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The second part in the series of personal interviews from Closer To Ideal -Brand New Scene- 10th anniversary pamphlet: ZERO × Toshihiro Nara, Zero's bass teacher.
Tsukasa's part is finished too and will be posted sometime tomorrow I guess.

Same as before:
I will appreciate any help if there are any mistakes or something needs to be corrected ;)
Please do not repost it anywhere. I prefer to keep the translations to my own dark little corner and be responsible for my mistakes and the words I choose.

Oh and by the way, do not go posting links to my translations and journal on D'espa's official Facebook page, thank you very much. I am already paranoid, do not make it any worse or I'll make you pay my psychiatrist bills >;O

text: Reiko Arakawa
translation: notafanboy

ZERO × Toshihiro Nara (bassist)
I think there is something aesthetical about bass even when you don’t play it.

Q: How did the two of you meet?
Z: Around the time D’espairsRay got signed up to a label we went to Psycho le Cemu after-party. That’s where I met Mr. Nara and he asked me if I would like him to teach me play bass.
Q: So that’s how it started.
Z: In the beginning I was not taught to play bass by anyone and I wondered what it would be like.
N: I think Zero probably hates being taught by others. Isn’t it something you can understand from an air around him? He has such an aura around him, when he plays bass. He is different from those who learned by themselves or those who are confused and want to learn. J was the same as Zero, like: “I don’t really need to learn” (laughs).
Q: How did you feel about taking lessons?
Z: I wonder. As far as I remember… For example, I never worked as a roadie and no one ever taught me anything about rock bands, I learned everything by myself, however, I was interested in what I didn’t know yet. That’s why I thought I’d try going to a lesson once and when I did go I was very surprised (laughs).
Q: What surprised you?
Z: Like: “How can he play like that?” and “What do I have to do to learn to play that way?”
N: The reason I can play like that is very simple, I am older and I have been doing it twice as long as Zero, that’s all. There are a lot of bassists in Japan who are much better than me, but we had fun.
Q: Did Zero have any habits that you had to correct?
N: No, he didn’t. I ripped him off while I taught him (laughs).
Q: Huh?
N: I listened to him playing and then joined him… I stood with my back turned to him and imitated his play.
Z: (laughs)
N: It is better to leave habits the way they are, it is going to be a problem to fill the void once you undo them. That’s the difficult part, because one’s fingers already learned to play a certain way.
Q: Did you have fun going to the lessons?
Z: I did.
N: I think sometimes it was difficult too.
Z: There were times, when no matter how much I practiced a phrase I could not play it.
N: It is hard when that happens.
Z: Yes.
N: I understand. But I think it is no good, when one does not have fun to a certain extent. I also started learning, when I was already in my thirties, and here I am now.
Q: Really?
N: Yeah, I learned from a foreigner, he passed away a while back. I always went to the lessons and brought a bottle of whisky and 5000 yen with me. At the time he told me: “You are one beat short,” but I had no idea what he meant. But as I went on learning, I gradually came to understand his words.
Q: What did you think about when you started taking lessons?
Z: Let’s see… Isn’t Mr. Nara absolutely great? I thought that no matter what I could not win against him, but I didn’t want to loose either…
N: I know what you mean. There are people who have that air about them and those who don’t. There are people who have an aura of “no matter what I don’t want to loose” like fireworks around them, and there are people who feel downhearted. Recently most kids are of the latter type, I have about forty students right now.
Q: Forty? Is it easier for you to teach those who have a spirit of not wanting to loose to others?
N: Rather it is easier to teach them, they are very fast to absorb. Those kids, who think: “No matter what I do not want to loose,” are easier to be oiled… It is a little difficult for me to teach kids who say: “Please treat me well”. Cheeky kids are really… In the past all my students were like that (laughs).
Z: (laughs)
N: Nowadays there are fewer and fewer kids who have a sense of themselves of sorts, who think: “I don’t want to loose no matter what!” I think it is something people must have about them.
Q: What is the reason you think there are now fewer students, who are frank about their feelings of not wanting to loose even to their teachers?
N: If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em, I guess (laughs).
Q: What did you do during lessons?
Z: First, we started a metronome and Mr. Nara played and he was awesome. It was just one bass, but you could hear the whole rhythm section in his play. I listened to him playing and tried my best to copy him.
N: Before every lesson I listened to old CDs I had and chose about five phrases with different patterns and I asked Zero to play them. At first he had troubles, but his ear got better.
Q: Did he have to distinguish the sound of bass from the sound of a whole band?
N: It would be no fun otherwise.
Q: When you were told: “Try playing this,” were you able to do it right away?
Z: I could not.
N: Of course, it was impossible.
Q: Do you still take Mr. Nara’s lessons, Zero?
Z: Not anymore.
Q: Does it mean that you graduated?
N: Yes. Because I decided that he does not need lessons anymore, I stopped calling him. When that happens, it means graduation for my students. It is rather embarrassing to say: “It is enough, you graduate now”. Because I don’t think there is such a thing as graduation… for me too. Because I think that way, it is different from an ordinary school and I don’t give anything like graduation certificates to my students, well, we go out to drink together. That’s why I am always happy, when Zero calls me.
Z: When we record songs right before the bass recording, I always call Mr. Nara to cheer myself up (laughs). He has been teaching me play bass all this time, right? Mr. Nara was the first to teach me bass and that’s why before the recording I talk to him and recall how it felt to learn bass from him, it gives me courage to work hard.
Q: Did your way of thinking about bass changed after you started taking lessons with Mr. Nara?
N: Didn’t you become more careless? (laughs)
Z: No, that’s not true (laughs). My thinking changed. I used to think that I just use a metronome and play bass matching the rhythm, but Mr. Nara taught me that even when there is no drums, it is very important to fill the vacuum with my bass only.
N: You learned to do that. You don’t need to use something like a metronome anymore… you really don’t, Zero. I hate to use metronome and think that as long as one can carve the rhythm out with bass only it is fine… Can you make people dance with your bass only? (laughs) That’s where it all starts. It is the same with guitar.
Q: What kind of a bassist do you think Zero is?
N: He was an angry type, touch him a little and he’d snap immediately… I thought that in the past when I produced DespairsRay records. There is a drum tuner called Tekiba. I secretly asked him once: “So how was it this time?” and he said that Zero did everything calmly by himself. I thought: “Ah, I see, that’s good~” I think it is great that he learned to do things calmly on his own, he had changed somewhat. I think Zero is a new type of a bassist. I think that just like me Zero does not have an outstanding bass playing technique, but his approach to the songs and music… it is as if he is wielding a sharp knife.
Q: What kind of a teacher is Mr. Nara, Zero?
Z: He is not the kind of a teacher who only earnestly teaches his students, he has a lot of magazines and, while he is earnest about teaching, he also teases his students a lot (laughs).
N: I do (laughs).
Z: That’s why there are now 40 students who rely on him to teach them play bass.
N: I think it is an amazing number of students too (laughs). When did I get that many of them? It was all by word of mouth, I have never done any advertising. Just recently I got a phone call about an entrance exam and I asked who told them about me and it turned out it was someone I knew. When the person on the phone asked me if I’d let them to have a try out to see if they can join my school, I said no.
Z: (laughs)
N: (laughs) Because I don’t do that, I am no ESP college. But once in three or four months I have a party with my students. In the beginning everyone just tells dirty jokes, but they are earnest and if you listen to the conversations they talk about things like what kind of effectors they use and so on. People who come to those parties are not only from visual kei bands, some play in different kinds of rock’n’roll bands. When Zero comes to the parties, everyone gets nervous, because he is their senior. But they always talk openly to him.
Q: Is there some peculiarity only bassists have in common between them?
N: Could it be that we are all perverts? (laughs)
Z: (laughs)
N: We are all taciturn, but we speak with our whole bodies. Without that one cannot play bass. Drums and guitar are very clear instruments, right? Vocals are the same. Bass is the only thing that binds them together. I am like that and I think Zero is the same. Everyone speaks selfishly, when a guitarist says: “This part is hard to play…” the drummer says: “But I can’t match your rhythm,” and it is becomes a problem for a bassist. After all the bassist must match the rhythm of the drums, but he also has to match guitar and vocals… Melody too, right? I think bass is what bears the burden of a core of every band. It has always been this way, that’s why if you change the bassist the sound of the band changes.
Q: I suppose so.
N: If you change the drummer, the sound does not change that much. But if you change the bassist the band’s sound changes too. I think there is something aesthetical about bass even when you don’t play it.
Q: Aesthetical without even playing it?
N: Bass phrases are simple and yet cool. I recognize people, who pursue or want to pursue that quality of bass, right away. I think Zero is one of those people. Even if at first I think a bass phrase he plays is weird, once I hear the whole song I immediately realize how cool it is: “Ah, that’s it!”
Q: Was bass the first instrument both of you learned to play?
Z: It was the first for me.
N: Me too. I wanted to play guitar, but I lost in janken so I had to play bass (laughs).
Z: I wanted to play guitar too, but my childhood friend played it and we already had a drummer… So I had a choice between vocals and bass… That’s how I became a bassist.
Q: There are quite a few people among bassists, who had no choice but to play bass after they lost in janken.
N: But I am glad I lost the game (laughs), there was no way I could sing.
Q: There are also a lot of people, who thought bass would be easier to learn, because it has fewer strings.
N: Well, it is easy (laughs). Though it has fewer strings, bass can produce a lot of different sounds… Guitar is a very deep instrument, but I think bass has even more depth to it… Even if you connect just one effector, the sound changes a lot. Even if you don’t use effector for the guitar, but use one for the bass, the guitar sounds as if it has effector switched on.
Z: Yeah, that’s true.
Q: Who do you regard as great bassists, Mr. Nara?
N: I like Bill Wyman who used to play in Rolling Stones… and Paul McCartney. I have always respected them and wanted to be like them. Speaking of Bill Wyman, he does not play many notes, right?
Q: I have an image that he does not.
N: But the sound of his bass engulfs you, he is so cool~.
Q: Who was your role model, when you started to play bass, Zero?
Z: The first person, who made me think that bass was cool, was J. I realized that bass is cool too!
N: J was more like special task forces.
Z: Special task forces? (laughs)
N: Or rather… He turned bass, which was considered a very plain instrument until then, into something flashy… at least in respect to how things were in Japan. He did things like throwing his bass around. One does not really have to do that, right? (laughs) But he would throw his bass and then grind the strings, that was when the way people played bass changed. I think J was the one who changed it. His bass phrases were really cool too.
Z: There was no one like him back then.
N: No one at all.
Z: I thought he was a new type of a bassist.
Q: He was the man who changed the bassist’s image.
N: Well, yeah. In the past, when we were on our way back from the recording studio, he said that anyone who played bass could write music. He often said that he wanted everyone to write music. I guess J is a kind of a man who thinks of the whole Japanese rock music scene… That’s why, when I met Zero, I thought he had the same air around him like J. What do you think of that?
Z: In the beginning I liked visual kei music and listened only to it, but gradually I got interested in other genres of rock music and I started playing five strings bass. Because I thought I’d like more new music to be born. After all, if you add one more string, the sound changes, right?
Q: Is the lower range expands in the case of five strings bass?
Z: Yes. In the case of six strings, one more string is added in the upper range.
N: I think four strings is enough.
Q: Is it more difficult to play five strings bass?
N: It is completely different. The difficult part is to mute it.
Z: It is the same bass, but it feels as if I am holding a completely different instrument.
N: It is different, though I do not play five strings bass myself.
Z: In the beginning Mr. Nara told me that five strings bass was no good (laughs).
N: I still think that.
Q: Why do you think so?
N: You can’t really hear the lower range and phrases are not clear. E is enough. Why go any lower?
Q: Why did you choose to play five strings bass, Zero?
Z: I wanted the low range sound. D’espairsRay’s guitar has a lot of fast riffs, right? That’s why I wanted to play in the lower range that was not available on four strings bass. What else? I thought that five strings bass would become an instrument that let me develop my potential further.
N: I understand why you wanted to go in the lower range considering your band’s style. There are also times when registers clash.
Z: Yeah.
Q: What song among all you have recorded do you think was perfect from the point of view of your performance?
Z: I am not sure, if I was fully able to achieve what I wanted, but usually at the time I always think that the song is perfect. But even if at the time of the recording I thought that I was able to play difficult parts, when I listen to the song a few years later I notice things I could not do. But it’s certainly because that’s how I hear it and it is connected to the fact that I am growing considerably as a musician.
Q: Even though at the time you thought you performance was good, if you listened to the record a few years later your opinion changes. I guess it could be said that you are a studious person or have a very inquiring mind.
N: People of our generation all think that way.
Q: Sort of like the survivors of that age?
N: Well, the last ones (laughs). J is like that too, he changes gradually, don’t you think? I think Zero is changing a lot too. They change, because they are not satisfied. I think it is dangerous to be satisfied with oneself.
Q: This is an extreme argument, but despite continuing to play music, one does not feel satisfaction?
N: I wonder, but I think it is true to some extent.
Z: Yeah, no doubt. I think it is probably true no matter how good of a musician one is.
N: Everyone has those moments of self-doubt. Changing the topic, yesterday I watched World Championships in Athletics, women competition in pole jumping, it was very interesting. (talks in length about how Isinbaeva could not get a medal)
Q: The same can be applied to musicians, never let your guard down, right?
N: Exactly, I think it is the same. One can make a new world record in one hundred meters dash, but be eliminated in the preliminaries. Competitions where one can pass or be eliminated are scary.
Q: Do you watch TV often, Mr. Nara?
N: I do, because I love sports. I think musicians have it easier than athletes. Athletes must practice every day, right?
Q: Do you usually talk about these kinds of things?
Z: Yeah.
N: Yeah, we talk about everyday things. I don’t usually discuss the band with Zero, because I don’t think of him as Zero from D’espairsRay. I think of his as Zero the bassist, that’s where it is different. I think I want to continue supporting his talent and I guess through him I also want to come in contact with many young people, there are a lot of them who respect him. I think he is in a very important position… Even a trifling thing he says is very important to those kids and I think it is amazing that he has such an influence over others. I think the reason is because he works so hard.
Q: I think these words can be interpreted as your wishes for Zero. Zero, is there anything you’d like to say to Mr. Nara?
Z: It was a long time ago that I started to learn bass from Mr. Nara, and despite his age, I think there will be more new bassists appearing in the future. And there will be those, who will rely on Mr. Nara to teach them play bass. In this day and age, when music is becoming more and more commercialized, please continue teaching music with the same passion.
N: Why won’t you do it yourself?
Z: No way (laughs).


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
Зеееерооо~~~~ *носится по комнате и вопит*
Блин, этот парень потрясающий!!! Т.т Скромняжка такая, но с тем же такая умничка!!! *любнимагувообще*
И Нара-сан просто потрясающий человек!! *_* спасибо ему, что позаботился о нашем басисто!
*Сидит ревёт, так хочет научиться играть на басу, прям не может вся!*

Спасибо! Спасибо огромное за перевод!!! *_*
Так вооот почему в песнях Дэспов так плохо слышно бас... Т.т Ну, слышно, но это если хорошо постараться на хорошей аппаратуре... Т.т Пяти струнный бас... О.о Ну-ну... *пошёл вслушиваться в песни Дэспов*
Mar. 30th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
Да, Зеро лапочка xD Я рада что тебе понравилось ;)
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
Your tweets tempted me ;O I was about to ask what on earth you were twitting about, then I saw this XD
This interview of Zero is the one I like best among the series <3 maybe it's because he chose his teacher, but the stuff they were talking about are really interesting. My image of him isn't changed at all, every thing is expected from Zero, but I think I know him as a bassist better now <3

Thank you so much as always <3 Just by reading I can imagine how hard it must be to translate ;0 which one is the most difficult for you btw?
Mar. 30th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
You mean about bassists and how they give me hard time? They both are not smooth talkers, so it was hard to phrase their words sometimes, but otherwise it was not that difficult of a text.
Personally I liked Tsukasa's interview the best, but I get ahead of myself here *cackles*
You're welcome ;)
Mar. 29th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot for the transltion,u rock~
Mar. 30th, 2011 02:13 am (UTC)
You're welcome ;)
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
I always look forward to these. Keep up the good work!
Mar. 30th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
Thank you ;) Only one last chapter to go unfortunately lol
Mar. 29th, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for translating!
Mar. 30th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
You're welcome ;)
Mar. 29th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for translating~~~~~ This was very interesting. Zero is such an interesting person. I love learning more about him but if my heart swells anymore it might be dangerous. =/ LOL anyway. Thanks for translating again. ^.^

Mar. 30th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
You're welcome ;) He is and this kinds of interviews are different from the usual ones, because they offer a new perspective, so I really like them myself. I am glad you enjoyed reading it.
Mar. 29th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
Awww thank you so much for this honey <3 Really appreciate it 8)
Mar. 30th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
You're welcome, I am glad you enjoyed reading it ;)
Mar. 30th, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
thank you SO much! for translating...
I was just wondering if someone would translate something from Zero...
Good Job(^w^)b
Mar. 30th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, I am glad you enjoyed reading Zero's interview ;)
Mar. 31st, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
good to know why I cannot hear some of the parts Zero plays^^

thank you <3<3<3
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
You're welcome ;)
Apr. 1st, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
I LOVE YOUR AVATAR! Can I steal it? XD
Apr. 1st, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
You are free to take it, it is not like it is mine anyway. Just credit the person who made it ;)
Apr. 2nd, 2011 10:19 am (UTC)
Then, who's the maker? :D
Apr. 2nd, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
I think it was draco_malfoy. Just check in my icons page for credits to make sure ;)
Apr. 9th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha, it seems like Mr. Nara ended up talking more than Zero did! XD But it is so true: bassists are indeed taciturn!
Apr. 10th, 2011 05:32 am (UTC)
lol What did you expect from Zero? I suspect he talks only when he has no other choice and having someone else with his gives him a nice excuse to say nothing xD
(Deleted comment)
May. 27th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
They are! Dirty dirty men 8D
You're welcome, I am always happy to know people enjoys reading my translations ;)
Zero is not the most talkative guy, even in this interview lol
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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