Steve Eto plays an active part as the only Japanese-American metal rock percussionist living in Japan and also active as a member of the mixture-music band ‘DEMI SEMI QUAVER’. He also shows his unusual talents as a fashion model and video creator.
On march, he did the U.S. tour as ‘DEMI SEMI QUAVER‘. We approached to his real face just before he went to America.
How about the reaction to mixture-musics such like ‘DEMI SEMI QUAVER’ in U.S.?
It’s the same as in Japan. Some people look like having an aversion to us and other people are amazing. I think the reaction is not so different.
You have worked with many artists. Haven’t you never released a solo work by yourself?
This time is the first. I’ve released many cds as a member of some bands, but this is the first for me to release a solo album of myself.
Why didn’t you produce your solo album until now?
I couldn’t image that I’m standing in the center. It’s the main reason. I’ve thought what a main vocalist should do and I didn’t like instrumental musics so much. I think the song is important including from DEMI SEMI QUAVER to popular songs. I’ve associated with Fumiya (Fujii) since he started to work as a solo. If I haven’t had a major tour not only DEMI SEMI QUAVER, I might get out of shape. (laughs)
You’re standing on quite extreme balances, aren’t you?
Even so, I won’t change my own way and they’re the same stances for my feeling.
I felt that your music links to STOMP on the street in NYC, etc.
Yes, I think so, too. But we cannot see such performances in Japan. Do you know a group ‘BLUE MAN’? They’re a performance group in Manhattan, more comical and more elaborate than STOMP. STOMP is nothing but a music. It looks just like a session of percussions in the end and I cannot satisfied with it. But ‘BLUE MAN’ is a performance, of course it includes music. There’re three skin-headed men just like me painting their faces and hands in blue so that they’re just ‘BLUE MAN’. They perform using oil drums, twisted instruments and so on. It’s so amusing. They perform in rather smaller place, but it’s well maded and their show has continued for years.
I went to there two years ago then I had an impression that the permissible range of music is broad in NYC.
I think so, the performers in grand central station yard are booked regularly. They perform in good order. I think the publics have very much understanding of music in NYC. In Japan, Karaoke is main thing in general. It maybe one of the way of enjoying music, but I want to say it’s a little different. I wonder whether people go to Karaoke to alleviate their stresses just like a sports.
It’s a sports, a kind of trials.
I don’t intend to deny it but to tell the truth, I feel relieved when I touch the music in U.S. or other country rather than in Japan. I can feel that people really love musics in other country. In Japan, people seems to say, “I cannot understand well about music.” or “Music is very difficult for me, so I cannot understand.” in general. To top it all, they kick off music with Karaoke. But the views of young people of today become to change. They feel music with an unassuming stance and they have good tastes of music.
Of course the threshold should be laid in some degree. To say exaggerated, music is a gift from Heaven. A singer who does not have any charisma or aura cannot attract people.
By the way, why do you use metals in your music?
At first, I’ve used samplers. But I felt emptiness to make loud sounds beating a rubber. I realized that I should beat a hard object just like a metal if I want to make hard sounds. At that time a bumper came off during the tour by chance then I put it on the stand and started to beat it. I think it was the start as a metal percussionist.
I think your solo project is more showy than DEMI SEMI QUAVER. It’s easy to understand.
I am also easy to understand as human nature and I don’t have something behind my mind. I’m not good at construction something. It might be important to make something one by one, but I rather easily tires of anything. For example, I had been eager to complete a plastic model within the day that I got it rather than to complete it beautifully in my childhood. I had glued each parts with a quick-drying glue. I still have such habit now. Even when I produce musics, I’m usually working in 70 percent of ability that I have, then move to next one after another. It’s the most healthy way for my mind. (laughs) I’m also working for my solo works in such feeling. Sometimes I realize that the rhythm is not perfect later, but I think it’s ok as it is. I trust my intuition.
Such intuition is important on the stage, isn’t it?
The word ‘intuition’ sounds cool, but I can change myself in front of audiences. I usually perform without rehearsal. I only check the balance and instruments in advance. Everything is alright somehow by audiences. (laughs) I’m lacking in effort so that I get a power from audiences on the stage.
You had been working as a model before.
Some pictures are used even now, but I’d not been working as a job. I got to know Kobayashi by chance and I knew he was a designer and a president of ‘General Research’ later. Then I’ve associated with him recently. Last year I participated in the show and some plaster figures in the shape of my body wearing clothes were standing in a row there. It’s just a model not a fashion model.
I also participated in the show of shoes by Koji Kuga held at Yellow in Tokyo. A scaffold were put up at the place and models were walking along the walkway with 2 meters above ground. The ceiling is not so high so that they should have bended their knees. Then they clinged to the scaffold and show audiences the shoes that they’re putting on. I did a performance to beat steels and play some instruments on the back ground music there.
The model in the shape of your figure is open on net now. Was it hard for you?
Yes, it was hard. I kept my tension on a high during I was formed in plaster. I was so tired and could not move my body because of a feeling of exhaustion on the next day. It took 10 hours.
If you’re offerd to do that once again, will you take on?
Probably I’ll do again. (laughs) I’ve done that two times. At the first time, I was asked by a graphic designer then my head and hand were formed in plaster. Two straws were put into my nose as same as the last time. I had an experience once before. It’s tired but I don’t dislike it.
Do you feel strange when you look at your copy without a soul?
It’s strange. As I know my face well, I can find that the detailed parts are hanging down by the weight of resin so that it looks older then me. But it looks exactly like me on the whole.
As far as the part of expression is concerned, is there no difference between model and music?
Of course I feel relieved when I’m playing music and instruments. I’m more familiar with music than model because I’ve been doing music for more than 20 years. There’s no difference between the two as my feeling, but I’m still confused without instruments.
When are you confused for example?
Musicians can make themselves look much better with a guiter or a drum. But if they’re taken away their instrumentals and put in the center of the stage, musicians are nothing but pitiable.
Is there anything you want to do in the near future?
There’re lots of things. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t set a goal to produce sounds. I consider the cd that I just released this time as a collection of materials useful for my performance. I’ll work thinking how I should do using them from now on. And I’m now performing with the video that I’ve produced, but it’s not going well so much at the moment. I want to produce a video that has a story like Laurie Anderson or Grace Jones, and also has humor.
Text: Kyota Hamaya
Translation: Mayumi Kaneko