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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Halcali contribute track to Okuda Tamio tribute album

Two tribute albums to Okuda Tamio, ユニコーン・トリビュート (Unicorn Tributes) and 奥田民生・カバーズ (Okuda Tamio Covers) will go on sale October 24th, to mark the 20 year recording anniversary of the Unicorn, and after they split up, solo artist.

Halcali have recorded the track 愛のために (For Love) for the Okuda Tamio Covers record, alongside artists such as Puffy (who he also produced), Glay and Kimura Kaela (take a look at the full line-up here).

Here's the man himself performing the song Halcali have covered. I have no idea what Halcali will do with this, but it sounds like it should be fun!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Halcali in Marquee (1)



Was it difficult making this album?

Yukari The album took a pretty long time to finish overall, with each song coming in slowly one by one. But it felt like we only had a month or so to get the actual recording done

I see. So is it OK if we use this interview to look back on Halcali’s past a little bit?

Haruka Sure, no problem. Let’s go (laughs)

So, looking back, what do you think of the Halcali who made Halcali Bacon and Ongaku No Susume?

H Well…they were terrible (laughs)

Y Yes, terrible. I mean us by that, not the music. If you think the music is good, the reason for that is that everyone around us was so good, and they just made Halcali that way. Meanwhile, all we did around that time was mess about playing games in the studio (laughs). We totally left everything up to them.

H We didn’t really have an opinion or any ideas in regard to the music one way or another. It was fun, but we eventually realized that you can’t act like we were doing forever.

It was fun working with so many people right from the start though, right?

Y Yes but, unlike now, back then we really had no idea who anyone was. We met Mr. Tanaka (Fantastic Plastic Machine) and just thought that he was some fat old guy in the studio. Then afterward we found out about everything he had made, which was amazing, and from there we made sure to really pay attention to who was around us. We were really clueless back then! But we know who's who now, and it's made everything a lot more enjoyable.

I just watched some of your old PV’s again from, the ones with the great dancing from when you were kids (laughs). Compared to what you were doing then, you do a lot more actual singing now. What do you think about that?

Y I think it’s just a natural progression.

Back when you first started though, some people quickly accused you of sounding like you were just lazily ‘phoning it in’…

H Yes, we were told that a few times too.

Y But I just thought “How can you think that? We don’t sound that way at all!”

H Yeah, quite the opposite in fact. When I listen to Tandem now, I can just hear the sound of us giving it 100% on it.

Y Yeah but, thinking about it, maybe some things were a little rushed. It was like this; we got the rap and the lyrics, listened, and then immediately put it down on tape that same day. We barely had any time to practice it or even get used to the songs ourselves before O.T.F declared it was finished. O.T.F never let us do another take! (laughs) They said “It sounds better and more natural if you don’t sound too rehearsed”.

So you thought you were trying your best, but everyone else thought you were half assing it. Didn’t that bother you at all?

Y Not really. “So you think we’re like that? Whatever”.

H I think there were a lot more people in the same line of work as us trying a lot harder though. So if you compared them to what we were like then, maybe we wouldn’t come out looking too good (laughs)

You weren’t actually rappers to start of with, right?

Y Not at all, no. We were practising to be dancers. I wasn’t listening to hip hop and had never rapped before. Even now I sometimes think “how on earth did we get that audition [with O.T.F]?”

H Yeah, I knew Schadaraparr from Ponkikies but that’s about it.*1

When did you first realize that you had to stop playing those games in the studio? (laughs)

Y Hmm, when was it? Maybe just before the release of the 2nd album?

H No, it was after we had finished it (laughs)

Y After?! Well, our first two albums were both entirely produced by O.T.F. But they decided to take a break this time so we were left to do everything ourselves. So maybe there are some obvious differences between this album and the old ones because of that. We chose the songs that were the most fun, colourful songs to sing, and tried to put together an album that was at least consistently strong and energetic throughout.

*1 (Schadaraparr, who wrote Ah, Halcali Sensation on Halcali Bacon, wrote one of the opening theme songs, 大人になっても (Even As An Adult), for the long running Fuji TV children’s programme Ponkikies.)


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Again, the honesty is great on their part. It's hard to imagine a lot of bands in their position being so open about their own shortcomings, and laying bare a lot of the aspects of production that manufactured bands often try to cover up (re: their lack of involvement in the creative process). It certainly sounds like they are happy to leave the old Halcali behind, and with more personal involvement from them now- in terms of both album production and lyric writing- it's not hard to understand why.

In case anyone judges Halcali too harshly on some of their comments, especially regarding their antics in the recording studio and their ignorance of their producers, remember that they were only junior high school students when Tandem came out, although it makes you think just how much of the brilliance of those early records was down to those two guys from Rip Slyme.

The other thing that's been bothering me a little are these comments about people apparently criticising Halcali's early work by saying that they sounded like they weren't making an effort. They brought it up both in this interview and the What's In? one before, and they seem as confused as I am about it. Their vocal efforts on Bacon are solidly consistent from beginning to end, and of course I don't buy their self depreciating claims that Halcali themselves had little to do with how it turned out. Listen to a track like Otsukare Summer for example- considering this was not only their first experience in a recording studio, it was also their first experience with rap- they fly through the fast, demanding beat effortlessly; and their obvious talents now seem even more impressive given the comments about O.T.F barely giving them any rehearsal time.

But being 15, and working incredibly hard on your first album only to be told that some people think you half assed your way through it must have been difficult.

As always, sorry about the quality of the pictures. I wonder if they're supposed to be sat inside the cockpit of the Pink Mouse?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Here You Go (3) Halcali and Kuchiroro

Here's Halcali's guest appearance on the new Kuchiroro album Golden Love, singing Cosmic Dance.
It's a Halcali song in all but name though; this track could have come straight off Cyborg.

Take a listen, and let us know what you think!

Cosmic Dance.mp3

The time limit expired on the file and it has been removed. Just leave a comment if you want it uploaded again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Halcali in Marquee

Halcali feature in another special pull out magazine this month, this time in Marquee #62. They talk about Cyborg, and also talk with Polysics' Hayashi (who wrote the title track on their new album). I'll get to work on it right after I've finished the What's In? article.

There's been a decent burst of publicity for Halcali recently, what with this, that What's In? feature, and their guest appearance on the new Kuchiroro album, which came out today (I'll get around to that quite soon too).

All we need now is for Sony to put out a new single in the next few months before people start to forget about them again...

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I had a read through the interview and there's a lot of good, quite open talk in it from Halcali, particularly regarding their early For Life records. One thing I've always liked about Halcali is their honest, no bullshit approach to talking about what they do and the industry that they're in, and that usually comes with a bit of humble self depreciation which I love too.

So I'm going to get to this as soon as possible. Right after I've bought that Kuchiroro album in fact.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Halcali in What's In? (2)

Here's the next part from the Halcali pull out magazine from What's In? #242. It's commentary from Haruka and Yukari on their For Life releases. The commentary doesn't extend to anything they've done on Sony, perhaps because those single releases were already covered in Halcali's track by track commentary on their new album which was also featured in the magazine (and which I'll get to next).

It's described as 'commentary', but as you might expect each entry is quite brief. Although it's a shame that they aren't given the space to go into a bit more depth about these early releases, there is still the odd anecdote or two that you might find interesting.

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1st single Tandem 2003/01/08


Back then some people said that the problem with this song was that we sounded lazy, like we weren’t trying, but how could anyone think that? We sang our hearts out on it.
I mean, we were only in Junior High School at the time! On the day it was released, a friend of ours played the song over the speakers during lunch time. I was embarrassed, but grateful. (Haruka)

2nd single
Electric Sensei 2003/04/09

It’s kind of about having a good relationship between student and teacher. It’s set in school, so it’s a bit hard for us to relate to it now. This is the time when we were always playing games and wearing our voices out before we went into the studio. That’s what we were like back then!
(Yukari)

3rd single Giri Giri Surf Rider 2003/07/09

This song gave us out first TV appearance. (Haruka)
It was for a programme broadcast on the BBC in England (Adam and Joe Go Tokyo). I love the video, it’s the first time we made a ‘story’ to go with the music. (Yukari)

1st album Halcali Bacon 2003/09/03

I love the song Hello Hello Alone. I still cry listening to it now! (Yukari).
For me it’s Ah Halcali Sensation. “Okachan, Troussier, Zico, Zico” The lyrics are really tied into that era. It’s like, “we’ve got Osim now!”*1 (Haruka)

4th single Strawberry Chips 2003/11/26

The limited edition release had 2 extra tracks, and they’re such good songs. They haven’t been released anywhere else! (Yukari)
I really want people to listen to Slalom ’03. It’s a great tag team up between Halfby and Kohei Japan! (Haruka)

5th single Marching March 2004/06/09

This song is really popular with the fans. DJ Non’s acting is great in the video! (Yukari)
The lyrics grapple with some bigger ideas in this song then what we were used to. I like the way it kind of looks down from above, and gives you another perspective [on idol culture]. (Haruka)

Compilation Makogoro Covers 2004/09/01

I love this song, and for about a year we always closed our set with it, even though it’s not even one of our own!(Yukari)

6th single Baby Blue 2004/10/20

This is the first song we made with Verbal (the second being Cyborg’s Koi No Bububun). It has a sample from Boowy’s B-Blue. It’s magnificent! (Yukari)
The raps that Verbal wrote were really fast. So fast in fact that I was tripping over myself repeatedly trying to get it right. I got used to his style eventually, but it was difficult. (Haruka)

2nd album Ongaku No Susume 2004/11/24

This album featured our first guest singers in Utamaru (Wakakusa Dance) and Tanigawa Shuntaro (Shibafu). History features my grandfather and Haruka’s grandmother too! (Yukari)
My favourite song is probably Densetsu No Futari. It’s got such a cute, gentle feel to it. (Haruka)

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I don't want to go back over my list of usual Sony complaints, but just glancing down that discography it's obvious that For Life took a lot better care of Halcali than their currant label. Their first three singles released about three months apart then their first album right after- it's not hard to see how a label should go about trying to maintain their bands' popularity and exposure.

In case you forgot, there was about a one year gap between Baby Blue! and Tip Taps Tip, then another 11 month gap between Twinkle Star and LOOK.

Anyway, I really liked that anecdote about their friend playing Tandem over the school speakers. Reading the comments on Electric Sensei though makes me wonder if they'll ever perform it live again.

*1 As I'm sure you know, the Okachan, Troussier, Zico, Zico line in Ah, Halcali Sensation is a reference to the last three managers of the Japanese national football team (Okachan is Takeshi Okada). Their currant manager is Ivica Osim.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Halcali Michi fan remix

Here's a fan made remix of Cyborg's last track Halcali Michi 19 No Yoru, which takes the already house-esque beat and makes it a bit more...house?

I'd love to hear this in a club, personally. Anyway, you can get it here.

Thanks to Susi!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Halcali shirts on e-bay




Have you ever been to Hong Kong? I went over there for a few days, but now I'm back I should have the rest of the What's In interview, amongst other things, up pretty soon.

In the meantime, sora kara has found an auction on e-bay selling Halcali t-shirts! They come in small, medium and large, and carry the Halcali logo on the front. The seller has 39 for sale. I have no idea if they're official or not (I'm going to assume they aren't), but they're pretty nice all the same!

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Sora Kara sent in a couple of pictures of herself modelling the t-shirts, here and here. While I can't assess the quality of the actual fabric, I like the print a lot.