Angelo just made their U.S. debut in Los Angeles—we got a chance to talk with them about their history and what they hope to accomplish in the future as a band. What are their thoughts on what so many term "visual kei," and who would they vote for in the 2008 U.S. presidential election? Answers to all those questions and more follow…
JRR: Please introduce yourself, and describe how you feel right now.
KIRITO: I’m Kirito, the vocalist. How I feel right now? I’m in L.A. and enjoying myself.
KOHTA: I’m Kohta, the bassist. It’s been about a year and a half since I last came here. I’m here this time for a different reason than the last, and I’d like to enjoy this trip as much as I can.
TAKEO: I’m the drummer, Takeo. L.A. is one of my favorite places, so I’d like to have fun on this trip.
JRR: How many times have you been here before?
KIRITO: I’ve been here several times myself, but as a band, this is our third time.
JRR: Have you been to other states besides California?
KIRITO: I’ve been to New York.
JRR: Any other states that you’d like to go?
KOHTA: I’d like to go to big places like New York.
TAKEO: I’ve mostly just been on the west coast so I’d like to have a chance to go to the east coast.
KIRITO: There’s a few I’d like to go to.
JRR: Would you consider doing a U.S. tour?
JRR: How many fans are on this fanclub members-only tour?
KIRITO: A little under 200.
JRR: What’s the reason that you picked America for this tour?
KIRITO: We thought America’s a nice choice for this first tour, and also we wanted to come here ourselves.
JRR: What places would you like to visit?
KIRITO: I’ve already been to many places before, but I’d mostly want to ride around on the bike (KIRITO rented a Harley bike).
KOHTA: I haven’t been to Santa Monica so I’d like to go there, go to the beach and chill.
TAKEO: Probably drive around, check out different places.
JRR: It has been two years since the start of Angelo. How did the opportunity come about?
KIRITO: We were in a band called PIERROT and that band disbanded. After that the three of us decided to continue on as a band together, so we formed Angelo.
JRR: Several of Angelo’s singles and albums, such as “Reborn” and “Rebirth of Newborn Baby” have titles that insinuate a brand new beginning. Would you say that Angelo is a reincarnation of Pierrot?
KIRITO: You could say that, or Angelo is essentially Pierrot in a different form.
KOHTA: It can be seen as a reincarnation or simply a change of form; it is up to people to decide how they want to see it.
TAKEO: Since we want to do new things, in a way I’d say it’s a new form.
JRR: What is the concept behind Angelo’s music and lyrics?
KIRITO: The concept varies from time to time, but generally it’s… “Rock.”
JRR: Any specific type of rock?
KOHTA: It’s hard to categorize; it’s our own style of rock.
JRR: Using two words, please describe Angelo.
KIRITO: Hmm… “Around thirty?”
KOHTA: “Reborn” and “rock.”
TAKEO: “New baby.”
“New world,” and “enjoy.”
JRR: From the band name Angelo to the titles of your songs, such as “EDEN” and “Easter Again,” and also the PV for “He is a Monkey,” there seems to be an ongoing theme. Are you trying to convey any messages about religions?
KIRITO: We don’t really think about it that heavily, we just use it more as a motif. We use commonly known religious images as motifs, and express the egoism and such.
JRR: How did the band name itself come about?
KIRITO: Back when we were Pierrot, we had something that we called the “Creature;” so essentially Angelo is the rebirth of that “creature,” a continuation of that project.
JRR: Instead of using an official guitarist, you have been using a supporting guitarist; do you have any plans to add any official guitarists to the band?
KIRITO: I don’t know about the near future, but maybe that day would come.
JRR: How does being brothers (KIRITO and KOHTA) affect the dynamic of the band?
KOHTA: Right… in general, it helps because we can somehow guess what each other is thinking. For example, at lives, I would think “He probably wants to do this here/now,” etc, it’s easy to decipher.
JRR: Do you ever have sibling quarrels?
KOHTA: Not since we grew into adults.
JRR: Who usually won, when you did have fights?
KIRITO: That’d be me.
KOHTA: That was when we were really little though.
JRR: KIRITO, what is the biggest difference between recording and performing for your solo work and for Angelo?
KIRITO: Being in a band for so long, I’ve learned a lot of things from all the experiences and they’re almost a part of me now. For solo work, I get to take on challenges that I don’t necessarily experience with the band.
JRR: TAKEO, you are known to be good friends with KOHTA; how is your relationship with KIRITO?
TAKEO: We all get along very well and we’re all good friends. Since I play drums and KOHTA plays the bass, we are essentially a team and have to coordinate very well together, that’s probably why.
JRR: Do you have anything that you are into recently?
KIRITO: Recently, I like to have bananas for breakfast.
JRR: Is that for diet reason? There seems to be a new diet method popular in Japan now.
KIRITO: Oh yeah…
KOHTA: I am into bananas too. (laughs)
TAKEO: I am not eating bananas, but I’ve heard about it. Maybe I will give it a try.
JRR: All you eat is bananas for breakfast?
KIRITO: And drink water.
JRR: Is that healthy?
KIRITO: I think so.
JRR: Do you have plans to perform live at other countries?
KIRITO: We don’t have plans but we’d like to.
JRR: Which countries would you be interested in doing lives at?
KOHTA: America, for one, and also in Europe. Places that we’ve never been to would be nice, too.
TAKEO: I’d like to do lives in a lot of places. America and Europe would be a good start.
JRR: If you were able to vote in the U.S. presidential election, who would you vote for?
JRR: What is your reason?
KIRITO: I think a new, different history would be written and that’d be interesting.
JRR: Do you like politics?
KIRITO: Not exactly but I do watch the news.
KOHTA: If Obama becomes the president, he will be the first African-American president and I think that’s a good opportunity for a change. Also he is younger, so he has a different ideology.
TAKEO: I think he looks better (laughs) I don’t really care about his theories; he just… looks more appealing.
JRR: Do you have plans to make an international fan club?
KIRITO: We don’t have any plans to do so right now, but it’d be nice.
JRR: As experienced veterans of the jrock scene, you have witness the disbandment of many old bands and emergence of many new bands. What do you think is the biggest difference between the old VK scene and the new one?
KIRITO: Back then, visual kei wasn’t deemed as a genre; it was done as a part of rock. Now visual kei is like a genre and a lot of bands are doing it just to be visual kei. We are not of the newer generation and we never set out to be “visual kei,” people just seem to categorize us that way and that’s alright.
KOHTA: Visual kei definitely has developed into a genre now. We don’t quite know where people draw the line but we never set out to be visual kei; we just do what we feel like, from when we started and even till today.
TAKEO: We’ve never categorized ourselves as visual kei. A lot of the new visual kei bands seem to be doing it just to be a part of the scene. I think it’s important to be unique and we try to keep up our own style.
JRR: What do you think of the current visual kei?
TAKEO: Compared to the past, there seems to be more bands of different types now, and it seems almost unfair to call everyone “visual kei.” It also seems to be enjoyed by a wider variety of people.
KOHTA: The young people nowadays are not only influenced by the music, but also the fashion as well, and sometimes they devise their own fashions and looking from the sidelines, I think they’re definitely enjoying themselves. I think it’s a good thing.
KIRITO: How is visual kei termed in the U.S.?
JRR: Just “visual kei.”
KIRITO: Oh exactly the same? Well I still don’t think “visual kei” is a name for a genre; I see it as a bigger picture, as a part of rock. The visual aspect is something for a band to set themselves apart from others, at least that’s what it was ten years ago. Now it’s more like people are dressing up a certain way because they want to be “visual kei” or look “visual kei.” They are doing it to look like others instead of doing it to look different. This is obviously very different from when we started out more than ten years ago. That’s how I see it.
JRR: For fans who are new to the music of Angelo, where would you recommend them to start with?
KIRITO: Where? You mean music, or body part?
KIRITO: (laughs) I’d like people to start with Angelo’s first single “REBORN.”
KOHTA: “REBORN” was our first song, so I’d like people to start with that, and then go into other singles, and our album.
TAKEO: I think it’d be the easiest to start with “REBORN” to get the whole picture of Angelo.
JRR: Please give a message to your American fans.
KIRITO: We will try to do more lives in America, and we will also keep on making good music for you to listen to, so please continue to show your support.
KOHTA: There are probably a lot of people who have not yet had a chance to see us or listen to our music, so I hope we will have more opportunities to come here and perform for you guys. Thank you.
TAKEO: I’d love to have the chance to come back and perform lives here, so we will try to make that happen. Thank you.
Shout out message: Our new single “SISTER” will be released soon in Japan. We would like to do more lives in America, and would also like you to listen to our new music. Please continue to support us, thank you.
Special thanks to: HYPER GROUP
Interview by: Christina
Question contributions: Kara, Midori, Christina