Interview with HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT
The four HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT members answered our questions during a convention South of France.
Could you please introduce yourselves to people who don’t know you yet?
Hiro: I’m Hiro, the guitarist.
ANZA: I’m ANZA, on vocals.
Batch: My name is Batch, I’m the drummer.
Narumi: Narumi, on bass.
ANZA and Hiro, you are both founding members of the band. How did you get the idea of HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT? And how did you meet the other members?
ANZA: Originally, I had a solo career. I needed some musicians during my tours to support me on stage and there were other musicians in the agency I was working for, one of whom was Hiro. We had the opportunity to talk together several times and we thought that it would be nice to make heavier and harder music. Narumi was originally a guitarist for another band. Just before our first show in New York, we had some trouble with our bassist, whom for familial reasons could not longer play with us. So we urgently asked Narumi to replace the bassist, though he was a formally a guitarist. (laughs)
Wasn’t it difficult to learn to play the songs at such short notice?
Narumi: Actually, I was originally a fan of the band. I went to see their live and often got myself employed as staff member, (laughs) so it wasn’t that hard.
ANZA: Five years ago, some members left the band. And for three and a half years, Batch was a support drummer. He was then occasionally present during lives and such, but it was only two years ago that he joined the band as an official member.
Awile back, guitarist Mar left the band, leaving you with only four members now. Do you plan to continue this way or search for a new member?
ANZA: Mar indeed ceased to make music since last year for private reasons. We have been playing together for eleven years, so unlike a new band, it’s more difficult for us to integrate a new member than to carry on with only four members.
And what about the songs? Wasn’t it to difficult to adapt them to this quartet?
ANZA: There were originally two guitarists, but Mar wasn’t the lead guitarist since Hiro held that position. Generally, we rearranged the songs and Mar’s part is now played by Narumi on the bass.
You have been active as a band for more than ten years. What do you think about the evolution of your music when you look back?
ANZA: Until now, we haven't really had the opportunity to play in Europe, except once in Sweden. We are thinking about the possibility of having a tour soon.
In so many years, you certainly have had a lot of experiences. Could you tell the us the best or worst experiences you have had?
ANZA: Hmm… there would be two. One in Japan and a second one in Europe. Overseas, fans are really hot. We can really interact with the audience there and we don’t want to lose the passion they have for us. In Japan, our best experience was to participate in this rock festival in 2007 where big names like Slipknot performed. It’s the biggest rock festival in Japan and we are happy to have taken part in it.
ANZA, you began your career by acting in musicals where you played roles such as Sailor Moon. How did you change from rather pop-oriented music to metal?
ANZA: (laughs) For me, it doesn’t change a lot. What I wanted was to express from the deepest of my heart every kind of feeling and sometimes, in musical comedies or musicals, it’s a little hard to express sadness or that kind of negative feeling. I then turned towards rock, a hard kind of rock, because it seemed more appropriate. But for me, it isn’t so different. But indeed, for some Japanese fans, I’ve become like the Devil.
You are the only woman in the band, how does it feel?
ANZA: No problem! (in English) I’m a tomboy and the other members are like little girls. (laughs)
How do you compose your songs?
Hiro: Actually, we gather together and have jam sessions. We discuss and each of one of us comes up with his own ideas. Then, once everyone has said what he wanted to say, we shape the songs in the studio.
Don’t you have lots of difficulty finding the balance between what everyone expects?
ANZA: Hmm... Sometimes with Hiro, we have some clashes. Between the guitarist and the singer, it doesn’t work well. It’s because each one thinks he's the leader. (laughs)
You use a lot of English in your lyrics. Is it difficult for you to sing or compose in this language?
ANZA: The lyrics are originally written in Japanese, then we translate the text like most bands do. Even if I don’t really speak English, the way I structure the sentences and express myself seems closer to English than to Japanese. It’s Narumi who translates what I write to English.
Musically, some of your songs are rather tribal. ANZA, you have South African blood from your mother's side. Does this influence you in any way?
ANZA: Yes, I think that my South African origins influence me somehow, but what inspires me as well is the world's music in general. I like Indian music very much for example, so some influences come from my own taste.
On stage, you have a very particular way of expressing yourself — you seem very withdrawn. However, you succeed in communicating with the audience very well. How do you do this?
ANZA: Our goal isn’t to get closer to the audience and our music does not have the objective of bringing people together. We really want people to enjoy our music and have the freedom to appreciate it. We don't want to impose our music on others and what we hope for is reaching high instead of going ahead.
This is not the first time you’ve playing at this kind of convention, which is rather different from a rock festival or normal live. In your opinion, what are the differences and how do you manage the stage in this context?
ANZA: Unlike in Japan, there isn't a clear division between rock and animation. There are many people overseas who really like both metal and animation and it’s true that it’s much easier because people don’t create divisions. One can like anime and rock at the same time.
Your last release, Pobl Liw, is a self-covered album. Why such a release and what kind of challenge was it to remake your own songs?
ANZA: Actually, it was made for an anime convention in Brazil that we took part in. We were told that we had to play acoustically, something that we have never done before. We then chose two songs and rearranged them for an acoustic setting. As it was pretty nice, we decided to make an acoustic album on which we covered our songs in order to celebrate our 10th anniversary.
Hiro: The arrangements were less complicated than we thought. As the song was well-structured and the composition was nice, we could arranged them easily in acoustic.
Apart from this Euro tour that you mentioned before, do you have any plans for the future?
ANZA: Firstly, when we return to Japan, we will be very busy working on our new album for which we still have to write the songs. In April and May we will be in the studio to record all this. In June we will release a new DVD as we just finished our first one-man tour.
HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT: Thank you.
JaME would like to thank HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT, their management and the Japan Expo staff and translator for making this interview possible.