Hito de Nashi Translation

[NOTE: I would like to thank fellow Shinja Michael Golubev for letting me post his translation of H.E. Demon Kakka's book, Hito de Nashi, onto the site.-Hammer]

Preface from the translator:
It’s almost impossible to translate this book without sacrificing its structure. The book organization is a bit unusual since there are many notes and additional information, which is printed on a gray background instead of the white one as the main text is. So to make it easier to read it all I would place all the notes after corresponding parts of the main text. When a huge part like the biography of Jail O’Hashi after leaving SEIKIMA-II comes – I would translate it all together regardless of the fact that it is located on separate pages in the book. Another problematic moment comes with names – I’m sorry, I’m not that familiar with correct reading of all first and family names of Japanese people so if you see a mistake, please, don’t hesitate to contact me and I will make all the necessary corrections in the final version.

CHAPTER 1

SEIKIMA-II comes into this world! The debut on the Earth after the split!

B.D.16 (1983): band formed.
B.D.15 (1984): band splits in April.
B.D.14 (1985): band debuts on the Earth on September 21. Differently from all the bands around SEIKIMA-II marches its very own road into the future.

Shocking SEIKIMA-II! “Heavy metal is pro-wrestling!”

“Heavy metal is pro-wrestling!” Those were the words screamed out by then-executive of CBS Sony record company Mr. Marusawa when he first saw the performance of Seikima-II. The performance was actually a huge contest, which took place at the Matsuda Courage Sound Festival (MCSF) on August 27, B.D. 15 (1984). Right at that time Mr. Marusawa was working as a record executive in “CBS/Sony” and that’s when it was generally decided when the band will make its debut on the Earth. He said, “Those guys are great, really great! They are very interesting, no doubt about that. Heavy metal is pro-wrestling!” Mr. Marusawa was working in a new subsidiary of “SD”, which was called “CBS/Sony” and he called SEIKIMA-II to audition for the label. The audition was a huge success with all the jury giving the band the green light.
At the time employees of “SD” had the right to search for artists themselves and call them to audition for “CBS/Sony” intending to work with them personally by saying, “I can do this job myself”. By far Mr. Marusawa has already brought several artists to the label, one of them being REBECCA. He went to Mr. Sato, then-boss of “SD”, and said that he would like to work for and promote the band himself. There was already another department formed called “Epic/Sony”, which was supposed to work with upcoming artists, but Mr. Sato didn’t ignore the request from Mr. Marusawa and appointed him the director of SEIKIMA-II for the starting period of the band’s career. Simultaneously the decision was made to make the debut on the Earth via “Fitzbeat” company, which was another subsidiary of “CBS/Sony”. All in all, everything should have worked out great. However, when the decision on the debut on the Earth was made Damian Hamada, the founder, main songwriter and guitar player of SEIKIMA-II, made a decision to return to the Earth and leave the band. This started the chain of unfortunate events, which followed SEIKIMA-II throughout all the period of its existence.
Mr. Marusawa, “All I wanted to do is to make the SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth as fast as possible. So when the line-up started changing I was beside myself with fear of what would happen next. But I knew that as long as Demon Kogure Kakka is in the band nothing would stop them!”
The heavy metal scene at the time was in full blossom when SEIKIMA-II came along. Still there was a major concern whether the band would be able to survive up to its debut and even continue to exist.
Mr. Marusawa, “A lot of bands were extremely close to launching their careers and making debuts but most of them never really made it. There were many metal bands around but none of them was anything like SEIKIMA-II. When you are playing something that everybody else does people enjoy your music and you have your fans but whenever you wish there were more of them you quickly realize that it’s next to impossible to make it happen.”

NOTES

“CBS/Sony” Audition
Mr. Marusawa, “At the time when the decision on the SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth was made I first met up with Mr. Yamamoto, then-editor-in-chief of “Young Guitar” magazine and we were both very excited about the band. I can’t remember exactly but I came over to him to talk about making a column about SEIKIMA-II in “Young Guitar”. I said, “Yamamoto-san, is it possible to do something special about this band?” and he said, “No problem! Let’s make a special about it!” After another meeting with Mr. Yamamoto he suggested that we set up an office for SEIKIMA-II and introduced me to Mr. Iwai (boss of “Music Chase”). So Mr. Iwai and Mr. Hirano (executive of the early period of SEIKIMA-II) started working in the office together.”
Many bands, who audition for “CBS/Sony” later became professional musicians and reached major success, namely, Hound Dog, Yutaka Ozaki, Babyboys, Eloise, Unicorn, The Boom and X (also known as 'X-JAPAN').

“Fitzbeat” label
Mr. Marusawa, “My job was to search for artists, who could sign a record deal with various departments of “SD”. But there still was a number of bands that didn’t fit into music directions of any of those departments. REBECCA was one of such bands. So “Fitzbeat” was formed as a label with the idea in mind that it would release 6-track albums with the price tag of 1500 yen. There were four artists on this label including IKOSHIN, REBECCA and Tsugutoshi Gotou. SEIKIMA-II was the fourth one.”

Unavoidable breakup?! The bedside tale of nights before the debut

SEIKIMA-II was formed by Damian Hamada in WFS (Waseda Folk Song Club) in the end of B.D.17 (1982). Before that the band existed without a singer, who later showed up as Demon Kogure. By that time Ace Shimizu was also a member of SEIKIMA-II playing drums.
Ace Shimizu, “Originally it was Damian Hamada who asked me would I be interested in playing drums. I thought it was pretty interesting and we used to exchange a lot of ideas with each other. Within this WFS organization Damian Hamada was a kind of mentor. It might sound strange but in the beginning I wasn’t very thrilled about playing heavy metal type of music. But later I began to like it and thought that it might turn out great. Also I wanted to be persistent in my actions. It was a kind of a comic band with the idea of doing something interesting and amusing. The band was becoming better and better and it reminded me of an escalator going up into somewhere. In the beginning I was laughing at Damian Hamada thinking, “Oh, Hamada-san is a really weird guy!” but later my point of view changed and I used to think, “Where does it all come from?””
Thus by the end of B.D.17 (1982) the band consisted of four people including Damian Hamada (guitar), Demon Kogure (vocals), Ace Shimizu (drums) and Zod Hoshijima (bass). It has just passed the first test, the formation, and it was time for the next one. All of the band members were also members of WFS. They were not called SEIKIMA-II yet but “Ha-Ha-Ha-Hamada-san band” and they had only one song in their repertoire, “Akuma Kumikyouku: Sakuhin 666 Ban 2 Tanchou”.
Right at that time the main style of WFS was fusion. There were many people who came to WFS to play heavy metal but ended up going into other organizations. Of many people who desired to play heavy metal music Damian Hamada was the only one who had a strong intention to make it work. The band that he worked had a strong urge to go beyond traditional limits of other amateurs. However, regardless of all those intentions and plans the band still had little popularity limited within the ranks of WFS.
At the same time the power that spread up among members of WFS brought the band some rewards, in particular, its involvement into various contests.

NOTES:

WFS (Waseda Folk Song Club)
WFS was the biggest music circle out of all the music circles within the Waseda University. Originally it included only folk musicians namely Yamada Panada and The Regains. Later rock and fusion bands started popping up in this circle. Bands used to play concerts in various places including Nakano Sunplaza and many others. WFS is the place where SEIKIMA-II was formed.

Zod meets Demon
At that time all members of SEIKIMA-II were members of WFS. Zod and Demon Kakka were also studying at the same course and in the same department.
Zod, “First time I met Demon Kakka he walked in wearing satin jumper with the knitted word ‘JAPAN’ on it. While I was thinking about why he wore such a jumper I could clearly see him when sitting in the auditorium far behind. Because of such a specific style of clothing you couldn’t not to notice this guy. He immediately attracted my attention and though I thought he was a bit weird even from the distance I felt a soul brother in him. I could see that he was also staring at me from time to time. I thought, “Who does he stare at? Maybe it’s a girl? Could it be me?”
No matter what happened I didn’t really like him in the beginning, I thought he was not a good person. The first time we sat together in an auditorium the teacher asked us to write a few words about ourselves for introduction purposes. I wrote something like, “I can play bass more or less fine so I would like to start a rock band”. So Demon Kakka came up to me and said, “Hey, Hoshijima-san, do you want to join our band?” I said, “Yeah, I’d love to”. He asked me about my past experience as a bass player and I said I had very little experience in the sphere, frankly speaking none at all. He said, “But you want to play bass anyway?” I said, “Yeah!” He said, “So you want to be a part of the music circle?” and I said, “Of course, I do!” I was a little bit shy at the time so all I could say when he asked me anything was “yes” or “I see”. However, regardless of that fact I knew I had confidence in me and wasn’t really completely naive at all.”

Contest concerns

Demon Kakka, “The first contest invitation we got came from East West Amateur Band Contest organized by “Yamaha”. However, we failed to participate in it. At that time Damian Hamada was completing the 3rd year and entering the 4th one at the university and the rest of us were going from the 1st year to the 2nd one. Still I don’t think that at that time Damian Hamada was already thinking about getting a regular job and becoming a classic working person (he hasn’t made a decision to return to the Earth by that time). From one point of view he was playing in a WFS band and when he entered his 4th year in the university he was about to stop this activity. Within the WFS ranks SEIKIMA-II wasn’t really a significant group (changing line-up once in a while with Ace Shimizu going in and out of the band) so I believe he wanted to stay a band member up until his graduation without going any further. However, the rest of us who studied in the university for only year by that time belonged to a different kind of group and for us SEIKIMA-II was a lot of fun. Still we didn’t mind to be thrown out of WFS so we were very active in the live playing sphere. So we performed Black Masses in places in Tokyo like “Explosion” live house and other locations. Speaking about contests, we decided that until we reach a more or less professional level we wouldn’t take part in any of them. We were not deeply concerned about how the world would react to us. I have no idea about thoughts of other members on this subject but to me it was all about performance and fun, which was the same I did with SUPER SLUMP. From this point of view I was not a big fan of the idea of taking part in various contests.”
By that time drummer Ace Shimizu already made a name for himself in the human form as a professional guitarist when he joined another band called Japs Gaps. So when spring came along Ace’s drum stool in the band was taken over by Zeed Iijima.
Ace Shimizu, “I had nothing against playing together with the guys within the WFS ranks but completely rejected the idea of taking part in contests because of my involvement with Japs Gaps.”
And though the band’s popularity was growing in WFS their live activities outside this place were limited so when the band started to change it Ace left. He went his own way though it wasn’t the first or the last time that he did it.

NOTES:

SUPER SLUMP
SUPER SLUMP was the band that got the first prize at East West Amateur Band Contest. The band got a chance to play in several famous locations like “Nakano Sunplaza”. The band’s leader was using Demon Kakka as the 2nd vocalist.
Demon Kakka, “My own stunt with SUPER SLUMP came around in B.D.15 (1984) when I performed with them at a live show. Gandhara Sangeria Tigris-Euphrates Kaneko, who was a member of SUPER SLUMP at that time, later played in SEIKIMA-II as well. One time SUPER SLUMP and SEIKIMA-II played together at UBS Jam.”

Split one year after the start?

SEIKIMA-II is starting to appear in the outside world. At least, that’s what everybody around thought. However, in the end of B.D.16 (1983) just one year after the start the band decided to split up. It all was due to the fact that Damian Hamada made the final decision to return to the Earth. He transformed into human form leaving the past behind. He abandoned the image he had and borrowed the human form to become a normal person. All members of SEIKIMA-II did the same borrowing human forms to go to the Earth once in a while. All the other time they only appeared on the Earth in their akuma forms. In a way, this was similar to the Superman character changing completely from a superhero into a normal person. Thus Damian Hamada abandoned his Superman-type persona and became a normal human being.
Although Damian Hamada took part in the contest and continued to participate in WFS activities during one of the meetings at WFS he voiced his decision to quit the band for good. The decision on the final Black Mass was made and it was supposed to take place in a concert hall in the Tokyo district of Ikebukuro on April 22, B.D. 15 (1984).
Demon Kakka, “The image of Damian Hamada was not too much different from the way he used to appear in the human world and he thoroughly thought about becoming a normal human being before announcing his departure. We also couldn’t continue without his guidance on akuma religion topics. At least, it couldn’t continue the way it used to be before. Concerning me, I was thinking that I could continue doing the same thing with SUPER SLUMP. That’s when we thought that the days of SEIKIMA-II came to an end and made the decision to hold the final Black Mass”.
The band didn’t last long, it created its own image but when Damian Hamada quit it apparently made no sense to continue SEIKIMA-II, which was not a surprise to all the other members. However, right at that time the tape that the band sent to MCSF got heard and SEIKIMA-II was invited to participate.
Demon Kakka, “They said, “We heard your tape, it sounds great, we love it! Please, come to the contest, we want you to participate!” Well, by that time we have already made the decision to play the final Black Mass on April 22 but haven’t yet decided on the final band split. When we sent out the tape and got response from it those people wanted to record us live on a TV show. As a result we made a request to Damian Hamada, “Please, let’s play this TV live show together and then we’ll do the final Black Mass”. We thought, “Alright, we need to play this TV live show. We don’t want to borrow any other member of the WFS club and the program will also be recorded in the Milky Way Studio (the studio where most of the TV live show recordings took place at the time). We also don’t know any other person so why not playing the show with this line-up?” And this would be the end. In the next several weeks we played only one show before the split on April 22. That was our only intention, to participate in that TV live show.”
SEIKIMA-II no longer exists! Still in the ironic twist of fact that TV live show changed everything completely.
Demon Kakka, “We were told that the TV live show will go as planned and we were given directions on where it should have happened. At a meeting in WFS we said to each other, “Alright, we’ll do it. If we wanted to play the final Black Mass then this place would be the most perfect one to do it and make everybody see us!” Another thing was that we already made it clear to play the final Black Mass and everybody knew that we had made this decision. Still we got the response from the contest and we were invited to participate in the TV live show. We told everyone, “The contest was supposed to happen on May 17. This would really be the final Black Mass so please, come see us over there.” That was really our one final wish. I can’t remember how many times we told each other at those meetings that it would be our final event.”
The band played at the contest, which took place in “ABS Hall” in Tokyo. It was broadcasted as well and the word on SEIKIMA-II started spreading out.
Demon Kakka, “Whatever, it was just a simple contest among amateur bands.”
For members of SEIKIMA-II it really felt like the last time and their decision was unshakable.
Demon Kakka, “When we started out and I named myself ‘Kogure’ I never even thought that we would ever come out into the outside world. I thought that my professional career lies in that band SUPER SLUMP. I worked with them for 3 years and my level was growing. I wasn’t particularly interested in working to make a living. Me and other members of SUPER SLUMP appeared in various TV programs and live shows. So when SEIKIMA-II ended I knew that there is always another road for me to go and whatever happened to SEIKIMA-II was fine by me. And when Damian Hamada made the decision to return to the Earth I went to the leader of SUPER SLUMP and said, “SEIKIMA-II is no more so I can play with SUPER SLUMP anytime that you want me.” But you can’t let go of akuma so easy, ha-ha-ha!”
MCSF took place in Tokyo and turned out to be a huge event but by that time everything was already decided and couldn’t be changed – SEIKIMA-II was destined to come to its end. It was supposed to end right there right away. SEIKIMA-II no longer existed.

NOTES:

Another meeting with a person, who prevented the final split of SEIKIMA-II
Demon Kakka, “I got a call from Mr. Toda, who was one of MCSF organizers responsible for bringing SEIKIMA-II there, called me since I was considered to be the spokesperson for the band. I can say that Mr. Toda is the person, who saved original SEIKIMA-II from the total split. We met again years later when he was working as the director of “Lazy Oo” (“Lazy King”).”

MCSF battle
Demon Kakka, “At that time there was a band called THE SHANGHAI. The guitar player of that band later became the guitar player for “Hougaku Ishin Collaboration” (one of the projects Demon Kakka did after split of SEIKIMA-II). During the contest when we were sitting in the dressing room the guy was tuning up his guitar while we were constructing the guillotine (laughs).”

Sudden resurrection

It happened in May B.D.15 (1984). Mr. Marusawa, who came to witness MCSF on the behalf of “CBS/Sony” called Demon Kakka.
Demon Kakka, “The conversation was something like this, “Can we meet some other day?” “What for?” “Well, recently I have seen your performance as SEIKIMA-II and I loved it a lot. I guess you already have many proposals from various record companies.” “No, none at all.” “Unbelievable! You’re kidding!” He couldn’t believe it at all!”
The situation with further Black Masses was totally unclear at that time, the understanding of the band concept was unclear to everyone so there was no intention to develop it at all. However, here came the man, who was ready to push everything forward.
Demon Kakka, “Only later we discussed it with Mr. Marusawa that he insisted on the following scheme that we play more concerts and have to release a record. The company considered that we should participate in other contests organized by “Sony”, get more response from the audience and get more recognition. But before that we had to set up a proper audition for the company to get their response. They considered us to be a mix of humorous musicians and sports event. I guess it was not really about SEIKIMA-II but the fact that we were akuma, that was the first reaction to us. I don’t think songs we played counted at all. We were pretty good and very much willing to get a chance to make our debut on the Earth as SEIKIMA-II. We had no idea what would happen next.”
The audition for “CBS/Sony” was backed up and fully supported by Mr. Marusawa. He was the one struggling to make SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth. By that time Damian Hamada, who had already returned to the Earth, continued to work on the band writing bits and pieces of music and for about a year he still worked for the success of SEIKIMA-II. With the intro sounds of “Maou Gaisen” SEIKIMA-II performed Black Mass in the Ikebukuro district on August 16, B.D.15 (1984). On the same day they auditioned for “CBS/Sony” playing live at “Shinjuku Liquid Room”. In order to get there SEIKIMA-II took a Yamanote Line train in their akuma form.
Demon Kakka, “At that time we were always joking around in WFS saying “Let’s play another Black Mass” and laughed hysterically. After performing “Maou Gaisen” we thought, “OK, let’s play as long as we can.” To this day we can’t fully understand how it all happened. We got a call from Mr. Marusawa and then suddenly we’re playing this live show for “CBS/Sony”. And when we played that gig and went down from the stage we thought, “Great, let’s start our shows from “Maou Gaisen”.”
By that time Ace Shimizu was back in the band.
Ace Shimizu, “I was a bit lost and decided to ask manager Mr. Hiroshi what to do next. At that time Japs Gaps were not really active and were very close to breaking up. I was interested in different kind of music and I didn’t show up many times at the head office of the band’s management. Mr. Hiroshi told me, “It’s your chance, you can learn a lot of things by playing with SEIKIMA-II”. I couldn’t argue with that.”
As a result from August 16 Ace Shimizu returned to SEIKIMA-II as guitar player.

NOTES:

A meeting
Demon Kakka, “It was the day that I first met Kouichi Katou, who was a member of the music circle in another university. We met on the Yamanote Line when heading for “Shinjuku Liquid Room”. Later we used to give him our equipment for performances. It was always like that in early years. (laughs) After a while Mr. Katou used to play in one of the first SEIKIMA-II cover-bands.”

Mr. Marusawa memories
Mr. Marusawa, “I remember one of the shows in “Ikebukuro Inn” before SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth took place. The restaurant nearby sent them some food to eat made of red bamboo and Demon Kakka said that no way they would eat that and suggested to cut it with scissors. SEIKIMA-II wasn’t a household name by that time so the audience was pretty surprised when band members threw bamboo to them. (laughs) Then Demon Kakka said, “If you don’t sing along we would throw more bamboo on you!”

The decision on debut on the Earth is already made

Demon Kakka, “Technically speaking right after we auditioned for “CBS/Sony” the decision on our debut on the Earth has been made. From what I understood when talking to Mr. Marusawa this decision has been generally made no matter what but there were still some small nuances the company needed to clear out and fix. They were extremely determined and had no doubt about our forthcoming debut on the Earth so we had nothing to do but to agree with them. the final decision on the matter was made on December 15, B.D. 15 (1984). And though it wasn’t made clear in the beginning there was little we could do about that and were pretty surprised thinking that we didn’t even get the high prize at any contest.”
The summer of B.D.15 (1984) was followed by autumn and then winter came along. And though the band wasn’t 100% sure of what was happening things were slowly moving towards its debut on the Earth. Throughout that period of time band members had enough time to think about chances and possibilities that were lying in front of them. Also the somehow unclear decision of “CBS/Sony” on this debut became more and more visible. Simultaneously all of the band members have made their own decisions on their future. They were akumas and had to keep their human image in control, the thing they sometimes failed to accomplish. The weight on their shoulders related to this fact seemed unbearable at times. There were also other difficulties in making the decision to become professional musicians.
Demon Kakka, “Damian Hamada finally announced his departure from the band. He had no intention to become a professional musician and couldn’t control his appearance as akuma or human. He wanted to live his life as a normal person and not to be stuck in the rock’n’roll world for the rest of his life. His plans didn’t coincide with playing in a rock band. In the end he said that we wants to be a mathematics teacher in school.”
Demon Kakka, “Now we had to find a new guitarist. I asked Gandhara Kaneko from SUPER SLUMP to join SEIKIMA-II saying, “You are really an akuma”. Ace found drummer Zeed Iijima but he expressed his opinion in a very straight way, “I’m not interested in becoming a professional musician and making this debut with you.” So we went to search for another akuma and found Jagy Furukawa. It was January B.D.14 (1985). The decision on debut on the Earth was made and we started doing various things to get ready for it. One of those things was recording a demo tape. Everything worked fine. While we were performing Black Masses with Gandhara Kaneko and Jagy Furukawa Damian Hamada and Zeed Iijima were still considered to be members of the band. We worked together will all of those guys. Officially members were different but in fact the line-up wasn’t a fixed one.”
Gandhara Kaneko and Jugy Furukawa were officially introduced as new members of SEIKIMA-II at the Black Mass in “Nakano Sunplaza” on February 17, B.D.14 (1985). And when we changed members we called the Black Mass scene on February 18 “Scene of changes on Earth”.”
Demon Kakka, “For about half a year we stopped using our real names and created pseudonyms and all of our friends and relatives started calling us the way we called each other.”
As SEIKIMA-II was approaching its debut on the Earth inevitable changes took place for all of its members.

NOTES:

Finding the akuma church
Demon Kakka, “Before we settled on “Music Chase” as our church of akuma (‘management’) we approached “Apple Records” (now called “SMA” i.e. “Sony Music Artists”. It is the management company of recording artists from “Sony”. Among its clients are musicians and talents including well-known band PUFFY). We asked them to become our managers and work along with Mr. Marusawa and Mr. Yamamoto. In the end we got the response saying something like, “We like the band but don’t think that it would fit in our catalog of artists. So we have to reject. Sorry for inconvenience”.”

Recording the demo tape
Demon Kakka, “The demo tape was recorded in the same studio that Seiko Matsuda used to record at. We found Jugy Furukawa right before the recording started. The studio was called “Sony Studio”.”

The akuma church formed by journalist

The location of SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth was found in “CBS/Sony”. However, the band still didn’t settle on the akuma church. After the audition for “CBS/Sony” the record company took various steps in this direction when editor-in-chief of “Young Guitar” magazine Mr. Yamamoto introduced Mr. Marusawa to the owners of “Music Chase”, which became the akuma church. As a result, Nasty Hirano became the band’s chief manager for the early period.
Mr. Hirano, “At that time I was the manager of PRISM. PRISM was the band that played hard rock covers in different locations in Tokyo and I established good relationship with Mr. Yamamoto, editor-in-chief of “Young Guitar”, who kept telling me about this very interesting band he knew. The band was SEIKIMA-II. I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Marusawa back then. When we met he proposed to Mr. Yamamoto to establish “Music Chase” to take care of the band. Then Mr. Marusawa along with another “SD” department chief went straight to my boss Jack Iwai. By that time they already had a written report on how the management of SEIKIMA-II should operate. The report contained everything concerning the current appearance of SEIKIMA-II and what should be done about it. It was a kind of declaration. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what was exactly written in it. The report contained direct proposals on the band situation yet “CBS/Sony” obviously had the right to correct the text. By that time we have already seen several Black Masses and thought they were absolutely amazing.”
It seemed like everything was fully ready for debut on the Earth. However, problems started taking place in the SEIKIMA-II camp itself.

Members depart before debut on the Earth

When SEIKIMA-II was almost ready to make its debut on the Earth it suddenly faced problems once again. Generally band members were able to control themselves but not everyone could achieve full control over himself.
Demon Kakka, “We were always thinking that we have to do something about our guitarist and drummer. Those kinds of discussions were coming from our label and management. It wasn’t really the right time for such events. Around August Gandhara Kaneko said to us, “I always wanted to become a professional musician but considering the band I’m playing with right now I don’t think I fit into it. I think you need to find a better guitarist and it’s no good for the band. I don’t feel that I’m playing twin guitar parts with Ace good enough.” And then he left. Some time later Jagy Furukawa made almost the same excuse and fired himself from SEIKIMA-II.”
Zod Hoshijima, “No matter what others think I always had in mind that those two people weren’t anything like rock musicians. Jagy Furukawa was more of jazz and swing kind of drummer and being young and silly in those years I just wanted to play faster and heavier so we didn’t really fit in as the rhythm section. Jagy used to say to Gandhara Kaneko that he would leave the band because I couldn’t stand him.”
Still there were only 3-4 months left until SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth. The album was planned to be released in September that year. However, the band found itself without second guitarist and drummer but had to continue working on the album recordings. Nevertheless the band marched on simultaneously searching for new members.

NOTES

The first meeting between Mr. Hirano and SEIKIMA-II
Mr. Hirano, “When we first met SEIKIMA-II was Demon Kakka, Ace Shimizu, Zod Hoshijima, Gandhara Kaneko and Jagy Furukawa. We shot the first promotional video with this line-up.
I thought the Black Masses were great when I saw them. From the musician point of view they were still amateurs but I had perfect understanding that what they did was really amazing. It was the first time that we worked with a heavy metal band. Before that “Music Chase” only worked with EARTHSHAKER but I personally wasn’t involved in it. I had only worked with PRISM by that time. There was a huge music gap between heavy metal and fusion and SEIKIMA-II didn’t really fit into that traditional heavy metal wave. (laughs) Of course, generally they were a heavy metal band but not completely the same as everyone around. I thought that it would work great for their success and since they were still related with the heavy metal genre it wasn’t really my cup of tea. Due to this fact Mr. Iwai worked a lot more closely with them. To me he was like Masa Itoh (highly respected Japanese music journalist, DJ and promoter).”

CD is a recording too
At that time CDs didn’t exist yet and only records were released.
Demon Kakka, “Actually ‘record’ means ‘recording’ so in fact anything ranging from CD and LP to video and DVD can be called ‘recording’ in English. Record shop is considered to be an old saying. There are many people around now who call such shops ‘CD shops’ but it’s not a correct name, I should say.”

Last preparations for debut on the Earth

SEIKIMA-II members came from makai (akuma world) to the Earth. New members have already existed on the Earth before in their human forms – and this was the most interesting question about their origins. Everyone would be asking, “Where is this makai located?” and band member were unwilling to reveal this secret and that there are akumas living in makai while only band members being akumas as well are visible to human beings. Band members walking the Earth could not be recognized by anybody around. Old members had to search for new members only on their own. As a result they had to hold auditions themselves to find new members for the band. Thus the auditions started taking place on the regular basis.
Demon Kakka, “Before we decided to make Jagy Furukawa and Gandhara Kaneko new members of the band we didn’t ask them to promise to stay with us. So we thought that this time the Earth should have another band member somewhere. And here we found Jail O’Hashi. At that time Jail only entered the real world becoming the 1st course student in the Waseda University. The first time we heard him play was at a concert organized by new students. Though he just entered the real world he sounded incredible when playing his guitar. I guess he played a song that later transformed into “Fire After Fire”. I remember saying, “Well, he’s a very good guitarist.” He told me later that when we played a Black Mass in Nikko (suburb of Tokyo) on April 14, B.D.14 (1985) he already made up his mind intending to join SEIKIMA-II.”
Jail O’Hashi, “When I was in the secondary school I had a girlfriend who later went to Tokyo and joined WFS. After a while she said to me, “You know, there’s a band in WFS called SEIKIMA-II they have just signed a contract with “CBS/Sony” for the debut album but their guitarist has recently left the band.” I said, “OK, I’m interested in this.” So I came to Tokyo and joined WFS. I remember that on the day of my entering the university I already met several older students and one of them was Ace Shimizu. I joined a band made of new students, who played together with older ones. And then the same year WFS organized a trial concert for new bands. Xenon Ishikawa later said that he attended that concert. Demon Kakka also took part in that concert as a member of the band called MANSHIN QUINTET (‘manshin’ means ‘pride’). He portrayed the Michael Jackson persona as far as I remember.
The next band that played was FIRE AFTER FIRE, which included me and my girlfriend. Demon Kakka saw our performance and later asked me, “Do you want to audition for us and become an akuma?” Frankly speaking, I wasn’t thrilled by this idea. I wanted to think about it more thoroughly. Also at that time Gandhara Kaneko was still a band member and I didn’t think I had any chance in this band.”

NOTES

WFS test concert
The year that Jail entered the real world and became a Waseda University student he took part in the WFS test concert. The test concert was an event, which included 30 to 40 bands with members, who studied from 1st up to 3rd year in the university. As a result it wasn’t an easy thing for a 1st year student to be noticed at such a concert.

Zod Hoshijima as a person
Zod Hoshijima, “I was heavily influenced by Ace Shimizu.”
Ace Shimizu, “We partied, drank and travelled by train together with Zod Hoshijima many times. We used to go back home together in the same train. We used to have really long conversations with him and we had the time to discuss it all. We took a taxi and went to the seaside together. It really influenced me a lot and if you can’t feel it you won’t understand what I’m talking about.”
Zod Hoshijima, “We didn’t go shopping together, however, we both were fans of American football and from time to time Ace picked a pat and we played together. Then member of band ACTION bassist Yoshirou Takahashi used a pat produced by Wilson many times. Ace used to go to shops in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku districts, which were selling sports gear including that for American football. They were really cheap. Still I wasn’t such a big fan of the idea. The gear looked totally the same and it was boring to me. The only thing different was color. Most of the equipment was made of polycarbonate. When you were holding something in your hand it didn’t feel right to me.”
Ace Shimizu, “Zod loved to create something with his own hands and I loved to do it too. Together we made some really interesting things. We created something, compared it all with each other and different ideas were flying around. I can’t even remember how many things were thought about. We felt like soul brothers. When we started using hair spray we also talked about it and discussed how to do it best. It’s hard to put all those feelings into words.”
In order to conquer the Earth SEIKIMA-II needed to use inventions made on the Earth.

Jail O’Hashi VS Luke Takamura: choice of guitarist

The selection of a new guitar player for SEIKIMA-II was huge. However, in the end there were only two persons left, Jail O’Hashi and Luke Takamura. They both went into the studio and auditioned for the band. In the end, Jail was picked up.
Jail O’Hashi, “I remember it pretty well. The audition took place two times. During the first one Luke was also there but during the second one only two of us were left along with probably 1-2 other people. Finally we figured out that the band wants only two of us to stay, me and Luke. It was on the same day that I heard that me and Luke were the only ones to remain.”
Luke was to become a band member a while later.
Luke Takamura, “Frankly speaking, I knew nothing about Jail at all. “Oh, we’re in the same circle of musicians? How interesting!” Still we didn’t really meet face to face in that circle. We both were at the audition but we weren’t familiar and didn’t think about it at all. It was a pity that I didn’t make it at the audition. I came over there ready to make it and I wanted it so much but I didn’t make it so there was nothing I could do about it. I immediately stopped thinking about that and considered that it might be cool to go and eat something. I didn’t have strong and clear understanding of the music world at that time. After that when I got a chance to do it again I was very determined to make it this time.”
Indeed there was a place in makai for Luke Takamura and he was destined to take it later. By this time Jail was completely sure that he was an akuma and he worked really hard to become a member of SEIKIMA-II.
Jail O’Hashi, “I was still in Nagoya when my girlfriend sent me a tape with SEIKIMA-II music. When I first heard this music and how Demon Kakka was singing those songs I thought it’s not really my cup of tea. So I had serious doubts about joining this band. If I was to join the band they had to make some changes to their music. It wasn’t the situation like, “I join the band and do what you say.” In fact this type of world was totally unknown to me, it looked a bit frightening. Somehow unreal. Frankly speaking, I didn’t want to join the band. Luke sounded absolutely great at the audition. However, when the audition at “Sony Studio” ended me and Demon Kakka went the same way and he said, “You will be the one to join the band.” Soon after the audition there was a band meeting in the studio. Along with Demon Kakka Mr. Nakano was present at that meeting and Demon Kakka immediately introduced me to him saying, “This is our new guitarist.” I was like, “What do you mean? Am I already a member?””
As a result Luke Takamura, who later influenced the band sound a lot, lost the audition to Jail O’Hashi, who became the new guitarist. At the above-mentioned meeting members exchanged various ideas about the SEIKIMA-II future.
Mr. Marusawa, “Concerning opinions of people, Mr. Hirano liked Jail a lot but me personally was a bigger fan of Luke. Demon Kakka thought the same. I felt that Jail was a bit too young and it was only a matter of time that problems would start piling up. Mr. Hirano thought that we’re somehow thinking too much about that and they also hit it off with Jail. Nevertheless, in the end it was great that we chose Jail since he contributed a lot to the early period of SEIKIMA-II.”
Ace Shimizu, “We all said many things after the fact but I can tell you that I wasn’t so sure about the situation at that time. We were the band formed in the university music circle and it was all very shaky, we could end up being just a small band that got lucky for a while. At the same time we tried to deliver the best performance no matter where we played, in the university, at clubs or in halls. We couldn’t do anything about changing people opinions so I thought that whatever changes happen to us, good or bad, are still changes and they might be for the better. And Jail entering the band was one of those changes. Yet, like I said, I didn’t have strong opinion on the whole situation at that time.”
Zod, who was a huge fan of all the rock musicians, was very excited about it.
Zod Hoshijima, “I couldn’t think about anything but rock music and Jail could think about nothing but playing music so we perfectly understood each other. We were in really high spirits. He was the guitarist that every rock band needs to have. I was very excited.”

Unbelievable akuma audition. The arrival of Raiden Yuzawa

The majority of SEIKIMA-II members originate from WFS. Jail was a member of the same circle of musicians. But, as Ace Shimizu said, here came the new ground. And this new ground turned out to be Raiden Yuzawa. He was a member of another circle of musicians in the Waseda University, Travelling Light. There were some people who had friends in both circles. In WFS it was widely known that drummer Yuzawa from Travelling Light is an amazing musician (Raiden Yuzawa is a son of the God of Thunder Raizen, half-god/half-akuma, though he himself didn’t know it at that time). SEIKIMA-II were searching for an akuma drummer and Raiden Yuzawa heard the call.
Raiden Yuzawa, “I got a call from Demon Kakka, who invited me to audition for the band a couple days later. He said he knew me from Zod Hoshijima, who had a tape with my performance. In fact a some time before that I met Zod in the lounge, he took my tape and gave it the band. And they asked me to come at night around 2 AM.”
As a result, the audition of drummer took place late in the night.
Raiden Yuzawa, “We played along with Jail. The song was “Rock In The Freedom”, this was still the title of the track.”
Nobody objected the choice and Raiden Yuzawa became the band member.
Zod Hoshijima, “Raiden has a strong kick and was awesome on double-bass. He was a huge fan of progressive rock and when we played some heavy ballad he was beyond all praise. He continued to grow and finally became a total professional. Of course, there could have been more experienced metal drummers around but in fact none of them came to the audition at that time.”
Jail O’Hashi, “By the time Raiden came to the audition we already agreed on him and simply wanted to see him in action. The sound was great and he was relaxed when he played. Nevertheless, his playing was really heavy and he sounded pretty clear. Right away when he finished playing we thought, “That’s the guy, that’s our new drummer!””
Mr. Marusawa, “Among all the drummers who came to audition was Raiden. He seemed to be a real professional. When the audition ended we both went back home in my car and I remember that I was totally speechless. I thought he considered this to be a failure but I said to him, “You know, I think they will choose you as the drummer” and he said, “You gotta be kidding!” No doubt, Raiden had the technique and the power.”
Raiden Yuzawa, “They said, “Maybe we will choose you to be our drummer.” I thought it was the total failure and was thinking something like, “I guess I would be playing in some middle school club in Shibuya” or “Maybe I should continue studying and working in a summer school on the part time basis.”.”
Right then Mr. Marusawa told Raiden that he might be the right guy. But there was no further communication for a while.
Raiden Yuzawa, “I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was totally lost thinking, “Am I in or not?” but there was no communication with them at all. If I really succeeded I had to abandon my plans on playing in clubs or working in summer schools. Demon Kakka later told me that when they were mastering the first record they were thinking, “Why Raiden is not here?” “I thought Mr. Hirano should have called him.” Mr. Hirano said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot!” And then he called me and said that I was in.”
Both Raiden and Jail were new members and weren’t completely sure of themselves by far.
Raiden Yuzawa, “I was quite nervous. Whenever you become a musician you think that one day you would be doing it professionally and if you try hard it finally comes true and I didn’t necessarily want it to happen. Being a professional has drawbacks and it’s not always what you wish to become. When you’re an amateur you have many choices, you can do this and that, so it’s pretty good. But in the professional sphere there are also some negative moments as well as some positive ones. And from time to time you find it hard to cope with pressure. At least, that’s how I felt for the first 2-3 years.”
At that time Mr. Hirano, who was one of the band directors, always told them to practice every single time they had. Originally band members did it for only 10 minutes but that was the way they used to do it when being an amateur band. Raiden also used to practice a lot.
Raiden Yuzawa, “Right after the audition SEIKIMA-II started its summer tour. The first time me and Jail played for shinjas was in Satama on June 27, B.D.14 (1985). Long before that we started preparations for this performance. It was an exhausting week, we used to practice every day and every evening I thought, “I would get fired tomorrow, that’s for sure.” However, everything went great – Ace sounded brilliant, Jail was amazing, the sound was tremendous and the rhythm section worked perfect. It was a huge relief to play that show.”
The band was fully equipped, new members were found – it was time for debut on the Earth!

NOTES

Raiden Yuzawa before SEIKIMA-II
Raiden Yuzawa, “In the university me and a friend were smoking cigarettes and loading my drumset in the back of the car. Demon Kakka saw it all and said, “No, no – now you’re gonna play shows and you won’t have to do it.” I found out that Demon Kakka set several specific rules for the band.
One of the things was that we didn’t go to “Dion” in Shibuya (an event that involved Travelling Light, another musician circle in WFS). At that time I wasn’t a friend with Luke Takamura but he says that he remembers my snare. Once I used a spray to write “King Crimson” on my drums and Luke thought, “Oh, what an idiot!””

Rock In The Freedom
This is the original title of the song “Rock In The Kingdom”, which appeared on debut album “SEIKIMA-II – Akuma Ga Kitarite Heavy Metal”.

Debut on the Earth

September 13, B.D. 14 (1985) was Black Friday, the ideal day for SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth. The most perfect day for akumas. Along with the debut album release the band planned to hold a live performance dedicated to the event. The decision was made to release the debut album on September 21. The progress towards the album release was in full circle. That very performance launched the first Black Mass tour of SEIKIMA-II. As a result, preparations for the Black Mass on September 13 started in “Shinjuku Liquid Room” (located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo). The tour was planned to start right there and various promotional efforts were already made in other areas of the country where the tour was supposed to take place. In all concert halls Japan-wide shinjas and concertgoers gathered to attend Black Masses of SEIKIMA-II.
Raiden Yuzawa, “All in all, the number of shinjas was huge from the very beginning.”
The information on this incredible band was already spread along the country by media sources and the number of SEIKIMA-II fans was on the rise.
Then-head of PR department in “CBS/Sony Corporation”, “They were superb people, great characters. But the image was just one side of their personalities. SEIKIMA-II was the band that perfectly expressed its feelings in music and the press was very much willing to grab a hold of them. The promotion of the band was extremely easy. Media accepted them right away.”
Demon Kakka, “When we debuted on the Earth we got introduced to “Young Guitar” and “Rockin’f” magazines. Also we debuted on the same year along with other bands including FLATBACKER and ANTHEM. Those were the days of heavy metal boom in Japan and lots of people accepted us in the most positive way. Just imagine that a concert hall we played in included 20,000. Such number of attendants was everywhere we went to. It was really a boom.”
At that time bands were described in magazines not only in studio but also at their live shows. The name of SEIKIMA-II came out in many articles just like it happened with all other bands around. However, SEIKIMA-II has the image that no other band could match at that time. Many fans were going crazy about their idols and soon “Fuji TV” started airing the special program dedicated to heavy metal music. That was the start of visual media spread in Japan.
Demon Kakka, “It all started from that very program on “Fuji TV”. It was the human program and we could do nothing about that. Still the program was accepting requests from fans and when they counted them the number of those who wanted to see SEIKIMA-II was the biggest. At the same time it was not a program that you could watch when drinking tea, it the pure heavy metal event. It didn’t fit into a normal life. However, some time later there appeared people in the media who said, “We think this program is really interesting.” It became interesting for TV and radio stations since they could add commercials into such a program, include normal bands, broadcast live shows and the number of fans was growing rapidly. I think this was the program that started walking the metal path.”

NOTES

Negative vibe from the media
SEIKIMA-II appeared in many magazines and newspapers but out of all of them “BURRN!” magazine reviewed the debut album giving it 0 points out of 100 possible.
Mr. Marusawa, “We were like, “OK, 0 points. Thank you very much!” The heavy metal boom was happening and SEIKIMA-II was something totally outlandish. Not even close to other heavy metal bands. SEIKIMA-II was an absolutely unique formation. The record company understood it very well.”
SEIKIMA-II went completely in line with that Mr. Marusawa said. But there was one more opinion.
Then-publisher of “BURRN!” magazine Mr. Watanabe, “Well, “BURRN!” magazine is primarily oriented on overseas artists and we generally don’t review domestic bands. We aimed to create a magazine to promote heavy metal music in Japan. It wasn’t supposed to be just a review magazine. A reporter from “BURRN!” came over to “CBS/Sony” and asked for records to review. It was one of his first assignments and he was supposed to write a review of one of the albums he got. “What’s that? Are they kidding?” was his reaction, at least, from what I heard later. As a result, on the behalf of the magazine he wrote the review, which could be summed up as, “FUCK OFF! 0 points.” By my personal opinion, it’s completely unacceptable. This review gave us nothing in return and didn’t help in the promotional sphere. It was an absolutely inadequate action. In the end there is nothing we can do to change the situation. It could have been reviewed better but “FUCK OFF!” wasn’t the message at all.”
Demon Kakka, “We were absolutely discouraged to get 0 points for the debut album. I still don’t understand this type of attitude. It’s not just my opinion; other people working in the record business in Japan don’t understand this situation as well. And it wasn’t really about SEIKIMA-II alone – it was the record company that received 0 points from a heavy metal magazine. In no way I can explain it from the ethical or cultural point of view.
Still ever since we revealed ourselves to the world and even though we are not humans we tried many times to think from the human point of view like, “How do people view life and consider it?”
Another issue is with people who never came to see our Black Masses. I think when you see a Black Mass your mind changes and you stop thinking in a one-way direction. I know it because I talked to people about that. And the media doesn’t realize it in full what kind of power is hidden there.
I guess there are not so many reasons behind rock music. It’s just rock, take it for what it is.
From the very beginning we were absolutely straight that we were different from all the bands around us and even though we knew that such things can happen we were still disappointed with the situation at that time. I believe those people are still working for that magazine since for the whole 20 years we have never appeared on any of its pages.”

CHAPTER 2

We came to play heavy metal

B.D.13 (1986): big break in April.
B.D.13 (1986): in summer the change of bassist takes place. Zod Hoshijima leaves and Xenon Ishikawa steps in.
B.D.12 (1987): in January Jail O’Hashi leaves the band. Akumas face another challenge.

On the road to glory

At that time the normal way of living for a heavy metal band was the following: playing live, appearing in magazines, raising its status and increasing the number of fans. Slowly the size of halls a band was playing in grew up. As a result, SEIKIMA-II played its first big Black Mass in a big hall on January 10, B.D.13 (1986).
Demon Kakka, “When we play a big Black Mass the number of people is huge and the hall itself is much bigger than it usually is. Our shows weren’t yet broadcasted on TV but the word already got out and we became an interesting entertainment attraction. B.D.13 (1986) was quite a busy year after all. That big Black Mass was like calm before the storm.”

Necessary transformation

B.D.13 started calmly.
On March 25 Demon Kakka appeared at the graduation ceremony in the Waseda University. He made a little speech before all the other graduates saying, “People, I came here in the form that I will use to live in the world after the graduation ceremony. That’s the way I will live on planet Earth.” The whole audience was amazed at the sight.
On April 1 Demon Kakka appeared in a Fuji TV show “Telephone Shocking”. He became widely know in Japan after this appearance.
On April 3 he appeared in another show on Fuji TV.
Simultaneously SEIKIMA-II released the second album “The End Of The Century” and single “Rohningyou No Yakata” on April 2.
Demon Kakka, “Concerning my appearance in both shows, they booked me to appear there beforehand. A person from the first show called me about a week before the show took place and basically asked me to appear there. The show on April 3 was also booked beforehand, they kept calling me from February or March about appearing there. Well, the heavy metal show belonged to Fuji TV as well so the connection was pretty simple. However, I also participated in shows on other channels, for instance, in “11PM” show on Nihon TV on March 21.”
The band started regularly appearing on TV. Still Ace Shimizu was remaining shy at those shows staying in the shadow of Demon Kakka.
Ace Shimizu, “We started appearing on TV and Mr. Marusawa kept pushing us forward with it saying to me, “Open up! Don’t be shy!” so I had to change myself. I became acting differently at shows. There were times when we saw things eye to eye with others and there were times especially when were developing musicianship with Jail when I said, “You know, I think differently about this and that.” I thought it would work out fine in the end and it really worked out many times and I was thinking like, “Maybe it’s possible to find a way around everything.” Still at times I was lost in my thoughts and I didn’t have enough experience to deal with those things. We had differences in opinions but tried not to push it forward and remain in tact. I’m really happy that everything turned out the way it was. We were progressing all the time and if something would have gone wrong I have no idea what we could have done to solve the problem.”
Members of SEIKIMA-II could have had differences in opinions, however, they were all thinking about what was best for the band and did everything to keep it going. The tour was already planned, reporters were waiting for the band in every concert hall while lots of fans stood outside those halls longing for a chance to meet their heroes. As a result the band regularly appeared on radio stations and once again on the metal show on Fuji TV. The demand for them in visual media was incredible.
Demon Kakka, “On one of the shows we even had our own ‘Akuma Training’ corner. We appeared there every single week. And then in April the tour started so we couldn’t go there. Also not every person willing to see us could get inside as the number of seats in halls wasn’t enough to fit them all.”

NOTES

Big Black Mass
This is a Black Mass in a big hall. Not to be confused with ‘fat mass’.

Inside the penetrating unit

Demon Kakka, “We were doing many things in a very naïve way and there were lots of times when we didn’t know where we’re heading. Mr. Hirano had very little experience as a rock band manager so even when we already gained the idol status the management still had numerous troubles when dealing with our issues. The production was pretty average. Our staff wasn’t really experienced in the production sphere and couldn’t get it together at times. We also didn’t know what we could do and what we couldn’t do. Many times we had to simply do it the way we felt how it should be done.”
The general situation was that the band was on the verge of the big break but on the other hand the management wasn’t ready to face such a challenge. As a result, band members were heavily concerned about the whole thing.
Demon Kakka, “We were all very busy and very nervous when performing Black Masses on the regular basis. Sometimes Jail would be saying something like, “When I’m planning the guitar solo I want to come up front” but Zod would be running around the stage and occasionally he would knock Jail out. And then after the show we would be saying bad things to each other, “You can’t do this!” or “You shouldn’t do that!” I guess we were much too nervous at that time.
I remember one time when we were performing “Akuma No Sanbika” in one of the halls. Ace and Jail were playing the rhythm guitar part and suddenly something went wrong. Looking back at the situation I guess Jail lost his temper and it was very visible to the audience. A while later he resumed playing the song and everything turned out just fine like it should be in case with professional musicians. But after the show I came up to Jail and said, “How can you do such things in front of the audience?!” We made a lot of excuses like, “There’s no time to write songs” or “We don’t earn enough money to get by”. It all popped up in our conversations once in a while and it was getting worse and worse. As a result, Zod decided to leave the band. We said, “Why are you doing it now?” I guess he thought that maybe it’s better to leave in the starting period and not to let it go any further.”
Jail O’Hashi, “What I didn’t like most of all at that time was that we didn’t have enough time to record slowly and properly. The expenses were pretty high and there were many times when I was really unhappy about the whole situation. I was writing songs and becoming a more important member of the band but what I was writing wasn’t very simple and it took time to work it out. I was adding somehow sensational parts into songs but Demon Kakka was the main attraction of the band even though I tried to include as much as I could into my songs. And that was upsetting me as well. Probably that was the reason why I started talking more about the music aspect of the band in interviews.”
The big break was on the way. Disappointment was clearly visible for people outside. The change of band members was coming to its peak.

Another line-up change in breakthrough times

SEIKIMA-II was rapidly breaking nationwide. But another break was coming up. One the main members performance-wise, who was a real attraction on stage, Zod Hoshijima was leaving the band. And though he went pretty far into the action he still decided to return back to the Earth.
Zod Hoshijima, “I was always thinking that everyone is progressing in terms of technique and I’m leagues behind them. Of course, we played together but I didn’t really practice and played the way I thought it would be fine enough. Everyone was heading for his own goal but I simply lived through it. It wasn’t meant to last too long. Actually while recording the second album the band wanted me to play a bass solo before “Akuma No Sanbika” but I couldn’t do it good enough. So after we played a show in Osaka on April 28 I finally informed other band members on my decision. We were partying and then I said, “Guys! Sorry to tell you but I’m leaving.” However, they found a better musician and improved a lot.”
Thus Zod told the rest of the band members about his decision to leave SEIKIMA-II. After telling this news he said that he was trying to improve his playing but finally decided to leave after this Osaka show. In fact, Zod wasn’t simply disappointed in his own level of playing. He had a hard time appearing in his akuma form before his family.
Zod Hoshijima, “I just couldn’t explain the whole thing to my parents and was heavily concerned with that. At that time my father became very ill and was taken to a hospital and after visiting him I would be coming home and mom would tell me, “You know, I don’t like what you’re doing.” When I came home late at night she would say, “I saw you on TV today. What do you think you’re doing? What do you think you’re saying? Can’t you see that this is the band Demon Kakka? It’s not your band!”
Zod Hoshijima, “Well, concerning my family situation there was nobody there to tell the others, “Don’t mind them, do what you believe in!” Maybe I wouldn’t do what I have done but in the end I had no other choice.”
Whatever the case it was Zod who made this final decision.
Zod Hoshijima, “I remember that when I made this decision and announced it to the band after the tour Jail and Raiden were crying. All I could say was, “I’m terribly sorry” but I couldn’t look them in the eyes. Tears started rolling down my eyes and I couldn’t do anything about it. I still remember that feeling, very sad.”
As a result, Zod left SEIKIMA-II without any announcement of this decision at a Black Mass.

From action to calmness! The arrival of Xenon Ishikawa

After Zod left the band being very sad about this decision there appeared a new person on the horizon by the name of Xenon Ishikawa. He is called a ‘doctor’ and he was a complete opposite of his predecessor in terms of his character. Other members of the band still remember this audition of a new akuma.
Xenon Ishikawa, “It was a memorable audition. I played several songs in front of other members.”
Raiden Yuzawa, “It was always a problem for me in terms of rhythm section on how to play along with Zod bass lines and from now on the sound was as tight as ever. I felt really great when Xenon auditioned for the band. I used to play with him previously in various amateur bands so I knew him from long ago. Many of my friends used to say, “Oh, that bassist Ishikawa, he is really superb. His playing is perfect, he is on the way to become a real professional musician though he is about to leave the university.” And though he hasn’t made the final decision yet he was really extremely close to doing it.”
At the same time Xenon hasn’t become an akuma yet, he didn’t join SEIKIMA-II and was considered to be a session bassist. However, he already became a true professional.
Xenon Ishikawa, “I was heavily sucked into the music world but still wanted to concentrate more on my education. However, this time the situation seemed to be totally different, their attitude was different and the band policy was different. I could clearly see that I’m heading into something that I’ve never experienced before. Still inside I was very much torn apart and didn’t really know how to act and what to choose. It wasn’t about whether I was good enough or bad enough. What if I join SEIKIMA-II? Would SEIKIMA-II change me too much or not?”
After Xenon joined the band it started heavily improving and the band was getting more and more noticed.
Raiden Yuzawa, “I was very excited about this. Due to the fact that Xenon joined the band we became an explosive and powerful force very fast. When you work you are just getting from one point to another but I was thinking many times that we’re not progressing and it disappointed me very much. Everything wasn’t good enough for me and I even thought that I should give lessons to the bassist. The response to such thoughts was great and I was very close to start giving such lessons. Yet it never happened. In the end I thought that I can do such things for people who come to see our shows. Maybe it’s not a good idea when you’re professional musician but at the same time there’s not much time to make it happen.”
Xenon Ishikawa, “It happens in many bands that there are weak people and there are angered people, who don’t let you do what you want to and make you follow the style they have in mind. There was nothing like that in SEIKIMA-II. Nobody dictated to others how to play, we all did it the way we considered it to be right.”

Intensive care operation underway

The band took a break. Band members went on to pursue their private interests. One of the reasons for that was likely the intense accident, which took place during one of Demon Kakka performances.
On July 27, B.D.13 (1986) Demon Kakka took part in a special event in Fukuyama when he jumped down from a pretty high stand. As a result of this action he broke his leg and was taken to an akuma hospital.
Demon Kakka, “Everything went together during that particular summer including restlessness, frustration, stress and intensity. And in the end it finally exploded. After we played a Black Mass in a sports hall in Kyoto I immediately hopped into a car and drove to Fukuyama from 3 to 4 AM. We had to start the rehearsal at 5 AM. For other musicians it’s a lot easier since they only have to play their instruments but the voice need to rest so I had to skip the rehearsal and give my voice a break. I didn’t think too much about how the performance would go and what would happen on stage. During this particular tour Mr. Hirano didn’t get involved with us too much. Yet we tried to ignore it. We simply had nothing else to do but to go out and do what we always did.”
Raiden Yuzawa, “Mr. Hirano told us to take at least a little break many times. Not only him but many other people in the organization tried to explain this to Demon Kakka.”
The band had to cancel several Black Masses but four other members still wanted to play regardless of Demon Kakka absence.
Mr. Hirano, “Xenon and Ace, the two of them played in Shiroyama city. They said, “We went so far – why should we stop?” The tour has been planned already in autumn. If it didn’t happen we would have to face various consequences. The management tried to take measures to prevent such issues. But there wasn’t much it could do and thankfully everybody understood it very well.”
The accident made a lot damage to the situation but the timing wasn’t that serious so the band somehow managed to overcome the problem.
Raiden Yuzawa, “We went on holiday. It was nice to take a little break. I think it felt pretty relaxing to everyone in the band. It wasn’t like the end of the world or any kind of real problem for us.”
Xenon Ishikawa, “Looking at this situation now I consider it differently than before. The band was complete and after summer performances autumn came in and we were still going on playing Mass after Mass. We were young and nervous so the whole thing just blew our minds away.”
At the same time there were some positive moments about this accident. The band had enough time to prepare themselves for work on the 3rd album. The songwriting started for this album “Jigoku Yori Ai O Komete” and the band was ready to step into the studio.

Jail’s blossom as songwriter

Speaking of the first two albums, they were mainly centered around songs written by Damian Hamada. As a result, most of the songs were written even before the debut on the Earth. This time the band had to write new songs for the 3rd album “Jigoku Yori Ai O Komete” for the first time since those debut years. Thus over half of the new songs was composed by Jail O’Hashi. He was getting more and more involved with the music of SEIKIMA-II, his spirits became heavier and more rocking and it was easy to notice that he took SEIKIMA-II music close enough to his heart. All the band members could clearly see it. Also during the recordings he used several new techniques, which weren’t explored by the band before.
Mr. Marusawa, “There was nothing like that before. Previously only Kakka was the most high-spirited and active person in the band. And by the 3rd album Jail became the professional musician and was able to reveal his talent all the way. We were extremely happy to experience it.”
Mr. Hirano, “When it came the time to write new songs Jail really blossomed. All the other members weren’t so capable to do it at that time. In whatever band you take there’s a songwriter who composes most of the songs. And he becomes very active once in a while. Considering the situation we had in the band at that time it was great to have such a chance.”
Speaking of Jail, he was highly concentrated on writing rock songs for SEIKIMA-II.
Jail O’Hashi, “Maybe it’s not right to say that but I have a strong opinion on how music should sound and how it should be composed – and that’s what I think about when doing songwriting. If we take the days of SEIKIMA-II debut on the Earth I can say that I liked that music but wasn’t very impressed with it. Kakka really pushed himself very seriously in those days and if it didn’t happen then “Jigoku Yori Ai O Komete” wouldn’t become such a good album in the end.
I was always very concerned about the conceptual image of SEIKIMA-II and characters of band members. And I wanted the music of the band to reflect those moments. That’s when I started using the wow guitar effect. We didn’t really have the time to compose music properly and people from the record company were always pushing us to work harder but if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be able to express myself as a songwriter at all.”
At the same time Jail was already loosing it as a band member. When working on this new album other members of SEIKIMA-II noticed it as well.
Raiden Yuzawa, “He was extremely straightforward back then. Being pretty young he didn’t want to go far away from our image and incorporate something new into music. He didn’t talk too much to anybody. I could feel that straight approach in the rhythm of my drumming too.”
Xenon Ishikawa, “I can say that when getting used to Jail’s style of rock music we really made a lot of efforts to make it work. I was also very young at that time and couldn’t properly explain many things to my partners. As a result, we were all very nervous. It’s easier to do it nowadays but when you’re young you tend to be impatient and many clashes took place between members of the band. I guess we tried hard to fit into the world that Damian Hamada created. It’s like two lions looking at each other and ready to start a huge fight over that small piece of meat. Sometime it felt like we were warriors in a battle. Those were the days when we couldn’t make decisions like adults. Everyone was thinking that he sounded the best and we felt extremely sure of ourselves. So whenever we tried to do something new we never thought like, “Oh, that’s great, that’s something different, let’s try it!” On the opposite, we fought it tooth and nail. And when we went into the direction that Jail offered we were very nervous and the atmosphere in the band was quite tense.”
When Jail looks at this situation today he doesn’t have such troubled memories at all.
Jail O’Hashi, “Was it really like that? I’m not sure about it at all. We already recorded two albums together and nothing changed this that time. We discussed many aspects like what kind of direction we want to follow and how songs should be played and agreed on most of them. Minor issues surely happened once in a while but I wouldn’t have wanted to change anything and really felt like a team player when we were writing songs. However, in the end we were all making various kinds of excuses yet the fact that my name was written as songwriter on those tracks was a reason why we still had some fights over elements that we wouldn’t introduce to our music. So we were saying to each other, “Isn’t it cool? Can we try it out?” Really, weren’t we all members of this band, owning its name and writing all those songs?! There was nothing much we could do about that. So there’s absolutely no point in thinking this way.”
It seems like Jail’s happy attitude doesn’t go along with other members of the band. The rock sound that Jail brought into SEIKIMA-II changed its overall sound anyway.
Ace Shimizu, “Jail didn’t hesitate to show that he was displeased with something, which I guess was good. It was very important for the band at that time. To be honest Kakka is a great vocalist and amazing entertainer but concerning music he couldn’t completely express the complexity of music. As a result Jail was continuously bringing elements into our music that we didn’t really use before and possibly not all of them could be incorporated by us. However, it was never going into completely different direction. I thought it was good that not everybody in the band agreed to everything he introduced to us.”
Demon Kakka, “To be honest with you all of us weren’t really nice to each other and when writing songs we expressed different opinions but I was extremely nervous since my physical condition isn’t good enough when you’re constantly in and out of the hospital. I was involved in the whole songwriting process in most cases but after checking into the hospital I couldn’t participate in all the events that took place. As a result many things were upside down in the band. Right at that time Jail convinced all the other band members that hard rock music was the only thing we need to do and that was all that he himself knew inside and out. It was amazing that the youngest member of the band was writing so many songs. He was like, “Hey, everybody, keep silent and listen to what I have to say.” So he wasn’t really careful when thinking what to say and how to express his attitude and it wasn’t contributing to his stay in the band. I think we weren’t sure enough of ourselves so we let him take charge of the situation.”
Before SEIKIMA-II started making any serious progress with its albums they had to gain some experience in the sphere and get on the right track. Of course, they had a very strong and meaningful concept but concerning the music side they were still in the development process.
Demon Kakka, “Mr. Malsawa didn’t want SEIKIMA-II to become just another traditional hard rock band but establish it as a unique band with rock sound different from all the other bands. The songs shouldn’t be happy-go-lucky all the time. He really insisted that every sound should have something special and sound not just like all the others. Speaking of Jail’s sound, he was straightforwardly heading into the hard rock direction. Thus the whole vector was changing.
We were already experienced. Whatever thing happened to us we were ready to face it but we were left puzzled in many cases. Well, you can say that Mr. Malsawa was our director and we were recording already the third album. But in fact the first two albums were very much amateur ones and we didn’t pay much attention to arrangements at that time. By the time we started working on the third album everybody started to understand what the songwriting process is all about and how it should be done. In such situation band members felt a bit lost. We were able to communicate very well but when it came to songwriting we were totally useless.”
“Jigoku Yori Ai O Komete”, the album born in such a confusing period in the band, turned out to be the bestselling album among all the rest of heavy metal and hard rock bands coming from Japan.

The last tour with Jail O’Hashi

Mr. Hirano, “The management was surprised that nothing happened until the tour started.”
Regardless of anything Demon Kakka’s post-operation recovery was underway so during Black Masses he had to remain seated in Super Demon Car. By that time the songwriting and recording have already been completed. The Black Mass Tour, which was to include about 40 shows, started on October 15. It was the first Black Mass tour to happen in big halls around the country. Among people coming to the shows were a lot of shinjas and the number of people applying make-up of their favorite band members started growing as well.
Super Demon Car was moving around on stage. It was also one of the attractions, which caused the increase of demand for the band shows. The tour was very spectacular and had a huge success!
And Jail, who was responsible for the new sound of the band, started getting more and more spotlight. He was like a dynamite at every show! He was doing the best he could and it showed at the time.
Xenon Ishikawa, “This tour was amazing on many levels. Before that time we have never performed Black Masses in such big halls with roadies and stuff so it was a major surprise to everybody in the band. It was very close to what professional tour is all about. We used lots of equipment and were travelling everywhere in cars and trains. But truth be told, the emotional level was very low.”
Raiden Yuzawa, “In one of the cities Jail got angry and said, “No way I will go into this shop!” and Mr. Hirano had to calm him down saying, “You don’t have to go there if you don’t want to. Just don’t get so angry!”
It already showed that Jail was thinking about leaving the band.
Raiden Yuzawa, “If you ask my opinion, when I heard that Jail is leaving the band for the first time it wasn’t something of a shock. I said, “OK, I see.” And half a minute later he said, “Well, I think about leaving SEIKIMA-II and going to America. Do you wanna come along?” Of course, I was really worried about Jail but we all have to make decisions and in the end I told him, “Going to America? No, I think I’ll refuse to join him.”
Jail O’Hashi, “I thought he was a great drummer. I loved his sound very much. As a drummer Raiden Yuzawa is one of the best in my opinion. I didn’t know any other drummer that I really liked. I told Raiden that I want to play more shows and he only said, “OK, you know what you’re doing.” And that’s how it ended so I started thinking about getting another person to play drums with me.”
So Jail didn’t have much to lose. At the same time the stuff and band members were close to doing it themselves with Jail.
Mr. Hirano, “If he didn’t leave on his own I think we would have asked him to leave ourselves.”
Yet there were different opinions on the issue.
Mr. Malsawa, “I wanted Jail to stay in the band. He had the strength and attitude to follow the path that he has once chosen. He was a true rock’n’roller and his world could make the band progress along with the times.”
That’s what Mr. Malsawa has to say. Now let’s see what Jail thinks about the situation.
Jail O’Hashi, “The tour was big and shows sold very well. But I didn’t think it was big enough. I didn’t take much into consideration, just went along with whatever was closer to me. I always thought to myself, “I’ll play more, I’ll play for some more time” but I wasn’t thinking about continuing my career on the Japanese ground. All in all I think everything turned out fine. It was a good cut-off.
During my last tour with SEIKIMA-II I was constantly thinking, “Oh my, when will this tour end?” and “What am I gonna do next?” I didn’t enjoy what I was doing but I didn’t want to go into any other direction. I was thinking about getting my own music organization. Yet I still loved all the other members of the band. Me and Ace had similar points of view and I think it really showed up in our performances. He was really my best friend. And as time goes by he continues to be the best of friends.”
Demon Kakka, “In bad times and good times Ace was always very level-headed and no matter how much time goes by he continues to keep high spirits.”
Jail O’Hashi, “At that time I was very straightforward and really loved to play rock music but couldn’t clearly see the way SEIKIMA-II was going. Now I think that SEIKIMA-II played the best rock music ever. The band was the gathering of different personalities and I knew that sooner or later we would clash. But after all the clashes were settled we would agree on everything and music would be everything we would want to do. That could have happened. But the problem was that nobody wanted to give up and just let things happen smoothly.
I guess my point of view was quite different from the others. In all the interviews it didn’t really look like it was about music. We were extremely stressed, couldn’t handle things properly so everything wasn’t nice at all. To me the turning point took place after we ended the recordings for the 3rd album. After that I felt even more stressed. I have lost all the interest in everything happening around me. I was behaving like a spoiled child on that tour. The energy level in me was only enough to last a show but then it went out.
Concerning the performance itself, we sounded very tight and strong. You could see that on stage that the current Jail was born in those early days. I have managed to keep that spirit until now. But apart from that things were different. I knew that it would be extremely hard for me to continue behaving such way and have such a different point of view from the rest of the band members. It all blended together at that time and when I look at those days now I think I was extremely stupid. There were many situations when musicians made the band grow and then they had the time to do something on their own. Yet I was too impatient and couldn’t wait.”
As a result Jail stopped being an akuma and returned into the human world. Then he went to America.
Ace Shimizu, “After one of the guitarists leaves the band you find yourself in a very frustrated situation and it’s pretty hard to overcome this feeling. It feels really great to be a part of the akuma world even if you’re in it for 15 minutes. And after you leave it you feel so new and relieved that you need to get your energy out somewhere. Jail had bigger experience than any of us and when the time came he turned out to have the strongest spirit.”
Raiden Yuzawa, “Even though Jail has left the band I didn’t have any worries about the future of SEIKIMA-II.”

CHAPTER 3

The akuma union

B.D.12 (1987): Luke Takamura joins the band in February.
The last akuma is finally here.
SEIKIMA-II enters the new phase and approaches its most glorious years.

Making the decision about the last band member

Jail O’Hashi left the band. So the new candidate for the guitar player became Luke Takamura, who already tried to take this position at the previous audition. At the audition Luke was officially qualified to enter the akuma world and fit into it very fast and smooth. The departure of Jail happened on January 10, B.D. 12 (1987). According to memos of Raiden Yuzawa, the audition of Luke took place on January 16. The band rehearsed the new song “El.Dorado” on January 30-31 and February 2-3. The recordings took place on February 15 followed by the trackdown on February 17. On February 23 Luke took the stage with SEIKIMA-II for the first time ever at the TV show “Live G”. He passed the test with flying colors and eventually became the last member to join the band and never leave it for 12 years up until the breakup.
Mr. Hirano, “It happened so fast, the band power was very strong and wouldn’t be easy to fit in if you aren’t an easygoing person. The whole schedule has been already built up.”
Luke Takamura, “I can’t remember exactly when Demon Kakka called me for the first time. They have already been working on “El.Dorado” by that time.”
“El.Dorado” written together by Luke and Demon was already featured on the 3rd album “Jigoku Yori Ai O Komete”. Luke was credited there as Murasaki Umagoyashi (the name of the band Luke formed in school years). It seems that it has already been decided that Luke will join the band at one point in time. After that almost every Black Mass featured this song on the regular basis.
Demon Kakka, “It was the time when I couldn’t write any song so I had to do it from scratch, which was not an easy task. I had some songs from amateur years and wanted to introduce them to the band. But when the writing process for the 3rd album took place I didn’t have any songs that really stood out. But since Luke joined the band I never had this problem again.”
Luke Takamura, “There wasn’t anybody at the audition apart from the band itself. How well could I play? Was it possible for me to reach particular heights? I cannot remember everything from those years but I can vividly remember that I played Jail’s song “Adam No Ringo” in my own way. 10 years went by and I’m playing it differently than Jail did. For about a month we had to stick to a very tight schedule. Maybe sometimes we fell out of it, can’t remember exactly. Yet we weren’t that much concerned about all those events. Of course we all felt pretty nervous and hesitant. And to play the music you want to first you have to find the right people and then try to do the best you can – that’s my opinion on how it has to happen.
At first I was extremely happy but then the pressure dawned on me. But I tried to do everything the best way that I could. When I think about it now I can really feel how tough it felt. I was a small part that joined this huge machine that SEIKIMA-II has already become. I was lucky to join it but I was always in heavy rotation and I couldn’t really understand how it all works. I was just rotating along the way.
At the time that I joined the band Jail has already become an important part of it so I had to learn songs from his period. I also had to play songs written by Damian Hamada. I had to learn everything from those past years.
Still pretty soon we started talking about writing new songs. And even though I couldn’t incorporate everything that I wanted into SEIKIMA-II style and surely wasn’t able to change the band’s concept I worked on my ideas more and more so slowly I learned what I could do and how I can fit it into our music.”

Every band member has his own appeal

Demon Kakka, “To us within the organization B.D. 13 (1986) was very hectic so in the end we felt pretty much exhausted. Thus after everything that happened we decided to take a little break and work on our characters. Jail was a very charismatic guitarist and it wasn’t like anybody could have filled his shoes. We all tried to make it happen with Luke so that he could be a star in his own right. That’s why we started appearing together on “All Night Nippon”. His name became know, people bought it… yeah, they bought it without much consideration since he was a completely different character than Jail has ever been.
By that time SEIKIMA-II got recognized only due my laughter “Gu-ha-ha-ha-ha” but not many people could tell one member from the other. But then we started to match colors with appearance of each band member and that’s when we got the idea that every character in the band might appeal to different people. Ace was the one who has this idea from very early stages of the band.
We were thinking, “What to do with Xenon?” We tried to introduce him in the same way as Zod Hoshijima, “Zod’s here!” but it didn’t work. So we just stopped considering the issue and I guess it turned out just fine. Maybe we could put more spotlight on a particular character. That’s when the whole appreciation towards different characters started working out in the band.”
Using various tricks and introducing new approaches SEIKIMA-II took time to develop the band image even further. By the time SEIKIMA-II started its first tour with Luke in April and May B.D. 13 (1987) the completely new and amazing character appeared to people’s eyes.
Raiden Yuzawa, “When we went to Hachihone (city in Aomori prefecture) every band member was a star in his own right. Ace says that even the city mayor said, “The band members became a lot more appealing than they used to be before”. And Luke said, “I think we’ve reached the professional level and might even die on this tour.”

“All Night Nippon” by Demon Kakka

In April B.D. 12 (1987) Demon Kakka started his own radio show “All Night Nippon”, which lasted from 1AM to 3AM. It soon became an evidently popular and unique event.
Demon Kakka, “Unique? Was it really so? Well, it was very widespread across the country and the timing was right for such a late night show. This show also went along with feelings of many people at that time. However, the talk was quite gloomy and dark. We used to hold it either in “Yube Hit Studio” or “Music Station”. In a somehow transformed way the show also appeared on TV as well. I even had my own column in the magazine “Takarajima”, which doesn’t exist anymore. Thanks to all of that SEIKIMA-II gained a huge number of fans and shinjas. It wasn’t just about music fans – there were many people who listened to this show but liked only some songs in our repertoire. I know that there even were people who didn’t really listen to our music at all.”
The number of fans and shinjas was on the rapid rise. However, there was another thing born from that event.
Raiden Yuzawa, “For some years we were stuck in that situation. After every Black Mass, every event together and any performance Demon and Luke split up from the rest of us and went to do this show. We were always asking them, “Are you guys OK?” It even showed up in their voices. After a night show talk for almost two hours your voice gets hoarse and it’s a major point to worry about. Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun on tour.”
Though exhausting their bodies band members were moving on to their new goals.
Demon Kakka, “On the music level we were always thinking about how we would compose songs together as a band, what would our stage look like and what would be our vision for the future. Considering our image as a group we were thinking on how we would be able to keep this tightness and integrity for a long time. What if band members become scattered and separated and considering my approach to various events where it’s possible to reveal talents, I was thinking about how to maintain the band and still be able to progress in the world. It was the time when we make a closer and deeper approach to the ways of solving problems that could stand in our way.”

The creation of a new formation

Xenon Ishikawa, “We didn’t have any new songs so “Big Time Changes” was the album that we started writing altogether. We had great understanding and composed the songs as a unit. Step by step everybody started writing songs of their own. In my opinion when you work on an album and you put your passion into takes, then the result becomes very good.”
Raiden Yuzawa, “When everybody writes songs you start thinking, “I wonder if I can also write something worthy?” And telling the truth even though we didn’t have Jail on board this time we could still compose great songs on our own.”
Thus the band featuring a new member engaged heavily into the songwriting process. Even Ace has fond memories about the recording of that album.
Ace Shimizu, “I was very excited about it. The recording went great and we had perfect understanding with the sound engineer. In my opinion only when recording later in London we were able to reach such a great level of understanding between each other. The next album “The Outer Mission” was awesome too. The first recorded song was “Rock’n’Roll Prisoner”. We had long discussions about how everything should be recorded and how it should sound and that’s how the whole recording process went by. The music taste of newly added Luke fully shined on this particular song – and I was very happy about this fact, about how this taste was revealed. It had something American in it. It couldn’t get better than that. I still remember the night I wrote lyrics to “Angel Smile” in Mr. Marusawa’s house.”
This 4th album “Big Time Changes” was the debut recording for Luke.
Luke Takamura, “Whenever I entered any big organization it took me a lot of time to fit in there. I knew that I have joined a really big and major band but I had no idea how to handle this satiation. I felt very lost. We started writing songs together and I started doing it along with them. I thought that now I have the chance to listen to opinions of various people and was extremely lucky to have it so I did my best.
The happiest day came when we selected the final track list for the album and the mastering took place. Then trackdown happened. I was nervous waiting for the final result and couldn’t wait to hear how it all turned out. Seriously, I was very nervous. I thought I could write more songs so the feeling was overwhelming. I mean, we had a deal with a major record company and we were quite a huge sensation out there.”

Extra activities take over

Having “All Night Nippon” and writing the magazine column the leader of SEIKIMA-II started scattering away from the rest of his colleagues. In the process of creating the new band Demon and other band members started to encounter with various problems.
Demon Kakka, “Before that we were a band and music was the most important thing in our lives. We did all those events to spread the knowledge in mass media. And then it didn’t take over us but it became more important than music. Before that everything extra that we did was nothing really special. Now we were still composing songs and stood very much along with plans of the record company but the management always encouraged us to do many things and we didn’t think they interrogated with music so we did them as much as we could – and we knew that it was actually the big masterplan for our popularity. The management wanted us to do everything we possibly could but the record company insisted that we only play music and have no outside activities at all. As a result, we were always torn apart between what we have to do and how far our outside activities should be stretched.
Since we didn’t scatter too far away from each other we thought, “OK, we do engage into many different things but we can still make good music.” The main problem was that if we wrote good songs and make it big then all of those problems would be solved.
The album “Big Time Changes” didn’t break out very much but it didn’t go unnoticed as well. We had a new member and we composed songs from scratch but we still managed to do it in the proper way, which was the most important thing for us. We knew we could reach a higher level. When composing the next album we felt like we were warriors on the way to glory. We wanted to create something that wouldn’t rely only on our mass media popularity, that would get good reviews and would sell great.”

The song that broadened the sound. Feels like in space!

When thinking about how to broaden the sound of the new band Ace came up with the song “Stainless Night”. According to Demon, this song marked the turning point in the band’s career.
Demon Kakka, “The song “Stainless Night” was a bridge that led us to “The Outer Mission”. “Big Time Changes” was the album where we tried to simultaneously play pop music, remain unique, compose rock music and add some new elements as well. We had make many interesting injections into our music and we still had a lot to offer. It was the first step to something new and that’s how it all started.
Among the songs that we had on the table by that time Ace had one, which sounded like a soundtrack to a movie in a sense. In fact, this song “Stainless Night” was a major turning point in the SEIKIMA-II history since we’ve never had songs like that previously. It had pop elements in it but at the same time featured quite a frightening and calm-before-the-storm narration yet still maintaining that pop-oriented feeling. It was a brand new type of song for us. We were thinking, “What a great song it is!” but then it dawned on us that the style of the album would also change because of this song. When this song came out we were puzzled because we couldn’t imagine to what extent the new line-up can go in terms of songwriting and this marked the first real change for us. Taking all those things into account, we arranged REBECCA songwriter and keyboardist Akio Dobashi to work with us on the next album. We intended to make a pop-sounding album. That’s why “Stainless Night” became the song that turned it all over and marked out way for next 10 years.”
During Black Masses in those days Ace was not only playing guitar but also did some keyboard parts here and there.
Ace Shimizu, “Luke really had a talent to bring the talent out of a rocking guitarist. I didn’t even know I had it in me. He was always telling me to push myself to the limit of my abilities. I played guitar quite fast and used various tricks yet I didn’t push myself hard enough. I thought it all sounded good enough. Other band members used to say the same to me but I didn’t really take it seriously. I thought I could do something different as well.
When we did songwriting we had an amazing communication but I was always trying to sneak in some bits and pieces that didn’t really fit into hard rock and heavy metal genres. Of course, I tried to stay more or less away from dramatic changes. Slowly but surely various strange pieces were creeping into my music. That’s how I started thinking that maybe apart from guitar I can try to play some synthesizers as well.”
Being an experienced musician on the rock scene Ace started opening up to opportunities.
Ace Shimizu, “The rock scene was so different and had lots of variety in it. It was the time when big names as TOTO, JOURNEY, and BOSTON started coming to me. I know that ELO is not really a rock band but its synthesizer sound embraced new technologies in music. Looking at it from now I can see that music was very outlandish. So I was working on my music trying to add more of those parts into it. The hard rock genre was slowly incorporating that type of music as well. It was the time when sound of many guitarists started was dying to feature more interesting stuff. It was a tendency among all the bands. Luke was also very much into such things while I was kind of shy with it. The first attempt was made in the song “Eartheater”. Then we changed the arrangement in “Rohningyo No Yakata” adding more synthesizers into it. Apart from using the guitar sound alone I also added the sound of synthesizers and I should say that I loved how it sounded, which was a major tendency in those days. If you take Demon he was also into changes in music and he was extremely excited about it. This way of thinking led us to “The Outer Mission.”
It was obvious that the sound was widening. The songwriting progressed with the addition of synthesizers. Akio Dobashi became the sound producer of the new album. At that time he was engaged into producing albums of REBECCA remixing some of their old songs as well, the band being the top one on the Japanese music scene. As a result, Akio Dobashi was taken in as the producer for the 5th album. “The Outer Mission” became the album filled with space and outlandish atmosphere. The sound was gorgeous as it could ever be.
Luke Takamura, “When I listen to “The Outer Mission” today I think it’s a great album. I sometimes wonder what could have happened to us if we didn’t create such an album. And it was all thanks to Akio Dobashi. Since the early days of songwriting for it we went together hand in hand and played the best that we could. There were many fans and shinjas who had a hard time understanding the new sound of the band. But anyway, “Winner” reached number 5 in national charts.
“Winner” was written by me and I’m very proud of how it turned out. When we started the songwriting with Akio Dobashi we were all thinking, “How can we fit it all into the SEIKIMA-II sound?” Every song didn’t turn out as easy as it could have been. Akio Dobashi always told us, “Make it more brighter, not that dark.” Demon was thinking that it the world of Damian Hamada was a bit too heavy so we tried to change our approach from playing only major chords. Akio Dobashi told us, “Can we try to stay somehow away from those sounds?” and that’s how songs started coming out. At that time we were working on “Winner” and it didn’t really work out so we thought that we’d better do it on the next day. We thought that melody was really great and the backing tracks were nice but we need to work more on the chords. By that time we reached a high level of understanding and could easily work with each other.