Shoxx #7: Making of Mugongeki

Translated by Iguana, original page now deleted

Q: First of all, what was your idea behind making this photoalbum?
hide: The "old man" (the editor of Shoxx, Mr. Hoshiko) was drunken as usual and said:
"I would like to make a photoalbum with you, hide chan". But at that point of
time to make a photoalbum meant doing somehting like Miyazawa Rie. So I thought
what the hell shall I do if I make a photoalbum?! (laugh). Anyway, I have not thought
of something like this when we started with the idea. I thought, okay, we do it
like a usual photo shooting for some magazine. But then I thought if I do just
a usual photo shooting like for a magazine that book will never sell.

Q: And although you thought something like that at first, something like this
came out in the end?
hide: That's what the "old man" and the staff think as well. If you ask the "old man" for his opinion he will say: "Oh my God, what the hell have we done!?" (laugh) Well, anyway, after we decided to do it, I started to develop some ideas. And I thought if I do
this alone, then it's not good to use the name of X for this thing. If you go under the
name of visual shock and use the band's name... well, then my responsibility would have got even bigger. So with this in mind we started a lot of meetings and I just told them what I would like to do this and that and so on.

Q: Just like that? After it was decided to do this album?
hide: Yeah, because I thought it wouldn't be necessary to do it "live" and "big". Therefore there was no idea to make a usual photoalbum with the motto: "Look at my naked self!"
I just told them in the meetings I want to do this and that and the "old man"
handled this in a very down to earth and almost bureaucratic way. The artistic issues
were handled by Mr. Takeyama (also the director of Seth and Holth) and
Ms. Takahashi (Emi Takahashi, hide chan's stylist). Therefore it became a very
artistic session after all. And I neither told Mr. Takeyama, nor Ms. Takahashi,
nor Mr. Canno (Hideo Canno, the photographer) to do this and that, I just gave them
ideas and we all trusted each other and managed to to do some great work.

Q: How did you select the staff?
hide: Well, they all worked at Shoxx together and I and all of us had the feeling that
we can do this together. I met a lot of great people together with X up to now but for me personally I didn't need to stick to them for this thing. At Shoxx everybody was
very enthusiastic about the project and I like it that way.

Q: How many meetings did you have before the shooting started?
hide: That everybody was there about two times only, but we met several times drinking and talked about it and gathered ideas. Once I said: "In all the other photo albums people show their body hair. I want to show the guts, what's behind it," and crazy stuff like that.
In the end we also had a lot of ideas that were impossible to turn into reality.

Q: You wanted to show the guts?
hide: When you take valium and it spreads inside your body and if you would take
an x-ray shot of that, or if you do a computer graphic of it, that would look great, wouldn't it?
But of course I had no idea how to turn that kind of idea into reality (laugh). But I thought it would be great if we could depict images like these, a body in an extreme and hard situation.

Q: Doesn't that mean to gamble with life?
hide: No. I'm not exactly gambling with life. I thought that if we do it with medical methods, we could even make a medical examination of me and kill two birds with one stone! (laugh)

Q: All right, lets talk about the chapters one by one.

Chapter 1:
The Melancholy of the Sadist

Q: At first the bandage man (laugh)
hide: This thing changed gradually from the first plan. First of all it was more a bondage
idea with medical instruments. Bun in the end it looked more like a mummy (laugh). I would have liked it to let the mummy do a few push-ups, so that it would look like a very healthy sick man indeed! At first I thought I would be better to let it look like someone who's crazy.
As I mentioned before, at first I thought of x-ray pictures and someone from the
staff was actually looking for possibilities at doctors' and dentist's places, but nobody
was willing to let us rent their equipment! (laugh).

Q: For that shooting you had these red contact lenses, right?
hide: Yeah. I said to Mr. Kameyama: "Because the head has been chopped off, blood shoots out of eyes and ears, right?" and Kameyama answered: "Let if flow, let it flow!" And so I had red contact lenses! (laugh). Who thinks that's awful, well, it's probably awful, but that's true for all of the photo album (laugh).

Q: Has there anything been awful about this shooting?
hide: Nothing much. During recording it's the same for me as well, I forget about the awful things afterwards. Therefore nothing was really awful. In principle I'm always going too far with everything. Therefore it's quite natural for me to portray extremes. In principle I am always creating people who are hide. It's like "Too closed in, get restricted, get pushed, be repressed and then go crazy". I also do that as hide chan of X, therefore it was quite a natural feeling to do that here as well (laugh).

Chapter 2:

Q: And next, the Kimono version.
hide: I worried pretty much about this one. I don't really understand the meaning of "sexy".
Therefore I didn't know what to do. A Kimono has something of a bewitching beauty.
But if I show "A prostitute who has become crazy from syphilis" I thought, "damn, I'm always like that, am I not?" (laugh).
It's fascinating, but to walk hush, hush, hush over the tatami mats in tabi, to touch the tatami mats with your skin, then you get a strange feeling.
Is that the meaning of a bewitching beauty? (laugh). And then we had a very heavy
atmosphere at the Yasukini-shrine where we went to first. This No-theatre air is somehow strange. Somehow time passes slower... It was a very strange feeling.

Q: Was that a woman's Kimono?
hide: Yes. At the beginning they dressed me up very nicely. I have worn kimono or
kimono underwear on stage pretty often during my Saber Tiger times. Well, I didn't
wear them, I put them on. When they dressed me up correctly somehow I had to
remember my beautician school times!

Q: Hide-chan, tell me, do you know how to dress in a kimono by yourself?
hide: I forgot by now! But I've been modelling pretty often. So during the shooting  I
remembered what that has been like.

Chapter 3:

Q: And next it's the "golden man", right?
hide: If you say awful, well that was the one that was most awful. It was the second shooting of the day (there have been two shootings in one day) and they painted me all in gold.
What I had wanted to do was to express something anti-religious. Like when you say: "I don't believe in anything". I don't understand religion in itself. At first I wanted to
do something half christian half buddhistic and make a little fun of it. But in the end I became some sort of a guru (laugh). So I wanted to express the difficult to understand aspects about this in the poem of the chapter. Because it's hard to understand only with these photos. So if you take a look at both, photos and poem, it's easier to understand.

Q: Wasn't it hard to have this gold powder all over you for many hours?
hide: Well, it wasn't that bad. Somehow it was okay because the shooting for that one has been pretty funny. The place where we shot was funny. Well, if I remember it that way it gets almost a little too much taste of a gag, now I'm in trouble (laugh). If you just look at the pictures it's pretty scary though!

Q: Well, there is no photo where you laugh.
hide: Yes, there is none. Well, a usual photoalbum would be, "Turn around at the beach and smile!" (laugh).

Chapter 4:

Q: The next one is the "reptile man"?
hide: At that time a friend of mine came over with two snakes and they were really cute.
You know when there is a "jungle" shop somewhere and they have snakes and so, I just have to go there and I just like them. I like natural situations and for me something becomes natural and usual pretty quickly. So in this situation I tried to be just natural and normal. And when I actually did the shooting I became somehow like Black Jack, or like a crazy doctor. Thus by behaving natural and looking quite normal but being half a reptile man this is what came out.

Q: How did you feel about this living scorpion?
hide: I didn't like him. He is an insect after all, right? Well, when I looked at the pictures after they were finished it looked more like Jekyll and Hyde than a crazy doctor.
Therefore I wrote that down in the poem again. So please look at both, at the pictures and at the poem. I wrote the poems after I saw the pictures. When we did the shooting
it was more like a session. Things changed during the sessions. Therefore, even when I thought I would like to shoot this and that, it changed during the process. And I had to look at the finished pictures in order to know myself what had come out of that. That was very interesting for me.

Chapter 5/6
On Stage / Back Stage

Q: Have you chosen those from real on stage and back stage photos?
hide: Yes. They were from before and after the concert and I was pretty much under tension.
I'm always very nervous at concerts. I can't think of anything. So these two chapters are really life-size hide.

Q: Why did you decide to have on stage and back stage photos in this photoalbum?
hide: I think you can compare the hide of the chapters and the life-size hide of the stage and backstage photos quite well, so I thought it would be okay to put them in too.
If you just watch these artistic photos and nothing else you might think: "What the hell is that all about?!" I wanted to let the people who look at this album know what I'm really doing. But at first I actually didn't want to have these photos in there.

Q: So you changed your mind during the process?
hide: Yes. At first I thought, we don't need that, but by now I think it's better to have
them in there. Because life-size hide and the made-up hide are both parts of me. That's not disguise. If all of that would be disguise it would be better not to put the on stage stuff into this album, but the stage and back stage stuff is not disguise. I didn't want to make any special SFX make-up. I wanted the viewer to get a glimpse of me in all the pictures and with that in mind we made them.

Q: From when are these pictures?
hide: From Tokyo Dome 3 days, and from last year's Yokohama Arena and from NHK hall.

Chapter 7:
Self Centered Still Life

Q: Next are the photos that were shot on the roof of a warehouse.
hide: We all didn't really know what we shall do there until the end of the shooting.

Q: Have you decided at first on just the place and nothing else?
hide: Yeah. And I had asked to keep the matter pending, and then I had forgot to think about what to do there (laugh). At first I had thought about something like adapting to the ruins, but I had no idea how to realize such an idea. But I had adapted to a few others things during the shooting already so I thought that wouldn't be interesting anymore and so I had the idea of living like a parasite on the ruins. And that's how I became a "Hide-bug" (laugh). Hide-bugs hatch and come out of a cocoon. There was hardly any color on that roof. From a rusty and dying environment a brilliant colored Hide-bug gets hatched and falls out from the cocoon into the world. So we wanted to do a shooting with a big gap in colors.

Q: All right, so that thing you were in is supposed to be a cocoon.
hide: Yes, a cocoon... or well, maybe more a parasite. At first we thought about a cocoon, but that was hard to pull off so I became a parasite on the roof.

Q: Wasn't it scary to lie horizontally on a steel pole on top of a building?
hide: Not that much, no. However, in principle I'm very much afraid of heights. But in this particular situation it wasn't very scary. But I'm very very scared if I have to look up at a high place!

Q: To look up?! Not to look down?!
hide: To look up! For example I can't look up at a kite.

Q: And that is what you call to be afraid of heights?
hide: Yeah, well, actually it's the other way round, I guess. Anyway on that roof I didn't have to look up at something and therefore it wasn't that scary.

Q: What do you remember best when you think of this shooting?
hide: It was cold! Actually we wanted to stay there longer and do more pictures, but it turned night already. I thought we could have fooled around there much longer.

Chapter 8:

Q: And the next thing was the "pipe man" (laugh).
hide: The costume was incredible. I think they did a great job making this costume in such a short time. What I thought the "pipe man" to look like was much simpler, just to have many pipes wrapped around my body and finished. But look at what has come out! (laugh). It's great. That's the jewel of the sessions, I think. The result is much more than I had imagined myself and everyone who was involved helped making it. We had a vague situation but we completed it thoroughly and that's a very good feeling. But on the other hand, when I noticed how good it worked I also really wanted to do it and got enthusiastic about it. However this one was getting close to disguise indeed, since you can hardly see anything of me and I was a little worried about that. So I tried to be really good during the shooting and not to lose against my costume! Because if you get lost in the situation and in the costume the question comes up, would it matter if there was anyone else in this costume but me?
Therefore I really struggled for this one.

Q: I'm sure it took a damn long time to get into this costume.
hide: Yes, it took a long time, but what was worse: that thing was heavy.

Q: Could you walk with that thing on?
hide: Oh yeah, I did!

Q: Would you also go out with it?
hide: Have a meeting in Shibuya with that thing on? Well, if you really want to do that, it's not impossible (laugh). However this costume is very heavy and I got very tired. Also the head became very heavy since I had so many pipes attached to my head as well.

Chapter 9:

Q: The next one was in the desert, right?
hide: That session was simply funny. Starting from the day before the shooting (laugh).
Since that was shot at a location where we had to go the day before and stay overnight, we became very enthusiastic in another sense.
(editor's comment: The day before shooting, during dinner hide had tried to make the "old man" drunk, that is what he means by enthusiastic in another sense).
It was simply funny. I don't know how many times the "old man" got mentioned in this article already, so I guess the people who read it will ask themselves, who the hell is the "old man", so I would like to show them the video we made of this dinner (laugh).

Q: And how was the actual shooting?
hide: It was cold. But for me that was the first time ever to go to the desert, so I was pretty impressed by the surroundings. However, it's very tiring to walk through the sand.

Q: This time the costume was heavy as well, wasn't it?
hide: It was heavy! And while I was walking around I gradually dragged all kind of stuff with me, so that when I came back we didn't know anymore what was part of the costume and what I had dragged along (laugh). But I walked around by myself and the pictures were taken from far away, so I had the chance to really soak the atmosphere of that place and so the image changes pretty much. Somehow it was a mixture of Mad Max and Lawrence of Arabia, but it changed into the day of Kusakari Masao.
At first I was a little melancholic, then I was getting higher and in the end, by the seaside I became Kusakari Masao (laugh). And when I went into the water I became sort of Moses. When I get into the water, the water's will part! That kind of image.

Q: How did you get upon the idea to go into the desert?
hide:  Well, when I was drinking with Mr. Kameyama and his staff, someone said,
let's take this book's locations as an excuse and let's all go to an Onsen! But that session has become significant. Because we had been shooting at this location all the other sessions we shot afterwards have become great fun and we could deliver a piece of good work. You know, from this day on, the unity of the staff became much stronger (laugh).

About the title

Q: The last photo session was that of the cover for the album, right? Together
with that baby.
hide: There was also an idea behind that. At the very first meeting I said, that I want to do an album that is an anti-thesis to everything. And so I got hooked by the title idea Mugongeki and told the others I want to embrace a child that has no mouth for the title page. But the "old man" was against it. But I said, "I have to do this album, therefore I want it that way" and in the end the "old man" agreed.

Q: Why did you want to make such a photo?
hide: Because I fell for the title and I wanted the title photo to look unspoiled and holy. Don't you have that pretty often, when you look at a little child before it is able to remember words, you think: "too bad it has to grow up because it's so cute now." That's true for young dogs and cats and also for children who are so cute when they are little. Therefore if it does not remember words, if it stays mute, then it will always be cute, even if it grows up. Therefore I wanted the child to have no mouth.

Q: But that shooting was pretty hard, wasn't it?
hide: It was terrible! You know, usually I like children and they feel that and don't cry when I'm around. But with that make-up and that costume that was impossible! (laugh). If I went away, it was okay, but when I was close it started to cry! If you look at my costume with a little child's eyes, that enormous white wrapped head, that's no invitation to laugh, it's very scary! (laugh)

Q: It just didn't stop crying, right?
hide: But it's easy to forgive it because it's so cute. But if I think about it again this shooting was really the most tiresome (laugh). Kids have lots of power, don't they? It's somehow life or death with them. They have lots of power indeed (laugh).

Q: And the title and the poems, have you done that all by yourself?
hide: Yeah, I did.

Q: And why?
hide: I wanted to do that right from the start. If you just want to look at the images that's of course okay as well. But for me, what I had imagined before the shooting and what I saw has come out in the end when I looked at the pictures, that was completely different. Therefore it is the same point of view for the one who made it as for the one who just sees the photos and so I just wanted to write down how to look at these pictures.

Q: You wrote the poems down quickly?
hide: The Kimono poem I wrote down just after the shooting, the others had been piling up. Because somehow you don't write something like that down just like this. So the "old man" teased me: "Since you don't write it down, you can't write something like that, right?" And I thought, no way "old man", so I locked myself away for a while and did it. But I have to admit that one day or the other I just stared at the pictures (laugh). I walked like a tiger in the cage in my room when I couldn't write. Well, but in the end I wrote something and you can read that now.

Q: Last question. Now when you look at the completed book what do you think about it?
hide: I'm simply very happy with it. I didn't do this alone, it was done with the help of other artists' powers as well. I'd like to thank all of the people who helped me to turn my ideas and visions into reality very much.