We’ve got a special treat for you this week. To celebrate the monumental Heavy Blog Is Heavy-sponsored Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself Tour (which starts next week!!) we’ve been given the honour of interviewing all three bands on the tour, thanks to the super-awesome people at Basick Records. We start the week with a familiar face – Mr. Hayato Imanishi, vocalist and songwriter of Japanese/British hybrid tech outfit Cyclamen.
This guy holds a special place in my grim and frostbitten heart. It was through Hayato’s first interview that I came across this site in the first place, and damn it, he’ll undoubtedly be there why I pry the server passwords from Jimmy’s cold, dead, redneck fingers.
We talk about transitioning from guitarist to vocalist, why no-one else but Tetsuya Fukugawa would have done in his place, and the story that accompanies their latest album Senjyu.
Well well well, you’re back for more punishment! It’s been a while since we last spoke. How have you been?
It has been a while! Well, I’ve been very busy. Organising this tour and other small bits take a big chunk of my time – I seem to be spending more time in front of the laptop replying emails and messages than playing the guitar or singing! I’ve also been trying to raise money for my home country Japan by selling a track, which has been a lot of work too. I was very surprised about how kind this community was though! In fewer than three weeks we have raised over £1000! I am truly grateful for all of the help I received!
What have Cyclamen been up to since the release of Senjyu last year?
Promoting Senjyu and learning the songs on the album really. We have rather unusual process of writing and recording songs first, then learning them for the live set. I’ve also been busy making many videos -check them out on our YouTube channel!
When Jimmy last spoke to you, you were just putting together the full Cyclamen line-up. With you not being in the same country as the rest of the band for most of the time, how do you ensure the same level of quality control that goes into the writing and recording process also goes into your live show?
There isn’t a way really, but fortunately other band members have very professional attitude towards live performance and they are very self-critical. Without me telling them, they always make sure of their performances themselves – I am very lucky to have found these guys to play music with!
Like Paul from Chimp Spanner, you were once a lone ‘bedroom’ musician. I’ve always known you as a guitarist, but you’ve made the transition to frontman, so far as your live show goes anyway. What prompted you to give up the axe, rather than recruit a Japanese-language vocalist (I’m sure Tetsuya Fukugawa would have JUMPED at the chance!)?
Envy are one of my favourite bands of all time! I’d love that if that happened! It was as simple as that I found no vocalist who really understood all aspects of music I was trying to do – most of them only could relate themselves to tech metal side of it and not the quiet side of the music. I figured out finding good guitarists would be much easier task than finding a good vocalist, and it was even easier just training myself to be a vocalist than finding one. It proved to be the case and I found other band members quickly after recruiting Duncan. Plus, vocalists tend to be annoying people, no offence…
How have you found the process? Screaming in peoples’ faces is a lot different to, say, shredding atop human pyramids…
Not so different really – except that I need to look at faces more often. I miss shredding on a human pyramids though. They were good times!
I’ve heard rumours of a Senjyu-inspired novel in the works – telling the story of the album I presume? – could you give us any details about that? Is it in Japanese or English?
It’s in English – I thought about writing in Japanese but then there will be someone asking “can you translate it into English?” five seconds later, so I might as well write in English.
So yeah, the whole album’s songs work like soundtracks to this story capturing different emotions. I’ve only written a couple of chapters so far so I had better really get on it once I have a bit more free time – hopefully on the tour! With any luck I will complete the story not too distant in the future for everyone so that they can have an entirely new listening experience. I guess to many people the album feels as if it jumps from one style to another completely randomly, but when you know the story it makes more sense.
Speaking of words; what sort of things do you write about, lyrically?
Senjyu was very different to anything I’ve done before because I was basing the lyrics on the story I mentioned before. Generally I am extremely positive person and look for good things in life, hence most of the earlier songs are about motivating yourself and believing in worthiness of pursuing your dream. I guess being a musician is one of the worst careers you can take in terms of security and you obviously get many people telling you to get ‘proper’ job. It makes me feel very vulnerable, so we have to have strength and confidence in ourselves to keep doing what we are doing and that goes to anyone who’s trying to achieve their dream. I’d like to just tell these people that they are not alone, and I hope our songs can give some strengths in difficult times. I am not sure if you agree but our songs are never really dark or hateful even musically. Sure it’s heavy and tech, but that doesn’t mean our inspiration is negativity.
Conquering both the musical AND literary worlds aside, what does the future
hold for Cyclamen beyond the Tech Yourself tour?
A new release would be nice! It’s been months since I last had time to properly sit and be creative. With all the e-mails and things happening in life it’s sometimes hard to give your mind enough time to get that creative flow going. Otherwise another tour, hopefully outside UK!
I just contacted the bands I liked and they both happened to be on Basick, that’s all the entire story really! I must say Basick Records have sweet list of artists, much respect to them for always staying on top of the game!
We’re asking this one to everyone on the tour: You’re all fairly friendly with each other. In a ‘battle royale’ between the three bands on the tour, how would you ‘tech yourselves’ out, and how would you use your knowledge of your opponents against each of them?
Step 1: I’d shout “Look, FREE beer!”, and everyone in Aliases, Olly, Nano, Paul and Boris are gone.
Step 2: Cyclamen are left with me, Ed, Duncan and we only have Jim from Chimp Spanner left, who is a mystery guy with very little information.
Step 3: Not only is 3 vs. 1 a good chance, but Duncan is Hulk, and it’s common knowledge that every Japanese person on earth knows at least Karate, Judo and Kendo, as well as having ninja skills. I think we’ll be okay to deal with him.
Step 4: With everyone else either drunk or dead, we can definitely out-tech
others, even with drunken guitarists…I hope!
Brilliant! Well, thanks once again for your time good sir. Any final words?
The tour will be so much fun, and we’re really friendly bunch. It would be awesome to see you at all one of the shows! Make sure to say hello if you come, we’d love to actually meet you guys. Also, the people at HBIH have rather good taste in music and they really know their stuff, be sure to continue to check their site!
The Heavy Blog Is Heavy-sponsored Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself Tour starts next Monday 18th at the appropriately-named Satan’s Hollow in Manchester. Be sure to catch it somewhere along the way – it’s going to be awesome!
Make you check out the other industry wizards at the helm of this rampaging invasion of your earholes: the ever-sexual Demise Management and the magnificently-hung Realising Media, as well as the aforementioned Basick Records.