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Zero-shiki Vital Stats
Yuuki Asama
Yuuki Asama - Vocals
Birthday: November 18
Birthplace: Hokkaido
Blood type: B

Masato Date
Masato Date - Bass
Birthday: January 20
Birthplace: Kanagawa Prefecture
Blood type: A

Keijiro Arima
Keijiro Arima - Drums
Birthday: July 24
Birthplace: Ibaraki Prefecture
Blood Type: B

Thunder Gun song sample

Kotowari (The Reason)


Gesso (Running in the Moonlight)


DISCOGRAPHY

Gekkaju to Sekai (June 08)


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Interview Comments

Zero-shiki Interview

What will become of the spoiled and foolish generation
Who have been given only toys
Grown-ups should teach their children the way to grow up

Zero-shiki

Those are lyrics from the song Thunder Gun by the band Zero-shiki, a group that is not shy of including controversial issues in their music (as one would expect from a group that shares the same name with the famous WWII "Zero" fighter). The band is powered by the songwriting of their philosophical vocalist, Yuuki Asama, and backed by Masato Date on bass and Keijiro Arima on drums. Its music from the heart with something to say about the times we live in.

On July 12, 2009 the members of Zero-shiki were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Zero-shiki with credits to Aki Yoshikawa.


Let's start with the formation of the band. How did the four of you first meet?

Yuuki Asama: At first, the drummer was a different guy. And the guitarist left the group in April this year.

Masato Date: A funky drummer and a funky guitarist, weren't they?

Yuuki: Yeah, funky. So funky that they left. (laughs) *All the members laugh.*

Yuuki: Masato found Cage (Keijiro Arima). He came to see our gig when we were the original members.

Keijiro Arima: Little did I dream that I would beat the drums for Zero-shiki.

Yuuki: Everyone does the same thing. We always recognize a phenomenon in this world as someone else's business.

Keijiro: Is that such a philosophical story?

Yuuki: Rather it's a trivial thing.

Keijiro: Sometimes I don't understand Mr. Asama's words. But they are somehow convincing. That's why I wanted to beat the drums for Zero-shiki and accepted the invitation.

What other groups or projects have everyone been in before?

Yuuki: I once belonged to a group called "Tsubame" (meaning "sparrow"). When Tsubame broke up, I quit music. But the God of rock told me to sing. Then I formed Zero-shiki. I joined a movie project and wrote the theme song and the tunes for it. You know, the movie won the grand prix at an international film festival.

Masato: I've performed as a progressive rock bassist with various musicians. I was a member of a group called Tyrant, and the group has been highly appreciated worldwide.

Keijiro: I was pulling out the weeds. (Note: He was once a drummer of a metal band.)

What made you decide to form the band?

Yuuki: All the members of Zero-shiki loved my songs. It seems they didn't like me, but they loved my songs. (laughs) Such guys gathered and the band was formed.

Who came up with the name and what does it mean?

Yuuki: It was I that came up with the name. Maybe the name "Zero-shiki" is not a good one because the combat planes which killed many people in World War II is called Zero-shiki (or Zerosen). But we don't use the name as it is. In the hope that we are always "zero", I named my group Zero-shiki. It's a little bit philosophical, but in "zero" everything in the world exists and everything doesn't exist at all.

What was the first year together like? Why type of places did you play at?

Yuuki: In our first year we had gigs at large clubs. It is a good memory that we had our show at one of the famous clubs in Japan, Shinjuku Loft. Besides that we set out in screen music.

In June of 2008 you released your first album. Can you tell us about it? What is the style of music it contains?

Yuuki: The title of the album is "Gekkaju to Sekai." It contains 6 tunes including a bonus track. Its style of music? Of course it's in the "Zero-shiki style".

Zero-shiki's album announcement

How big of a moment was that for you all?

Masato: It was completed just one year after Zero-shiki had been formed. I was happy because we could finally send our music to our fans.

Yuuki: I expected the number of guys who kill people for nothing would decrease. Of course, after they listened to this album.

Do you have favorite songs to play live?

Yuuki: Andrew, that's a silly question. To every song we've been giving our love equally. I mean we want to play all the songs, you know?

Masato: No, I always want to play new tunes. By the way, I think all our tunes are songs, so we are playing our songs.

Keijiro: I like to play Hidarite wo Nigiru Hito (A Girl who Grasps my Left Hand) and Gretel ni Hanataba Wo (A Bouquet to Gretel). As for the former, I like the story in it. I've experienced almost the same thing sung in the song. I'm always shedding tears while I play it. As for the latter, I just like the tone of it as a drummer.

Yuuki: Oh, have you all felt that way? (laughs)

Your song Thunder Gun has a powerful, almost nostalgic feel to it. Can you tell us the story of how it was written and recorded? What does the song mean to you?

Yuuki: This tune was based on tragedies that actually occurred. In the tragedies many lives were taken away. One was Columbine High School massacre in the U. S. in 1999. The other was the tragedy in Nagasaski city, Japan in 2007 in which a criminal shot a shotgun at random. In Japan, songs with a theme of a tragic affair have been strictly censored. Especially, the censorship to music groups which are not famous like Zero-shiki is strict to an abnormal degree. That is, we have no freedom of speech in Japan.

This is why I coded the song title. "Shotgun" in Japanese is "san-dan-ju". I changed "san-dan-ju" into "sandar-ju" meaning a "thunder gun". A thunder gun is a weapon heroes use to beat evil. But it doesn't hurt anyone. In the hope that a tragedy will never occur, I wrote this song. This is the first time I told the story behind it.

When we were kids, our heroes on TV who punish evil men use fantastic weapons like the thunder gun. Like I said, the thunder gun harms no one. It revives withered flowers and fills evil hearts with tenderness. Now that we've grown up, we have found the thunder gun is unreal. Instead, a song called Thunder Gun was born.

THUNDER GUN

Shoot so hard with a thunder gun
Shoot so hard with a thunder gun
Shoot so hard with a thunder gun
There disappear one by one my precious ones

If you get lovesick, it will take your life away
What will become of the spoiled and foolish generation
Who have been given only toys
Grown-ups should teach their children the way to grow up
Don't put blame and crap on others

Not knowing how to hold their precious ones
Controlled by the desire to control others
What they have broken like their toys is someone's future

Shoot so hard with a thunder gun
Even if you beat someone, don't hurt him
Shoot so hard with a thunder gun
Who is right behind you?

Shoot so hard with a thunder gun
Ah, it's strange, my tears are falling
Now is the very time I shoot a bullet through my body
Shoot so hard with a thunder gun

© Words & Music by Yuuki Asama

About the line "spoiled and foolish generation": Before 2003 almost all Japanese students had to go to school 6 days a week. Many people thought that children were forced to study too much. Since 2003 the system has changed and the children have had less classes and Saturdays and Sunday off. This is called the "education with more free time". But consequently their grades have slipped. And they have been thought to be spoiled. So the children who received the new education are sometimes mocked for having less knowledge than the older generation.

Can you tell us more about how you write and record your songs? What else inspires you musically?

Yuuki: Many things have inspired the music of Zero-shiki. Everything in this world influences the music of our group. We don't have a particular process of making our tunes. It's quite common that I write a song and all of us arrange it.

Zero-shiki live -  photos by Aki Yoshikawa

What type of interaction do you have with fans? Do you get to know the same people overtime or do you keep some distance?

Yuuki: I've tried to keep some distance.

Do you have a favorite club to perform at?

Yuuki: It depends not just on a club but on the people who work for it.

Masato: In Japan many clubs do nothing but try to make a profit.

Keijiro: I like clubs which serve good alcoholic drinks.

When you aren't recording or performing with the group, what do you do in your own lives?

Yuuki: I drink, read books and take a walk. My private life isn't so exciting as my fans expect.

Masato: Jogging, enough sleep and keeping regular hours. I wish I could lead a life with those things. (laughs)

Keijiro: I'm pulling out the weeds.

Zero-shiki live -  photos by Aki Yoshikawa

You play most of your shows in Tokyo? Have you performed elsewhere or have plans or desires to?

Yuuki: Yes. We have gigs in Tokyo. Though Zero-shiki has never performed elsewhere, we want to perform not just in Japan but all over the world.

What are the band's plans for the rest of the year?

Yuuki: We want to have gigs and write songs little by little.

Let's get to know everyone better. Can you each describe the hometown you grew up in?

Yuuki: The hometown where I was born is surrounded by rich nature. The food is good and people are warm. In short, everything is simple there. It isn't the place for people who seek excitement.

Masato: I was born and brought up in the center of Japan. It's a convenient place to live in. There are a lot of buildings we have built, a gray sky, a muddy river, and a crowd. Everything is jumbled there. The small part of nature left there is sometimes our only pleasure.

Keijiro: My hometown is in the out-of-doors in Ibaraki Prefecture. Rice fields stretch as far as you can see. You can feel the four seasons from head to heel all the better for it. Good weeds grow freely.

How did everyone first get into music?

Yuuki: I was bullied all the time when I was a kid. Also I was abused by my parents. So I thought I was different from other kids. One day, playing the guitar (I learned to play by watching other people) I was singing a song on a street, expressing my feelings in those days. Then, though it was only one person, there was one who shed tears while listening to my song. Since that moment my music had begun.

Masato: I wonder when it was. It might be when I was three years old, I began to learn the electone under the influence of my mother, who likes classical music and the Beatles. An electrone is a kind of electronic organ, which has various tones, a rhythm box, and foot pedals similar to those of a pipe organ. My father might expect me to be a musician then. I thought I would be an electone teacher. But I gave it up halfway. I began to play music mainly in a group. But if I have enough time, I think I will take an exam to be an electone teacher.

It was after I quit playing the electone that I found out what a bass guitar is like. A friend of mine in my high school encouraged me to play it. I was immediately crazy about the charms of the strings. In those days I expected that a musician would be loved by many girls, though.

Keijiro: I began music simply because I wanted to be popular with many girls. Thanks to my playing the drums, I've had a cute girlfriend. 80% of what prompts guys to start music is like that, isn't it?

How did you pick the musical instrument you play?

Masato: I bought the instrument I'm using now about ten years ago. I tried it and then it was impulse buying. I guess a good encounter is necessary to get a good instrument.

Keijiro: In most cases I try what looks nice, and if it's good to play, I will buy it. If you don't love your instruments, you can't make good tones, I guess.

Do you have a favorite guitar, bass or drum set you always use?

Yuuki: Mine are orthodox. I like using SM58. My blues harp is a marine band.

Masato: The bass I mainly play is a Tobias bass with 6 strings which had been made before Mr. Tobias made Michael Tobias Design bases. My sub-bass guitar is a red YAMAHA RBX6JM.

Keijiro: What I'm always using are a LUDWIG's snare drum, a Pearl's twin pedal, and PAiSTE's China cymbals. Recently those are shot and so I'm thinking of having them repaired or buying new ones.

Who has been your greatest musical inspiration?

Yuuki: If I dare pick one, it's Kenji Miyazawa. He is a Japanese poet and writer.

Masato: Goethe as a poet.

Keijiro: Shinji Tanimura, whose songs were always heard in my father's car. Whenever my father drove me somewhere, I heard his songs in my childhood, so I remember almost all the songs.

Other than music what do you do for fun and relaxation?

Yuuki: That is, of course, something a man and a woman do together.

Masato: When I don't meet anyone once in a while, I get myself together.

Keijiro: I'm pulling out the weeds.

Anyone married or have kids?

Yuuki: The former members are married and have their kids, but the present members are all single.

What do your family and friends think of your musical career?

Yuuki: My family have been cheering for me. Among my friends, some are envious of me. Well, I don't call those guys my friends.

Masato: My family have been cheering for me privately. So have my friends.

Keijiro: It seems my family are worried about my future, but at the same time they are more willing to support me. Anyway, they aren't against me. Well, my girlfriend sometimes doesn't like it that I'm a musician. She is jealous when I talk about the members of Zero-shiki. She seems jealous not of my music but of the members. (laughs)

What do you want everyone to know most about Zero-shiki?

Yuuki: I want them to know themselves through the music of Zero-shiki.

Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?

Yuuki: Because all I want to say is in our songs, please listen to them.

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

All the members: We love you, you idiots.


For more info checkout Zero-shiki's official site (Japanese) and Masato Date's MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments