During the 2018 AnimeNext convention, J-rock band ALL OFF, was the special entertainment. They had an autograph signing, concert, and Q&A panel at the convention. For those of you who don’t know, ALL OFF has done both openings for Heavy Object, and the ending theme to season one of Mob Psycho 100. We decided to take this once in a lifetime chance to ask the group a few questions on what it’s like to create an opening and ending theme for an anime. When we first walked into the room to interview them, we were surprised to find out that the leader of ALL OFF, Sōhei Matsuura spoke perfect English, so we mainly directed our questions to him.
ALL ALL OFF (Sōhei Matsuura)
Interview with ALL OFF (Sōhei Matsuura)
You’ve done the openings for Heavy Object and the ending for Mob Psycho 100. Have you had the chance to watch those anime?
Yes, in real time.
What were some of the challenges you faced when adding English lyrics to your songs?
Well, I [Sōhei Matsuura] lived in California. My second language is English, so there wasn’t any problem adding English. Actually, writing lyrics in Japanese was harder than writing it in English.
Why is that?
You know, with Japanese, there’s so many ways to express...it’s uh, way harder than English as a language. So, to me, it’s very hard to write lyrics in Japanese.
What kinds of requests do the anime staff make for how the music should sound?
So, for Heavy Object, they wanted a super danceable song. Like, you know, super hardcore mosh dance rock songs. Kind of a weird offer, but we were in a loud rock music kind of scene. Our specialty was to make those kind of songs. So, it was easy for us to write the Heavy Object songs. For the Mob Psycho 100 song, it was way harder, because they wanted a very good melody and very good Japanese lyrics; and a song that feels related to the Mob Psycho characters. So we had to go through the comic book, and get the idea first, and then write 20 or 30 songs. It was a way harder process.
Do they base it on other songs or do they give something more like a general style/tempo etc?
Not tempo or style, it was up to us. But like I said, the order was a very high standard, so we had to try hard.
How much communication is there between the animation staff and the musicians?
When we wrote the songs, there were changes about 10 to 20 times. They would say ‘change this place’ or ‘change this lyric’, and blah blah blah. We had to accept the order and change it. So we were pretty in touch with the staff.
Have you ever made any last minute changes?
I don’t think there was ever a last minute change. But the song for Mob Psycho, our A&R said “You should change the lyrics completely.” And we refused it, like “Shut up.”
You’re allowed to do that?
Were they shocked?
We were like “What the ‘F’! At this point?!” We said “No, we are going to do it this way.” That would be the only last minute change they offered us.
Did the band know how the Mob Psycho ending would look during the writing and record process for Refrain Boy?
Not at all. There weren’t any pictures or working animation at that point. We only had the comic book, so we had to imagine what it was going to look like.
So did you read the source material first before you created the lyrics?
Yes, but the ending was pretty cool, wasn’t it?
Yes, yes, definitely!
I liked it, really.
When creating a song for an anime opening or ending, are the TV-size and full versions created separately or together?
First, we created a full size and then we had to cut and paste to shorten the song at 90 seconds. So, sometimes it’s a hard process because it could be more than 90 seconds or shorter than 90 seconds, but we have to make it exactly 90 seconds. This is for any kind of animation. So sometimes it’s very hard.
Do you have control over how the TV-size version turns out?
I think we made two or three versions. Like two times with the chorus or making the intro longer or some kind of version. And then they pick the best one.
So how does it work when trying to do an anime opening? Like, does the anime staff cast a specific band, or do you audition?
We were casted, there was no audition.
So, the animation staff specially scouted you and asked you to do the opening and ending?
Yes. For Heavy Object, they digged us out through Warner Brothers Japan. After that, we were scouted for Mob Psycho 100.
Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 is coming out.
Are you hoping to work on the ending or maybe the opening?
Yeah, we’re hoping...but I don’t know. [laughs] God only knows. It’s really hard to get the opening or ending theme in Japan because there’s so many artists out there. It’s survival.
Did you have to do the recording at the studio? Like, did you have to go to the Bones Studio and record there, or did you do it on your own time?
Uh, no, we were in the studio all the time.
Thanks to ALL OFF, we were able to get a insight on the process of making an anime theme. Hearing that ALL OFF will stick with their gut even though they were hired for a particular job is just another reason why we love them as a group. We’d like to thank the staff at AnimeNext for arranging this interview, and we hope to return next year. Be sure to check out our other AnimeNext articles, including a field report, and Johnny Yong Bosch interview. Till next time!
Author: Sloan The Female Otaku
Sup everyone! I’m your female otaku. And that’s the intro I use for my Youtube videos. After being an otaku for 5 years, and a lover of film editing for 8, I decided to explore my horizons by writing articles on anime and otaku culture. I also love cosplaying and making people laugh. Please subscribe to my channel at Sloan The Female Otaku if you want to see more. Sayonara!