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3. Childhood

I remember a dream from my childhood; I was chased by a monster. I think this dream took place in the day care center near my home. In this dream, I am chased around and around, from corner to corner. I had felt that this dream was terrifying, so I constantly thought about it.

Because both of my parents worked and I am an only child, I was always the last child to be picked up to go home—I was somewhat pitiful. There were many nights when I watched the other children be picked up from the center, one by one. I still remember what it was like back then; to be the only one throwing paper airplanes in the large classroom, the scenery I saw as I rode on the back of a bicycle on the way home, and other things like that. But, whether these are my own memories or if I was told stories later on, I am not sure.

There was a cute girl that lived close to my preschool. I quite liked her, perhaps I can consider her my first love. I liked to walk home with her, but because she lived close to the preschool it seemed like the walk was over in the blink of an eye (laughs). Later on, I ended up having to walk home with another girl who lived down the street from me, but later on I couldn’t walk home with her anymore. That girl had a darker complexion and wasn’t really my type. But after that, we each went to an elementary school in a different district. When she moved back into the district, she had become very cute. Despite that, things stayed the same; my feelings did not progress beyond that.

When I was in preschool, I was a shy crybaby. I have even heard that because I couldn’t express that I wanted to use the washroom, I peed my pants (laughs). I was not a mature child. At first, I did not want to go to preschool—I even hid my shoes (laughs). Even when my mom wanted to help me put my shoes on, I told her not to. She ended up putting my shoes in the bicycle basket and driving me to preschool anyways.

My dream in preschool was to become a Kamen Rider; I wanted to join them (laughs).

Even though I was a fairly realistic child, I insisted that Santa Claus existed up until late elementary. I felt that saying “He doesn’t exist” was a killjoy. So even when I did find out later on, I still insisted that he did exist.

My elementary school was quite far away, it was about a 30-minute walk. During my elementary years, I did not have many friends. I should probably say that I had none. Even though I did play with a few children the same age as me, living near my house at the time, it seemed that I would often be running home in tears from being bullied. I was weak.

I had loved to draw from a young age, so I continued to draw after childhood. Other than that, I was pretty much the same as any other child. I had a secret hiding place, and I liked to play with toys. Ah, now that I mention it, my Microman figurines were my favorite.

Because both of my parents were working, I have a lot of memories from my childhood that seemed like I was living alone. I ate alone and sometimes I made my own instant noodles and such. But when I did make my own noodles at that time, I had thoughts like: “Boiling boiling!” or “Ah~, then I toss it in~” in my experiences (laughs).

I did not like to shower when I was a kid. I remember being told “If you don’t shower, get out!”. I would reply: “Then I am leaving!” Even though I had been told to leave a few times and had said that, I didn’t actually leave. One time, after saying that I would leave, I actually did. I ran away from home (laughs).

And even now, I still remember the moment I walked out, I saw an old granny washing clothes on the left side of the road. I thought, “If I walk over to the left side, she will probably say something to me”. So I kept to the darker side of the street and walked on. But, what happened after that and between the bath I took with my mom, I don’t remember. My mom said, “Hide-chan actually does what he says now~ I can’t tell you to leave anymore~”. Then I cutely said, “Hehe, of course” (laughs).

When I was in fourth grade, I dreamt that I would become a manga artist. From the time on, I felt that I was someone who go down ‘that path’. I also drew during class time regularly. Then, I discovered that I had talent for it. I thought, “Ah, I am much better at drawing compared to others”. There was no classmate in my year that was better at drawing than I was. So, I began to compare myself to the older brothers of my friends. Even though I couldn’t draw better than them, I remember trying very hard because I had felt that my talent was in drawing. I thought that one day I could draw for a living; I wanted to become a mangaka.

I drew a lot. When the series Urusei Yatsura began, I found it extremely interesting. So, I copied a lot of pictures and drawings. I didn’t actually have my own work; it wasn’t until much later that I did. When I was in high school, I sent some manga submissions to Shounen Sunday. I passed two review rounds. I think the content had something to do with the succession of the human race (laughs). I am not clear on what I drew and wrote. But, looking back, I have changed so much that it is almost like talking about another person (laughs). Even though I don’t remember the story, I do remember liking Yoshihisa Tagami. I used to read and discuss his manga with friends in coffee shops. Right, right, and I think there were cute cars like the Subaru 360[1] there too.

I did well in school up until junior high. Because I hated school, my grades began to drop. I was only interested in drawing; I had no motivation for any of my other classes. By the time I got to high school, I thought “Why are the classes like this?!”. Because I was only interested in drawing, I felt that everything else was a waste of time. Now that I think about it, my goal was very clear. There was no one else around me that was like me because I had made my decision from a young age. I really did feel that the classes were useless to me, but I wish that I had dedicated myself to school more. I had felt that I had nothing else other than drawing.

When I was in 6th grade, my personality really changed. As a young child, I cried a lot. I cried when I got hit, when I was bullied, or when my parents were angry with me (cry). But, I was a kind child. Later on, I met some good friends and became stronger and more mischievous. Although my parents say that it had to do with learning Shaolin Kungfu, I don’t think it was the reason. One of my friends had quite the temper. When I associated with him, I learned to defend myself. I think this was the biggest contribution to my change. Also, under my friends’ influences, I became a happier person and everything just seemed right.

Talking about my time in 6th grade, I also think that it was the happiest time of my childhood. I was happy every day. I remember we voted for things like “The Best-looking Person” or “The Smartest Person” in our class. There were many different categories and things we voted for. I was voted as “The Most Interesting Person, 1st Place” (laughs). I did things like drink milk upside down, I was quite weird.

I still keep in touch with the homeroom teacher I had from then. Even though it was just homeroom, he was a teacher that would cry and laugh with us and be angry at us. He was a superb teacher. I never had a better teacher than him after that. I was disappointed, but being a teacher is just a job after all.

Although I had become mischievous, the world had become a violent place and time period. By the time I was in high school, I was very rebellious. Because school violence was prevalent, I had to be stronger. Each day, I often felt tired and tried not to associate with people, if possible. I would meet friends at their apartments and hangout until it was dark. During this time period, I went camping frequently. It got to a point that I didn’t feel safe on the streets (laughs).

Going back to when I went camping in 6th grade, I went with a group of friends. Although I say ‘camping’, it was more like sleeping in the wild. We didn’t have a tent. We were caught by the ranger (laughs). Well, I suppose it’s not surprising given that a group of 6th grade students started a fire by the shore. Also, when we were riding in the police car we were asked if we had run away from home. Even though we said that we hadn’t, the police said that we had to contact our families. When we called home, our families just said, “Our kids went camping” (laughs). We were free to do what we wished.

When junior high began, I really took off. I didn’t even go home during holidays. I would climb mountains with a torch and drink coffee on weekends. These became everyday things for me.

Music started to become more and more important. In this time, CM[2] had really good songs. I think it was a time where CMs helped sell a lot of music. It became a contest between friends to see who could buy the good songs. I also came to know the band OFF COURSE. I attended a concert of theirs. One of their songs was called “時に愛は” (Toki ni Ai ha) and I was listening to it on repeat on my cassette player. During OFF COURSE’s tour at the time, I really liked them. From that time on, I began to gravitate towards exploring western music. New Wave was a genre that had just begun and was popular, so I had competitions with my friends to see who could find more bands of the genre. I also listened to DEPECHE MODE, David Sylvian, and other bands like that. Even now, I am a huge fan of their work.

It was also around this time that the first portable music player was being sold. It was a revolutionary invention. As for compiling songs for my cassette player—I was obsessive (laughs). It was all about garnering a taste in music. I would even put short interludes on it (laughs). Even when I was camping, I would bring the small cassette player with me. When I listened to music, the atmosphere was amazing. Well, that kind of thing now is normal for everyone.

You can say that camping was the theme of my adolescence. I look upon that period of time in my life with fondness. Our style of camping was different than most people—we could camp anywhere, even in places not meant for camping. We basically went to places where people wouldn’t go camping. The nearest ‘campground’ for us was an outlook’s forest at the top of a steep mountain. It was a place that no one really visited and we felt that it was good place. It took about 2-3 hours to get there by bike. There was a dam and a river on the side of the path. We had to follow the direction of the water flowing from the dam and climb up. The higher we were the more narrow the river became. Then, when the river was about 3ft wide, we would arrive at our little campsite. There was forest all around us, the ambience was great. After we started the campfire, the atmosphere became even greater. In these moments, songs like Culture Club’s “Mystery Boy”[3] was suitable. I think it was the featured song from a 三得利熱威士忌[4] commercial. I have a feeling that there may have been a fire burning in the CM.

Ballad guitar suited the fire that was burning. Although I used to listen to a lot of heavy rock, I mostly played ballads on the guitar.

Going off topic, once, when we were doing a photoshoot for ‘self portrait’, we visited the foot of the mountain by the sea, where I used to camp, with the photographer, Charlie. That side is called the Shirasaki Coast. The pure white limestone makes it a special place. Taking photographs there was great because the surrounding white limestone would act as a reflector, making the lighting ideal and possible for us to have beautiful photos. So, when we went there with Charlie, I suggested we check out the coast. When I stood on the rocky coastline, I looked down and saw that someone had used little rocks to spell out ‘HYDE LOVE’ (laughs). Isn’t that amazing? There are thousands upon thousands of rocks on the coast—no, billions! Yet, I stood at that spot out of all the possible places to stand. I was really startled. But now that I mention it, when I was in a washroom in Nagoya, I looked up at the ceiling and saw “Hyde” written there (laughs).

Continuing with my obsession of music and listening to bands like Duran Duran, I began to develop a desire to play guitar. In high school, using the acoustic guitar I had at home, I wanted to copy U2. But, I couldn’t even read basic sheet music. I can read sheet music now, but back then looking at the sheets I just thought: “What is this!? What is that symbol?”. I couldn’t understand anything. Furthermore, I was using an acoustic (laughs). Electric guitar? It was too expensive for a high school student, no one could afford one.

In the time that I spent playing chords, it seemed like I had no dream. I was in a slump and it was uninteresting. Why did I think that I had to memorize chords when I first started? It wasn’t good; it was a waste of time. I had simply wanted to play a song from its beginning to finish and that it was somehow the secret to becoming great. By doing counterproductive things, I put myself in the slump. And because of that, even now, I cannot play an F chord (laughs).

I had considered my personal taste in music to be quite broad. I judged my own singing ability by whether or not I could sing songs from OFF COURSE. I felt that the ability to sing high notes was very important. I could sing various high notes. During high school, everyone thought that being able to reach high notes equaled singing ability (laughs).

In the end, guitar didn’t work out. I think I figured that out about a week later~? Well, more than that, the New Wave music trend was still going.

I also quite liked wearing a white jacket or dress shirt with a tie. I used to dress like that all the time. On the other hand, I also really loved “Rambo”[5], so I would wear military uniforms (laughs). I used to borrow my father’s military uniform. Because my father is stylish and up-to-date, I would often borrow his clothes. I didn’t borrow his clothes because I necessarily wanted to be stylish, but rather I wanted to imitate the musicians I admired. I wanted to be like John Taylor or even Sylvester Stallone.

I really loved “Rambo”. I think that movie really romanticizes the role of a man. When the first movie was out, I saw it in theaters about 5 times. If I remember correctly, another movie that was released around the same time was “Evil Under the Sun”[6]. If I wanted to see “Rambo” twice in the same day, then I would not be able to watch “Evil Under the Sun”. So I thought, “Rambo”, “Evil Under the Sun”, “RAMBO!” (laughs). I really liked doing things like that. My love for “Rambo” increased my need to go camping. Everybody would wear military uniforms to camp. I did this until I left Wakayama.

Although I keep talking about camping, interesting things did happen when we camped deep in the mountains. Because there was no water on the mountain, if we wanted wanted water, we had to go down the mountain to the washrooms. Near there, was a place that looked a bit like a dragon’s den in a forest. At night, many couples would visit the area for a test of courage[7]. One time, we ran out of water in the middle of the night. About 5 of us took our bento boxes and other containers to bring water back. We wore military uniforms and chanted as we descended the mountain. Then, we saw two vehicles of couples parked. We absentmindedly continued to chant as we drew nearer. The couples’ quickly glanced at us and then there was a high pitched scream, “AH~!” from within one of the vehicles. And as we passed through, we thought “Well, that was a bit embarrassing”. I think about a month later we heard rumors about the mountain being haunted by spirits of soldiers. When we heard that, we thought “They’re talking about us!” (laughs). That mountain had a lot of trenches and it was like the soldiers had finally manifested. There might even be a chance that the rumor is still being passed around (laughs).

I joined the soccer team in high school. Before that, my hair was fairly long. After I joined the soccer team—just that one time, I shaved my head. Back then, I really liked soccer. I shaved my head for that reason. But, I quit the team after 3 days (laughs). Don’t newcomers always pick up soccer balls and run errands? Because I like playing soccer, I didn’t want to retrieve balls (laughs). After that, I was picked on and it wasn’t good. It seemed that my preference for military uniforms didn’t help either—I was also bullied pretty badly for it… there were times when I was beat up. My nose is crooked because I was always fighting. My high school years were full of violence.

I went to a specialized high school. I don”t think I could have gone to a regular high school. Because I had seen that there was a school that specialized in art, I told my parents that I wanted to go there. I got their permission, but the tuition was very expensive. About half of the courses there were regular high school courses, the other half were drawing courses. Because this school was in Osaka, commute to school took 1.5hrs. I did that for 3 years.

The school did have an impact on me though. Inside the school, there were students that had rainbow-colored mohawks, wore heavy gold jewelry, punk hairstyles, etc. The school seemed to be full of musicians. Although the students were a little horrific, the fact that I was able to draw made me really happy.

A lot of the things we learned in class equipped me to become a designer. There was sketching, drawing plans, there were about 5 drawing classes. I was really focused on mastering the basics. Basically, I liked to draw small because I enjoyed drawing details. I have drawn from enlarged photographs and still-life set-ups. My drawings were very detailed and refined—it was my specialty in my high school years. When artists draw, don’t they usually put in the contours[8] first? But, in reality, there are no contours. So, after I drew a contour, I would erase it. After removing the contour, I would rely on the faint lines left to complete the drawing. I had thought this was a drawing method I invented. But a few years later, during a drawing program on TV, I saw that other famous artists also used the same method. I thought: “Whoa, I do the same thing!” (laughs). There weren’t many students at my school, but aside from color theory I excelled. Because I am color blind, I didn’t do well when I added color to my drawings. Watercolor was my weak point. When I was in elementary, the teacher told me it didn’t matter and I could choose whatever colors I wanted. And even when people commented on my work, I was still able to color with confidence. But, that’s not how reality works. When I was at the specialized school, I had completely lost my confidence.

Ah, I also remember that there was a girl I liked in high school, but it’s still a mystery to me. Once, I asked the girl out on a date. I think it was something along the lines of watching a movie. After I asked, she smiled and said ‘yes’. I was incredibly happy until I got home. Because I lived farther away, I had to ride a bicycle. As I was riding, boom! I ended up on the shore.

There was a shrine by the sea called Awashima Shrine. That place has already become a place for exorcising a doll or something. It’s a bit of a scary shrine, but it was a fairly normal shrine back then. I went there to pray and thought that I should give thanks at the shrine. So I said ‘Thank you!’ (laughs). But, about a week or so later, I asked the girl out to a movie again. She did a 180degree change and said, “You’re okay with not doing homework?” or “I’m really busy”—that kind of thing. There was no follow-up on it after that. I couldn’t bring myself to ask her why. Well, even though I found out later on that Awashima Shrine was a shrine for women. There was a rumor that couples who visited would break up. After I had heard that, I thought, “If only I had never gone there things would have been fine” (laughs). I had planned for that date—I remember it, even now. First, we were going to see a movie at the Dotonbori theatre, take a walk in Midousuji’s Gingko Forest, and then go to a park near Nakanoshima. It’s too bad that this plan was never realized (laughs). What was the problem? Women are hard to understand.

As I have said before, there were a lot of musical people at my school. It was the reason that my interest in music grew naturally. My initial attitude was that I had just wanted to try the guitar. I really loved heavy metal, so I wanted to see if I could play “Captain Nemo” by Michael Schenker on the guitar. I thought that it would have been extremely cool. Then, I asked my friends if I wanted to learn, how long would it take me? They replied, “If you practice with all your might, you can”. Then I thought, “I’ll try that and see how it goes”. Even now, I cannot play “Captain Nemo” (laughs). The guitar model I had was Flying V by Fernandes, the same as 44MAGNUM’s Jimmy. The color was black. It was the very first guitar I had. Later, I practiced diligently on that guitar and I learned how to play Motley Crue’s “Looks That Kill”.

After I learned how to play that song by Motley Crue, I thought that I could play anything—I was over-confident. I became completely immersed in the world of music after that. The only natural follow-up would be that I wanted to be part of a band, right? In high school, among my classmates there was someone who helped organize Osaka’s LIVE HOUSE lives. I was envious of them. Then I thought, “I also want to be in a band”. I remember what it was like trying to socialize and join a group. I might have said things like “Do you need a guitarist?!”. By doing something like that, it helped me gain more confidence. I had also performed as a guitarist at concerts. Even though the first stage I performed on was at a music shop that had multiple functions. Thinking back now, I am so embarrassed that I get goosebumps. I also played songs from L.A. Metal. At the time, I ran like crazy and I was the only one that did that. I do think that it was suitable for my personality because I thought that it wasn’t cool to stand and perform in a band. As a result, I have memories of me running all over the stage.

In my third year of high school, I gave up on my dream of having drawing for a living. But, rather than saying ‘give up’, I think it’s more accurate to say that my dream became music. The main reason was that I am color blind. After I realized this, I thought “what should I do now?”. I had discovered that sound didn’t have anything to do with color. After my discovery, my clouded vision and uncertainties cleared away in an instant. During that year, I had fallen in love with music. I still liked to draw though, I felt that it would be good to be able to draw for work. But, music gradually became bigger and bigger in my life and I began to feel that music was the only road for me. This was still in my third year.

Then, after graduating high school, I played in some bands in my hometown to stay musically active while I was in search of my future bandmates. I played in bands with friends of mine, but there was nobody that was interested in seeking a future as a professional musician. I thought I should save money to move to Osaka. In that time, when I did lives with friends, I didn’t sing. And while I did play the guitar, my friends were better at it than I was, so I began to try singing. We were a copy band of GASTUNK and the like. It was then I discovered that I was more suited to sing than play guitar, so I began to sing instead. I felt that it took me much longer to grow and mature when I played the guitar. Especially when it comes to picking a guitar, a guitarist needs to think about a lot of things. Looking back now, thinking through these things were extremely difficult. When it comes to singing, I don’t need to think too much to produce different sounds and emote feelings. Simply put, during my time as a guitarist in the copy band, I was not playing at a professional level. But for singing, I could come close to the original song. After that, the guitar become a tool for composing and I became a vocalist.

All of the members in the band were people that I went camping with. It was the kind of band that was like: “You, be the drummer”, “You, be the bass” (laughs). We did a couple of lives that way and even came up with a few songs. It was a band that just went with the flow, but not everyone had the goal of becoming a professional musician. And I may as well mention, my weird habit of blinking quickly comes from the weird friends I had at the time. Even though I hate doing it, it’s something I can’t change.

Before I knew it, I had worked and played in bands in my hometown until I was 20. Then, my mother said, “If you really plan on becoming a musician in the future, you need to do it now. Why save money? If you keep doing this, you’re going to waste your time”. She had said, “Go immediately”. So, I borrowed money and went to Osaka and began to live alone. Now that I think about it, if my mother had not said that, I would not be here. I might still be in Wakayama.

[1] I am not sure why Hyde suddenly talks about a car?
[2] Commercials.
[3] If you’re interested in listening to the song, here’s link.
[4] A beer company.
[5] Rambo is a series of films featuring Sylvester Stallone.
[6] Evil Under the Sun is a 1982 film based on Agatha Christie’s book of the same title.
[7] Kimodameshi: an event (usually done at night), in which Japanese couples or friends would go out and visit haunted or scary locations.
[8] Contour: an outline. Many drawers will first sketch a general outline of the subject/object they are drawing before doing details. (Hyde is saying that although that is how people draw, we don’t see outlines of objects)
Ref.: https://www.facebook.com/larcencielcanada/