Noboru Uesugi, the first vocalist of “WANDS,” says, “I am grateful now for ‘Suradan,’ which was not accepted at the time. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Noboru Uesugi, the first vocalist of “WANDS,” says, “I am grateful now for ‘Suradan,’ which was not accepted at the time.

The theme song "Until the World Ends..." has also become popular again in Asia due to the huge success of the movie! Currently, as a solo artist, he has performed overseas more than 10 times this year alone.

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Amplifiers and drum sets were set up on a stage that resembled a basketball court in the darkness. The audience did not seem to mind the disproportionate sight, and swayed their bodies to the introduction that began to flow quietly. When a man standing in the center of the court was illuminated by a spotlight as he sang in Japanese, the audience burst into cheers.

The man appearing on a music program broadcast in China was Noboru Uesugi, 51, an artist who enjoys great popularity there. He is the first vocalist of “WANDS,” a hit band in the 1990s formed under the direction of music producer Hiroyuki Nagato.

He is scheduled to release his first book of lyrics with commentary on all songs in December this year. He is posing with a microphone in his hand, looking chic and different from his earlier days!

I know it’s rude, but at the time, there were parts of “Slam Dunk” that I couldn’t fully accept. But now I am helped by its fame, and I can only be thankful for that.”

THE FIRST SLAM DUNK” was released in Japan last December and became a social phenomenon, grossing over 13.1 billion yen at the box office in China alone. In conjunction with the screening of the film, the “theme song” is experiencing a renewed boom. Among them, the ending song of the TV anime version, “Sekai no Owari wa Mukete…”, which has sold more than 1.2 million copies, has gained tremendous support in China, where it was sung in chorus after the screening of the movie.

Uesugi further spoke about the “Sladan effect.

Uesugi further spoke about the ″Sladan Effect″ saying, “I have been receiving more invitations to perform live from China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Dubai. This year alone, I have performed more than 10 times. Over there, I’m treated like a star beyond expectations, and the grade of hotel I’m offered is high, but when I go back to Japan, it’s not so much. It’s a strange feeling (laughs).

Conflicts hidden behind a big hit

After her debut in 1991, “Motto Tsuyoki Hajimemashita Naraha” was released the following year and became a million-seller, selling more than 1.6 million copies. Although she quickly became one of the top artists, she struggled with ideals and reality in the early days of her debut.

I was told that I could rock, so I joined a band, but when I opened my eyes, I found that we were going the J-POP route. But my mother had told me to leave home when I turned 20, and I had to make a living, so I decided to continue my career. In my spare time, I formed a copy band of Nirvana with my band members and secretly played at live houses to release my frustration.

Those were the golden years of J-pop. The production site was in the midst of the CD wars, and the production period was “extreme,” he recalls.

The production period for lyrics was usually one day. It was common practice to stay up all night to finish a song. One day, when I went to the studio, I found the director collapsed on the floor due to fatigue, and I suddenly hyperventilated and could not sing. That was the first time I realized that my mind and body were screaming.

For Uesugi, who had always loved writing, theme songs and tie-ups were of no interest, and he just genuinely enjoyed writing lyrics. The collaboration with Miho Nakayama (53), “Kitto”, which has sold over 1.8 million copies in total, is no exception to this rule.

I was told at first that all I had to do was provide the lyrics, so I accepted the offer,” he said. Then I was told, ‘I want you to do the chorus as well. …… When I actually sang in the studio, they asked me to appear on TV, and before I knew it, we were collaborating. At that time, I thought, ‘I’ve been completely cheated’ (laughs).

This incident, however, led to the birth of the classic song “Till the World Ends….

I felt that I was unwilling to write a song like ‘Surely More Than Anyone in the World’ at the time, as I was trying to go the rock route. I wanted to get rid of that image, so I dared to put the word “world” in the title of “Until the World Ends…”. The phrase ″end of the world″ was a message to myself that I would not do this kind of commercial music after this. When I was writing the lyrics, I had a strange image of this song being played on a gas station’s cable, and I felt a response that it would sell.

Uesugi is now active not only in Japan but also abroad as a solo artist. This December, he plans to release his first lyric book. The book will contain about 150 songs, including songs Uesugi provided, and 300 pages of lyrics, along with his own commentary describing the secret story behind the creation of the book at the time and his honest thoughts and feelings.

I’m very proud to be able to publish a book,” he said. Recently, I’ve been trying to write songs with a morbid view of love, like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, and I’ve been going through a lot of trial and error. I want to write only what I ‘want to write’ and deliver them as they are.”

Uesugi’s passion for songwriting is not over yet.

A rare jacket photo of “Until the World Ends…” released in 1994. The three members are: Gt. Hiroshi Shibasaki (left), Vo. Noboru Uesugi (center), and Key Shinya Kimura (right).
Noboru Uesugi, the first vocalist of “WANDS,” who was not featured in the magazine: “I am now thankful for ‘Suradan,’ which I could not accept at the time.
Noboru Uesugi, the first vocalist of WANDS, “I am now grateful for ‘Suradan,’ which I could not accept at the time.

From the December 1 , 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Takehiko Kohiyama during the WANDS era (courtesy photo)

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