Interviewed by Anna Zurek (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Right before their first out of two shows in London, we got a chance to talk to Die from DIR EN GREY about their newest release “Arche”, their plans for their London shows and we also dug a little bit in their past.
Find out what event made them who they are today and stick together over the years, why they dropped their visual kei image and also what Die would tell his younger, aspiring-musician self.
(This interview was done with the assistance of an interpreter and thus does not represent Die’s choice of words 100%)
MGM: What was your inspiration when writing and recording “Arche”?
Die: After the release of our previous album [Dum Spiro Spero] in 2011, we’ve toured the world and that has inspired us. We discovered what we wanted to do and we got an idea what we wanted to do through our concerts. That’s how we got ideas for our next album “Arche”.
MGM: The teaser for “Arche” mentioned pain several times. How is your album related to pain?
Die: The word pain has been the keyword, the theme of the band, that we always wanted to describe through music and that we wanted to show to the world. Pain is something that society and people in general try to hide. They just don’t want to show it. There are so many happy songs, happy kind of music and we don’t see any meaning in trying to play that kind of music. Pain is something we try to express through music to say “don’t try to avoid it, just face it.”. So that’s the connection to “Arche”.
MGM: Do you see it as a bit of a mission to make this topic which everyone tries to avoid, more visible to the public and to change the way society thinks?
Die: We don’t have any intention or mission to change society. We just want to let people know that pain is a part of life that everyone has to face. We want to raise awareness. What’s important is how to think about it. People have those ideas in their head that if they always live happily without recognizing the pain within themselves, then that will have a certain outcome. Our intention is to say that there will always be pain of some sort, so don’t look away, just face it. Just have that idea that pain is there all the time. But that doesn’t mean that we want to change society or that society should change something.
MGM: To me, DIR EN GREY has always been a band that expresses themselves through music and visuals. So what can fans expect from your London shows?
Die: We want our fans to experience that excitement, energy, those emotions that something is coming. You know, that adrenaline, goosebumps, that elation of our gigs. Every city is different, every place gives a different emotion and response and in London it will be a unique feeling as well, a unique kind of excitement. We want our fans to have that kind of energy and feelings throughout our shows and to bring back home. During a show it’s like we help each other make that gig more excitable together. When we play, the audience responds in an exciting way and we get more energy, excitement and play with more passion.
MGM: Which song from “Arche” has the biggest meaning to you?
Die: “Chain repulsion”. When we wrote it, it turned out quite short, about two minutes, and quite fast or up-tempo. We haven’t played that kind of music in a long time, but then we made it and played it and one of us was like “we could actually play those kind of songs again”. That was kind of a turning point for us. We weren’t sure if we should play that kind of music again but then we did and felt like we had that kind of freedom again. We can play it, so maybe we should play songs like that again. That was somewhat of a starting point and from there we had various ideas and were able to be much more flexible creatively when writing songs. So “Chain repulsion” is kind of a key song to us.
MGM: Compared to earlier days, DIR EN GREY has changed but still kept their own style like a central theme throughout their career. With the difference that you seem to have honed your craft as a band and become more perfectionistic, artistic and professional. So what inspired you to go into that direction? And how did the process look like?
Die: I can’t really pinpoint the exact day or time when we changed musically or artistically but one thing strikes me as a turning point for sure. It was in 2005 when we played overseas for the first time in Berlin. Before that we would produce an album, then tour and produce a new album again – all in Japan. 2005 gave us an opportunity to see how it was overseas and to see other fans around the globe, other big artists and that was eye-opening. It wasn’t musically but sort of mentally as our first European gig made us think “we can go higher”. Looking at other bands made us think we had to work more. If it hadn’t been for that gig in Berlin in 2005, DIR EN GREY might not have existed to this day, we wouldn’t even be here, so it was a big event to us, a big turning point. We were used to that Japanese routine of making an album and going on tour but Berlin broke that and we are grateful for it. It inspired us to keep going and to keep moving in new directions.
MGM: So going back in time, what made you decide to drop your visual kei image?
Die: We didn’t intentionally get rid of that image. We never got that feeling that we threw that style away. But every time we got fan letters, they went something like “you had a very cool hairstyle”, “your clothes were really cool”, something like that. They saw us as idols but we aren’t idols. We are a band, we play music and want to be known for it. So we decided to change our style slowly. Up until this tour because now the production is different, the setting is really good with big screens, visual effects and t-shirt and jeans don’t fit into that setting anymore. So the meaning of our style in the past is different from what it is now. We have moved ourselves into the scene, the production, we now try to do a little bit so that everything looks perfectly organized and like it belongs into the same world.
MGM: Last question for this interview. If you could go back in time to the day you started as a musician, what would you tell yourself?
Die: I would tell myself “things have turned amazing” or “things have turned into something outrageous (in a good way)” because back then I didn’t even dream of playing abroad. I just wanted to make a debut in Japan. So yeah, “things have turned into something outrageously amazing”.
DIR EN GREY have just finished their European tour with their last stop in Munich. To help you with the waiting period until they tour again, check out their ninth studio album “Arche” on iTunes, Spotify or Amazon and don’t forget to follow them on their website and social media channels (Facebook | Twitter | YouTube).