HELLO has “a strong association with ourselves, when we formed a band in our hometown and came to Tokyo,” singer Satoshi Fujihara tells Apple Music of Official HIGE DANdism’s fourth EP, which arrives ten months after the J-pop/pop-rock band’s massive Traveler, a platinum-seller in Japan. Each song represents a moment in the quartet’s journey since forming in 2012: from “Hello,” a rerecording of one of their earliest songs, to “Laughter,” which depicts the struggles of leaving their home in Matsue for a new life in Tokyo, to “Parabola” and “Natsumoyo no Neko,” musical mementos from their earliest days. Here, Fujihara and drummer Masaki Matsuura tell Apple Music about the inspiration behind each song.
Hello Fujihara: “The draft of the song was complete just before the group came to Tokyo in 2016, but at that time we could not play it in a cool way, and we felt we wanted to play it where a large-scale sound could be produced, like in an arena.” Matsuura: “When performing [this song] on the drums, the triplet tended to run away from me, and it was a challenge, but I was able to perform soundly. I think this is where the experience of playing in big venues comes through.”
Parabola Fujihara: “When the band began, we were actively not bound by such rules as ‘we can’t do this’ or ‘we should do this.’ It was not about the level of the music, but the attitude and the single-minded feeling the sound emitted. Even when listening to our old songs, I get that kind of feeling. It gives me courage. It is a song I wrote because I wanted to make music that would help me move forward when I listen to it years from now. As for the arrangement, we tried to make it feel more straightforward in the beginning. But later, we came to conclude everyone should add their own unique flavor to the music.” Matsuura: “I felt that it was boring if it was too straightforward. I wanted to take advantage of my experiences in making various beats. First, I made a beat that formed the framework and attached a fine rhythm to it. I think we created a catchy and interesting beat sound that is unique to us today.”
Laughter Fujihara: “This song depicts us coming to Tokyo for musical activities. Looking back at that time, my first major challenge was how to persuade my parents and grandparents. At that time, I was working at a bank, and resigning from the job and going to Tokyo was quite a hurdle.” Matsuura: “My family had a relatively good understanding of the situation. They knew the four members and seemed to have enthusiasm for our music. They encouraged me to get out there and do our best.” Fujihara: “But I suppose they were worried. However, as Matsuura says, our enthusiasm for the band’s music was revealed, in part, by seeing the activities when the debut album released locally, and ultimately they supported our move to Tokyo. I was worried about leaving, but I was not too fond of the fact that I had less time to spend on music and with our band because of a job and other reasons. The four of us had a strong feeling that we had come to Tokyo to create better music.” Matsuura: “When we had lots of free time in our hometown, we played our music from midnight until morning in a garage-type studio in the countryside where you wouldn’t be surprised to see a huge badger appear, so I think that we were able to mature quite a bit.” Fujihara: “It was a studio called Tensta. The winter was frigid, the summer was scorching, and the environment was not good. But we were able to focus on music without worrying about time. We can say that the experience informed our current style to incorporate everything we thought was good, from rock to Black music. We came to Tokyo in order to create the optimum opportunity for the four of us to make music. We feel that the most important thing is not sales and our success, but the feeling of happiness at being able to create good music and, as members together, sharing music with others at our live performances. This song was created with that feeling in mind.”
Natsumoyo no Neko Fujihara: “This is a song from a CD we sold by ourselves during our amateur years. I think there are about 100 CDs still in each member’s parents’ house. It is the same composition made up of only the piano and singing as it was, but seems to have come out somewhat good?” Matsuura: “We are getting so much better!” Fujihara: “Thank you for your compliment! We performed them as they were at that time without any rearrangement. We have heard comments calling for us to release the song again, and this time we decided to rerecord the song for this EP.”