Saturday, August 1, 2015

Personal Interview - Jojo - ZEAL LINK Free Paper vol.023

THE GALLO Jojo, Vocals
Interview by Takayuki Murakami
Translated by Ku

―A little time has passed since the release of your new single, "INCUBUS." Now, looking at it again, how do you feel it is as a work?
Jojo: "INCUBUS" is a work that was made with a theme of returning to the start, and I think it turned out like that. When played at lives, too, the title track, "INCUBUS," is that way for sure. At lives, we incorporate a performance that uses plates and spoons. That included, now I'm able to present the things that I'd wanted to do since I formed THE GALLO. The fan's response is good, too, and it's become a song that's crucial to THE GALLO.

―A return to the start is right. Speaking of that, could you tell us about your musical background?
Jojo: When I was a kid I always played soccer. I liked soccer so much that I thought I might like to go to the UK in the future. But, when I was 15 I suffered a setback. That's when I found music, and headed down the road of delinquency (laugh). At the time I really liked Kiyoharu-san and I had his posters and clippings up in my room. I really liked him; he's someone who hugely influenced me, and even now I'm grateful. If not for him I feel like I probably wouldn't be in music.

―So he's someone who guided your life. There are a lot of people who start to learn guitar when they're awakened to rock music, but were you a vocalist from the beginning?
Jojo: I had no skill, and in those days I didn't feel like I wanted to play an instrument. I thought I definitely wouldn't be able to do it. With singing, my mother's hobby was singing and my grandmother also liked to sing. Since I was raised in that kind of environment I naturally felt like I'd sing, too.

―Coming into music from that, how did you create your own style?
Jojo: I'm a contrarian. The reason for that was in my environment as a kid. My household has a lineage in jobs related to civil engineering, which started with my great grandfather's generation. So from the time I was born I was raised as the fourth generation, and I couldn't help but dislike it. No matter what I just couldn't adopt the idea of walking the path a parent chose for me. Besides, my grandfather was a general contractor, so he drove a nice car, and even though my school was super close he'd drive me. When he did, the teachers would say things like "he came to school in a Benz..." I really hated that, too. From the rebellious spirit I had towards my family, I started thinking I wanted to walk my own path in life, and I just kept moving forward from there, and started thinking I had to be different from everyone else. This is also reflected in my music, and I think it's naturally established my individuality.

―As a listener, were you also the type who looked for things that no one else listened to?
Jojo: I feel like I had an attitude of wanting to go different places than other people. I started with Kiyoharu-san and rushed into punk. Western punk, like the Sex Pistols and Rancid. When I was in high school I saw the Sex Pistols' movie, "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," it had an impact on me, and I thought 'this is all there is.' I felt that music and fashion and piercings are all symbols of rebellion. After that, I studied punk music from the '70s to modern.

―So you were drawn to the rebellious mentality of punk music. In addition to musicianship, the gloomy and grotesque have become characteristic of your lyrics, too.
Jojo: That's also rebellion, absolutely. When I started writing lyrics, thought they should make people uncomfortable, that they should be rejected by people. So when I started writing, I was harsher than I am now. I have a feeling it wasn't on a level to draw people in. Regarding the worldview of my lyrics, I often hear that there are hints of books or movies in them, but I don't watch movies or TV or look at books. Since there's no environment where my surroundings inspire me, I don't even know where the scenes I conjure in my lyrics come from. I think that's just typical of me, but I've been alone since I was little. I was raised by a single mother, but she was never at home. There was that, and my grandfather would give me anything I wanted. So I earnestly liked playing with my toys by myself. It was only through that that I could forget my loneliness. And so I was always considering how to play alone, and about what kinds of worlds to create. That was the kind of kid I was, so I think I'm better than most people at creating my own worlds. I have the feeling that that's reflected in the lyrics I write.

―So you had a strong imagination. But aren't your recent lyrics surprisingly poppy, even with a gloomy worldview?
Jojo: Because even I grew up (laugh). The foundation is the same as in the past, but lately you could say I want my cues to be more easily understood. What should I say... From my point of view, almost all the lyrics out there look like nothing more than stiff, formal writing. I think that those that can be called brilliant are few and far between. When it comes to competing with them as a lyricist, your cues have to be easy to understand. Now, I'm groping for how to express my own worlds.

―Like being in the process of changing and still preserving the core. The new single, "SUCCUBUS," will be released on August 8th; what kind of work will it be?
Jojo: When we made the previous work, "INCUBUS," I chose the theme of a male dream demon, so I was thinking for the next one I'd portray a female dream demon. We'd decided at that point to put out a live house limited release, so I thought it'd be fun to have continuity. There isn't an INCUBUS and a SUCCUBUS, but they're both the same. To men, it manifests as SUCCUBUS, and to women, it manifests as INCUBUS. So, I'd wanted to make a paired work. When I was looking for something that could compete with "INCUBUS" in the existing track, I listened to the original melody that Kaede-kun made, and thought that that was it. "SUCCUBUS" came from that and then took shape.

―The chorus with its decadent, super high-speed beat and instrument parts are impressive. Coupled with it are two songs: the heavy "Shinigami -THANATOS-" and the exotically impressive "Nemurigami -HYPNOS-."
Jojo: "Shinigami -THANATOS-" is a song that was on the "Kokkeiron" album that we put out before. The guitar played on the album was before Wajow-kun joined the band. So even though we'll run out of stock [of the album] soon, we weren't thinking about making another pressing. So then we decided to re-record "Shinigami -THANATOS-" with the current members. But, I've rewritten the lyrics. At first I thought it'd be best to leave the original lyrics, but after looking really, really closely, I started feeling like I couldn't stomach it. I don't know what the other members think, but I think that just leaving it as it was before for a re-recording is no good. So I decided to rewrite it. I really touched it up, and this time the "Shinigami -THANATOS-" in me is complete.

―I get the impression that you're picky about lyrics.
Jojo: I am. But I've also been getting tired of it, including with "Nemurigami -HYPNOS-." It's like... somehow it's always about killing people (laugh). I have a feeling this kind of thing's a little unusual. I hear that my specialty is flow that I've had up through now, and both "SUCCUBUS" and "Shinigami -THANATOS-" are more relaxed in that regard, I think. I get the impression it's good now.

―Again, there's an indication that you're going to a different place. What kind of tour can we expect from THE GALLO's six metropolitan tour, "THE INCUBUS CIRCUS," which will carry out "SUCCUBUS?"
Jojo: It's based on the word "challenge." When there are a lot of lives, it's really hard to to create something myself that feels special. But I don't think that's good. First of all, it's no good to think things like "today's not a one-man so it's okay not to push it," or "it's not a one-man so it's okay to go to bed late the day before." It may be a one-man, or it may be a live with other bands, but more than just standing on stage I want to make the time special for myself. It's impossible to make the fans feel that way if I don't first think it's special, myself. I consider how I can put that into practice on a regular basis, and since I try different things, every live I reflect on different things as a participant, too. So for this summer tour it's not that it's because they're one-mans, but it's about the challenge of making each and every live something special. Aside from that, I'm taking on everything, like thinking of the people coming to see us, the content of the lives, and that we're having one-mans in places for the first time.

―We have high hopes. After the tour on September 12th, there will also be an in-store event at Shibuya ZEAL LINK.
Jojo: We're all talking about the in-store event, too. Since the in-store for "SUCCUBUS" in September will only happen once, we want to make it a special day. At the "INCUBUS" in-store, I got to sing in a space for acoustic lives. I don't know if I'll sing again in September, but I'd like to do something that surprises everyone.

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