50th year anniversary project commemorating the life of hide and his solo act for 20 years, “hide ROCKET DIVE 2013-14” is now ongoing. As part of the project, a tribute album done by all visual-kei artists, “hide TRIBUTE II – Visual SPIRITS –“ and “hide TRIBUTE III – Visual SPIRITS –“ were released both at the same time. Hitsugi, the guitarist from NIGHTMARE participated in the recording of “D.O.D. (DRINK OR DIE)”.
This interview is by BARKS as Hitsugi reflects on his participation in the tribute album and he also talks of his enormous love and respect for hide.
This is the second half of the interview. You can read the first part HERE.
If I played the guitar and become professional, I thought I would be able to meet hide someday. I really wanted to meet him.
――When did you first know about hide?
Hitsugi：From X JAPAN at first. When I was about 13 and was hanging out at friends, I saw a poster of “BLUE BLOOD” in my friend’s brother’s room. I didn’t even know the band or what their music was about at all. Another day I was able to listen to “Silent Jealousy”, that was the first day I heard that sort of music.
My first CD, which I bought myself in grade school, was “SAY YES” by CHAGE and ASKA. Anyway, I got stuck with X JAPAN since that day.
――You got stuck with them musically first and not visually?
Hitsugi：That’s right. Later I saw their artist photo, hide was the one with red hair, I was like, “what’s with that hair”. Then eventually I started considering “hide is cool”. In another year or so, hide released “PSYENCE”. I saw him on a TV program called Music Station playing “Beauty & Stupid”, something inside me just exploded that night. It was like lightening, “THIS IS IT!”. I stuck with hide 120% ever since. Until then, I was okay to play any instrument except the drums, but I had to play the guitar since that night. I started playing at 15 and wanted to play professionally. At that time, a friend of mine who had already been playing the guitar said to me, “you can never become a professional”. I said to myself, “I will do it no matter what. Watch me!” Now I believe that motivated me to come this far.
――So you started, to play like hide?
Hitsugi：Yes. I wanted to play like him. If I played the guitar and become professional, I thought I would be able to meet hide someday. I really wanted to meet him.
――hide was like the first hero in your life then.
Hitsugi：Exactly. After starting the guitar, I only spent three months in high school (lol) but I played the guitar about eight hours a day for two full years. I studied hide and also techniques from other artists. I copied songs by LUNA SEA, ROUAGE, La’cryma Christi, Green Day or Helloween. Before I knew, I was the best player in my town.
――What was the fun part about copying guitar techniques of hide?
Hitsugi：Backing. When hide does solo, it doesn’t have much phrasing with the melody but it is so fun to feel the strumming beat. I love that backing real bad.
――That makes sense why Hitsugi from Nightmare’s style is what it is now.
Hitsugi：Sakito grew up on SUGIZO’s sound, he is more on the phrasing side. I am a guy in love with backing and muting. We’re different in a good way.
――When you were all about copying songs and techniques, was there a song that you worked real hard at?
Hitsugi：Like hide solo, “EYES LOVE YOU” or “50% & 50%”. That was fun with very detailed phrasing. “VANISHING VISION”, earlier song by X Japan, “SADISTIC DESIRE” and “Silent Jealousy”. Fast songs were fun to play.
――And all the sudden, hide left the world behind…
Hitsugi：I was at friends house then. My parents called me and said, “hide died”. I immediately watched TV and saw a telop. At first I thought it was just a bad joke because hide was a kind of guy who liked to do lots of tricks. The same news appeared over and over again…. I felt powerless, like my hero I’d been trying hard to make my way to meet someday would just disappear like this all the sudden. I didn’t even cry that day he died because I just couldn’t believe it. The next day the same news about his loss on the news… My parents still talk about that time that I stayed in my room for about two weeks straight and kept crying. I was in Sendai then. My parents couldn’t stop helping, they said to me, “we’ll drive you down to Tsukiji Hongan-ji” where his funeral was held. I still kept crying. I was too scared to accept the reality of his loss, and told my parents no. My room at that time was just covered with hide alone. All the magazines hide ever appeared or was featured in. Files organized with clips or cut out articles about hide. I made color copies of those and had them all over the walls in my room. I stared at them day after day in tears. That’s when I cried most in my entire life.
――But you didn’t quit guitar.
Hitsugi：Right. At some point, I started feeling selfishly like, “what did he leave me, I had been trying so hard to meet him? Why did he betray me after all?” But that didn’t change the fact I still loved him tons. And the fact he was still my hero after all.
hide is my hero of all time, and I wanna leave with that.
――What makes you think that didn’t change?
Hitsugi：The guitarist “Hitsugi” started because of hide.
――And your stage name “Hitsugi” takes “hi” from “hide” too.
Hitsugi：Yes. For 14 years now.
――Your guitar playing style, presence and all is based on…
Hitsugi：hide. My parents gave me birth physically, but Hitsugi was born because of hide.
――That is incredibly quotable!!
Hitsugi：You know, you come to act or look like your parents without trying. When people talk about me that I am just copying hide, it doesn’t bother me at all. I now realize ideal and aspiration are two different things. Visually and musically, I play for my ideal. But hide is my hero of all time, and I wanna leave with that.
――Hitsugi, birthed out of hide, comes to establish his own style. Wouldn’t that make hide happy?
Hitsugi：that I agree.
――So it is your very hero hide, that motivated you to stick to your own style in the making of this tribute album. As a result you chose not to listen to the original songs.
――Let’s talk about guitar. hide was also famous for his painted guitar. Do you paint your guitar?
Hitsugi：I’ve done it too like him. I had very few colors so I just painted white over a black guitar when I was about 16.
――What was the guitar you used to play then?
Hitsugi：SUGIZO’ model ECLIPSE
――What, not a model used by hide?
Hitsugi：My grandma bought my first guitar. The hide model was expensive. Also someone else had a crystal type of the hide model so I didn’t care much. Now I have his model though.
――The guitar painted or made all crystal clear. hide was always playful and took the lead in doing something new and fun.
Hitsugi：Yes. The articles by hide then used to have a word “sustainer”. I didn’t know what sustainer was so I read a book and researched about it, watched a live video like, “ah-huh, this stuff which sustains the sound”. I made visits to instrument shops and tested the sound and stuff. But you know what surprised me for real was when I first held an electric guitar. The weight struck me seriously. When you watch a live video, it doesn’t even make you feel the weight of it at all, but in reality it’s so heavy. That was the most shocking fact.
――Have you been to hide MUSEUM?
Hitsugi：Went there when it was at Yokosuka by train with Ni~ya (laugh). We got lost from the station to get there, and we just followed someone who was obviously hide fan. The museum was overwhelming. His car, PC, guitars all lined up. Ni~ya and I were wondering, “can we take one of the guitars here..? want it so bad~”. There are guitar models that aren’t available for purchase. The one I want now is a standard model by Sunburst. Really want it~ (smile).
――hide is truly your hero of all time. You are lucky to have someone like that in life.
Hitsugi：Indeed. He is the absolute hero for me, and the person who made me who I am today. That won’t change. All the band members except myself have met their heros in reality. I used to feel jealous because I will never meet mine. Lately I wonder it’s actually not that bad not being able to meet him. I will always wonder what he was like as a person, but that’s also a charm about him.
――And do you wonder if you are now hero to someone else?
Hitsugi：That would be cool if I could become a hero for one person.
――Stay gorgeous, just like hide!
Hitsugi: Yes, I don’t think I could take it easy there (laugh). Even when old and my skin gets all wrinkly or my hair all dried and coarse, I will stay gorgeous and tricked-out!!