First, Happy Birthday Sho! Although it's somewhat sad as the first birthday this year, still a day to celebrate! Let's all hope he has the best day today!
I meant to upload this last year but I abandoned it with like 20 lines left... so here it is finally finished for Sho's birthday!! This is from a special Arashi feature in Gekkan TV Guide, from the January 2021 edition released in November last year. They talk about 4 Arashi topics: concerts, SNS, pairings, and their songs in relation to members. You can view scans here.
The five members chat about everything Arashi!
Arashi’s 〇〇 talk
On November 3rd, Arashi welcomed their 21st debut anniversary. The 5 of them know Arashi the best! So, from new anecdotes to nostalgic tales, they talked about everything relating to Arashi. As expected, Arashi is loved!
Arashi’s Concert Talk
- Arafes 2020 ended up being an online concert. How was that experience?
Ninomiya: Firstly, before anything else, I was really glad we were able to hold the concert.
Aiba: I’m super relieved. There were infinite postponements, yet we still took requests for our fans' favourite songs once more. We felt that we were keeping everyone waiting for a super-duper long time.
Sakurai: We streamed it online, yet the amount of viewers we amassed was gigantic.
Matsumoto: I’m satisfied knowing that we could make it a situation where everyone could watch from the same environment.
Ninomiya: Yep. The fact that everyone who really wanted to watch it ended up being able to do so.
Matsumoto: However, we did think about what it would've been like if our fans were able to attend physically.
Ohno: Yeah. So, we just imagined everyone being in the stadium.
Aiba: Since we kept them in mind, it really gave the impression of a festival.
Ohno: On the other hand, it was troublesome as I ended up grinning wherever I looked (laugh).
Sakurai: I get that!
Ninomiya: Grinning without even knowing what you’re laughing at!
Ohno: It just happens (laugh). Although there were multiple new aspects, the overall feel was that we did our very best.
Sakurai: Right. We did everything that we can do right now, to the best of our ability.
Matsumoto: It had been a long time since we could earnestly do such a lengthy concert.
Ninomiya: Although it’s because of current circumstances, it really felt like it had been too long since we last did.
Matsumoto: Regarding the requests, although we did this similarly twice before, there were many songs where we once again thought “of course it’s this one.” We could see again, “ah, so this is what all of our fans enjoy.”
- It’s been 7 years since the last Arafes. At the national stadium, was there a feeling of “we’ve returned home”?
Aiba: Firstly, it was really moving to be able to stand in the national stadium. Since we of course remembered the past two times we did Arafes, we were able to meet those characters again after such a long time!
Sakurai: Though its shape has changed, there was still the same atmosphere of the national stadium. It felt like “Ahh, this is really the national stadium.”
Aiba: It was quite nostalgic.
Matsumoto: Although, there wasn’t really that same nostalgia at the national stadium’s kick off event last year.
Aiba: At that time, I really thought “This is new!” But, of course, it is still Arashi’s stage that’s put together!
Matsumoto: It felt strangely both nostalgic, and new. It was a wonderful feeling.
- Please tell us some anecdotes from the preparations and rehearsals.
Matsumoto: We took so many photos.
Aiba: We did.
Matsumoto: Like, what made us take that many photos? (laugh). I guess it was especially from when we first saw the national stadium.
Sakurai: Also, there was miraculously good weather. There was such good weather in our noon rehearsal that we ended up in a great mood.
Ninomiya: Although on the contrary, it was so hot.
Ohno: It was.
Sakurai: Considering the situation this year, there wasn’t much else that we did during such long days, so we were in good moods.
Aiba: But as always, it did rain during rehearsals too!
- When you think of Arashi’s open air concerts, it includes many memories of rain.
Aiba: So many!
Matsumoto: Maybe the only one where it didn’t rain was Miyagi? (ARASHI BLAST in Miyagi 2015.)
Ninomiya: We rehearsed while wearing raincoats. I guess we’re already used to it (laugh).
Arashi’s SNS Talk
- On 11/3 last year, Arashi opened multiple official SNS accounts, and since then a year has passed. Over the past year, how has that experience been?
Matsumoto: Of course until then we did hear the fan’s voices, but I think we’ve really progressed to also being able to easily see what everyone’s reactions are when we put out content.
Ohno: If we post an image or video on Instagram, we’ll immediately receive everyone’s reactions back. I thought that was incredible.
Sakurai: It’s different to TV shows, we can personally create content where we have fun. I think it’s great when all of our fans can enjoy it.
Aiba: It’s like we can finally offer up all the things we’ve never done, things we don’t show on TV, and our real private personalities.
Ninomiya: Definitely, that’s right.
- Since TikTok is specifically for videos, do you also have to take extra time for setting things up?
Aiba: We were kinda lost at first, but the captain Matsumoto told us “I want you to do it,” so we kinda just started doing it, feeling like “... eh, ah, sure.” (laugh). But it is really fun.
Matsumoto: Because we’re finding out how to have fun with it~.
Aiba: Right, right. We came to realise that “Ah, if we do it like this it’s pretty good,” so it is fun. Since I think the most important thing is that we have fun with it!
Matsumoto: Well now, it’s because we’re doing it under Aiba’s production.
Aiba: Haha, yeah. But look, it’s because the captain Matsumoto is doing so many things on Twitter, Instagram, and all our other SNS.
- How is Aiba’s production?
Matsumoto: He’s doing his best~. Sometimes Aiba tells us “I’m recording,” but in reality he isn’t recording, and he’s just messing with us.
Aiba: Because I’m thinking about a lot of stuff, and recording! First I decide on a trick then try it once with the staff, then I do it with the members. But it’s basically all done in one take! Although if I make a mistake we do still reshoot it.
Sakurai: What really left an impression was the TikToks we recorded in between MV filming for Bruno Mars’ “Whenever You Call.” That situation was very much like Arashi and I liked it (laugh).
Ninomiya: It was for sure Arashi.
Aiba: Though we seem to be messing around, we are working extremely hard.
Ninomiya: Ah, sorry, since we’re having fun with everyone, they probably thought we were just messing around all the time (laugh).
Ohno: Haha, surprisingly everyone, we did put in our very best effort.
Matsumoto: Of course when we started our SNS we couldn’t have imagined what would happen, but I think it’s really great that, with the way this year has ended out, we had so many places to communicate from.
Arashi’s 2 Shot Talk
- Please tell us about how all the members view their two shots with the people who are next to them.
Matsumoto: Alright! Which combination should we talk about first?
- Then, first up Sakurai-san and Matsumoto-san please!
Aiba: They have performed songs together in concerts (In the 2001-02 tour “ARASHI All Arena tour ‘Join the storm’” they did a performance as a pair. In the 2017 album “untitled” they recorded their first unit song “Come Back.”) They’re the handsome men line, when they get together.
Ninomiya: They’re really handsome guys.
Sakurai: That’s kinda what we’re trying for (laugh).
Aiba: When the two of them get together, they look so handsome. But, you guys don’t really joke around together much, right?
Sakurai: The two of us together? Honestly, I don’t have the confidence to do Bazuri Night with MatsuJun (laugh).
Ninomiya: Can’t you just invite him to do it?
Sakurai: It’s difficult to ask him.
Matsumoto: But I want you to invite me!
Ohno: But really, they’re damn handsome guys.
- Next is Matsumoto-san and Aiba-san.
Sakurai: Those two. They don’t have any unit songs.
Matsumoto: We don’t.
Sakurai: Hm, have you done any in the past?
Aiba: We covered Ringo Shiina’s “A View of Happiness”...
Matsumoto: Ah, we did.
Sakurai: Oh right you did!
Matsumoto: And we got some very strict feedback from Higashiyama (Noriyuki)-san who came to watch us (laugh). Like, “What exactly do you want to do?”
Aiba: That was in the relatively early days. We weren’t really taking things seriously (laugh).
Sakurai: Was it the winter concert?
Matsumoto: It was, winter. (2002-03 tour “ARASHI STORM CONCERT 2003 ‘Atarashii Arashi’”)
Sakurai: But with these two, it definitely feels kind of rare.
Aiba: For songs, yeah, because we just don’t do them. There’s almost no image of us.
Sakurai: But you guys are stylish people.
Ninomiya: Ah, yeah! You two often go shopping together, right?
Aiba: Yeah, we do.
Sakurai: I don’t exactly know how shopping works (laugh). So, do you say, like, “Oh these ones match~”?
Aiba: We do (laugh).
Matsumoto: Since we also have matching stuff.
Aiba: We do. Like, “This one is good.”
Sakurai: Until you’re matching!?
Ohno: That’s amazing.
Ninomiya: Right, isn’t it incredible.
- Now, Aiba-san and Nino-san.
Sakurai: It goes without saying, they have so many parts to them.
Matsumoto: Yellow immediately comes to mind, of course. The Soubu line. (In their Johnny’s Junior era, the two went home in the same direction so they would ride together.)
Aiba: Ahh yeah, the Soubu line.
Matsumoto: Also, blue.
Sakurai: Like “UB”? (Unit song recorded for “untitled”)
Matsumoto: No, like the high-speed trains.
Aiba: The blue of the Soubu trains.
Sakurai: Oh, that!
Aiba: Now, you think of Leader, right? If you say blue.
Aiba: But it used to be the Soubu Line trains (laugh).
Ninomiya: Because they’re the high-speed trains.
Sakurai: So it’s not “UB.”
Ohno: I don’t know (laugh).
Sakurai: It was sweet. Really sweet. I still don’t have much experience (laugh).
Ninomiya: UB tends to draw people in, unintentionally.
Aiba: That’s right.
- And as for Ninomiya-san and Ohno-san?
Aiba: They had a come back in this Arafes!
Matsumoto: Of course, they bring the Ohmiya SK image.
Sakurai: Their ideas are outside of the norm. Really. How should I say it… they don’t waver!
Sakurai: It’s a chemical reaction from their “we won’t waver” attitude.
Ninomiya: Ah yeah. A reaction that doesn’t change.
Aiba: It really doesn’t change.
Sakurai: The venues get bigger. What they do gets bigger too. Ohmiya SK are unconcerned (laugh). Because they have only one style of act!
Ohno: We only do one act.
Ninomiya: We’re workmen now.
Aiba: These workmen, they’re so fixated on things~ (laugh).
- Lastly, Ohno-san and Sakurai-san.
Aiba: The elder brothers team. What are they like together, hmm… they don’t have any songs together, right?
S/O: We don’t.
Matsumoto: Not at all?
Aiba: I couldn’t really imagine their kinda song…
Sakurai: We don’t have any songs… right?
Sakurai: Oh, there is. There’s a song I made for my solo concert (in 2006).
Matsumoto: Was it “Oretachi no Song”?
Sakurai: Right, you remember it well.
Ohno: Ahh. We did that (laugh).
Ninomiya: If anything, it’s only those two, who did solo concerts. (In 2006, Ohno and Sakurai each held their own solo tours.)
Ninomiya: But also, those two are kinda musical stars.
Ohno: Huh, me too…?
Ninomiya: Of course you are.
Aiba: Really it’s three of us (In 2004, Ohno, Sakurai and Matsumoto appeared in the musical “WEST SIDE STORY”), but even if it’s just the two of them, they still give a strong impression of musicals.
Ninomiya: Yeah. Even as the two of them, when music plays they just dance.
Sakurai: Because when our emotions build up, it’ll come out in a song (laugh).
Matsumoto: It just happens (laugh).
Ohno: We also start dancing.
Aiba: It ends up as a song and dance (laugh).
Sakurai: We all get excited, yeah?
Ninomiya: Not for us.
Aiba: Not really.
Ninomiya: We’ll basically just raise our voices.
Aiba: I wanna get up to that level.
Ninomiya: I wanna too (laugh).
Arashi’s Music Talk
- For each member, if you were to link your music to them, which song would it be? First, Sakurai-san.
Matsumoto: Any Arashi song works, yeah? Even outside of singles.
Sakurai: Let’s exclude solo songs.
Matsumoto: For me, it would be “Meikyuu Love Song.”
Sakurai: I often confuse it with “Meikyuu Labyrinth” (laugh).
Matsumoto: This part of the hook (hand movements)’s image is strong.
Ohno: For me it would be “Endless Game.” The drama theme song.
Ninomiya: I get that. A drama theme song is of course a big deal.
Aiba: For me I think it’d be “LIFE.” The CM song, right?
Sakurai: Right. It was quite interesting, a good project (laugh).
Matsumoto: I wanna hear about mine soon too!
- Well then, next is… Ohno-san.
Matsumoto: They turned against me!
Sakurai: People who want to hear it quickly will end up going last (laugh).
Ninomiya: For Ohno-san it’s gotta be “Monster”! Since he’s always doing an imposing stance at the back.
Sakurai: That, isn’t it difficult to do on center stage?
Ohno: It is difficult. And embarrassing (laugh).
Ninomiya: And while you’re waiting you accidentally make eye contact with the audience (laugh).
Matsumoto: It’s refreshing. Always standing and facing the back.
Sakurai: When the moment comes it’s amazing.
Ohno: Haha, certainly (laugh).
Aiba: What are you thinking in the moment?
Ohno: “Won’t I be called forward soon…” (laugh).
Ninomiya: Well, we weren’t gonna call for you.
Ohno: So, because I’m not called out I just go for it (laugh).
Ninomiya: So that’s how it is (laugh).
Sakurai: For me it’d be “Itsumademo.” At the end I rap while Ohno sings over me, that’s pretty rare in our songs, but the song has a real impression of Ohno.
Ohno: (Doesn’t get it.)
Sakurai: Please try listening.
Ohno: Yeah (laugh).
- Next, Ninomiya-san.
Matsumoto: There’s so many for him.
Sakurai: If we’re going for higher impact ones, I’d say it’s “HORIZON.”
Aiba: That is quite strong!
Ninomiya: Haha, why?
Sakurai: Didn’t you play guitar in the middle? Like Les Paul.
Ninomiya: Ah!! I did!
Sakurai: During the performance, the 4 of us surround Nino who has the guitar. Furthermore, that was a song from quite early days.
Aiba: If we’re going with early songs, I’d say “Typhoon Generation.” Because of his spoken lines that it begins with.
Matsumoto: Why did we put that part in? Johnny-san? Or was it the producer’s idea?
Ninomiya: It was the producer.
Sakurai: I thought it was the choreographer.
Ninomiya: They said stuff like “Girls like intimate, casual guys more than cold princes,” and “Also, it would sound more pandering for girls.” (laugh).
Matsumoto: Incredible (laugh). It didn’t have any of the dialogue at first.
Ohno: Oh yeah, it didn’t.
Ninomiya: The title was brand new too.
- Next, Aiba-san.
Ninomiya: Shall we go for the impactful songs?
Sakurai: Let’s do that.
Matsumoto: “Yasashikutte Sukoshi Baka.”
Sakurai: I thought the same.
Aiba: I do like that song quite a bit.
Matsumoto: Didn’t you do it solo in a concert?
Aiba: I did. And Nino played the guitar, right?
Ninomiya: Yeah, we did it together.
Sakurai: I want to have a go again.
Ninomiya: "Nice na Kokoroiki"!
Sakurai: I was just thinking the exact same thing.
Matsumoto: Was it the chairs?
Aiba: Right, right. I wonder if there’s anyone reading who understands?
Matsumoto: Was it on “Utaban”?
Ohno: We sat on quite eccentric, round chairs there…
Matsumoto: When I see round chairs that look like that, I remember Aiba-kun (laugh).
Sakurai: There’s not many chairs that’ll remind you of a person.
Ninomiya: It was a guesting from when he had a collapsed lung so he couldn’t move around very much.
Sakurai: But he participated well (laugh).
Aiba: Hey, weren’t we talking about “Nice na Kokoroiki” (laugh).
Aiba: But really, I felt saved by those lyrics. This is a bit nonsensical, but the song was almost telling me that I should persevere and it’ll be fine.
Sakurai: I see, what a great story.
- And finally, Matsumoto-san.
Sakurai: I wanna switch it up with the top-level songs~
Ninomiya: Then let’s leave out “One Love” and “Love So Sweet.”
Aiba: Those were big songs. They’re a bit too common.
Ohno: Definitely too famous…
(The 4 consider it for a while.)
Aiba: Which PV shooting was it where you dislocated your knee?
Matsumoto: That was “Typhoon Generation.”
Aiba: We mentioned that earlier too!
Sakurai: But rather, this is the story about his knee dislocating (laugh).
Matsumoto: It does have quite a punch to it (laugh). I think the shooting was around 5 hours, so that probably was the cause.
Ninomiya: I’d say “Turning Up.” We travelled far from home and he carried out the entire project himself, same with the proposition of going digital. Also when we went to LA to film the PV, he never failed to cooperate with the staff…
Matsumoto: (Agreeing with him and grinning.)
Ninomiya: I remember the sight of the foreigners being almost attracted to you when you got really mad (laugh).
Sakurai: You can get more details if you watch “Arashi’s Diary - Voyage” (laugh).
Ninomiya: Of course you’d slip that in there.
Sakurai: I wonder if this has a lower impact. “Crazy Moon (Kimi wa Muteki).” It was a collaboration for a CM, supposedly ground-breaking. MatsuJun appeared in the advert too, right?
Matsumoto: I did.
Ninomiya: I have this memory of seeing MatsuJun’s advertisement while on the train.
Sakurai: Originally, the ending “Muuteeki” was almost twice as long, it was like “Muuuteeekii” (laugh).
Aiba: ‘Muteki [invincible]’ to a very great extent.
Matsumoto: That would have sucked (laugh).
Aiba: Ah, is it alright to talk about something general?
Sakurai: What is it?
Aiba: He's the lower harmony genius!
Ohno: Oh yeah.
Aiba: Don’t you think it’s amazing!?
S/N: It’s great.
Ohno: How long have you done it?
Matsumoto: Maybe around 10 years.
Ohno: For almost 10 years, huh.
Aiba: You do the lower harmony for most of the lines in the chorus. The harmony is quite hard, so when I do it I end up stretching myself a bit. The guides MatsuJun listens to are all a lower harmony.
Aiba: It’s incredible.
Sakurai: It’s astonishing that if you take out your in-ear monitor it still carries. Like, “You really sing that part!?” (laugh).
Matsumoto: I basically just do it while listening to the song with everyone else’s voices, after it’s been recorded.
Sakurai: I didn’t know that. I guess there’s still things we don’t know.
Ninomiya: There’s many.
Aiba: I’m glad we could learn one thing today then!
Agreed. Thank you for this great project (laugh).Notes:
- When Aiba mentions Jun's low harmony (下ハモ), I believe he's talking about singing in harmony with a low vs high note. I'm not sure if there's an exact English term for this but an Arashi fan has talked about it here
if you want more info.
- For the Soubu Line trains, see images here
- Huge thanks to hoshizora20
for helping with one part! Go check her community out too! Also thanks to my boyfriend who did some QC for me :)