It’s been a little over a year since we last spoke with the band [geist] at Anime USA (AUSA)! Since then, they’ve been hard at work on their full-length debut album, Grotesque, making return appearances at Otakon and AUSA, and rocking venues across the Northeast.
Despite a hectic schedule, the members of [geist] took some time to update us on what they’ve been up to and where they are headed, as well as provide a little insight as to how each member has influenced the band’s direction musically, and perhaps individually, along the way.
We’ve seen many interesting explanations for just how unique the meeting between Sai and hiro was. Tell us, what is the real story?
Sai: I poured water on him and he wanted to punch me.
hiro: Yes, but I don’t really remember.
How did you come to choose the name [geist]?
Kazuya: I was born in Germany, and the German language has always been fascinating to me. Geist is my favorite German word and I figured it would be a really great band name as well.
Looking back, how has [geist] as a band, and as a group of individuals, evolved from its inception?
Kane: The longer we’ve been together as musicians, the more our music has matured.
Kazuya: We stopped suckling on the teat of Garage Rock and ascended to the ranks of demigods of unkempt Basement Rock. (laughter) No, but in all seriousness, I feel that since we’ve started, we’ve learned a lot from our mistakes. Events that we’ve been through together as a band have helped us become tighter as a band and stronger as individuals.
Being from an area where many may not be familiar with Jrock/Visual Kei music, what challenges has [geist] faced in finding a niche?
Kazuya: I think the hardest part about playing music that isn’t primarily in English is that when we’re on stage and speaking to the crowd, they comprehend what we are saying. But the second we start playing, it’s lost in translation. I’ve found that playing with bands outside of our scene isn’t so bad because the Baltimore [Maryland] scene is open to many genres no matter how strange or obscene they might be.
hiro: GO GO BUSAIKU!
Kane: Most of the crowd, even outside of the Jrock scene, are very open to our kind of music. Largely it’s been more difficult to convince venue owners and promoters to give this kind of music a chance. It might have been a bit easier if there were more bands of our style, but we enjoy the challenge.
Now that you’ve established yourself here in the United States, what kind of reception is your music receiving internationally?
Kane: Europe seems to really enjoy our music.
Sai: We haven’t really broadcasted our stuff to Japan yet, but we’d really like to establish ourselves in our own backyard first.
hiro: We also have quite a few fans in South America.
Kazuya: We’ve found that we have quite a few fans in Europe (particularly Germany and Sweden) but our fan base is spread throughout the world, just not as concentrated as we’d like but all will come in time I guess. I hope to tour Europe and Japan soon. All: We hope.
You’ve played clubs, smaller conventions, and have had return performances at larger ones like Otakon and Anime USA. What has been your favorite type of venue to play and why?
Kane: Clubs. Beer. (But really I like clubs because the crowds are much more physical and active while we perform.)
Kuni: I like playing at small cons [conventions] because the crowds there are already familiar with our type of music and it’s nice to just relax.
Sai: I like playing cons because you can talk to the fans for an entire weekend rather than a couple of hours.
hiro: I haven’t been happy with any of the venues yet because none of them are whales.
Kazuya: I prefer playing smaller venues with lots of fans packed in but enough room for mosh pits. Smaller venues feel more intimate and brutal.
Would you tell us a little about your latest CD, Grotesque?
Kane: Grotesque is the result of all the time we’ve been together thus far, bringing together our old material and our new material into one complete compilation. It’s awesome. Buy it.
Kuni: It’s brutal and it can kill animals.
hiro: SPCA/PETA is going to come after you. :O
Kazuya: It’s been a long process since starting in March and finishing it in October. We’ve spent a lot of time learning new things about the recording process while also getting to spend time with each other when the other isn’t recording. Now that the album is out, it feels like a sigh of relief, but also makes me anxious to get back in and release even more material. I found that the process has made us grow together as a band and helped us find new strengths. It was exciting, and we really had a lot of fun recording with Drew Lamond over at WrightWay Studios. He helped us so much on this album. I don’t think we could have done it without him.
Do any of you have a favorite song from the CD, and if so, why?
Kuni: Sa:dism because the pinch harmonics in the breakdown are so badass.
Kane: Grotesque because I feel like it’s the most emotional song and personal to me.
Sai: I would say Mizery because the music has so much drive and makes you just want to move.
hiro: I like nevaeHell because that was the first song I participated in during the writing process, although I thoroughly enjoy rocking out to The Brilliant Black.
Kazuya: SATSUG—I mean Enshouuuuuu! Because it has so many different feelings in the song. It goes from calm to extremely heavy to emotional and then heavy again, and then it ends with a calm arpeggio that rings out. Also, I get to scream!
Let’s look a little more at just who [geist] is!
If you could choose another instrument, in the band or otherwise, what would it be and why?
Kazuya: Drums, because I was supposed to be a drummer first. But since my parents hesitated on buying me a drum set, I picked up guitar instead. I love beating the hell (demons, souls, sponges, birthday cakes) out of things.
Kuni: Keyboards because it makes things sound epic.
Sai: I would like to play the hiro.
hiro: Violin just because I really love the sound of it.
Kane: Probably guitar. Growing up, it was always my dream to play guitar. Somehow, I ended up as a vocalist instead. (laughs) Funny how those things happen, yeah? I still really enjoy it, though, and I’d love to play guitar in a band on the side someday.
What about a different style of music? Come on.tell us your deepest musical aspirations!
Kane: If I wasn’t playing metal, I’d absolutely be playing punk. I was largely raised on punk music and was always drawn to the rawness and sheer energy of it. There’s almost an underlying artistic violence to the music. And punk vocalists are ALWAYS the most fun to watch live.
hiro: I wanted to be a rapper. Kuni also wants to be a rapper.
Kuni: I wouldn’t mind singing R&B.
Sai: I would like to play shoegaze and blues mixed with breakdowns. I’m dead serious.
Kazuya: I would love to play guitar and do vocals in a Swedish death metal band or play bass or drums in a Japanese punk band.
Kane, you must have faced some adversity as a female fronting a band. Would you give us a little insight on how that has been for you?
Kane: Actually, I haven’t experienced many problems because of it. Most people, when hearing my voice for the first time, simply assume I’m a guy. Then when they see me in person, it’s like “You’re a girl?!” “Really?” “Wow, that’s cool”. It becomes almost a novelty in a way. Metal, and Visual Kei too, really are both heavily male-dominated though, so sometimes it can be hard as a female vocalist to get people to take you seriously right away.
Would you tell us who influences you musically (or otherwise) on a personal level?
Kazuya: First and foremost, my biggest influence would be hide. But as someone who loves recording, I would also like to say Trent Reznor. My everyday listens would be 9mm Parabellum Bullet, Quruli, girugamesh, D’espairsRay, Pendulum, Sadie, Darkest Hour, At the Gates, Children of Bodom, Galneryus, X Japan, and Anthem. I listen to a lot of drum n bass, metal, and softer Jrock groups.
Kuni: My biggest influence is probably Metallica and The Back Horn. Metallica, because when I first started playing guitar, I kept learning their music. I established a lot of my guitar techniques from learning their stuff. The Back Horn is my favorite artist and my biggest influence overall. Their stuff is awesome. Oh! and Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom.
Sai: Well, as an overall musical and personal influence, Dave Grohl (Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, Probot, etc.) is probably one of my largest influences because of his selfless contributions to bands, scenes, and music in general. He seems to me to be a guy who doesn’t really ride the success of prior endeavors. He just sort of does it for the hell of it. But as far as musical inspirations go, I take from whatever is around me and find my muses in the accomplishments of nature, sounds, art, and experiences. But on a darker note, I also take from the failures as well.
hiro: One influence that kind of doesn’t fit but I enjoy is Utada Hikaru. Other influences are girugamesh, MUCC, things in nature, some dreams, and some pieces by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and some BeBop pioneers.
Kane: Joan Jett. She has this great tough-as-nails, take-no-shit approach to life. Growing up, and even now, I always really admired that.
What artist(s) or band(s) would you most like to share a bill with?
Kazuya: 9mm Parabellum Bullet, Nine Inch Nails, X Japan, Galneryus, and MUCC.
Sai: Kagerou, Rentrer en Soi, and Hannah Montana.
hiro: Please refer to Sakura-Con commercial. Ikimasu!
Kuni: The Back Horn, girugamesh, and MUCC!
Kane: Too many to name. (laughs) MUCC, Lynch., The Deftones, girugamesh. It’s a long list.
Any chance we’ll see you make your way outside of the East Coast area anytime soon?
Sai: Please. [Handchops]
Kane: Definitely. We’re planning on a lot of shows, in a lot of new cities, throughout the year. So come out and see us, we want to meet you!
Kazuya: Naturally! If there’s pizza, I’ll be there! If there are mosh pits, I’ll be there! If there are guitars to be played, I’ll be there!….when I feel like it.
hiro: Atarimaedesho. (of course!)
Kuni: Soudane (yes.)
How about some shows for your international fans?
Kane: I hope so! It’s definitely something we’d like to do this year, hopefully very very soon, everyone will just have to keep checking to see when!
Kazuya: We would love to play outside of the United States, but as I stated before, we would like to establish ourselves first in the United States. But shows outside the United States would be awesome.
Let’s conclude with an “open floor”, is there anything you would like to say to your fans, or to people who haven’t heard your music before?
hiro: I guess to the fans, thank you so much for the continued support.
Sai: And the ice cream.
Kazuya: Om nom nom.
hiro: And to those who haven’t listened to us to before, why haven’t you?
Kazuya: I would like to say thank you to the people in the front row whom I’ve sweated on for not complaining. And to those whom I haven’t sweated on, bring towels. My headbanging is fierce. Rawr. D:
Sai: I have no idea yet.
Kuni: Thank you everyone for the support. We can’t do this without you guys.
Kane: Thank you to all of our wonderful fans for supporting us! We couldn’t do this without you, and hope to keep making music with you for years and years to come. Together, let’s spread the music as far as it’ll go! 😀
Sai: To our fans, you’re the best around. If it weren’t for you, why would we be here? Everything that we have done, and still do, is for you guys. And to people who haven’t heard our music, why can’t you be like them. Yo.
JrockRevolution.com would like to thank [geist] for taking the time to give this interview and we look forward to checking in with you again in the near future.
Interview by: Deann
Edited by: Kia
Special thanks to [geist]! We look forward to seeing you again!