Live Report Exclusive

CLOSE To You LIVE 2021 [Home sweet Home] at Machida The Play House

21/11/2021 2021-11-21 01:00:00 JaME Author: Masa Sasaki

CLOSE To You LIVE 2021 [Home sweet Home] at Machida The Play House

CLOSE proved that they're one of the premier live acts in Tokyo, and JaME also caught up with guitarist Kouji for an interview about their reunion.

© CLOSE. All rights reserved.
Many must be dreaming about visiting Tokyo once Japan reopens its borders. Once that happens, the next logical question is which show to attend? At their legendary home venue Machida The Play House, rock band CLOSE proved that they're one of Tokyo's premier live acts.

When it comes to CLOSE, everything is professional. Not only their sound and look, but also their seriousness about following the Tokyo Metropolitan government’s strict capacity limit for entertainment shows. The tickets were all sold out for this show and the venue was filled with lucky fans.

The show began with EYES, a song from their demo tape released in 1997. The band seemed quite relaxed and the audience also seemed very happy to embrace the band at their home venue while listening to a song many must have first heard live back in their days at The Play House. This Play House is the third one. CLOSE used to play at the first Play House, where LUNA SEA used to perform. Also, CLOSE was the first band to play at the second Play House. Both venues are now permanently closed. Only the current Machida The Play House remains in business.

The fun and nostalgia for longtime fans continued with Fictions, a song from their independent era EP For you...that was released in 1998. Another song from their demo tape era, RAZE, created a great groove with the fans.

Tomorrow has a special place in both the members' and fans' hearts, as it was the band's major debut single. This important track was followed by Sou, a song released after their reunion. These two songs were the highlight of the show. Both the band and fans truly got back into a tight groove again and it felt like they were starting to create a new history together, looking forward to the future. You could clearly feel the energy and the bond between the band and their fans.

Although, CLOSE did not maintain this high energy level by playing an upbeat song such as Love You or Escapist next. Instead, a slower song, WALK, was played, followed by Konomama. Both songs highlighted the band's slower side, showing their versatility and how serious they are about quality songwriting and maintaining their performance skills. The show continued with more B-sides and songs from their independent era. The quality of their songs made this show’s set list a remarkable one.

Towards the end of the set, during False, both the band and fans seemed to be truly enjoying experiencing the atmosphere at the familiar venue together. CLOSE announced that their next show will be held at the same venue on January 15th, 2022 and they ended the night with their post reunion song One in a million. The positive energy shared between the band members and their fans showed that this is not a sentimental or short term reunion, CLOSE is fully back and they are moving forward into the future with their fans.

Set list

01. EYES
02. Risei-no control-
04. Sayonara no Kuchibiru
06. RAZE
07. Tommorow
08. Sou
09. WALK
10. Konomama
11. False
13. Looking for you

16. One in a million

JaME also had the opportunity to catch up with CLOSE and Neo Atomic Motor guitarist Kouji to learn more about the reason for the band's reunion and their future plans. Check out the interview with him below.

Interview with Kouji from CLOSE and Neo Atomic Motor

Kouji, thank you for taking the time for this interview out of your busy schedule with CLOSE and Neo Atomic Motor. We really appreciate it! You have maintained a good friendship with us and your US fans since your band Neo Atomic Motor's BEYOND THE HORIZON US East Coast Tour back in 2016. We covered that tour, and now we are here for your legendary band CLOSE. How great is that!

So Kouji, can you explain to JaME's readers and the world how the band got back together after two decades?

Kouji: CLOSE broke up in January 2001. Since then, each member has lived in their own way. Soon after that, I started Neo Atomic Motor and I am constantly active with that band. We even toured the US a few times, as you know. Like I said, the other members had their own things going and were satisfied with that. CLOSE's reunion was not motivated by a lack of fulfillment in each member’s music career or our personal lives.

About five years ago, I started seeing Naohiro and Kenji sometimes. We talked about CLOSE, but we did not know what was going on with Takeshi and Ryohei. So we just had some food and drinks. Just hanging, you know? That went on for years, then around 2019, Kenji told us that he had some real ideas for a reunion. I'll refrain from going into the details, but honestly speaking, I was interested in his plans of utilizing all our experiences since the band's break up. So was Naohiro.

Then we heard that Ryohei started playing the drums again. That was good news, because we knew that he wasn’t playing for a while. He was cool with the reunion. Finally, it was up to Takeshi whether he wanted to do it or not.

He and I went to the same high school, so I could have contacted him through our mutual friend. Instead, Kenji and I just showed up at his door as a surprise. It had been years since the last time we had seen each other face to face. Luckily, he was at home. He was quite shocked too. We explained to him about the reunion and suggested that all of us should get together for a meeting.

Last spring, we had that meeting and actually started the reunion plan with all parties' agreement. The reason why we made an official announcement earlier in January was not because it was the 20th anniversary since our break-up in January 2001. The year was a coincidence. Since that was the case, we thought "Why not make it in January?" So we did. Well, each member may have different reasons why they agreed on the reunion. Although we are all heading in the same direction, and that’s to be “CLOSE” to you again.

How do you and the band feel now after playing an amazing set at CLOSE's home, the legendary venue Machida The Play House?

Kouji: Needless to say, it was such an amazing time. As you know, this is the legendary venue where a lot of top musicians have played. More than admiration, The Play House is like a parent to us. It helped CLOSE to grow.

Miraculously, this is the venue where we met Ryohei, who was in a different band. Each of us was drawn here. Together, we shared lots of experiences. It certainly gave us special feelings for playing again at Machida The Play House as CLOSE. Again, everything was awesome and fun. I believe that the audiences and band members fed each other back positive energies. The whole atmosphere was great. That was the one and only way to be CLOSE to you again. We are more convinced of that now than we were after our initial reunion show in Shibuya in August.

During the show, I believe's instrumental chill out version was played as the BGM. The opening SE was instrumental as well. Nowadays, many people work from home and there is a clear demand for relaxing instrumental music. Can you guys think about releasing those versions of CLOSE's songs?

Kouji: Haha!! We have an amazing singer, Naohiro. At this moment, we do not have a plan for releasing the instrumental versions of CLOSE's songs. Although we are interested in that. CLOSE’s music has some compatible melody lines for piano and music box. For a special occasion, there is a possibility we could release it. Personally speaking, I love making instrumental tracks such as the opening SE of our The Play House show. I am happy to make new tracks.

You guys released three new songs so far since the reunion earlier this year. Were those songs from your past stock or brand new? How did those songs come together?

Kouji: Sou and One in a million are the new songs. Kenji took the initiative to write songs. Then we did band arrangements as CLOSE.

Koi no Meiro existed back in 1999 or 2000. We did not change much for that one. I remember recording the song feeling nostalgic. We have a few other new songs and pre-existing songs. Those are for the future. Stay tuned. We are looking forward to it!

The next CLOSE concert is taking place at Machida The Play House on January 15th, 2022. Will your fans in the US and around the world be able to watch the show online?

Kouji: At this point, we are not sure about that. It depends on the streaming platform. If we decide to do it and it is the same platform, you should be able to access it from the US. If we decide not to do it or change the platform, you may need to check it online. Personally speaking, I would love to have you watching CLOSE concerts from wherever you are.

Can we expect more shows and new music for next year?

Kouji: Thank you for your expectations! When we talked about reuniting the band, we set a standard for not being bound to anything, but keeping our own pace. We do like having multiple professional teams for each section of the band's business and working together for the same goal. It brings a certain level of focus and seriousness.

Although, for this reunion, we are working with a minimal number of staff whom we trust. Personally speaking, now that we have less people in our team, I think we should take advantage of the flexibility we have to create a strong base. That will be the foundation of CLOSE if we build a bigger team. This way, our core will never change. We will be down to earth and move forward at our own pace. We enjoy positive expectations!

Can you tell us what changed within the band and what's not changed?

Kouji: It has been less than a year since the reunion. It would be too early to say such things. Can you ask me the same question on the next occasion? One thing that has not changed is our policy is to be “Close to you”. We added “Again” to make it “Close to you again” for the reunion. Basically, we have kept that policy since our formation and reunion.

Is there a possibility for a future North American or European tour?

Kouji: The answer is, yes. We want to be close to you again. If a lot of fans' voices reach us, the possibility for us to come to your town will become bigger. For now, we would like music fans in the US, North America, and all over the world to enjoy our music through online streaming services. Let’s take it from there.

Can you give a message to JaME's readers and your fans around the world?

Kouji: Let me introduce you and the world to this Japanese rock band CLOSE. The most unique part of our style is the melancholic yet beautiful melodies inspired by a Japanese perception of beauty. As you know, Japan is an island country that has four seasons. Each season has its own beauty and each country has its own as well. That produces unique cultures.

Well, I'm not a critic, so I should cut it short. I believe that music is not something that can be fully explained in words. We say seeing is believing. One real experience you have is so much more than any rumors or impressions you hear from other people.

Nowadays in 2021, we can experience whatever music from wherever. That said, the door for CLOSE is open. We would love you to experience CLOSE by your own ears, eyes, (and your whole body, if you are in Japan). Let’s hope soon in the future we will all get together and enjoy music in the same space ... CLOSE to You Again.
Thanks and cheers!

JaME would like to thank Kouji once again for making time for this interview.

For more information on CLOSE and their future activities, fans can keep an eye on their official website. Links to download and stream the band's music via iTunes / Apple Music, Spotify and other online platforms are available here.

CLOSE's March single Sou can be streamed via Apple Music and Spotify below.

 CLOSE - Official Website  Download or stream CLOSE's music

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