Dir En Grey: American Samurai

Dir En Grey, once one of the leaders of the Visual Kei scene, have turned their backs on that scene for quite some time now, instead they try their luck with powerful and intense metal American style. After a summer on the road the guys from the land of the rising sun are back on European stages for a short tour in November. Guitarist and spokesman of the band, Kaoru, explains where the fascination for J-Rock bands comes from and how it is to have to start all over again in Europe.

This summer you were on a European tour with concerts in amongst others England, Germany and Finland. How was it?
It was wonderful seeing plenty of greenery in each city and country we visited. I think all venues have different moods that match Dir En Grey. We definitely would like to play there again.

Are the people`s responses the same everywhere or are some fans crazier than others?
They were really enthusiastic. We played some different old songs at each venue. The moment the intro track starts playing on every stage, we could feel the energy blast from the crowd, it was amazing.

You were also supporting the Deftones on their US-tour. How was that? Are there some
funny touring stories?

The fact that Chino, Stephen and Frank are the same age as I am. Actually, I´ve always thought that they were older than me. It was really amazing that we were able to tour with one of our favorite bands. Being able to feel Deftones´ power from a close range was one of our most precious experiences from the tour.

Some of your fans are very fanatic, they are queuing for days in front of the venue before the concert, shows sell out quickly basically everywhere like it is with many others of the so called J-Rock bands, too. Do you have any explanation for that fascination with Japanese rock music?
Though you say JROCK you actually mean visual kei bands, right? I don´t know about today´s visual kei bands so much but it seems like that popularity of Japanese animation might have led to that of visual kei. Let´s see how this movement goes from now on.

After being very successful in your home country things start to come together for you in Europe/the US as well. Do you think it´s because of hard work or good luck?
We have never thought we succeeded in Japan neither, so we should keep trying hard from now on. However, whenever we see many crowds at our shows, we´ve found this is one of our achievements from the fact that we have been living up to what we believe in all this while.

How does it feel to have to start all over again, playing smaller venues, winning the crowd over?
It´s true that we´ve done certain things we don´t normally do in Japan, but we believe that that is important to make the band stronger. It is really hard to have people who have never heard of us get to know us, but all the work is all worth it.

Many of your fans are quite young, but you yourself are in your 30´s. Is this the audience that you want to reach?
We have not thought about that.

After changing your musical/artistic style, do you see that your fanbase has changed as well? Many fans still dress up “gothic style”, what do you think about that?
Actually, we don´t really think much about that either. I think it is only natural for a band which has been around for many years to develop changes, as does the fanbase.

Do you think you will ever go back to your visual kei roots or is this ultimately a thing of your past?
We don´t care about which “genre” or “category” we belong to. We don´t like to be labeled a certain something.

Of course, there´s this language issue as well. Do you think that the people “get” what you want to say with your music?
I feel it is difficult even for people who understand Japanese to truly comprehend the meaning of our lyrics. Also, Kyo wants the listeners to feel the words not as they are read but as they hear them.

Your new album “The marrow of a bone” was released in the beginning of the year. How´s the feedback?
As always, we don´t know how well the album is being accepted, but it seems we have the best feedback in Europe compared to the rest of the places.

As a band you´re having your 10th anniversary this year. Looking back is there anything you regret or should have done differently?
Always. But we don´t complain about this, because we are honest about ourselves and the way we chose to live.

What are your plans for the future?
We might just go back to Europe sometime soon. It is a year full of touring for us in 2007, and then, we will start working on the new album in 2008.

Finally, what´s your favorite Japanese curse word? 😉

Photos: Dir En Grey, Wikipeda

Kathleen Gransalke

Editor for Reviews - translations, reports, photos - - - Favorite genres? - Punk, Rock, Death Metal, Mathcore - - - Favorite bands? - Coheed & Cambria, Black Dahlia Murder, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon