Interview with Takanori Nishikawa

interview - 11.22.2009 19:01

JaME interviewed Takanori Nishikawa, the mastermind and vocalist of abingdon boys school, on their first European tour.

While the band was busy with stage set-ups and sound checks, Takanori Nishikawa of abingdon boys school consented to a brief interview with JaME, answering our questions concerning the tour, their next album and their European single release Teaching Materials.

You said in a video on your MySpace that you felt nervous about the European tour. How do you feel now that the first shows are over?

Takanori Nishikawa: At first I was really nervous, but as soon as I stood in front of the crowd on the first night and saw everyone enjoying themselves, I felt relieved. It was a pleasure to see the band and the audience having fun together.

Yesterday you played in Hamburg – your first German show. How did you perceive the German audience?

Takanori Nishikawa: Before the tour started I expected them to be reserved, very calm and cool. But yesterday they were really on fire. They were passionate, really great. When we played, they fed the energy back to us. It was really awesome.

So your Hamburg experience was positive?

Takanori Nishikawa: This time we'll only play four German shows but I expect the cities to be different and I am looking forward to each experience. It has been my dream to play in Germany -- I'm happy it finally worked out.

So you plan to come here more often in the future?

Takanori Nishikawa: We thought of how to raise abingdon boys school's publicity in Europe. We came to the conclusion that playing shows on a regular basis would be the best thing to do. We need your help to reach more people! (laughs)

Will you play shows in America?

Takanori Nishikawa: With abingdon boys school, not yet. T.M.Revolution is quite well-known in America so the popularity of abingdon boys school in Europe balances that pretty nicely.

What do you think makes Europe and the USA so different?

Takanori Nishikawa: (ponders) T.M.Revolution is more like an anime character in America. For the Americans, that is how they perceive T.M.Revolution and it is easier for them. European fans on the other hand, are more conscious of the music and concentrate on it. I think they are more interested in the band members, their musical background and experience. That's why abingdon boys school is a better fit for Europe.

You've just released Teaching Materials in Europe. Why did you opt for a single compilation instead of just releasing an album?

Takanori Nishikawa: In Europe, people usually release an album before lifting singles from it. It's the other way round in Japan. First, you release a couple of songs for the people to get an impression of the type of music you make. We simply followed this tradition.

Because they represent the basic style of the album?

Takanori Nishikawa: Yes, exactly.

Is your European set list somewhat inspired by Teaching Materials ?

Takanori Nishikawa: Yes, most of the songs can be found on Teaching Materials -- songs we haven't played in a while. It is really fun.


Takanori Nishikawa: Yes!

Is your new single From Dusk Till Dawn part of your repertoire for this tour?

Takanori Nishikawa: This song hasn't been released in Japan yet. We are playing it for the first time in this tour.

Thank you, that's an honour. How did the audience respond to it? How did it feel to play it live?

Takanori Nishikawa: The response was quite positive. The way the fans behaved, it was as if they had known the song for a long time!

What makes this single special compared to the last one? You worked with a string section, right?

Takanori Nishikawa: (ponders) Yes, working with a string section was an exceptional experience. Apart from that, it is the first time we chose a mid-tempo ballad for a single. Nephilim, for instance, uses a similar tempo, but this song is unique. When I wrote this song, I was thinking of my family and people that are dear to me. That's why it sounds so different.

Who supported you in the studio?

Takanori Nishikawa: Shinya of LUNA SEA played the drums.

How did this come about? Are you friends?

Takanori Nishikawa: I'm good friends with LUNA SEA. We have known each other since we were 19 -- a long time! L'arc~en~ciel as well -- all of us are familiar with each other. For the recording of the single, Shinya instantly came to my mind. I was sure his skills would suit the song perfectly.

What is your relation with BUCK-TICK? You covered one of their songs.

Takanori Nishikawa: I organised a festival in September for the first time where BUCK-TICK happened to perform as well. We have a good relationship. BUCK-TICK, just like other bands, never thought about touring Europe. This is the first time for abingdon boys school and I would like to come back with other bands joining us. That would be a dream come true.

You announced a new album for 2010.What can we expect?

Takanori Nishikawa: We will experiment a lot and test our musical potential. We would like to show everyone fresh, different aspects of our music.

Do you already have a specific concept for this album?

Takanori Nishikawa: It is made of simple songs like From Dusk Till Dawn, but also a couple of heavier songs. We have already recorded some of them. For instance, one of of the songs is a mixture of heavy and progressive rock. But all in all it is a very balanced album.

Is there already a title and can you share it with us? Or is it a secret?

Takanori Nishikawa: No, I'm still thinking about it. (laughs)

Which event or band made you pursue a musical career?

Takanori Nishikawa: When I was 14 or 15, during junior high, I played in a cover band. We played songs by Dokken, The Scorpions, Accept, Judas Priest... we covered many German bands during that time. Our guitarist liked Michael Schenker and that kind of music. We pretty much grew up listening to German heavy metal.

So it is predestined that you are now performing in the country that prompted your career?

Takanori Nishikawa: Back then, I would have never guessed that I would ever perform in Germany. But this year we made it and that makes me happy. We'll work hard so I'll be able to build a house here in the future. (laughs)

What was your motivation to start a project apart from T.M.Revolution? You once said that a schoolboy image would help to break free from the boundaries of the music industry. What was your main reason to start a band?

Takanori Nishikawa: I started to play music in a band, but I became successful as a solo artist. Despite my success, I felt like I was missing something and this was the feeling of being in a band. This wish to be part of a band made me start abingdon boys school. Meeting the other members was also a reason.

You knew your bandmates before, didn't you? They were support members of T.M.Revolution.

Takanori Nishikawa: Yes, they played in T.M.Revolution. One support member knew a guy from the same school of the same age who also happened to play music. This is how I met them. We realized it worked, the chemistry was right.

Some of your songs are being used for anime soundtracks. Do you write them for specific projects or do the producers look at your songs and pick the one they like?

Takanori Nishikawa: It depends. Sometimes people approach us and tell us that they need a particular song. Sometimes they hear a song in a show and find that it fits their project, so they request it.

Do you have a personal interest in anime? Which ones do you like?

Takanori Nishikawa: Ah… Tough question. My philosophy with both T.M.Revolution and abingdon boys school is that I only work for series I like. If I like them, I would take the job. If not, I would decline the offer.

So you watched, for instance, Darker Than Black yourself? (laughs)

Takanori Nishikawa: (laughs) Yes. From Dusk Till Dawn is the ending theme for the second series. I try to maintain a good relationship with the production company and they are very supportive of us. I take great care that our relationship stays intact and everything goes smoothly.

Any last words to your German fans?

Takanori Nishikawa: Unfortunately we are just going to play four shows this time around. Next time we'd like to stay longer and we need your support to do that!

JaME would like to thank Holger Brandes, GanShin, Midori and of course Takanori Nishikawa and his management for the opportunity to do this interview.
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