally wanted to ask Kirishou. I was questioning him as it was an interview, like “Why did you think of such thing?”.

But you just don’t remember details.

Kiryuin Shou: Lost forever in alcohol [laughs].

HAKUEI: I remember I asked him about more concrete subjects, but I can’t really talk about it here [laughs]. They were so outstanding and popular, and at the same time being so “underground”. This is the key point. They made their way to Zepp Tokyo with a bang and I thought that was the kind of band that could continue this way for years. They jumped into this world in such a flexible way, all I could think was “Amazing!”.

Kirishou, you said that HAKUEI hasn’t changed the slightest since you met him, but what kind of person did you think he was before then?

Kiryuin Shou: At first glance, he looks kind of rough, don’t you think? When I greeted him for the first time, I was so nervous that I didn’t even really remember how polite he was. We attended a few of his shows and then around the third time we went to greet him backstage, I finally realized how incredibly polite he was! When I talked about him to his acquaintances, or simply to people who greeted him in the past, all of them told me “Yeah, HAKUEI is a real gentleman!”.

What if people were to do the same thing to you? [Laughs]

Kiryuin Shou: Exactly. That’s why I really should be more like him. If a much younger person came to greet me for the first time, I would probably say something like “Oh, thanks bro” in the most casual way possible. But HAKUEI would address them properly and speak politely. I really feel like I need to follow his example.

HAKUEI: Well, I look scary, that’s a fact [bitter laughs]. So if I don’t make an effort to be polite, people wouldn’t approach me [laughs].

Kiryuin Shou: I see. Your politeness comes from your grim appearance… It’s a pretty sad story [bitter laughs].

HAKUEI: I wouldn’t say it’s forced though.

Kiryuin Shou: As for me, I wanted to be in a band and I dived into this world, so I think a grim style actually looks cool, there’s no problem looking scary. But I was surprised to realize that you weren’t.

That’s the end of the first part of the interview! Come back next week where we’ll find out about the unnerving surgery both HAKUEI, and Kiryuin Shou had to go through. To keep yourself update, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Part 2: Interview with HAKUEI and Kiryuin Shou (Golden Bomber): Undergoing surgery

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Original article:

Interviewer: Atsushi Kaie (club Zy.)

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