Can you tell us how you formed the current line-up? Please tell us how you all met.
Emori: When I was a university student, I and guitarist Yokomichi who was a high school classmate formed the band. Our first drummer was also from the same high school and our first bassist was my classmate from university. Our current drummer Nakamura, he was playing in a different band, after I met him he sent me an email saying “I want to hit the drums for you”. I was a fan of his drumming style for a long time myself, so I was very happy that he wanted to play for us! Our current bassist Murata (Shinataro) I also met him via another band, he wasn’t playing the bass but the guitar and he was the vocalist. Even though he actually wasn’t a bassist, I loved his personality and after the previous members left, I made him an offer to be our bassist since I thought he could be an interesting 4th member!
Please introduce yourselves. What’s one word you would use to describe yourselves?
Emori: I am Emori (恵守), I am the vocalist and guitarist of the band. I love the word “ROCK’N’ROLL”.
Yokomichi: I am guitarist Yokomichi. I like to do things “my way”
Murata: I am bass Murata Shintaro. My appearance is as a “perm”
Nakamura: I’m drummer Nakamura. However, I prefer to be called “Kotaro”. I’m “power”.
Could you tell the reason why did you want to become a band man, what or who influenced you?
Emori: When I was in high school, I saw my senior’s play on stage and felt amazed about it and that made me decide to play music.
Yokomichi: Same as Emori’s. I even never thought of playing in a band just as a hobby in my life.
Murata: My brother always played BLANKEY JET CITY in his room, and I thought they were a cool band, so I wanted to be like them.
Nakamura: When I was in junior high school I saw SHAKALABBITS. I always have admired the way how people “live” in their music.
The Doggy Paddle has already a long history. In what way is The Doggy Paddle changed in all those active years?
Emori: I think that the current line-up is the bands turning point.
What is the concept of The Doggy Paddle? How would you describe The Doggy Paddle in just a short sentence? Also why is the band named “The Doggy Paddle”? Any reason why you named the band like that?
Emori: It’s difficult to describe our concept in just one word, but I guess you could say that our concept is to establish ourselves enough, that if we talk about various music types, that people will say this style “is like The Doggy Paddle”.
The origin of the band’s name comes from the fact that I like the way it sounds. I think the literal translation (in Japanese) would be ‘犬掻き’(Inukaki) . It also means “even in struggle times, let’s move forward”
Who is the biggest inspiration for The Doggy Paddle’s music.?
Emori: I can’t really decide which artist influenced me the most, because I’m influenced by many artists, but I’m especially influenced by THE YELLOW MONKEY and THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT.
Yokomichi: When I started to write music I copied the most from the TRICERATOPS, so I think their influence is strong.
Murata: As for the bass I’m rather influenced by various things, so I get my inspiration by absorbing it from various things.
Nakamura: I can’t really decide, because it’s different from time to time. Also I try not to focus too much on it. Speaking of drumming style, I like drummers who are visually interesting and who make a stunning sound
The Doggy Paddle’s sound feels very much ROCK. Why did you decide to play this genre of music?
Emori: When I first started the band, I really liked listening to old school ROCK’N’ROLL and blues, so I wanted to create music with those nuances, however with more pop melodies.
Yokomichi: Before I played my first live show, I always already liked blues-based and hard rock music, and since I was a member of the “Parlour music” club at the same high school as Emori, I knew Emori’s tastes. I didn’t want that people would have asked themselves “What would a band have sounded like if those 2 guys would have played this kind of style” I didn’t want to disappoint anybody. So I’ve tried to make songs with an atmosphere that isn’t in my roots. I was unable to write any cool songs at all. So I quickly changed the style and started to play rock music. Thinking of it now, it was really meaningless, However I’m glad that I found it out before we started with the band.
Murata: When I encountered The Doggy Paddle, I already thought the band was in a nice harmony and that it was a cool band, before I joined them. Still I wanted to add my own elements to make the band even cooler!
Nakamura: I didn’t really want to play aggressive, I wanted a more leisurely pace of activity, in that case The Doggy Paddle was well balanced and suited me well.
The Doggy Paddle music is amazing ROCK style. Nowadays It’s an unusual sound. Still your band seems to be favored by many young people. it surprised me a lot. Since nowadays most young people like a different style or sound. How do you feel about this? Do you know the reason for this success?
Emori: The younger bands these days are all very good at playing and the songs are more complicated.I think it’s one form of music that has evolved over the generations. The styles and sounds are certainly different, but I love listening to modern music. I realize that the music we play is not the current mainstream, but I don’t care because I think it’s happier that the world is filled with music in various forms.
Yokomichi: Personally, I don’t believe that the newer bands are better, or that more bands play an unusual sound. However the reverse is true though. It’s just that I still like most of the songs that I liked 10 years ago, and there are a lot of songs that I like that existed before I was born. On the other hand, I like some of the songs we’re doing these days, and I’m sure I’ll still like them 10 years from now. The idea is that good things are good things.
Murata: I think everybody feels it different why it’s loved, but I think it’s because the melody of the a song fuses together with their lyric and finds his way to core of the heart of a person.
How do you compose and write new songs? What do you want listeners to feel when they hear them? Also which message do you want to give to your listener with your music?
Emori: I often start with the melody, from there, we all think about it together. There is a message I want to convey through our songs, but I don’t want to put the full 100% of my own emotions inside. I wish that my songs can be liked in both ways, maybe someone thinks it’s a sad song, while it’s for someone else a positive song. I write songs in the hope that people who listen to them will feel comfortable and emotionally stirred.
Murata: Depending on the person who listens to it, the image which can be felt from a song differs, even the lyrics, even if it’s the same song, it will change its “feeling” depending on how you feel and stand at that time.Hopefully each song will give you various feelings.
Nakamura: I’ve been saying this for a long time, but if it’s a song that goes along with someone’s life, like, “When I listen to this song, it reminded me of that time,” then I feel happy about it.
The Doggy Paddle Music fits Yuta’s voice perfectly. His voice has a beautiful tingling. How do you compose a song which will fit the vocalist voice in an amazing way?
Emori: Thank you very much.(laugh) I want to continue to improve myself. But, I am allowed to put my feelings inside how it makes myself most comfortable while singing the lyrics and that’s surely a keypart.
Murata: Since Emori’s vocals are so appealing, they are as good as they are. Hopefully through this synergy will make “The Doggy Paddle” a much more appealing band.
Nakamura: Hmmm, I’ve never been very aware of it. I always do what I have to do.Kinema Rock ‘n’ Roll & highlight-EP
「 Kinema Rock ‘n’ Roll」と「highlight-EP」
Your album “ Kinema Rock’n’roll and highlight-EP ” was released in 2018 & 2019. Were there any parts of these releases which were difficult to write, or did they come naturally? Is there anything you’re especially proud of with these songs?
Emori: ‘Kinema Rock’n’Roll’ is the band’s first full-album with lots of songs, and each song on the album gets better. With creating this album I kept in mind that I wanted to make a good album without having any conflict inside a song or that songs would conflict with each other. I also kept in mind that a whole song needs to fit with my own phrase.
Unlike ‘Kinema Rock’n’Roll’, ‘Highlight-EP’ does only have a few songs but our concept was to put a collection of songs on it that would be exciting at lives, so we were thinking about how much energy we could put into the release.
How does writing an album differ from writing a single or mini-album?
Emori: There isn’t much difference between mini-albums and standard releases. of course the amount of songs on the release is different, so the parts you want to focus on are different.
Murata: It’s the same in terms of simply creating a single piece of work.
Nakamura: There is none. All you do is to pour your heart and soul into it.
Why did you call the album 「 Kinema Rock’n’roll 」and the EP「 highlight-EP 」?
Emori: I like to watch movies, so I created a fictional theater called ‘Kinema Rock’n’Roll’, each title song could be screened as a movie or just as BGM that runs through every scene in one movie. I hope that people who listen to the album will have the theater image in their mind. So I added the title as a keyword to evoke it.
The name ‘highlight-EP’ is inspired by the lead track 「向日性(Koujitsu)(Heliotropism)」
Nakamura: I thought “highlight-EP” meant “That’s our highlight!… well there are various meanings.
Is there an important message inside the “highlight-EP” release?
Emori: It’s the culmination of a decade of activity leading up to the release of “Highlight-EP. In this decade I’ve met all the members and so many other people, good things and bad things did happen. These are all songs that wouldn’t have been born if the path we took had been even slightly different. It was not the most brilliant road, but I think we have been able to make this work because we have continued to walk our path without giving up!
Yokomichi: It’s an “EP where you can feel the live power of the Doggy Paddle”. If you think it’s a wonderful release, I definitely hope that you will visit one of our lives. I’m sure you will enjoy it.
Murata: If the release can touch the heart of the listener, then the message was understood.
Is there any difference between both releases?
Emori: As I mentioned before the title, “Kinema Rock’n’Roll” was the concept of the album. It’s an image that allows you to immerse yourself inside the story.
Yokomichi: Since “highlight-EP” had the concept of “I want to create a release, where I can feel the live vibe of The Doggie Paddle”. Before we started even recording the release it already contained a mainstay setlist of the songs which we wanted to put on the release.
Murata: I don’t think there was much of a difference in both releases. They both shared the same desire to be a greater record than the previous one.
Please tell us the concept of every lyric of the “highlight-EP”.
The song is based on a group of people traveling through the wilderness on a long night. It’s an endless journey to the blue-flowered hills..I would like that all the listeners imagine themselves what’s on the hills.
The song 「荒夜のWanderers」 was a song about aiming for something, but the lyrics of this song are like if you are escaping from something.
「secret late show」
The concept is “secret” (laugh)
It is a song about light. I wrote the lyrics in a different aspect from bright stuff and light as hope.
Who was the main creator of this EP and music production? Could you tell us how each song was born and how it was finished?
Yokomichi: I’ve composed the song “secret late show”. and I told Emori that I wanted that the feeling of the lyrics would be a little dull. The other three songs were originally composed by Emori, later on we tuned the songs together how we liked them to be. Originally, the main guitar of the song 「向日性」had a distorted sound as usual, but on the advice our sound engineer, it was reborn as a clean tone.
Murata: More about the song「向日性」. Emori said; it would be great to sing the song with a hand mic! So that’s how it happened that he uses a hand mic for that song. While recording and creating this song there were a lot of things going on (laughs), but it’s the first pin vocal song for the band.
Pin vocal: When the vocalist doesn’t play/hold an instrument while singing a song.
「向日性」music video is shot at a location of a building which is left empty abandoned behind. Why did you choose this location for this song?
Emori: This place fits right with the image of the decadent song. The way the light comes in through the windows just behind the midfield also gives an ideal atmosphere.
Murata: The director who shot the MV and Emori mainly looked for such an atmosphere and we have never been in such a location before, it really looked amazing so we really wanted to shoot in such a location. The location created a nice atmosphere to the song which totally made a nice piece out of it. We shot the MV in February so I’ve found memories of a cold time.
Which MV do you recommend to watch first?
Emori: Our last MV 「向日性」, be sure to watch it.
Murata: 「向日性」but also 「あなたに届け」shouldn’t been forgotten. Both are pieces that I remember the shooting day as yesterday.
Nakamura: 「向日性」. It’s a beautiful MV. The sun also took part of the session.
How do you choose the songs to play live? How do you decide the setlist?
Murata: We are always wondering which songs will go well with the flow. Each song flows well with a different song, that’s how it is! We often decide it like that.
Nakamura: The place where we play also matters, if we play at someone’s event, we want to touch his heart. So there are also times when we don’t play some songs at all, because of various reasons. We have many songs to choose out, which makes it interesting, and maybe that’s our strength!
While composing songs, is there something you keep in your mind? Such as creating songs which are fun to play at a concert?
Emori: I often imagine how the song will be on stage.
Yokomichi: My role is to think of the guitar riff that determines the impression of the song. I try to make something simple and short that anyone can immediately remember “this phrase from that song”.
Murata: There are various things, but I try to compose something which I really like myself too. Well that may be obvious, isn’t?
Nakamura: When it comes to drums, I try to follow the song, but I never want just to “follow the song”. I want to put some spice in there somewhere too.
Which song is most loved by fans? And why do you think so?
Emori: Up-tempo songs get people excited at lives, but I’m sure there are people who don’t like such songs too. So I don’t know which is the most popular song, but “Catcher in the Eye” (from our 3rd mini album) was chosen as first pick, when we took a survey to ask fans which songs they wanted to be re-recorded. It’s a song we don’t often play live, so I was very happy that people also still listen to our old music too.
Yokomichi: To me it feels that 「あなたに届け(Anata ni Todoke)」 is most loved by our fans. The melody is catchy, also people can resonate easily with the extremely simple message which “The Doggy Paddle” shares.
Is there any difference between playing a SOLO live and a LIVE together with a band?
Emori: I always feel nervous when playing solo.
What’s the most fun thing about touring around Japan?
Emori: I like to visit symbolic spots and to eat its local foods in each location where we go. I drive to a live show’s location at night the day before and sleep in our car and after the show we return back home. Each place has so much to show, so even if there isn’t much time, I really wish to feel the atmosphere of each place, and that’s makes it fun to tour around.
Yokomichi: It’s interesting to feel the difference in atmosphere in each place. Not only cityscapes are amazing. It’s hard to explain well, but fans in each local are a bit different from Tokyo on how they enjoy the show. I really don’t mean I judge them. I love coffee shops, and I also love to find my favorite local coffee shop of each place I visit.
Murata: Of course it is exciting to meet new people in a place where I’ve never been, especially since it is through music. It’s so fun for me to be with members of the band in a car to move on the way.If we talk with each other while touring the atmosphere is totally different from our usual talks, it’s really interesting.
Nakamura: I know the live show is our life but I really like having silly talks with everyone in the band as listening to music in a car driving at high speed on the road in the midnight. Having such atmosphere together in your touring car, I guess it’s a really important moment for the band.
What makes you smile?
Yokomichi: performing lives
Murata: Just smiling about anything, since it makes your brain happy.
Nakamura: When something get his shape.
In all those music years, what’s the most valuable memorable memory?
Emori: The first time we lined up in front of a CD shop. The first time when we performed at a big venue, I think that when we achieve something new in our activities, it is a precious thing that makes us grow as a band.
Yokomichi: Rather than specific events, a valuable thing for me are all those people I’ve met because I play in a band. So, it’s a fact that such a thing only happened because we were able to form a band, and that’s probably the most precious thing that ever happened to me.
Murata: When it comes to music activities. That I made the decision to be a member of The Doggy Paddle.
Nakamura: All the people who I have met which I wouldn’t have met when I wasn’t doing music.
What’s the most difficult part of being in a band?
Emori: That everybody has a different opinion. It can help but that also can make it more complicated. I guess that’s the most difficult part but it’s also very enjoyable.
Yokomichi: Everyone has a different correct answer in terms of expression, aesthetics and way of life. Still, in a band, they have to be united without blurring.
Murata: Everyone is doing various things, so it’s hard to keep on cherishing everyone’s fire.
Nakamura: To stay always cool and not end up just as a bunch of old guys. That’s a thing which is difficult, if you lose to it, you’re done. These are the things that are difficult, or if you lose them, you’re done. Also it’s difficult that we play on the same boat with other bands and that we all have the same goal.
What does “rock music” mean to you?
Emori: Recently I often think about what “ROCKNROLL” actually means. It’s a word used worldwide and one of the meanings is a genre of music. If I would need to make a choice, I prefer to use ROCK as a lifestyle. As for myself I follow the ROCK inside of me. So because of that I think ROCK’N’ROLL is a sort of instinct. Yokomichi: A place to express oneself that cannot be explained only by words. Murata: For some people it’s important and meaningful, for some people it means nothing. To me it’s somehow appealing. Nakamura: Deep Thoughts.
Right now Corona is a big problem isn’t it? How is daily life now? The Japanese government has asked that people should stay home.
Emori: Venues are closed due to a request for self-restraint. It’s a pity that we can’t play lives, but bands, live houses, and everyone involved are looking for ways to send music to the world without leaving the house.
Yokomichi: It made me realize that being with people is really important for me. Right now, I have more time to cook for myself.Since we are not able to perform live now, we felt that we could do something new as “Remote Rock’n’Roll“, which we never have done before.
Murata: It made me aware of how free my life has been. I’m getting tired of just staying at home. But, right now, it’s difficult for everyone. I’m sure I’ll be able to go back to normal life, so I want to make the current daily life much more enjoyable without wasting anything.
Nakamura: My mind is like to explode with thoughts in this period I facing myself daily. I’m thinking, what is life, what does a band mean, what exactly is Rock Music. Of course, I’m looking forward to the happy day when I can meet everybody again. And now more than ever, we need people with a real heart for their dream, I think the most interesting ones will survive. Right now we are uploading a video series named 「Remote Rock’n’Roll」We upload a homemade session video of a song to each live which got canceled. Because of this situation, I would like to still actively communicate with our fans as a musician, and when the day finally comes when I can perform at live houses I will rock there again. I’m always keeping my dreams so that I won’t turn pathetic blank. In my case I might still can’t go back to the stage straight away, but I’ll continue to keep doing my thing with all power!
Note: Nakamura has been diagnosed with “Local Dystonia” which he gets treatment for.
What are The Doggy Paddle goals as a band for 2020?
Emori: Soon, the year 2020 will be halfway through. Due to the covid-19, many gigs have been cancelled, so once I get back to my normal routine of being able to play gigs again, I’d like to use the remaining time to deliver a year’s worth of rock ‘n’ roll.
Yokomichi: Unfortunately, there are numbers of shows cancelled. Still in this period I’ve learned new skills and gained new experience because of this happening. I want to grow even more. I would like to take it further and use it as an expression for the rest of the year.
Murata: I want to make 2020 a stronger year. Let’s set a greater goal for 2021.
Nakamura: Getting back on our feets, that’s what’s I am aiming for!
As an artist, if there was one thing you want fans to remember (some words of wisdom), what would it be?
Emori: If you are lost or confused about something, please follow the “ROCK’N’ROLL in your heart.
Yokomichi: Go in the direction you believe in. Take the consequences of such actions seriously, without blaming others. Those words aren’t only for my fans, it’s also a strong reminder for myself that I want to be like that.
Murata: If you don’t enjoy yourself, nobody will enjoy it, if nobody has fun, you also don’t have fun.
Nakamura: If you are struggling to make a choice of doing something or not, choose for the life of doing it.
Last question, why does everyone need to check out The Doggy Paddle What makes The Doggy Paddle unique? What are the band’s strong points?
Emori: We are all different and can not be you. You may know “Upper compatible“ It means one fits all. but each of us has different capability, and it can be improved by our own decision. The band growing in each ability can be improved better. There are a lot of great unique bands around us and they can be a good rival to influence us to create music. This music environment can be strong point for the band
Yokomichi: Let me tell you what may not make sense a bit. It is so hard to tell you emotion with our lyrics. It is not easy to find fit words but you may imagine what the lyrics say. This is not perfect but it’s a really good balance to imagine the lyrics. Not enough yet though. Emori’s lyric ideas get listeners to imagine what that is about, and we wanna message its emotion as we support it with our music creation. Otherwise we can’t have new fans all around the world whom we attract. We were able to have confidence in our music because we took a music interview from overseas.
Murata: I believe we can give something emotional to the listener’s mind. Our music could make you happy sometime. Just listen to our music.
Nakamura: Our music could addict you little by little, and you will be crazy about it
And as very last, your message to your fans!
Emori: To everyone who always comes to our shows. You guys always give me the courage to stand on the next stage. Thank you so much. We’ll continue to rock and roll.
Yokomichi: I am very grateful to everyone who always supports us. I don’t know when it’s possible again, but we will definitely be back on stage! I want to share that moment with everyone. So please stay healthy until then.
Murata: I’ll see you at the venue again! If we cannot meet at the live venue, I hope to meet you through your home speakers or the earphones in your everyday life. Thank you so much as always. Thank you!
Nakamura: Thank you for always loving our music. It’s a tough situation, but please take care of yourself until the day when we can make you dance again. Live music venues all over the country are also protecting their locations by hosting nice ideas such as merchandise and distribution. I’m also going to participate with a little effort,, if you are a fan of us, why don’t you take part in it? Well I’ll see you at the live house again.
Thank you very much for this interview!
Question translations EN-> JP: Yasu, Ryu, RIORIO & vk.gy
Question translations JP-> EN: Ryu
Question help: Yasu, RIORIO & vk.gy