LOUD CUT Special Interview




This album will be saying hello and introducing the Popsicle-world to the Sumaga players, but at the same time, it is an album that won't disappoint the expectations of the Popsicle-fans who's been supporting us for long. (Fujishima)

Swinging Popsicle Interview
Mineko Fujishima

--- Although the album started its recording from Sumaga, the latter half of the tunes are the original tunes of Swinging Popsicle. How was the consequences in recording the Popsicle original tunes?


Hirata : Since we've been keeping in our mind to challenge on something we haven't done, we worked on self-covering of the old tunes, in which we've never tried on. Also, as the old tunes from that we released during the contracts with Sony Music is no longer in press, we've been getting questions how to buy them, as dead stock CDs are very hard to find. Therefore, I thought that it was a good idea to include two self-cover tunes as a new experimental approach. Furthermore, we wanted to try remixing in a mono-mix. There's more reasons in including our original tunes. Though the we've got the Sumaga players to listen to our music, most of them don't know our previous activity in the past 10 years. I wanted introduce our original tunes to them, the tunes that's previous from the theme song of Sumaga. Of course there are people who caught interest from Sumaga and bought our previous CDs from searching the discography. But since this was a good opportunity, I just wanted to introduce some more of them, included like a bonus track in some sense. Still though, packing the old tunes to the album without any arrangement isn't cool at all, so I've tried the trendy "remastering" approach, which was also an approach we've never tried before. lol


--- What brought you to pick up those tracks to be self-covered or remastered? Any reasons?


Fujishima : "Let Me Fly" and "Afterglow" are the tunes from the Sony Music years and this "Afterglow" shows up most often in our live setlists. However, since it was recording in the very earliest years our discography, this song were very hard find on store. In addition to it, since we've been playing for this long, the arrangements and the taste of the tune becomes totally different and sophisticated. So, we decided to include this in "LOUD CUT" as we thought it regrettable for our fans not to give them a chance to listen to on CD. As long as Swinging Popsicle keeps being performing active, "Afterglow" will often be included in the live setlists, as it is like a standard-tune for us. Now next, "Let Me Fly" wasn't included in any of our albums, as it was a bundling track for the single LP of "Satetsu no Tou", but this tune raises up the mood of the stage when played live. I included this track so that the listeners can listen to it once again, aside from the live houses. So, there was this idea of recording the tunes that's only played in live.


--- Also, why did you remaster it in mono-mix?


Hirata : As you can see from the title "LOUD CUT", The Beatles is always a fundamental basis for us and as the remastered album of The Beatles is going to be released both on stereo and mono mix, we followed them. When mono-mixing hits the sweet spot in remastering the tracks, it makes it sound fabulous. However, it is very difficult to get the acoustic image of it. Therefore, we needed a sound engineer who's very skilled in mono-mix. Mr. Kawaguchi had the experience of recording the mono-mix tracks for the Blue Hearts, the Cro-Magnons, and the High-Lows, so we asked him do the mono-mix for this album.


--- The sounds takes me back to the good old days.


Hirata : Doesn't it? Since "Let me fly" was just performed with piano and vocal, it doesn't sound much different using the mono-mix, but we've managed to hit the sweet spot for "Afterglow". When I listened to it in the studio, I thought "Wow, this tune's cool". Fujishima also loves this recording of "Afterglow" so much that she wanted to put the tune in the earlier parts of the album. Though, the tune ended up in the current position, cause this was just the spot to release the track in. For example, if artists like Ayumi Hamasaki released her track in mono-mix, everyone would wonder "Why would she ever want to do that?", but when it comes to Swinging Popsicle, there's nothing unnatural in doing mono-mix, due to the taste of our music. We love the oldies pop music and have been naturally listening to the mono-mix tracks for long, so we're not intentionally aiming to release the mono-mix tracks in a commercial sense. It's just that we've never had a chance to get in touch with an engineer who's highly skilled in mono-mix recording and the opportunity luckily came this time.


--- Listening to the Popsicle tunes, I feel the love and respect to The Beatles' music.


Hirata : We're not only musicians ourselves but music fans at the same time, so even though we're not young any more, we always have the desire to do lot of homages from them.


Fujishima : Stimulation is the key. We create our style of our music through learning-by-doing method, but that's not perfect. Before you want to compose, something that stimulates your interest will enhance the composing imagination. I think the challenge in mono-mix tracks was one of those as well. When Hirata-kun brought up this idea of mono-mix and when that sounds interesting, why not take action? This sounded like the concepts and the mentality of The Beatles' music. They were always the pioneer, actively challenging on the new stuff that they've thought up of, stuff no one has ever challenged. We had the desire to be "the stimulate" in that sense. It sounds interesting whenever you've done something unique from the others.


Hirata : We needed a consensus of every member to do this. Shima-cchi (Shimada) and Fujishima also showed interest on this challenging approach and that's how this project started.


--- Are the taste and the senses of music among the members of Popsicle alike?


Hirata : Roughly, yes.


--- We'll never know who is going to be listening to this album until it is released, but who do you expect the listeners will be? Do you expect the game players to listen to this album?


Hirata : Yes of course, this project would never have started out without Sumaga, thus those listeners are already in assumption, but we didn't record this album not only for them, but also to the concurrent fans of Swinging Popsicle who's been supporting us for long, so I'd expect they'll enjoy this as well too. For the Sumaga players, I want them to know more about Swinging Popsicle. The contents of the album seems well balanced upon the basis of these two assumed listeners.


--- On a broader perspective, there are lots of people who still don't know the music of Swinging Popsicle, thus in a sense of gaining numbers of more newcomer listeners, this album looks very likely to catch the interests of the newcomers.


Fujishima : Yes. That's why this is sort of an introducing album to the Sumaga users saying hello to them, but as Hirata-kun said previously, it's our tacit understanding not to disappoint the expectations of the current fans awaiting for our new releases. This album was recorded on the same stance and taste, it is approved from our musician friends that this album is totally natural as Swinging Popsicle is. Therefore, I'm pretty sure that this album won't disappoint our fans' expectations.


--- Actually, I myself didn't know that it was a game related album when I was listening to first. It felt so natural as a newly released album of Swinging Popsicle.


Hirata : Nice to hear that. Thanks.


Shimada Osamu

--- I don't mind whether it's private or public, could each of you please comment on this album?


Hirata : The soundtrack of Sumaga Special has been released yet, so it sounds funny that there's gonna be a earlier release on a tune that's not even included in that soundtrack. Similar to that, though "Kururi Sakura Hirari", the song composed for Kanako Ito isn't released yet, we're self-covering and releasing it earlier than her. It's sort of like rule-breaking, but it's this maniac challenging spirit, challenging eagerly on the stuff that we and others haven't worked on.


Shimada : As Hirata-kun took the initiative in making this conceptual album, I perceived myself as just one guitarist in some of the tracks, which was fresh to me. Exerting all my spirits in this 8 bars, expressing myself as much as I can. It's quite a trend inside myself to create "a guitar sound" in Hirata-kun's composed songs.


Fujishima : There are lots of instrumental tracks in the soundtracks of Sumaga and it was Hirata-kun who picked up the tracks that we're going to cover. Amongst it, one of the tracks was based on the unreleased demo-tape of Swinging Popsicle. It was once composed as a demo-tape, then released as a instrumental track, then finally came back here. It's like "So, you wanted to do this track after all, huh?" lol It's an album which you can see Hirata-kun's minds.


Hirata : Yes, there are those reasons in choosing the tracks, but the major criteria in picking up the tracks was from a survey from the Sumaga players, questioning where they really got to the scene.




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