Tuesday, May 29, 2012
[Interview] Killie - July 2007
5 years ago, the zine Give Me Back was just starting up, and Killie was preparing to release their After All... LP on the world. I conducted an interview to submit to the zine with Yoshi, who translated for the other guys in the band. What followed can be generally labeled as a clusterfuck. I rushed the interview to make the deadline for the zine, they decided not to publish it, I got really pissed. Yoshi and the other members were upset, but seemed to take it in stride. I, however, was caught in the middle, feeling like it was my fault and trying to deal with both sides. It really sucked. Killie's response to the debacle can be read here: http://killie.jp/archives/interview_july_2007.html. I thought it might be fitting to just publish the email exchange, though. It was a pretty rough time for me, as I'd just come back from touring Europe with Cease Upon the Capitol, and was trying to figure out what to do with my life. Looking back, I wonder if I could've handled it differently, asked different questions, pushed a bit harder. Either way, it's in the past now, and all I have are these memories. I'm throwing in a jump break, cause this thing is really long. Enjoy!
Killie Interview - July 2007
It’s hard to understand the importance of a band like Killie without a little understanding of the history of the Japanese hardcore/punk scene. Unlike here in the States, they don’t have a history marked by great independent show spaces, or bands bucking the system and still becoming huge. The hardcore/punk scene has always been stuck in the underground, a mere counter-culture. Most Japanese males grow out of it, put on a suit, and forget they were ever at a sweaty club listening to great music. With all of Japan’s freedoms and its “peaceful” society, it’s surprising how hostile it is towards the DIY ethic in the underground.
Most of the Japanese bands that have been around for as long as I’ve been noticing aren’t extremely politically/socially active. Sure, they’ll have some anti-war lyrics, talking about something personal or some problem with society, but rarely does the band expand on these ideas.
It also seems that since I left Japan, the scene has gotten worse than before. I can remember going to incredible shows at practice spaces with 20 people, stuck in a sound proofed room with a great band playing their hearts in front of you. This was a close-knit scene. Apparently, the scene has risen in popularity and the ethics were lost. We can see parallels in the USA with things like Hot Topic, Victory Records, mall punk kids, etc.
And then, along comes Killie, from the ashes of many great Japanese bands. They’re out to change things no matter what people think.
I really enjoyed doing this interview. It is definitely the most interesting conversation I’ve ever had with a Japanese band. And, apologies for when the grammar gets a little difficult, I tried my best to make it as clear as possible.
Check Killie out at: http://killie.jp/
Ryan: First of all, tell me a little about killie. Members, history, etc. Also, how do your pronounce Killie, and what does it mean?
Hirotatsu: Before I start answering questions, I just want to explain why we decided to do this interview. Basically our band doesn't do any domestic or uninteresting interviews. We haven't answered to a single one yet. We are answering to this one because it's being published oversea and we are very concerned with the people and contents involved with this interview. There are very few zines or free magazines that exist here in Japan, and from my point of view, all of them lack the quality of content like the dense zines that might exist in your country. Most of the zines and free magazines we see here in Japan have only half page interviews, filled with a bunch of shitty contents like, "Yeah, I met Kobayashi at a class in high school; he seemed to be an interesting person. I hope you'll look forward to our new album." I don't give a damn about Kobayashi and doubt the possibility that the band can talk their minds out in just a half of a page, at least not enough for us. All of those magazines feature a lot of independent bands here in Japan, but they are mostly manipulated by capitalizing record companies to distribute their materials. And this gives me the feeling that they are not treating the bands with their heart. I always put hope in those zines that are written by a small number of people to be the counter-culture against such magazines, but in the end, they are just a waste of paper with ridiculous interviews about how sexy the band looks. This makes me think that bands here in Japan have no concept of interviews and due to the rising saturation level of computers, the receivers and senders of this scene are just leaving a blank space of contents. Ironically, this leads to the failing sales of these magazines.
By answering to an overseas interview, we want to convey and share our messages towards foreigners. As a Japanese band that speaks in Japanese to Japanese people, we’re interested in how you will respond to this. Personally, although I listen to a lot of overseas bands, I don't understand English very well. I don't have many chances to see such bands on stage, so I read a lot of interviews, and if there are translations attached to the lyrics, or explanations, I always make sure to buy those so I can have a better comprehension of the lyrics. If not, I try my best to understand the bands intention by reading through their words with my poor English. In the close future, our material might be distributed more overseas, and we might have a chance to play in front of you, so I hope you'll understand that this interview is to give you a better understanding of who we are and what we have in mind to say. I really like to thank you for reading and having us on the page.
I hope you will excuse my long introduction and now start answering the questions. Our band is conducted by five members.? I am Hirotatsu, 30 years old, doing the singing & talking. Yoshi plays bass and is 24 years old (He used to live in Canada and China, so he can speak both English & Chinese. He also runs a label called oto RECORDS). We have two guitar players and one is Kenta, 23 years old (He also sings sometimes) and the other is I.D.O who is 30 years old. Yuta plays the drums and used to live in Australia, so he can speak English as well. And yeah, he's 26 years old. Feel free to contact them.
Yoshi: Our first show was in the end of 2004 and since then, we have done shows and supported tours for bands like Kaospilot, Daitro, Balboa, Funeral Diner, The Kickass, Thank God, XBXRX, Some Girls etc. We have released a Demo Tape and a CDep so far, looking forward to more releases soon. The band name "Killie" is a coinage made by the band itself pronounced as [kil-ai], meaning "hate" in Japanese. We spell it out by combining two English words "kill" and "lie". In Japanese literature, words often consist of several meanings and different ways to be written, even if they are pronounced the same, but in this case it means "hate". Why? You might as well think about it.
Ryan: Most of the members come from different bands. Was there a conscious decision or purpose for starting Killie? What did you want to do different in this band?
Hirotatsu: I don't think there was anything intentional. I decided to form this band since my other band, "3cm tour," had to stop. For the past ten years I've been playing in bands, so it was natural for me to form a new one. I did select some members in the beginning, but there are other reasons why I wanted to form Killie. Because I was influenced by those political hardcore punk bands and labels from overseas, such as Dischord, Ebullition and others, I wanted to sing about the situations of our own Japanese society. I was thinking of what was the most appropriate way to express these feelings and thoughts, since I was skeptical towards Japanese hardcore or other types of bands where they were forced to sing in such customs that the scene holds, which justifies the way and what to sing even when there is no need to.
I always think that the Japanese music scene is a borrowed culture from abroad that didn't occur from any oppression of the society. This just makes me think that if those bands really wanted to stop the war, why don't they start making a difference by acting directly to the problem instead of spending money on practicing their tambourine? I believe any type of music has its own history and has been a counter-culture in a certain era, but I felt Japanese bands weren't singing or doing activities from their own perspective or from what situations they were in. This made me think about what I wanted to do in my next project and what I wanted to sing, being sure that I needed a strong message to speak and I wanted to convey my ideas, based on my own perspective, to this scene made from a borrowed culture.
In those days, I had broken up with the girl I was living with. This incident put everything together. I won't explain the details about it, since it would take days for me to write it all, but the ideas and feelings that I experienced from this incident gave me the strong feeling that the mid 90's hardcore bands I really liked were the type of music to clearly match and express everything I had in mind. Personally, I am concerned about Japanese women, since they have a direct connection with the current issues and problems of the Japanese society. Since I had a new understanding toward this after the break up with her, I decided to form a band that could present such problems of our society and make a better life for myself, by myself.
After having many talks with the members, agreeing on what we were doing musically and conceptionally, we decided to start this band representing the ideas I explained above, about the Japanese music scene and society, along with my personal experiences. Musically, I was not kind of expecting to sound like how we are today, since I wanted to mix more of my own music experiences I had through my life, not only Hardcore and Punk. I also like Dub, Reggae, Folk, Classic, Heavy Metal, Progressive Rock, Grunge, etc. Still, I’m content with the way the band is right now. I always write my words from the perspective of being born and raised as a Japanese, even if I would be addressing any world or other issues. It doesn’t make sense to have lyrics or to play such music in this country unless we do it this way. Everything is all shaped by foreign cultures, but there are still many topics and problems to be picked up here. Stereotypical minds and music are just shit.
I.D.O: I hate mid 90’s; it's a bunch of crap.
Ryan: Last September, Killie did a short Japanese tour entitled, September against sexism, and also produced a zine. What were the ideas behind this tour and what kind of responses did you have?
Hirotatsu: This is a heavy topic. As I answered in the second question, originally we have been active with a certain concept. As our first step, we made a sticker with a line saying "Women Discrimination Rock'n Roll." This line was based on that terrible experience I had with my girlfriend, and also from the concern toward Japanese women I see and get fed up with through my life and from current issues. In those days, we made this statement by expressing our social ideas toward the increase of dominant positions of women. They were claiming extreme freedom to the point that men began to be discriminated against in Japan. A lot of foreigners who saw this statement gave us a strange look without understanding the true meaning of what we really wanted to claim. This is "the true equality of men and women", despite there being no explanation on the sticker.
Yoshi does all the foreign contacts, and so he received many questions and messages asking what the message is all about. He told us that we needed to explain the specific information on the statement and what our messages really mean to all the people, including foreigners, or else he would have to spend a whole bunch of time answering everyone with the same question. So we got together and had a long talk with each other about how we could explain this to everyone. We came up with the idea to write a zine of our own, featuring each one of our perspectives on sexism problems in Japan and why we put such a statement on the sticker. We added lots of content to provoke people to think about such problems in Japan.
We're not saying that we handle the sex of women carelessly. But we think that too many women in Japan are being placed in an extremely favorable position by the country, to the point that abuse such power toward men, whether consciously or unconsciously. Continuing, I think many Japanese men are feeling pressure from this and it actually leads to many sexist or social problems that this country has. For instance, Japan posses one of the biggest porno industries in the world. The country itself confirms such shitty business and women use such fields to attain money. A lot of men buy women to take revenge because of their stress from being betrayed or from being discriminated against by women. It becomes a vicious cycle. Since the extreme economy growth of Japan in the 80's to 90's, the freedom and rights of women increased drastically. We believe this was something really important and good for society itself. But, the problem was a lot of women in Japan actually didn't take it as a freedom of their rights, but actually a right to do whatever they wanted. Laws to support such activities were been created everyday and they started to abuse men by taking advantage of this. Some women started to intentionally sue men who are on the train, claiming that the man touched her breast. The man has to give her money to make it go away. Or sometimes women would tell men they will do anything for him as long as he will give her money or buy things for her, when she has no intention of doing anything. It was a big social problem and still is today.
Of course there are still many men who discriminate against women. But at the same level, there are women who discriminate against men here, and a lot of people are not looking at the other side. This problem becomes a vicious cycle, like the porno industry I explained above, and we need to claim the equality of men and women by an extreme statement, since Japanese people won't react unless the message is something shocking or excessive. We want people to think and react more for the society even if it takes risk for us.
Normally the zine would've been translated into English and distributed overseas, but we were actually asked by a person to stop handing the zine out. He claimed that there was a story that he was involved in. We eventually had to stop giving it out, even to Japanese people. Not being able to distribute the zine for free to our own people wasn't actually what made us angry; instead it was the reaction we received from our audience.
Every bad aspect and characteristic of the Japanese appeared from the distribution this zine. First of all, most of the contents included in the zine were about "The problem of Japanese discrimination between men and women", but people started to write on the internet or talk among people that we released a zine of "Support the discrimination of women". All of the things that were written on those websites were totally out of range and beyond what we wrote in the zine. It totally pissed us off. You could tell they hadn't read anything in the zine, just decided from their preconception of us.
Do you guys know "2ch"?? It's a huge internet message board in Japan featuring tons of topics where everything is written anonymously. I don’t know if there is such a website in foreign countries, but in Japan, it's huge enough to influence society and to become a social problem. It has already created so many crimes and actually even created a movie out of a love story that was based on the exchange between those anonymous people. The movie was called "DENSHA OTOKO (train man)". Getting to the point, I just doubted and felt so down about these anonymous people who really can’t communicate when talking face to face. They just keep on writing their ugly feelings and being involved in the sad internet while hiding their names and faces, then coming to our shows as if they are innocent. It totally represents the bad side of the Japanese character.
We got to talk with a few people and bands during the tour, giving us either positive or negative opinions. I learned many points of view that I hadn’t thought about, so this was a great experience and I would like to thank those people for interacting with us. There were many people who didn't want to have a conversation with us, disliking us for no reason which made me furious. I started to write about such feelings and incidents on our website, but then those anonymous assholes started to slander our comments which made me realize that this was going nowhere. We had many talks again and again between our members, thinking of stop using the internet, but also thinking that it might deny the new generation of people to learn about us and the scene where we are still continuing our conversations up to this day.
We're always in the process of challenging, experiencing, learning and improving, but ironically, we are also still fighting against the people who come and watch our shows. The very hope we hold comes from the minority who have shown us understanding, or came to us for a talk, some even sending us letters from different prefectures, including women of course. We mean "hate" as "love".
Ryan: Your upcoming LP is not going to be released in Japan, and is actually being kept out of the country. What is the reason for this, and how have fans of Killie reacted?
Yoshi: First of all, there are people writing information on anonymous message boards about this release, saying that it won't be distributed in Japan, along with stupid comments such as, "Killie wants to make their things rare as much as possible." This makes me laugh my ass off and they're a bunch of people who can't even write their name on what they say, so I have nothing much to say to those assholes.
But to those who deserve such explanations, we're releasing and distributing this outside of Japan because we want our people to act more directly with us and with the scene, since their computerized minds have eradicated the soul of action and advancement. Your Japanese characteristic of innuendo and silence is making me sick like a city cancer. We want people to think about and be critical of what is happening around them and be active. This is the greatest concern that needs to be addressed. I just can't understand why people don't ask us directly where they can catch certain information and ideas. Instead they ask questions and write stupid comments on "2ch".
We want to increase the number of people being active by limiting the distribution inside Japan. We also hope not only for this to affect Japanese people, but also for people in different countries to think about their situations through this action of ours, using it as an example. It might sound ridiculous to you that we are doing such things, but seriously, the situation going around here in Japan is that bad. Those in Japan who are waiting for this release are the victims, even ourselves. I'm really sorry for that. But we need to be thinking about what benefits the community, more than what benefits ourselves, since we think that is actually what brings pure benefits and happiness to people, not materialism.? Japanese people are too materialized. They only want to collect rare materials or sell them on internet auctions at a high cost. I know that people are going to buy this without thinking about the problems happening in this community, believing it's at peace. We also want people from different countries to read what we want to say, so that's why there is limitation in distribution. We'll release these tracks differently for Japan, so we'll ask them to wait for a while.
We actually have a lot of people from Japan and other countries asking us why we are doing such things and bringing such controversy into our scene. From my point of view, this alone makes it worth it for this release to be done outside of Japan right now. We really would like to thank Jerome from Salvation Records (France) and Momo from Flower of Carnage (France) who are releasing this LP, and also to those who have shown full respect and understanding toward us. This wouldn't be possible without you guys. Thank you.
Ryan: It seems that Japan lacks many political/social bands, at least in the scene that Killie is in. Where does the band get inspiration for ideas, music, etc?
Hirotatsu: I believe music is what taught me most of the things throughout my life. Besides music, I’m inspired by people listening to us, those who are watching us, people I interact with in my daily life, stupid current issues of the Japanese, news and history. I doubt we are political, since we don't consider ourselves as a hardcore band. Everything depends on how you see what is in front of you.
Yoshi: Reading dictionaries and talking shit with the owner of restaurant "KUMA-BOKKO". That is political enough.
Ryan: Yoshi, you are a vegetarian living/born/raised in Japan. The last time I was in Japan I came as a vegetarian but quickly gave it up because of difficulty finding proper nutrition. I'm interested what your experiences are with this lifestyle, and how you think this lifestyle affects Japan?
Yoshi: Well, actually I'm a pescetarian, not a vegetarian. I consume seafood and live the natural way as the traditional Japanese did. So in this case, there are not many problems consuming the proper nutrition. I used to try to be a vegetarian in this country, being influenced by the history of Japan or the historical backgrounds of hardcore, believing in animal rights, environmentalism etc. Eventually I suffered from the reality of living in a country that consumes 5.6 million tons of meat each year, which is a huge number against our population (even though we had a religion of not consuming meat until the Meiji Revolution in 1868, when Japan started to shift their culture to the Western Style. The Oldies call this "the Slam Culture" (Respect the Oldie Punks people)). Also the paradox of believing in animal rights and living in a materialized country made my situation even hard. But actually this is not the main reason why I stopped being a vegetarian.
I became a pescetarian from an incident I had 2 years ago. One day I visited a friend of mine and his mom cooked us a meal that included meat. She didn't know that I was a vegetarian, or I should say, most Japanese don't understand such ideology. My friend was going to explain about that, but I rejected and decided to eat anyway. Some people will say that I might not be Hardcore because of this, blah, blah, blah. But I just want to tell you that I didn't want to offend or hurt his mothers' feeling or sincerity. I hate hurting people's feeling and honesty more than anything. This comes from my Japanese cultural background. Respecting the elder generation and meals are symbols of sincerity and honesty in Japan, by thanking the animal for dedicating its life.
After this incident, I decided to take the option of being a pescetarian, living the traditional Japanese lifestyle, which I can adapt to this country's situation and feel straight with my ideology. Of course, I don't want animals to be killed and consumed as a product, but realistically, I am not Superman or a God. I am just an individual in this society, who plays music, and works at a music studio as a part time job. The best I can do right now is to stay true and try and influence my close people, their family, children, lovers, and others who might be a new close person to me. Maybe I can help prevent problems that are caused by their consumption of meat. This is a positive attitude; I am not being pessimistic at all. I am just being realistic and honest here to make a certain step forward. It's harder than you can imagine, but I am trying my best in a country that has no understanding toward vegetarianism. I’m trying to convey such an ideology to those people to make it a better place to live for us and for animals.
If being a pescetarian or a vegetarian may cause harm to the whole environment or to the people, I will immediately stop being one. It's just a consideration toward where we are living. I'm saying this from the range of my activity and possibility I have at this moment. If I become my existence becomes more effective, I think my consideration will realistically become much wider, and I’ll try to reduce these damn problems. But for now, it's all I can take and I'm trying to make a further step to become a vegetarian. I am. It's just that I can't say I will save a cow from drowning if my friend is also drowning. Just think about that. If I want to believe in a certain ideology, I don't want to believe it in an elusive cloud. I want it to be straight and something that I can believe in from the bottom of my heart, something that can benefit both humans and nature. I believe that this is the best way for me to live in Japan, to make steps toward coexistence at this moment. Of course, further steps need to be made and I am working on that. It's just that I have to make certain steps one by one in this country.
I know a lot of those fuck'n trendy Hardcore Kids will say "what the…, you ain't hardcore dude, go back and learn Earth Crisis." Ya, you might as well go back to high school and remove that "XXX" tattoo before you start going back to Kentucky Fried Chicken, asshole. I don't consider myself Hardcore and I don't give a shit about that. I don't want to be limited in such a way of thinking. I have met so many people that are too valuable to me that I can't explain it in a few words. And a lot of them aren't influenced by such music or ideology. Hardcore is done; it's already a closed book. We use it as a tool with each other to learn, discover and to encounter. Now it's time to make our own ways of thinking. I'm so sick and tired of people being confined by this idea saying "Punk and Hardcore needs to be this and that," when countries and environmental situations are totally different from one and another.
It makes me feel that those confined people are trying to feel safe and be comforted by a fixed ideology, an easy answer, with a collective of people to support them. Your minority is actually a majority people, realize that. There is no answer to life, and that is what we are fighting for right now. That's why we need to be holding our own ideas, talking with the ones who we respect, the ones we hate, making conversations, conflicts and understanding, uniting for a better ideology for each other. Of course it's not easy. It's still damn hard to be a pescetarian in Japan. But effort needs to be accomplished here. The result from our effort might not have such a positive effect, but if we don't fight this by thinking and moving, we are just disrespecting the victims of the past and what we have learnt from them. We’d be losing the chance for progress. Start to speak your words, make conflicts, make enemies, learn from them, teach each other, hold your ideology, create and move, fight for it. It's about time for us to make our own way of living and ideology. You can call me a hypocrite or whatever you want, I don't give a shit. I call this "Killie." Why don't you start to fight for your own way of living?
Ryan: The title of your first CDEP is, “Don’t Want To Escape From The Underground, Want To Escape From The Underground, Can't Escape From The Underground.” What does this statement(s) mean to the band?
Hirotatsu: Japan is a country that has poor understanding or respect toward the culture of art, so as a 30 year old man doing a band, I frequently face various problems. Personally, I want to make a living out of our material from what we make based on the ideology of DIY, but there are still many things that have to happen before this becomes true. Tons of bands, singers, idols already exist in this country. Most of them are just shit, labeled as "Majors" and the sad truth is that a lot of independent labels follow their methods. I have a strong rebellious spirit toward these and it's not how I want to accomplish my destination. Most importantly to me, the strength of not being restricted or limited in what we do is the main reason why I like this independent scene. By existing in such a scene, I have encountered various people with understanding that have encouraged me. I have no wishes to be a Rock Star signed to a major label. I always want to talk and have drinks from the same perspective of the people who come to our shows. It's still hard to make a living out of what we make through our band, even if we will be playing? big venues every time. After all, we can't escape from the underground.
Ryan: On the Killie website, you made a proclamation that 2 channel (2ch) users are your “enemy.” What kind of a role does 2ch play in the Japanese hardcore scene (I've heard it's huge), and what's been happening recently that you would speak out against it?
Hirotatsu: I guess you know what "2ch" is from the previous answer. Personally, whatever is written by whomever on that site, I fuck'n hate them as much as finding out who they are. I’d rather become friends with them by talking and understanding. Originally, by adding a comment toward an individual on the internet which is a space for millions of people to see, it enabled the people who wrote such comments to express their ideas toward those who are looking for such information.? The only problem for "2ch" or other similar websites is that it shouldn't be anonymous. My rage gets to the top of my head toward those people who point out a specific individual and write about them. I feel it's beyond the problem of privacy but actually a lack of human sense. By adding an anonymous comment on "2ch", one is able to write anything and won't be known, since individual information of the one is not managed by the website.
As I have written before, since "2ch" started, it has caused many social problems like people announcing suicide, people suing for privacy invasion, people bragging about killing another person, people talking about taboo topics of the business world, and people using it to bully their class or work mates, etc. Recently, we often see the name "2ch" on news and there are even television programs that use it as an entertainment product. I often think that all the problems of Japanese people can be wrapped up in "2ch".? It’s the same for the music scene topics. Originally, it was supposed to be a source for people who want to catch information off the website through anonymous comments, but there are so many ridiculous people who just brag about personal or band stories. Most of what they write can be considered as slandering.
The point is that there are only dick heads on that website who can't say things truly to their friends or don't even have ones. They’re feeling lonely and thinking that they know everything, when most of it is just bullshit. Yeah, they're pretty sad people, show some mercy. That's why I always try to tell those people to contact me, so we can meet face to face and try to become friends. I don't mind about people writing if they like our band or not, it's their decision and there is nothing harmful as long as people don't look through those comments and not reply to them.
But what really makes me pissed off at these people is the result of their slandering, breaking up a scene that me and my friends and others have created together for years. Most of them are in this scene with no understanding. We are not Rock Stars and everything that is created and done is based on the spirit of DIY where DIY is not only a word used and accomplished in Hardcore music. I have met sincere people and friends through this and have been influenced by them. We are doing our best to create a scene where people who come to shows and listen to our words and music can come close to us as much as possible. But then here comes those anonymous monsters who fuck'n break everything apart by unsubstantiated gossip, which makes the scene and people confused.
I'm totally open with talking to people who come to our shows and interacting with them normally. Actually I believe I'm even polite enough. That is what it is all about to be independent, working hard to keep down the price of entrance tickets, making music and merchandise in a DIY style to offer them cheap to people, but it seems like this computerized generation needs to be taught again from the beginning of how much work it takes to do such things and how the connection of people heart to heart is important to each of us and to the scene. They don't pay attention to the incidents happening around them and what our activities mean at all. I believe the problem of buying CDs or catching information of live shows and stuff through the web has problems to do with this. I don't mind about people who like our sound, but if they dislike our activities and lyrics, they just don't have to come to our shows or buy our material.
Including all the things in this interview, I've said and conveyed everything I had in mind through our activities in Japanese to Japanese people. Yoshi and others have said that as well. But eventually we won't be able to specify every "MR. Anonymous" and the sad thing is that a lot of bands of this scene don't seem to respond to our words. They’re afraid that they will be slandered again through "2ch." So we came to the conclusion of not putting any specific live information on our website as a first step, so that there will be at least a small hope that people will come to us, talk to us, ask us directly about our band and scene. That was the beauty of this music scene, direct communication and activation, so we're going to be using our minds to make more crafty tricks so that those anonymous assholes won't be able to slander and break our friends and the fruit of our effort. Yeah, we're fuck'n assholes enough to rot your scheme.
We'll fight and threaten you "2ch" fucks.
Ryan: What are the future plans for Killie?
Hirotatsu: In October, we're going to be on tour with La Quiete (Italy), Ampere (USA) and Heaven In Her Arms (Japan) here in Japan for about 2 weeks and we're really looking forward to seeing them. Till then, we're planning to get in the van for some domestic tours. Unfortunately, we have no plans to go overseas at the moment, but yeah, it'll be great to have such a chance.
In addition, there aren't underground facilities or squats to practice at like a lot of those foreign bands have, so it's really hard to continue band activities in Japan. All Japanese bands use specialty practice studios, paying $50 for 2 hours, practicing and composing songs. At venues, there are no places to sleep and they don't provide food at all, and actually we need to pay to rent the venue, which is like $1000 per night for a normal venue in Tokyo. As Yoshi has explained, vegetarianism is still a minor ideology in Japan. You can barely find such restaurants or places that provide such food, so if you are planning to tour Japan, you must consider these aspects or you are going to have a hard time with food and money especially. But if you come to Japan, please contact us, we're always welcome to meet you.
Yoshi: For releases, as we said, we are going to be releasing a one-sided 12" from two French labels called Salvation Records and Flower Of Carnage. We are working on a full length and hopefully releasing it around spring of 2008 from my label oto RECORDS. Aside from sound materials, we'll continue to write zines like the "September Against Sexism" and hopefully translate it into different languages for everyone to read.
Ryan: Last words??
Hirotatsu: First of all, I would like to say thank you or actually say sorry to Yoshi for the tough work on translating all this crap, and thanks to Ryan, Momo and Jerome for giving us such an opportunity. I hope this interview will interest you and give you some understanding toward the situation of Japan or about our band and hopefully you can come to Japan or why not call us to your country. We're looking forward to seeing you soon. Keep the Rock Rolling so your threat keeps spinning, you'll reach there.
Yoshi: Some of our words might be hard to understand or even offensive to you. But as Hirotatsu said, we are just a Japanese band that is active in Japan and only knows Japan. We are here to share our ideas that we have experienced in our country and hopefully you can compare it with what is going around your country. Sometimes people think they are justified, the best, smartest, but they aren't and we're not as well. We're in the process of learning from what we have seen and what we haven't. Your chair is here and the door is there. You decide whether you want to sit on your smart ass or open that door to encounter your neighbor. We'll be waiting in the hall way. If you don't try to understand what we're saying, we'll hate you, say it again, and make our move again. If you hate what we're saying, please do, we don't give a shit. That's why I'm here slamming the four string over your head. We're your disagreement medicine people, drink it.
Email Exchange regarding publication of the Interview
11/01/07 - From Me:
actually, last time around i submitted an interview for the magazine, and you guys weren't interested. this really made me lose faith in the magazine as a whole, because it seemed like you were only picking popular bands to include in the magazine. i don't think the criteria of, "we've never heard of them," qualifies and interview or band to be dismissed. a magazine such as "give me back" should support the ideas of diy culture and not penalize bands for not being popular or having the right friends.
so, no, i'm not really that interested in running an advertisement in a magazine that i don't believe in. sorry. Ryan Lewis
11/03/07 - From Fil (Give Me Back):
I just read your e-mail to us and I wanted to respond personally to your allegations.
First of all you are entitled to your opinion. Obviously I knew from the beginning that no matter what we do with a project this large there’s always going to be some people who think that we’re doing it all wrong and there will never be enough time to write a thorough response to everyone, but your short e-mail touched a nerve with me and so I’m going to try to respond to it without getting too defensive. (Also, I wrote a similar e-mail months and months ago to someone from Killie.)
To start with, band interviews are not chosen based on popularity. they are chosen based on how interesting they will be for people to read and how well they are written, and hopefully, in some way, they are relevant to a good number of readers. I found it particularly interesting that you would accuse us of only being interested in popular bands when usually if I get a complaint about the interviewees it’s someone saying they’ve never heard of them.
Anyway, the Killie interview was never "dismissed". It was carefully considered and discussed and in the end we decided that it didn't work for us. We have an incredibly limited amount of space in this zine, so we can only print what we feel is the best of what we have. That’s really the main issue here. I guess I’ll go a little into why we weren’t wowed by this interview, but first you have to understand that everything submitted is considered, but nothing is guaranteed to go in. Shit gets cut all the time. It has to be exceptional to NOT get cut. I’ve cut an interview that I did myself and I’ve cut a bunch of interviews and columns by friends. Unsolicited submissions probably have an even higher standard to get over, since we know less about where they are coming from, but we have even cut a column that was solicited and that person didn’t make such a fuss about it. They understood that it was no big deal and nothing personal.
Basically, I just didn't feel confident in that Killie interview and I'm investing a lot of time and money into this project. It doesn't make sense for me to spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours puting out content that I'm not totally confident in.
I'm sorry if our communication about your interview wasn't clear; it sounds like it wasn't. We're still new to this and at the time your interview and one other were the first submissions we received that were not solicited, so we hadn't figured out a good method of how to handle that. Obviously we can't print everything that is sent to us, so how do we choose and how do we reject what we can't use without that person turning around and saying "well fuck that zine."?
The interview was interesting, that’s for sure. But it was less interesting than it was confusing, vague, defensive, and out of context. Some of these things might have been cleared up with better editing and more challenging follow-up questions, but at the time, given the countless other factors that go into choosing content, it seemed like a lost cause. Editing would be a nightmare because some of their statements could be so easily misconstrued that it seemed impossible to edit without accidentally misrepresenting their point of view.
Killie was not penalized for not being popular or having the right friends. This seems absurd to me because you wrote to me before you did the interview. If “knowing the band” was the criteria then I could’ve told you that we weren’t interested before you even sent it to us. The fact is that we want to hear about things that we don’t know about, that’s the whole point, but they have to be presented in a way so that even people whom are completely unfamiliar, can understand it. Killie seem to talk a lot about how they don’t want to communicate with Japanese audiences, but then they talk about issues that seem to be mostly pointed at that Japanese punk audience. They give us outsiders no context whatsoever for the issues being debated.
Not only that, but for the most part, their answers have an extremely defensive tone that is very off-putting and unprovoked. How interesting is it to hear someone complaining about internet shit-talking that we are completely unfamiliar with? It’s depressing. In my opinion, the only people that care about internet rumors are the handful of bored kids that type them up just to see their name in print.
So basically what I got out of that interview was a lot of defensive language and some confusing rhetoric about controversial issues to which their stances were not ever really made clear. Not to mention a bunch of one-sided sweepingly generalized statements about men and women and Japanese culture that: are not put into context, can easily be misconstrued, and go completely unchallenged by the interviewer. If I print those, it’s the equivalent of saying “hey world, here’s the definitive state of gender relations in Japan” without having any personal experience, independent knowledge, or corroborating evidence. This is far too sensitive and complicated of a topic to treat so simply, as if the answer is cut and dry.
Here are some specific areas that I have issues with:
“In those days, I had broken up with the girl I was living with. This incident put everything together. I won't explain the details about it, since it would take days for me to write it all, but the ideas and feelings that I experienced from this incident gave me the strong feeling that the mid 90's hardcore bands I really liked were the type of music to clearly match and express everything I had in mind. Personally, I am concerned about Japanese women, since I have a direct connection with the current issues and problems of the Japanese society. Since I had a new understanding toward this after the break up with her, I decided to form a band that could present such problems of our society and I could make a better life for myself, by myself. … …As our first step, we made a sticker with a line saying "Women Discrimination Rock'n Roll." This line was based on that terrible experience I had with my girlfriend, and also from the concern toward Japanese women I see and get fed up with through my life and from current issues. In those days, we made this statement by expressing our social ideas toward the increase of dominant positions of women. They were claiming extreme freedom to the point that men began to be discriminated against in Japan…”
Out of context, this makes them sound like every other typical male band that writes bitter songs about women based on a failed relationship or an experience with one woman. It generalizes all women based on the actions of one individual. And the whole tone of the rest of the answer paints a picture that demonizes women and portrays men as innocent victims.
Adding the line:
“Of course there are still many men who discriminate against women. But...”
makes it sound as if that is our accepted reality. To me it’s like saying “Of course women all around the world are discriminated against by men, that’s a given, but what I want to talk about is a small percentage of men that are discriminated against by women. Which by the way, was brought to my attention by an experience I had in a failed relationship.” Sounds pretty sketchy to me. It doesn’t seem to take into account the larger problem. And there’s no discussion. Again it paints a picture of men as innocent victims and women as unprovoked exploiters. It seems to be coming from a typically male perspective that doesn’t account for the environment in which these behaviors are learned and nurtured. And the argument in this context is only substantiated by hearsay such as: “Some women started to intentionally sue men who are on the train, claiming that the man touched her breast. The man has to give her money to make it go away. Or sometimes women would tell men they will do anything for him as long as he will give her money or buy things for her, when she has no intention of doing anything. It was a big social problem and still is today. “
It negates the experiences of women who are molested on trains. Those voices don’t have the benefit of a microphone in a male-dominated punk scene.
I could go on and there are other issues with the interview, but that’s just one example of why this one did not make me want to put a ton of energy into printing and distributing it.
And it’s not that I don’t want to print it just because I don’t agree with them. It’s just that their arguments are so vague that they just sound really typical of the same point of view we get pummeled with everyday by mainstream media and there’s no discussion, no other possibility presented. I’m printing an interview in the next issue where the meat of it is the band making an argument that I strongly disagree with, but at least the interviewer challenges them with other possibilities. It leaves room for discussion.
So, speaking of discussion, let’s discuss this interview. What I want to know is why SHOULD we have printed it? What specifically should people get from this interview? What are the best parts? Which interview in the second issue should we have cut to make room for this one?
It’s nothing against Killie. After talking briefly to Julien, from Daitro, I’ve felt as though this would be an interesting band to talk to, but this interview does not get to the heart of the issues and it does not present any room for dialogue or discussion. The very last paragraph presents a little bit of hope for this kind of attitude, and that is clearly my favorite part of the interview, but it’s too little too late.
Another thing to consider is that we are interested in punk of a wide range of genres. We don’t want to focus too much on one genre and ignore others and in the second issue, the issue that this interview would have gone in, there was already an interview with daitro, who seem to be in the same genre. What about crust, d-beat, thrash and other genres that were completely absent from this issue? There are a lot of factors to consider. We can’t please everybody.
I’ll look forward to hearing back from you.
11/27/07 - From Me:
Sorry about this coming so late. Here are my thoughts, and i'll reply to each paragraph separately, because it'll be easier to keep things organized.
> To start with, band interviews are not chosen based on popularity. they are chosen based on how interesting they will be for people to read and how well they are written, and hopefully, in some way, they are relevant to a good number of readers. I found it particularly interesting that you would accuse us of only being interested in popular bands when usually if I get a complaint about the interviewees it’s someone saying they’ve never heard of them.
- I'm trying to think of where i got that idea from, and i looked at our old emails, and realized that I was never given a reason why the interview was turned down, except for "it's not what we're looking for." I think talking with yoshi, from killie, that's the way he felt and that's how i got that idea.
> I'm sorry if our communication about your interview wasn't clear; it sounds like it wasn't. We're still new to this and at the time your interview and one other were the first submissions we received that were not solicited, so we hadn't figured out a good method of how to handle that. Obviously we can't print everything that is sent to us, so how do we choose and how do we reject what we can't use without that person turning around and saying "well fuck that zine."?
- I definitely think something that would've helped in my case would have been to communicate reasons a lot more than you did. I completely understand that everything can't be included.
After this, you include the parts in the interview that you had a problem with. I think the main problem with this is that you are giving these as reasons to refuse the interview, while i would have definitely been interested in editing it, asking more questions, and then including in the next issue. Personally, I rushed to get this interview asked, edited, and emailed to you in time for the deadline, and to have my efforts dismissed the way you did hurt my feelings. I never saw any justification for the refusal until the email you sent, so it's only been stewing. I'm sure you were pressed for time, but i felt like if there were parts of the interview you didn't like, maybe a future offer to look at it again would have been better. I'm not a skilled writer at all. I don't pretend that the interview was flawless, and I agree with all your points about things that should be changed or improved in the interview.
> Another thing to consider is that we are interested in punk of a wide range of genres. We don’t want to focus too much on one genre and ignore others and in the second issue, the issue that this interview would have gone in, there was already an interview with daitro, who seem to be in the same genre. What about crust, d-beat, thrash and other genres that were completely absent from this issue? There are a lot of factors to consider. We can’t please everybody.
- honestly, i think bands are more than their genre. You can have two bands in the "screamo" genre that are completely different. It's the same with any genre. I think including interviews or articles should be on the merit of the interview, not on the genre it portrays. I understand that you would like to include a wide range of musical styles, but that shouldn't influence your decision to leave something.
And really, why leave something out completely. Why not include it in the next issue?
I know it must be hard to put the zine together. I don't envy you. But i think submissions are the most important part of your zine, because it needs to be a place for everyone to be heard. Refusing people can be a dirty business, so hopefully you can find a better way to do it. I would suggest giving people your opinions and then have them re-submit it after corrections are made. This seems like it could be a good way, but there are possibly problems in it as well. Or perhaps assigning a single person to deal with submissions.
Anyways, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
11/27/07 - From Fil (Give Me Back):
yeah, i totally aggree that we could improve the way we accept submissions and that it would be great if there was one person who handled that. when we started, the idea was to have a group of people working together and hopefully have enough that each person could take a whole section: reviews, interviews, columns, advertising, distribution, submissions, letters etc. but as you can imagine that's a lot easier said then done. it becomes a whole new problem of constantly looking for those people, coordinating them, updating them, keeping track of them, holding them accountable and then starting all over when they get too busy with their own lives. it's definitely something we hope to address in the "down time" between issues, but since we're still in the first couple issues, struggling just to survive, there hasn't been a lot of that yet.
and like i said, yours was one of the first submissions, so it wasn't as much about dismissing it, as it was that we were in a panic, just dealing with the content that was going in the issue, so we didn't have a lot of energy to put into the stuff that we weren't using.
i agree that the submissions are an extremely important part of the zine, but i also think things have changed a lot, too. it's getting harder and harder to put out zines. it's getting more costly, too, meaning that there is a lot less room than there used to be. i think it's extremely important to hear different perspectives and challenging ideas, but i don't necessarilly think that these types of zines are the places for "everyone's voice to be heard". i obviously think that that is important, but i just don't know if that is the responsibility of these types of zines anymore. there's the internet and personal zines. i focus a huge amount of attention on our review sections, partially for that reason. i think if our zine is visible, then something we can do is help direct people to smaller zines and bands through that. it's not perfect either, but it's getting better and that's the goal. sometimes stuff gets trashed, but i try to tell people that our main objective is to describe it as well as we can, so that other punks can decide for themselves.
if killie had sent in their zine for review, i would've been really into checking it out and it probably would've helped me understand the interview better. the same with their music. and i think actually, if this happens again where someone sends in an interview with a band that none of us have heard, we should just require that they send in a record or demo or something, to give us some context. otherwise eventually some jokester is going to start sending us fake interviews.
so yeah, it's a complicated thing and we're still making mistakes and figuring it out, but at the same time, we have to keep moving to keep it alive, so that we can hopefully make it a little better next time. it's a work in progress and there are a lot of factors involved, so there are compromises constantly. the actual content is only a tiny piece of the puzzle as i'm sure you know from making your own zines.
we're trying. we have good intentions.