Alice Nine is back. Going independent after their 10th anniversary live performance at Fuji-Q Conifer Forest, since then they've been going by the name "A9" and doing activities secretly. It has been a year since then, and finally the time has come.
On May 19th, just like when the 5 of them stood on the stage for the first time, they announced that they would be giving a 11th anniversary live performance at Toyosu Pit on August 23rd and that they will be fully revived as "Alice Nine".
About their going independent, the blank one year, and their comeback... Show, who has become more resolute, will talk about all of them for the first time in this interview.
In order for us to be able to continue this band even 10 years from now, shouldn't we revert back to going by ourselves? It was that kind of decision.
Q: It has been 2 years since your last appearance. Strangely, the last time you appeared here it was the time when you changed label, and the band underwent some changes. And this time, an even bigger change...
Show: That's right. If we keep undergoing changes like this, people might view us as a bunch of people who are unsatisfied with their current condition (laughs). But maybe we're not the kind of people who think that if we stay silent and put up with it, things will get better. We decide things by ourselves, or rather, after thinking things through, if we think "If we do this, things will surely get better" but we don't act on it, we will become anxious, and we have a fear of giving in to stuffs. I guess the 5 of us are that kind of people. Saga-kun said that we aren't a band which was formed by friends who are like "Because we want to do this kind of music", but rather, we went together because "If it's these people, won't we be able to do interesting stuffs?". And that's why, we're not satisfied with just being able to play certain kind of music, but if we don't have the sense to be assertive on things like where to go from here, then... As a result, we changed labels 3 times. Well, among them there was also time like, "When we realised it, we were already changing label" (laughs).
Q: When you're in a condition where you feel that it's difficult to move forward, you look for changes. I think everyone has this kind of thing.
Show: I think so too. In this sense, we reached this decision with the same thinking process as that time when I appeared here 2 years ago.
Q: Between the last interview and this one, you had a turning point on your 10th anniversary live performance. But after that, you went separate from the company which had managed you for a long time, and since then there was no news... I think there are also people who think, "What is going on?" Actually what was your reason for resigning from the company?
Show: First, that time when we changed label, I said, "We want to be where we can see the vision in which we can continue the band properly". That time we wanted to break away from the condition where we gamble with the same people to sell the same products. If we go on like this, won't we ourselves and our fans be worn down, get exhausted and it's the end? There was that sense of impending crisis so we wanted to change label. That time, we chose the method of changing our situation while working well with our company, which resulted in our decision to change label. That time, we explored for a best solution that we could reach while staying in that company. However, after 2 years of doing it, we realised that it wasn't the source. We wanted to grow more, to make something new which surpasses the frame of visual kei, and we want to be a band which is requested purely for our music and performance. That was the major premise. Further, we wanted to aim for more, or like, in order for us to be able to continue this band even 10 years from now, shouldn't we revert back to going by ourselves and shouldering the risk? Even though we might go to the trouble of choosing the hard path, we needed it. It was that kind of decision.
Q: So when you thought about 10 years from now, you found that if you keep being protected by this framework with the same management company and label, you won't be able to continue the band.
Show: I think so.
Q: If I say it in another way, with the current slump in music industry, if you don't do things by yourselves you won't last another 10 years. Is it right?
Show: Yeah. And the feeling to do things together among the members also increased, and that's why we could reach this decision. Last year, not only in Japan, we also went for an Asia tour with a total of 34 performances. That was the longest tour that Alice Nine has ever had. And during the tour, we felt that the energy that the members want from each other increased...
"Rather than rotting away, we want to burn ourselves out." If in this way we will end up rotting away anyway, we had to have the resolution of not being able to burn ourselves out.
Q: So you took the step because you felt that way. But it was a huge decision. I think, to continue the band for another 10 years means that from now on you have the full intention to continue with the band. But in reality, you might have more options now than you would 10 years from now.
Show: That's right (laughs). Among us, the one with the most realistic thinking is Nao-san (laughs). For him to make this decision, I was moved. To be honest, around 5 years into the band, once we also had this thing of 'wanting to resign from the company'. But that time, there were opinions like, "So we're blaming our incapability to the company?" or "Isn't it wrong?" Although, it was just that we had that kind of thinking at that time. But in the end, that time it was nothing more than finding fault in the people around us, or rather "We became like this in our 5th year" was because of our own incompetence, that was the conclusion that the 5 of us reached. And then, we were like, let's work harder, and the company gave us a chance to perform at Nippon Budokan, and supported us in various things. We're really grateful for all of them, and by having a clash among the members we were able to get out from our unsteadiness and be more like a rock band. I think it was a valuable experience. But, even though our opinions were divided at that time, this time, after giving our 10th anniversary live performance, we reached a conclusion that even though it would be full of risk, if we want to continue the band, then the only way was to go by ourselves. I myself was surprised, but also happy... Actually, it's not like we had this feeling of "wanting to resign from the company" in the beginning. Me personally. However, as we talked about it together, those words just came out. And I was convinced, maybe now is the time...
Q: So it's not that "You want to resign from the company", but rather, you want to do something about yourselves. You have that strong feeling.
Show: That's right. It's not like we had any dissatisfaction about the environment of the company. Strangely, they also took care of us properly like a welfare program (laughs). They give a decent living for band musicians, and they give something like parental love. In that regard, it was a really good place. But, with all the warmth, somehow.... If I'm not mistaken, I remember once Kurt Cobain said something like, "Rather than rotting away, I want to burn it out". I'm not talking about other bands in the company so don't misunderstand, but if we entrust ourselves in that warm environment, in our case, I think we would just rot away. If we will rot away anyway, it's alright if we will disappear but we'd rather burn ourselves out... Of course, I think we could maintain our situation at that time and improve things, but we had to have the resolution of not being able to burn ourselves out, and on the contrary there might not be a significance in our wanting to continue the band. And that's why when the opinion "Wouldn't it be better for us to leave the company?" came out, I realised it immediately.
Q: I think, even if you're in a fixed environment, as long as you don't forget to be hard on yourselves it won't end up becoming complacent. But, you were looking for a decisive change and wanted to decide things by yourselves, I guess?
Show: Yeah. As expected, we are also adults now (laughs). I think it's not a bad decision to want to walk our own path.
Q: And moreover, at the same time, it's not something like "We will stay indies forever" or "We won't get into contract with any company in the future".
Show: That's right.
Q: I want to clear my doubts one by one. But first, in your official site etc, you now go by the name 'A9'. What was the reason for it?
Show: Alice Nine was originally Alice 9 (in kanji), and it started from a session band. And in the sense that we wanted to go back to our origin, we wanted to do something temporary, like "Let's have something like a code name". And when the name A9 came out, Saga-kun also said, "It's cool, like U2!" (laughs). Even though I thought it's such a childish idea (laughs). So, rather than changing our name, it's more like, for now let's go with this. But when we go on stage and give a live performance, as expected, even though it's not like a courtesy to our fans who have been waiting for us, I think that we have to come back properly as Alice Nine. And there, we want to put the name "Alice Nine". After resigning from the company, as per contract we were able to start our activities in this spring, but we have to do a lot of preparations, so we want to go with the name "Alice Nine" when we give our live performance in August. Rather than comeback, I think it would be more of the day of our restart.
Q: Alice Nine will stay Alice Nine. It's just that, during the time until the 5 of you go back on stage, you're going with the codename A9. So it's something like this, I guess?
Show: Thank you for summing it up (laughs). I'm sorry it's a bit complicated.
Translated by Val. Original interview scans from 幻想.