Crazy Ken Band (hereafter, CKB) that transmits a wide range of sounds as "the best sound machine in the Orient". They are still evolving even now, celebrating their 25th anniversary, and are in the midst of a nationwide tour "CRAZY KEN BAND TOUR Tree Shadow 2022-2023" with their 22nd album "Tree Shadow". When talking about Ken Yokoyama, who leads CKB and creates a wide variety of songs, the city of “Yokohama” is inseparable. In the first half of the interview, he talked about his impressions of the changing city of Yokohama and how Kanagawa Prefecture influenced CKB's melodies and lyrics, along with CKB's activities so far. In the second half, we will focus on activities that are closely related to the region, thoughts on the new album "Tree Shadow", the tour being held and the future of CKB.
◆ Production of community-based music, such as "Yokohama wa G30" theme song and Minato General High School song
── Mr. Yokoyama, you have also created songs related to Yokohama, such as the school song for Minato General High School and the theme song for "Yokohama wa G30".
Yokoyama: Yes, I was asked (laughs).
── Please tell us how you felt when you were asked to produce music that was closely related to the region.
Yokoyama: At the time of the zero waste campaign, Mr. Nakata was the mayor. Around that time, the city of Yokohama said, "I want you to create a melody and a song with this purpose." The lyrics are solicited from all over the country, and the lyrics are asked to add a melody to the lyrics. I thought, "Oh, that's good." From the lyrics that came in, I chose them, and added a melody to them. The person who made the lyrics is from Nara Prefecture. Not Yokohama (laughs).
── There were applications from all over the country.
Yokoyama: Yes. Yokohama Minato General High School. This was also requested by the school. There was a part-time high school called Minato High School that I was originally supposed to go to. I was supposed to go there, but it was a school where I gave up as soon as I transferred because my work time and school time didn't match. So, that was the predecessor of Minato General High School. Later, when it changed to Minato Sogo High School, it was a new school, or rather, the name was changed, and the school song was changed, so I was asked to do so. This is also said to add a melody to the lyrics written by a graduate student. All of them are the lyrics, the song of Gomi Zero and the school song. It can function as a so-called school song, but I also wanted it to be something like a gospel song, or something soul-like, if you do it with a band. I thought it would be cool if you added a rhythm to it, which would make it funky. At the graduation ceremony, I had a chance to play the keyboard and sing, so I tried to make a sample that I could sing like this at that time.
── It was a great memory for the students!
Yokoyama: Among those (students), there is one amazingly talented musician. I was moved to hear that he was singing the school song. An amazing genius creator of music called "TENDRE". Singer-songwriter. I heard he was an alumnus of that school and sang my song. "You're such a genius," he said. I feel happy
A town where you can "get used to everyday life little by little" when you come back from overseas
── In your latest album "Kageki", cities in various countries are used as titles, such as "Dubai" and "Waikiki". Mr. Yokoyama himself likes to travel both domestically and internationally. What do you think are the unique attractions of Yokohama compared to other cities in the world?
Yokoyama: When you return home from an overseas trip, you feel a little lonely. However, Yokohama has a Chinatown, so for example, if you go to Chinatown on your way back from Hong Kong, you can still feel like you are still in Hong Kong. The lyrics of the song "Chinese Town Daisakusen" ("Crazy no Chukagai Daisakusen!") is also in the lyrics, and I think that's the charm of Yokohama. Yokohama is a place where you can get used to your daily routine, just like a diver who has been diving at the bottom of the sea gradually gets used to it in a recompression chamber so that he does not get diving sickness.
── It's nice to say, "I won't be lonely."
Yokoyama: Yes. So, I changed my mind one more time, and instead of returning from my overseas trip, I changed my mindset to say, "I'm going to visit Yokohama now." I'm excited again. Is there anything unreasonable about it? Especially on the Wangan Line from Haneda, it's a bus. I really want you to go to Honmoku, but I can't stop, so I'm going to Yokohama station (laughs). There is a Keikyu bus, isn't there? Or take a taxi or your own car. When I come back from overseas and cross the Bay Bridge and see the night view of Minato Mirai, I get excited. You can't say, "Ah, I'm back in Japan."
── That scenery is wonderful.
Yokoyama: Well, that scenery is a bit like Singapore. it is a good feeling.
── Then, if you were to convey the charm of Yokohama to people overseas, how would you convey it?
Yokoyama: Yes. When I meet an Italian, they call me Naples in Japan (laughs). There are places like Naples that are Americanized, and there is the US military. And then there's the port town, and there's someone who isn't delinquent but is a bit funky (laughs). Girolamo is an acquaintance of mine, and I often talk to him. It's more like the atmosphere and mood of the town. That's what I said to the Italians, saying that if it was England, it's the same island country, and it's right next to the sea. I would say something appropriate, like something like Dover or something like that (laughs). Anyway, when you think of a port, isn't the street good? In port towns, they say welcome. Because it is a place with a lot of comings and goings, it is said that they do not reject those who come and do not chase those who leave. He doesn't interfere deeply with people's private lives, and treats them with a little delicacy. I've heard somewhere that ``the seaweed in port towns is common all over the world,'' but I guess that's true. Crazy people, normal people, delinquents, people with reasons, free people, mysterious people, all kinds of colors are already a mess (laughs), that's what it feels like. That's why I don't know if it's easy to live in, but if you get hooked, you won't want to leave.
── That's right, it's a city with a lot of different people.
Yokoyama: Various. Even if I'm in a band, I don't have much prejudice, and I'm not particularly uncommon. It's a comfortable place in the sense that you can live a normal life. He leaves me alone in a good way.
◆ “Because of this opportunity,” expand your imagination and go to Dubai with VR goggles
── As CKB's 22nd album, what kind of album did "Tree Shadow" become for CKB?
Yokoyama : Contrary to the frustration of "I want to go over there, I want to go over there, I want to go abroad" due to the coronavirus... paradoxically, it's a pinch that's the biggest chance. At times like this, it's the stupid power of a fire scene. With that kind of hint, "I should put on VR goggles and go to Dubai". Well, I don't even have VR goggles (laughs). For example. Dubai, or even VR goggles, is a delusion, but I thought it was a good opportunity to fantasize and expand your imagination. It may be painful if it's always like that. I haven't been to Hawaii at all, but Honmoku has a local Hawaiian food called Honmoku Chow Mein at "Boogie Cafe". Also, the eyeball mark called "Mooneys". The "MOON Cafe" over there also has loco moco like a drive-in in Hawaii. Honolulu chow mein has two types of the same chow mein in Honmoku. Chow mein is exotic, like Chinese food or Hawaiian food. "Waikiki no Yoru" is a song like "If you eat that, you can warp to Hawaii." That's why I proposed a tickling that can make negative feelings interesting with just one mindset and way of thinking.
── The listeners can also enjoy the feeling of traveling around the world.
Yokoyama: Yes, it feels like traveling around the world while staying at home.
── You can travel from your ears. CKB is currently touring with this "Tree Shadow" album. I think there was a period when you couldn't tour for a while due to the corona wreck, but could you tell us about your enthusiasm for this tour?
Yokoyama: We will go around the year until March next year. Since we're going on tour with this album "Kageki", we're going to perform about 10 songs from the album, but we've released 22 more in the past, so I'm not sure which one to bring... (laughs) Then, if you go to Fukuoka, let's bring this song that mentions "Hakata doll" in the lyrics, or if you go to Yokosuka, let's make a song related to Yokosuka. I thought I'd change things up a bit depending on the venue. Also, we released a cover album last year, but there are songs that we didn't touch on during last year's cover album tour.
── Are there any changes during the corona crisis, such as the enthusiasm of the audience during the live?
Yokoyama: Actually, there are various regulations such as not being able to speak out. After all, just delivering a performance with only a camera and being in front of the audience is completely different from "mind". Even if you can't make a loud noise, the waves are transmitted with the same amount of heat, exchanging energy with each other. That's the real thrill of live performances, so I never felt unsatisfactory.
◆The 22nd album is the "next level first" album
── Lastly, please tell us about your future activities and what you would like to challenge in the future.
Yokoyama: At this age, there are 3 people over 60 right now, and one of them is taking a break. Every year I feel like, ``I made an album like this this year,'' and if I leave it alone, it will come out. The result comes out before I think about the goal, so after I've done it, I'm like, "What kind of concept should I use for this?" The concept will come to you later. Well, when I travel, for example, when I go to Korea, I get off at a suitable station, and after returning to my hotel room, I'm like, "This is where I went today." It feels like it's flying before you even see it. I think it's a constant theme.
── Did you find the theme of "travel" when looking at the finished product for this "Tree Shadow" album?
Yokoyama: Come to think of it, it's like (laughs). Anyway, it's already coming out bang bang. Once the title "Tree Shadow" was decided, it was somewhat ... "Tree Shadow" was the name of a coffee shop in Honmoku 2-chome. That coffee shop was very creative...for me, it was a place to think creatively, come up with ideas, imagine things, and write lyrics, so I returned to that feeling. The band is also 25 years old, so it's the 22nd album, but it feels like the first album. A first-year student who has reached the next level. The first album in the sense that it's like the first semester after going on to high school, like the third year of junior high school to the first year of high school. I faced it with the feeling that it was the first of the next level.
Yokoyama has called the 22nd album "the first of the next level" now that it has been 25 years since the formation. This is the reason why CKB and Yokoyama himself are constantly evolving. At "CRAZY KEN BAND TOUR Kikage 2022-2023", which started in Tokyo this September, you can enjoy their ever-evolving new sounds and songs that have been loved without change. Performances in Kanagawa Prefecture are scheduled for November 19th at Kanagawa Prefectural Hall, December 4th at Yokosuka City Cultural Center Large Hall, and March 4th next year at Atsugi City Cultural Center Large Hall.
Born in July 1960, from Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Representative director of the music office "Double Joy Records". In 1997, he formed the Crazy Ken Band at "Italian Garden" in Honmoku, and has been the lead vocalist of the band ever since. While releasing a variety of hit songs, he also provides music to many artists. This year, which marks the 25th anniversary of their debut, they are holding a nationwide tour of "CRAZY KEN BAND TOUR Jukage 2022-2023" with their 22nd album "Kikage" released on August 3rd. Please see the official website for details.