Interview with Shinya of LUNA SEA




JRR: How was the live this time different from previous lives? 

SHINYA: Well, mentally, I felt like I was back to the old band days when we started rehearsing.  On average I only slept about 4 hours a day; I wasn’t able to sleep.  We played a lot of heavier songs, and I had to play drums at that tension.  It probably would have been easier if we had continued throughout the years as a band, but I suddenly had to work my body after seven years, so it was really tough in the beginning.

JRR: What kind of training did you do in preparation for the live?

SHINYA: I just kept on playing and playing.  For a drummer, if you get muscles other than the ones you need to play drums with, that’s bad.  If you get big muscles, it slows you down when playing drums, since drums are an instrument where speed is very important.

JRR: How did it feel to be a part of LUNA SEA again?

SHINYA: Well… when I met up with the others after such a long time, I thought I would be shy.  But the distance between us shrank right away once we actually met up and started playing.  LUNA SEA is where I originally learned my musical sense and my own drum techniques, so to me it’s just like going back home.

JRR: What was your favorite moment at the concert?

SHINYA: Everyone probably has a different favorite moment, but mine would be “when the live is over.”  I like the moment when I set the drumsticks down.  Other than that, it’s all scary, because you don’t know what will happen.  After the live, there’s the feeling of “I did it!!” but before the live starts, I get the nervous feeling of “We’re gonna do it now!” and “This is scary.”

JRR: How did you feel when you heard that the tickets were sold out within 5 minutes?

SHINYA: Well, it was very encouraging to hear that so many people still support us even after seven years, and I was very happy.  To tell you the truth, originally we were quite worried about whether the tickets would sell or not, since we had no way of predicting the outcome.  But it wasn’t necessary; because the fans’ power and love have easily endured the seven years.

JRR: What did you feel during the drum solo?

SHINYA: In a nice sense, I felt like I was back to being a kid.  I think it’s the same for everyone when they were kids; don’t kids tend to think they’re the best?  And that the world evolves around them?  And they have the love from their family?  You can feel that when you’re a kid, right?  That’s how I felt.  So it didn’t feel like we were musician and audience; instead, I felt like we were a big family.

JRR: You told the audience you couldn’t hear them [when they were cheering and screaming out your name].

SHINYA: Yeah I did. (Laughs.)

JRR: We talked to SHINYA of Dir en Grey about this, and he said you’re the number one drummer in the universe.  (Laughs.)

SHINYA: (Laughs.)

JRR: Did you remember all the drum parts for LUNA SEA?

SHINYA: I did, yes.  It was as if my body remembered it more than my head.  I didn’t listen to the songs before we started rehearsal.  I didn’t get to hear them so I was a bit worried that I might get stuck in the middle, or forget some parts. But I didn’t!  I’m still young and fresh! (Laughs.)

JRR: Your skin looks very nice!

SHINYA: Doesn’t it?  I use bar soap from Body Shop to wash my face.  (Laughs.)

JRR: How do you think you have grown as an artist, after LUNA SEA disbanded?

SHINYA: It wasn’t a disbandment; we called it the “Finale.”  I thought about training as a drum warrior.  When I first started playing drums, I did not know the word “artist,” not even the word “musician.”  I just wanted to become a man who plays drums.  The dream I had when I started, came true when the Finale came.  I thought I would do any job that comes my way, and not relating to the name SHINYA from LUNA SEA.  From there on, I got offers from OGURO MAKI, HIMURO KYOSUKE, and other artists, and I’ve done music of many different genres.

JRR: In regards to your first solo album “NO STICKS,” what inspired you to make it?

SHINYA: Normally, I don’t practice drums at all in daily lives.  I don’t even like to hold the drum sticks.  I’d rather go driving, watch movies, things other than playing drums; I feel that my drum skills improve better that way.  If you keep on thinking “I have to get better at drums,” then playing would be like studying, and your playing style would get more and more restricted and rigid.  To me, that’s horrible.

That’s why as far as singing goes, in the end [after singing] my drum style changed.  I became more conscious, more aware of the singing, and tried to match my drumming with the singing.

JRR: What inspired you to make the drum instructional DVD?

SHINYA: Well, the people from this company that made the DVD came to me and asked me to.  (Laughs.)  I’m the type that doesn’t really like to say “This is the way I play.”  I feel like, “you should just play however you want.”  So this is a DVD that just shows, “this is the way I live my daily life.” 

I do have pupils… students?  But I don’t really teach them drums.  I teach them how to clean their homes.  If you can’t handle small tasks, you definitely won’t be able to do big things; that’s how I think.  I start by teaching them how to make people happy.

JRR: You were teaching at the Osaka School of Music.  Are you still teaching there?

SHINYA: Not recently, since I’ve been so busy and my schedule has been packed.  But instead of actually teaching, I feel that I am learning the sensitivity of the young kids today, that I’m the one being taught.  There are so many things I learned from them.  The students there are aged about 18, 19, 20, and don’t really have anything in common with me.  There’s the generation gap, and difference in ways of thinking.  I want to keep my brain flexible, so I feel like I go there to learn.

JRR: Will you be teaching in 2008?

SHINYA: If I have the chance, yes.

JRR: What do you hope for the students at OSM?

SHINYA: At professional schools or universities, you are taught a lot by other people, right?  The things that people teach you, you tend to forget easily.  I didn’t go to such places, but I learned everything on my own.  For me, I have to learn something myself in order to really learn it.  When you are taught to do something, you will not be placed in an environment where you feel the urgency to learn.  It becomes routine work and what you learn doesn’t stick with you.  That’s why even in environments where you’re being taught, you have to be more greedy, hungry? (laughs) for knowledge, so I hope the students will try to learn things on their own.

JRR: Do you have any advice for beginning drummers?

SHINYA: Yeah… I want them to enjoy it.  How should I put it… thoughts like “I must do this!” shouldn’t come till later, when you actually become a professional drummer.  Meanwhile, before then, you really should enjoy it as much as you can.

JRR: We feel that your drum style has a very distinct feel; do you have a concept or experience that shaped your drumming style?

SHINYA: My concept is “wa” (Japanese concept of harmony).  Japan.” I am from a family of “noh” (traditional Japanese theater), which has now become the cultural heritage of the world.  I was made to do it from the age of three until I was a sixth grader.  “Noh” is a part of the Bushido (way of samurai), so the spirit of the Bushido, and “ma” (pause), just comes out of me naturally.  Maybe that’s how my unique style came about. 

For example, usually you’d play “taka taka taka pan pan pan!” but I’d play “taka taka taka …*pause* pan pan.”  This is what I mean by “ma.”

JRR: If you could use three words to describe your drum style, what would they be?  And would you be able to use those three words to describe yourself as well?

SHINYA: Please give me some scratch paper.  (Writing, laughs.) Wow… this is hard.  Let me see…. The first one would be “wa.”

JRR: Your handwriting is beautiful!

SHINYA: Oh, not at all… (Laughs.) The second one is “hana” (flower), and in regards to bushi (Samurai)…. “in-you (yin and yang)”  This is hard.

“Wa,” it also applies to the band; a person living must think about the others.  I believe that it is my duty to play drums for the members and the vocalist and the people who come for us at lives, no matter how tired I might be, because it makes me happy to make people happy.

“Hana,” part of it is that, you should keep the thought in your mind, and to try to shine at all times, but a flower, even if no one is watching, it is still blooming as hard as it can, right?  So, it is not to bloom for someone else; it is beautiful when you are blooming for yourself.

“In-you” (yin and yang) is to act according to the circumstances.  When you are playing a dark song, even if you try to shine, there’s no point to it.  You have to take action according to the time, place, and occasion (TPO).  Therefore, some times in order to make RYUICHI stand out, I have to be in the shadows. It is the beauty of the yin, and not that I’m sinking into the shadows.  In my drum solo, I must shine like the sun.  I always try to be aware of that.  *smile*

JRR: What is the difference between playing the traditional Japanese taiko (drums) and the drums that you play for rock?

SHINYA: It’s the same.  The only difference is in the audience.  The taiko one plays in a festival is dedicated to the gods, and the drums one plays at a concert is for the people who come to watch the show.  I’m not exaggerating but, seriously, when I’m playing on the stage or playing at festivals, I feel that I’m willing to die any time!  I want to play it with all my life.  There is no way I can cut corners!  There is no such word in my dictionary!  That’s why I always try my very best no matter what I do, and I enjoy it.

JRR: What is the difference between being a producer and a performer?

SHINYA: I don’t think I make a good producer.  I am a really stoic person, so I tend not to know someone’s limit.  It’s hard for me to understand the stress they feel; I just want to make a good piece of work.  But everyone has their own pace, right?  I tend to push that too far… That’s why, the girl from POT BELLY cried during recording….

JRR: Will you still produce other artists?

SHINYA: Well, only if that person has the same way of thinking as me.  Because I’m the type that would work and think “I can die any moment,” that’s how I’ve lived, during recording as well.  So I tend not to sleep at all once recording starts.  If someone can handle that, I will produce them.

JRR: What would you do if your children decide to be in a band?

SHINYA: I’d let them do whatever they want.  I will not ask them to myself.  I will not produce them either (laughs). I think it’s best to let them do what they want to do, and they should make the way for their own lives. 

JRR: Are your kids interested in playing drums?

SHINYA: Well, most kids only do something out of curiosity and interest.  I have one kid that you can see her eye change when she sits at the drumset!  It makes me think, maybe she has the knack for it! (Laughs.) Usually her eyes look very gentle, but once she sits down at the drumset, her eyes become powerful.

JRR: How old is she?

SHINYA: She’s five years old.  Maybe she can become a drummer (laughs).

JRR: That’d be something great to look forward to.

SHINYA: (Laughs.)

JRR: How does it feel to work with people who play wadaiko (Japanese traditional drums)?

SHINYA: Well, it is a world without music sheets, a world that, as I mentioned earlier, of “ma.”  That’s why you don’t know exactly what will happen at a performance.  You catch a glance at the other person, your eyes meet, and communicate the start of the performance.  It is filled with excitement and sense of urgency.

JRR: What other artists would you like to work with in the future?

SHINYA: Hmm…. Which artists….. I’m not sure. (Laughs.) The point is, I like to play drums in front of an audience, but I do not like to practice alone.  I think it’s happiness to me to play drums in front of an audience, so if there are great people that I can make great music with, I would like to work with them.  In places like America and Europe, their cultures acknowledge anything and anyone that’s good or talented, right?  No matter if they are famous or not, they generally acknowledge talented people.  I do want to see how much recognition I can get if I go to America.

JRR: You should come to America!

SHINYA: I can’t speak English.

JRR: There is no language required for drum solos.

SHINYA: Oh, yeah.  (Laughs.)

JRR: What is your relationship with Marty? (Ed. Note: Marty Friedman, former guitarist for Megadeth, now lives in Japan and is a staple on Japanese TV.)

SHINYA: We’re friends.

JRR: How did you meet?

SHINYA: As the support band for AIKAWA NANASE, he played the guitar and I played the drums, and that’s how we met.  He seems to really like Japan!  He knows some really unusual Japanese words, such as last time he said that, because he moved, he needs to visit UJIGAMI-sama!  (Laughs.)  He’s a very happy guy.

JRR: Which musicians inspired you?

SHINYA: Hmm… my favorite drummer is John Bonham from LED ZEPPELIN.  He died when he was young, so I can never surpass him.  That’s why I like him a lot.  I don’t really listen to music normally, because well, the way I feel is that, I don’t want to lose that fresh feeling with music.  That’s why normally I try not to be too immersed in music.  I don’t want making music to be a routine thing.  I want to be in love with music.  That’s why I don’t listen to music normally, and I don’t hold drumsticks.  To me, music is something that I have to live with for a long, long time, so every time I get in touch with it I want to have that fresh feeling.

I listen to enka normally (laughs.) [Japanese traditional music.]

JRR: Who, for example?

SHINYA: YOSHI IKUZO and KITAJIMA SABURO, at a loud volume in the car. (Laughs.)

JRR:  Do you go to karaoke?

SHINYA:  Yes, I love karaoke!  I even sing RYUICHI’s songs!  I’m pretty good at them too. (Laughs.)

JRR: Then next time you should have a part change!

SHINYA: Seriously! (Laughs.)

JRR: We know you like cars, such as Jaguars.  What is your favorite model?

SHINYA: Oh sorry, I don’t drive a Jaguar anymore.  When I had one, it was an old model, from around 1960s or 1970s, when they still made some parts by hand.  I have a Rolls Royce now, and all the parts are made by hand.  I like handmade stuff.

I have another car that I use to carry instruments, and I’ve also modified all the interiors, etc.  The same thing with music, I get attracted to something that someone made with feelings.  That’s why I like those hand-furnished cars.

But they break down very easily!  It’d stop several times on the road, but since I love it so much, I’d even apologize to it.  (Laughs.) If this was a modern car and it stops midway, I’d be like “What the… are you kidding me?!?”  (Laughs.)

JRR: Does the car use old parts and engine?

SHINYA: The old parts have been restored, and the parts that are missing are made.  The design is from the 1960s, that’s why it breaks down easily…

There’s Melrose Avenue in L.A., right?  I saw two blonde girls driving in a pink Cadillac convertible.  They were driving recklessly, so someone honked at them, and the girl who was driving yelled out “F**K YOU!”  (Laughs.)  That was the first real “F**K YOU!” that I’ve heard from an English speaker (Laughs.)

JRR: Is there any Japanese words you would like to teach the American fans?

SHINYA: This is a very old phrase, a lot of Japanese people don’t even know it.  “Dou jyuu bunshin, dou shichi bunshin.”  It means, even if you think 100%, when you tell it to someone, only tell 70%.  Don’t put 100% of yourself on others.  You know?  For example, even if you feel that you really, really like someone, when you say it, tone it down and say, “Oh yeah I like you.”

It applies to the band too.  Even if you want to make lots of loud noises, you have to see the situation and make the proper sound.  For example, if you accidentally hit your hand and even though you feel, “Damn it hurts!!” you should still say “Oh it’s ok.”  That’s basic to maintaining relationships and communication with people.  It is the way of the Bushido. 

JRR: Let’s talk about food.

SHINYA: Ok!  Chanko nabe! (Laughs.)

JRR: We saw a video of you eating away.  What is your favorite food?

SHINYA: Hmm… I eat anything really, western, Japanese, everything.  I guess my favorite is hot pot.

JRR: What kind of hot pot?

SHINYA: Anything!  I really enjoy sharing something with everyone.  Kind of like Christ?  (Laughs.)  I like the feeling of “becoming one.”

There is a phrase “Onaji kama no meshi wo kuu” (to eat out of the same rice cooker) when the Japanese go on tour.  It means that, everyone is eating the same thing, moving at the same time, and getting to know each other better.  I really like that.

JRR: Do you cook?

SHINYA: Yes, I can make curry.

JRR: Do you start from scratch?

SHINYA: No, I use the rue purchased from supermarkets.

JRR: Any special curry in particular?

SHINYA: Keema Curry, with ground meat, onion, and whole potatoes.

JRR: Keema Curry?

SHINYA: Curry for ground meat.

JRR: Do you make it often?

SHINYA: I can’t eat curry everyday! (Laughs.)  But I do like it, yes.

JRR: If you can become a food, what would you be?

SHINYA: (Very hearty laugh.)  I think I would be rice!  I have to be the main food group!!  (Laughs.)

JRR: Why?

SHINYA: It is the main food of Japan.  I can’t settle for anything less than that.  (Laughs.)

JRR: You have vertigo?

SHINYA: Oh, you know that??

JRR: SUGIZO is planning on going to the moon; would you go with him?

SHINYA: Well, when people are able to visit the moon, that means the technology has really advanced.  I will stay in Japan and watch it on TV.  I will not go!!  (Laughs.)  It’s too dangerous!

I had to do a TV shooting a while back on the rooftop of NIPPON TELEVISION.  Since I’m afraid of heights, when I got to the drumset, I could not move away at all, and my whole body was very tense when I played.  The next day I had muscle aches all over.

JRR: Can you fly on airplanes?

SHINYA: No, I can’t.

JRR: LUNA SEA and Jrock have both become very popular overseas.

SHINYA: Oh really? Thank you!

 JRR:  Do you have a message for overseas fans?

SHINYA: I’m very bad at giving messages…. Hmm…  I don’t exactly have the experience to give a message… (Laughs.)  I think it is fate that people come to know us, whether through the internet or TV.  I hope everyone can treasure this fate that brings people together.

JRR: What are your resolutions, goals, new projects, and new releases for 2008?

SHINYA: There’s a lot of things planned.  In early 2008 there will be O-KURO MAKI’s tour until about May.  I’d also like to do things other than drums.  I do have several targets, but I am not the type to set a goal for an entire year.  If you have a goal, that’s as far as you can go, right?  I don’t like to see the goal as the only thing, so I want to try the very best, enjoy as much as possible, and at the end of the year, look back and say “Oh wow, I did all these things this year!”  I prefer and like that better.

JRR: Could you say something about this year then?

SHINYA: Oh. (Laughs.)

Well this year, there were a lot of things that made me think, why is it like this… There were things that troubled me, made me sad, and happy things such as LUNA SEA’s reunion, all the conflicts within me, everything became assets of my heart, no matter how sad something was.  I learn a lot from that.  The more sad emotions you go through, the more you learn how to be nice to people; the more happy emotions you go through, the more you know how to make people happy.  Everything becomes a treasure in my heart, and I get to verify, “Oh I’m this kind of person,” or “Maybe I should do it this way instead?”  I was made aware of those things a lot this year.

JRR: What is your resolution for the year?

SHINYA: Recently, I’m interested in mental/spiritual related things, and I have learned a lot about healing.  I want to open a salon that helps people who need mental healing. Actually, I am already in the process of doing so.  There will be power stones, well, how should I put it, music also, I want to see if there are other things besides music that I can use for healing.  I want to try it.  I will do it.

JRR: When do you plan to open the salon?

SHINYA: In April.

JRR: Whereabouts?

SHINYA: In Daikanyama.  I will be in the store so everyone should come! (Laughs.)

 Japanese transcription: HIBARA

English translation: Christina

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