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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.)


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?


Anonymous Patrick said...

The FPM as "futotta ojisan" part really had me laughing. Hahaha.

I'm really glad they grew up to be more responsible and took interest in the music, otherwise it could really have been just a one time thing.

MMM is really a great interviewer and knows how to get to the point.
In another interview in the same issue (can't recall what exactly, I'd have to check), the first question is "so what is it with sounding like Flipper's Guitar?" and they're like, "ikinari!!!?", surprised to be hit so straight right away. :) Excellent!

7:54 AM

Blogger jariten said...

Yeah, it's a shame Halcali don't get such a platform more often. The teen mags are OK, but generally a bit "so what's your favourite fruit?"

8:03 AM

Anonymous jim said...

Who thinks they sounded lazy? I'm even more impressed knowing they learned the stuff so fast. Maybe they are exaggerating a little. I can't imagine if some of that stuff was done in one take, learned that day. They are just natural talents, very lucky.


2:46 PM

Anonymous Hotaru said...

You would think that they would still try really hard even though they aren't really assisting much with the creativity with the song...Huh. I'm confused about the "They half-assed the vocals"-comment, too.

4:44 PM

Anonymous sora-kara said...

i could understand if someone didnt like the style, and didnt know the recording situation saying that they sounded lazy. especially if all they had heard about halcali was that they rap.

they have a really laid-back rap style, which i guess a lot of people could think is lazy.

i completely disagree with it, but i dont think its such a shot in the dark.
thats a great interview though! thanks so much for translating. theyre really quite funny. :)

also, i took a couple (absolutely horrendously terrible) pictures of me wearing my new halcali shirt:

5:18 PM

Blogger jariten said...

Thanks for the pictures! The second ones the Surfrider shot, right?!

4:06 AM

Anonymous sora-kara said...

haha yup ^_^
i had to. :)

*i really feel the need to express the shittyness of those pictures though o_o thats not what i look like!*

5:31 AM


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