the GazettE. They’re one of the most popular bands in the scene today, and they’re ready to answer the calls of their overseas fans by descending upon Europe this weekend. The multi-stage tour Pulse Wriggling to Black launches abroad, and will first take them across Germany, France, the U.K., and Finland, before they return to tour Japan and lead up to their Grand Finale lives in April. the GazettE saw a rapid rise to Jrock stardom, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Jrock Revolution had the opportunity to spend some time with band leader KAI (drums). In this first part of a two-part interview, read about the GazettE‘s creative process and style, and KAI‘s reflection on their first experiences overseas.
For someone who has never heard about the GazettE, how would you describe your music, image, and message?
KAI: Hmm, We have a mixture of everything. *laugh* That’s how I see it. I think we are a band that is able to do all genres of music. Sometimes when making new songs, there are times when we think, "This is quite new for us," but once we actually do it, somehow it always end up sounding like our music, that when the five of us do it together, it will turn to the GazettE‘s music. That’s why I think we are able to cover all types of music.
How did you become the leader of the GazettE?
KAI: *Laughs* About that, to tell you the truth, we asked for a volunteer. We asked each other, "Who wants to be the leader?" so I said, "Ok I’ll do it."
Were you the only one that raised your hand?
KAI: Yes. I think the others thought it’ll probably just be troublesome work. *laugh* But naturally, a drummer’s position is the only position that can oversee the whole audience and the whole band at the same time. So in that sense, I feel that I would like to support the members from behind; that is why I volunteered to become the leader. When I said "I’ll do it!" nobody else raised their hand so…
Maybe they wanted to, but were just shy?
KAI: I thought so too, I thought at least two or three of them would want to be the leader *laugh* but nobody raised their hands, so I said I’d do it.
So you want to support the others from behind, that’s like YOSHIKI.
KAI: Eh? No, no, I’m not that good *laugh*.
When making music, do you start with the music first or the lyrics? How does each band member contribute?
KAI: RUKI covers all the lyrics; music-wise, the five of us would compose tunes, select one together, and then arrange it together. We start with the music, well, RUKI would add the lyrics and the melody later on, so I guess we start with composing the music first.
So you compose the songs together?
The musical direction of STACKED RUBBISH is very different from that of NIL. Some fans even say that parts of it sounded more hip-hop. Was this a conscious decision on the band’s part or did it just happen?
KAI: For us, when we make an album, we don’t decide on a set concept. When making a single, since there are only a few tracks on a single, we have to use the leading track to present our view, and the image of the CD. But in an album, the first thing we think of is that we need to have variations in music, so we try to cover a range of types of music. So in NIL, that presented the challenges we had at that time, and the new album, well to say hip-hop, there was only one track that was like that. But it was new to us, so for us we feel like it has opened up a new door for us. We did not exactly aim for the hip-hop sound, though.
Speaking of releases, you will be releasing a new single next year. Could you tell us about it?
KAI: Yeah well, the release date has not yet been decided. But right now the music is coming together bit by bit, we are discussing let’s do this, let’s do that, so we can’t really tell you anything because well, it’s not complete yet. It’s a secret *laugh*.
In DISORDER, the song "Saraba" had a very strong anti-war message. Are there any songs such as ones from STACKED RUBBISH that raise strong political or moral questions?
KAI: I don’t think so, anything politically. According to RUKI, all the lyrics he writes are from things he’s actually experienced. He’s the only one that writes lyrics.
Have you ever attempted to write lyrics?
KAI: There was once, a while back, RUKI asked us to contribute some lyrics to a song. It was three lines, and he asked us to write whatever we felt like. I did and he laughed at what I wrote. *laugh*
Where those lines used at all?
KAI: No, actually, yes, REITA’s lines got used, in "ITO."
Now that you mention him, why does REITA wear the handkerchief on his nose?
KAI: Oh, that’s like his trademark now, it’s like a part of his body. That is REITA.
Does he wear that normally?
KAI: *Laugh* No, but as the bassist of the GazettE, that is the way REITA is.
Isn’t it hard to breathe like that?
KAI: Well, I guess since he’s still alive it mustn’t be too bad.
If we think about it, we do start wondering, but since he hasn’t complained about it I guess it’s alright.
Do you design your own costumes, or do you let the stylist design for you?
KAI: We work with the stylist to come up with the design. We would draw up a design of what we imagine ourselves wearing, and then the stylist would suggest "Wouldn’t it be better like this?" afterwards, so we design together.
That’s really interesting to hear about the creative process that goes into your image. So, to digress a little, you have just completed a live at the Budokan this year. Last September, you also did a live concert there. What was the biggest difference, experience-wise?
KAI: Definitely. This time around, we know what we are doing and how we are presenting ourselves. We are able to look at ourselves objectively, since it’s our second time performing there, and I think that’s the biggest difference. It really applies to all the concerts we did in this tour.
At the Yokohama and the Budokan concerts, all of your parents were there amongst the audience. How did that make you feel?
KAI: You mean how it felt to perform in front of our parents? It was a happy experience, it wasn’t really like repaying them, but when we first started the band, we had to go through a lot of difficulties and they helped us a lot. Finally now we are at a place where we can, not just substantially repay them, but emotionally as well, and I am really happy about that.
Was there anything that presented itself as a challenge during your tour this time?
KAI: Hmm.. challenge. It’s not as much of a challenge, being that I think we have discovered new things that we can work on. When doing a live, we come to know what we are lacking, and what we need to do to change that. So, at the next live, or even at a recording session, we can find ways to overcome the problems. We basically found new things that we need to work on, and didn’t really have much opportunity to face new challenges.
Last summer, you played your first show in Europe. What was that like?
KAI: The biggest difference to Japan was that it was unrestricted and had an open feeling, the fans were too, and they show how much they are enjoying the music with their whole body. To non-Japanese fans, it might be just something natural that they do, but since we’d only done concerts in Japan, it was a quite fresh experience for us. Surprisingly we felt that it was close to what we expect from our fans, in regards to the relationship and their response. In that sense, the Japanese fans are a bit more restricted, so I think it’s a good thing that the overseas fans don’t have that restricted feeling. Music is not something that you have to think about or consider while listening, right? I think it’s meant to be experienced subconsciously.
Was there anything unpleasant, or something that surprised you?
KAI: Nothing in particular but, probably food. We are so accustomed to Japanese food, so food there was very different and some didn’t cater to our taste *laugh* But the beer was good. And sausages. The rice was very different from Japanese rice. We were surprised. *laugh* We ordered rice and were surprised by what they brought out. *laugh*
You will soon be departing to go to Europe to do your PULSE WRIGGLING TO BLACK tour. Are you excited about that?
KAI: Yes, I am really looking forward to that.
It will be your second time to Germany, and first time to London, Paris, and Helsinki. How do you feel about going to perform in those new places?
KAI: Yeah well, this is totally unrelated, but I love soccer, and so does my manager. *laugh*
Did you play soccer?
KAI: Yes, in elementary school, junior high, and high school. So to me, France is like the holy ground for soccer, so I am really excited about going there. Although that’s totally unrelated to what you asked *laugh*
In regards to this European tour, how did that come about?
KAI: Last year we attended ANIMAGIC there, an anime convention, and at the same time we were asked if we would like to perform in Europe. A bit prior to that, we had already contemplated with the idea of doing concerts overseas, so we took that offer. And we have gotten hooked on doing concerts overseas *laugh* It was really fun. So after the first time, we already thought that we would like to do more, even though we didn’t get the new offers yet. We talked amongst ourselves that we would like to do lives in more countries. We thought we would like to take any chance possible.
Do you plan on doing tours in other countries, or release CDs there?
KAI: In Germany, well, in Europe, our CDs are already being sold there, I saw it myself at the stores there. NIL was being sold *laugh*
What about other countries?
KAI: If we have the opportunity, we would definitely like to go.
What about Asia?
KAI: Asia‚, nothing so far. We haven’t been to Korea, or America, for that matter, so if we decide to do concerts there, I think naturally the CDs will be sold there, too.
You will be spending your birthday (October 28th) this year in Europe. Are you planning to do anything to celebrate your birthday?
KAI: Yeah *laugh* I think we will end up doing nothing *laugh* I think we will be too busy. We will probably be moving to a different location that day. But I think it will be quite an experience, since we don’t normally get to spend our birthdays overseas. We might be crossing national borders at that time.
I don’t really have the need that I have to spend my birthday in Japan.
What is the most fun song to perform at a live, and what is the most difficult song to perform at a live?
KAI: The most fun song would be "LINDA," and the most difficult one would be the song in our new album, "GENTLE LIE" I think, because we put in a lot of phrases that I am not so good at. Well it’s not so much as,"Oh let’s just put those in," but I wanted to make it more challenging for myself. So it’s the most difficult.
What direction will the GazettE take on from here, and how would you like to grow as a band?
KAI: Hmm, we would really like to have more people listen to our music. Of course, there are a lot of people in the world that don’t know about us. We would like to have them know us, listen to our music, and if they don’t like it, then that’s fine. We don’t want to be judged because of our appearance when they haven’t even listened to our music. So the first thing would be to have more people listen to our music. We would also like to expand our activities to overseas.
End Part One – Stay Tuned For Part Two!
Interview by Kuri
Translation and Transcription by Christina Fang
Additional questions contributed by Raz and Michelle Friendlander