During Anime Boston this year, JrockRevolution.com joined Boston Bastard Brigade for girugamesh’s press panel.

BostonBastardBrigade: You have quite the following not just in Japan, but also in Europe and here in North America. Are you surprised at all by the massive fan base that you’ve been able to obtain all around the world?

girugamesh: All of us are very surprised at the reaction we have had. We did not expect to have such a huge fan base.

BBB: What has been your favorite country to perform in and why?

girugamesh: Well our first American performance was at JrockRevolution back in 2007. I guess because it was our first performance in America, it has left the biggest impression on us.

JrockRevolution.com: Your previous album titles and appearance were a bit darker than your current band presence. What were some of the influences for these changes? When did this take place?

girugamesh: We really wanted to widen the genre and scope of our music, and not just focus on one type or another. That is why we made a conscious decision to make our new album “GO” very different.

BBB: I remember reading that you feel that there is a discrimination against visual kei in Japan. Do you feel these discriminations still exist or do you feel the cloud of these negative deceptions have been lifted?

girugamesh: We do feel there is still a little discrimination.

BBB: Why do you feel there is discrimination over there? Is it because of the way it sounds, or the appearance? Does visual kei “frighten” people? Or do they look at it differently, and might not be interested?

girugamesh: We definitely think it is part of our visual appearance, because certainly the fact that we are men and we are makeup may give a negative impression to the average person. I’m sure in America we may be seen as queer. Or they might think we are Marilyn Mason.

JRR: Can you talk about the title of your newest album, “GO”? What does the title mean to you, and what do you hope the listeners to come away with?

girugamesh: Beyond our first album, we have had fairly complicated titles. This time we wanted to go with something that was both simple and could easily be understood by multiple audiences. As you’ve pointed out, both the lyrics and the music are fairly upbeat. It is “GO” for going forwards or looking to the future.

BBB: ShuU and Nii have been friends since grade school. When would you say the birth of girugamesh occurred?

ShuU: Myself on bass and Nii-san next to me who is on guitar, we’ve been friends since elementary school. We went to both the same elementary school and middle school. By the time we got to high school we said, “Oh, let’s get together and make a band!” We looked around in our area where we’re from and met up with Satoshi-san and Ryo-san. That was about 2004.

JRR: How has social networking sites, such a Twitter, Facebook and MySpace helped you to connect with your fans, even across the globe?

girugamesh: Well I think it is very important, whether it is Facebook or Twitter, or any other social networking site – for example, I am assuming in America, Facebook is probably the top used social networking site. It is so nice to be able to tell our fans all over instantly what we’re doing right now or what we’re thinking, or how we’re feeling. It’s definitely made communication really easy and yet wide reaching.

BBB: When I first listened to your music a few years ago, I drew comparisons to Nine Inch Nails, X Japan, Buck Tick, Disturbed, and even a little LOUDNESS. Were these any of the bands you looked up to growing up? Or were you into other artists besides metal bands when you were coming up with the girugamesh name?

girugamesh: Well certainly in Japan and here we have been called new metal. As with other new metal music such as Linkin Park, Marilyn Mason, Korn, we’re definitely heavily influenced by that music; we all like it. That’s probably why we decided how we wanted our music to be.

BBB: Is this the type of music you were into when you were younger? What types of music were you into? Were you into metal or something entirely different?

ShuU: I would say I started listening to new metal my first year of middle school, around 7th grade; particularly American new metal.
Satoshi: I pretty much grew up listening to Jpop and due to influence of my parents, artists like The Beatles, Abba, The Carpenters.
Nii: I would say until 3rd year of middle school I really didn’t listen to much music at all. I wasn’t even aware o f what was out there; that’s when I started getting into visual kei music such as Dir en Grey.
Ryo: Until the 2nd year of middle school I still listened to Jpop, but then 3rd year I started getting into rock bands and western music. That was when I decided I wanted to play in a band as well.

JRR: girugamesh has performed at the Jack in the Box festival previous years in Japan. Members from different bands form session bands and perform various songs together. Do you think something like this would be possible overseas one day in America or Europe?

girugamesh: You mean a pure Visual Kei festival?

JRR: Yes, something where a few Visual Kei bands would come overseas and perform together.

girugamesh: Actually I really want to do it! I have been asking around to see if there are any takers. Would you like to see one?

JRR: Yes, I think it would be very interesting to see! A lot of people would like it.

girugamesh: Keep an eye out!

BBB: I’m curious about the symbolism in the “Inonoki” video, especially where there is an apple that sprouts out of a box. Does it represent something in regards to a forbidden fruit? Does it have a much deeper meaning to it?

girugamesh: We just wanted a strong image of a tree of life; a tree giving birth to life in the form of apples which can be eaten or make more trees. That is what we were going for, not necessarily something Biblical. … What we were going for wasn’t to gain knowledge, but to gain power from eating this powerful symbol of life in the form of an apple.

JRR: If the members of Girugamesh could switch roles within the band, such as a session band, what position would you like to take during a performance?

Ryo: I want to play guitar.
ShuU: Like Slipknot, I’d like to put on a mask and dance around.
Nii: I want to do vocals, because I want the spotlight to be on me the whole time.
Satoshi: Actually, I don’t have a specific instrument in mind, I just want to get to the end of a concert and smash it to bits!

BBB: The way that sounds, it sounds like it could be pretty interesting, similar to how L’Arc~en~Ciel does P’UNK~EN~CIEL, where they switch roles. Would you ever consider doing something like that?

girugamesh: We haven’t really thought about it, especially since right now all our time is taken up doing what we are currently doing as girugamesh. We can’t even think about doing anything else. Although there have been times during a performance when the bass and guitar do switch.

Ryo: And I’ve DJ-ed…turntables.

JRR: You have done a cover for Nakashima Mika’s Glamorous Sky. If you could cover any other song by any artist, what song would it be?

girugamesh: We actually do a lot of covers during our performances.

ShuU: Slipknot. We’ll all wear masks, so you don’t know who is who.

girugamesh: We’d like to participate in the Family Values tour.

JRR: Is there anything you usually miss from back home in Japan while touring overseas?

Ryo: Combini. Japaense convenient stores. They are really convenient. And vending machines. There are not enough here.
ShuU: I would like to see more areas to throw away trash or more places to put out cigarettes. The streets might be a little cleaner. Once thing you don’t see a lot in Japan that I have noticed in America is that people smoke and then toss their cigarettes onto the ground or they spit while they’re smoking. In Japan, you get fined if you discard your cigarette on the ground.
Nii: I miss the toilets with the washing and heating functions. The problem is the toilet seats here are so cold.

BBB: You have recently released a new single “Pray” for the Jack in the Box donation project, which is going to those hit hardest by the recent disasters in Japan. How do you feel the response is in regards to this tragedy, both in Japan and from the rest of the world?

girugamesh: I don’t know if you’re fully aware of the extent of the tragedy, but half of Japan was affected by the earthquake and tsunami that followed. I think that this is definitely the period that we’ve seen the biggest reaction and reaction both from Japan and abroad, whether it’s collecting donations or going into the area to help with the recovery efforts; within Japan, conserving of energy. The response from abroad has also been astounding and we as Japanese people are very grateful but also very proud of our internal efforts and honored about the response from abroad.

JRR: The song “Pray” is being released in both English and Japanese. Is it possible you’ll do the same for other songs in the future? Or is this just because it is a special release?

girugamesh: We have no specific plans to release any other songs in English or produce dual language songs in the future. The reason why we did it for “{ray” was because the Japanese version was for our own people to cheer them up during these dark times. The English version is to let people outside of Japan know a little bit about what is going on. Certainly if the opportunity were to come up, we would consider it, but there are no set plans.

BBB: Was it difficult to do an English version of “Pray” in such a short time?

girugamesh: The earthquake occurred while we were on tour in Europe. The day after we returned from the European tour, we spent the day writing. Ryo-san wrote the lyrics in a single day. The next day, we put it to music and arranged the song. We had a friend do the translation of the lyrics into English. Then we each recorded our parts separately because we wanted to get it out as soon as possible. In terms of whether it was difficult or hard, sure it was not easy, but there are so many people in worse situations than we are, that we wanted to do what we could to help the effort.

JRR: What do you think about the charities made by some artists, such as Gackt’s “SHOW YOUR HEART” and T.M.Revolution’s “Stand Up Japan?” and how they are raising money and awareness for victims?

girugamesh: I think that it is very important that they are doing these efforts because of course thee are very important and very influential, so many people follow them. I think just by watching them do these actions and charities cheers up people and gives them hope. I think it is important for those of us who are well known to get the word out and cheer people up simply by presence.

BBB: You just performed at AnimeBoston, though this isn’t your first time at a convention as you’ve performed at Sakuracon [in Seattle, 2009] before. What is difference in fans at anime conventions compared to fans at regular shows?

girugamesh: Everyone at the convention concert is taller and bigger and of course, Pikachu doesn’t normally come to our shows. That is pretty much the biggest difference. We don’t normally have cosplayers and so forth come to our events.

JRR: Since you are performing at an anime convention, do you happen to have a favorite anime or manga series? Have you seen any cosplays you like?

Ryo: I like Naruto.
ShuU: For a Japaense person, I don’t actually watch a lot of anime, but I do like Hayao Miyazaki’s Ghibi productions.
Nii: I would say right now would be Naruto.
Satoshi: One Piece. I am saddened because I hear it is not as popular here in the United States compared to Japan. I didn’t see that many cosplayers. I want to encourage all the fans to watch it because it is a great series.

BBB: Are there shows or manga that should be more popular here in America or other parts of the world? People know shows such as Miyazki’s Ghibi movies, Naruto and One Piece. Is there any show below the radar that people should know about?

girugamesh: Some are rather lewd. Anime that have lots of boobs and poo.

JRR: Who plays the most pranks in the group? What kind of pranks do you pull on each other or staff?

girugamesh: We may have been horsing around a lot until recently, but we are growing up now so we try not to. Oh but definitely don’t give any sort of firecrackers or fireworks to Ryo. You want to avoid that.

JRR: Why, what happened?

girugamesh: There was an incident where Ryo was holding a firecracker and chasing after a staff member pointing it at him. That person happens to be sitting in the back of this room.

BBB: I know you have a very busy schedule being in girugamesh, but what do you all like to do when you want to relax?

Ryo: Fore me, I just love music so much that even if I’m not playing with the band, I’m still doing something musically related.
ShuU: (In English) Shopping. And shopping. And shopping. (Japanese) Mostly online shopping, but when I do go out, I like to go to Harajuku and Shinjuku.
Nii: I like to surf for cool artists online on YouTube while drinking sake.
Satoshi: Whenever I get stressed out, I like cooking, especially papaya.

BBB: Do you have a favorite dish you like to cook?

Satoshi: I actually cook most of my own meals, so I can cook curry and so on.

JRR: In all the performances you have done, what was one of the most embarrassing moments you have experienced on stage? Has it ever happened again?

ShuU: When we performed in France, I actually dove into the audience but nobody caught me so I just fell into the pit. I had to personally get up and crawl back onto stage. I thought I would die.
Satoshi: There was one performance when my pants split in the back during the first song. I had to perform the entire concert without turning around and I had to remember not to turn around. I left the stage backwards so nobody would see.
Ryo: I forget where it was, but during a performance I also jumped into the audience…and they took my shoes, my stuff, my clothes. Someone even grabbed me from behind and fondled me.
Nii: There was one performance that I was shaking my head so hard I started to get dizzy and I ended up running into an amp and knocking it over right in the middle of a song. I was really embarrassed. The other three guys just turned around and started drinking water while the staff and I to stand up the amp.

JRR: Can you tell us a little something or tell us any weird hobbies or habits about the person sitting to the left of you? [Order of seating was Satoshi, Nii, ShuU, Ryo.]

Ryo: [looks to staff member sitting to his left, everyone laughs]
Satoshi: In terms of Nii-san, whenever we are on tour and he happens to watch a Japanese drama series, he ends up crashing in my room and it’s really annoying.
Nii: There’s really not anything weird per say about ShuU-san, except that in the past, he has been late a lot for things. The more important the meeting was, the later he was. One time he was over an hour late and we couldn’t get anything done because of that.
ShuU: I’m on “Rocker Standard Time.” Rockstar.
Ryo-san likes to roll tissue paper and wade it up his nose to clean it, then sneeze afterwards. He does that a lot.
Ryo: It is weird how Satoshi goes to bed at night. Not only does he wear a full facial mask, but he wraps the blanket around the top part of his body and his head, yet the bottom half of his body is just out there. We share a room on tour.
Satoshi: I just can’t sleep comfortably if my face and head aren’t fixed in one place.
Ryo: The first time I saw it I thought, “Wow, weird.”

BBB: If you were stuck on a deserted island, which three music albums would you like to have on you until you were rescued? What music can you not live without?

Ryo: Linkin Park “Hybrid Theory,” “Meteora” and Slipknot “Iowa.”
ShuU: It’s kind of weird to think of having CDs on an island…
Nii: Limp Bizkit, B’z, and Nakashima Mika.
Satoshi: -pulls out iPhone with music play list- Ozaki Yukata, Utada Hikaru, and an anime song.

One final message?

girugamesh: As came up earlier during our session, it would be wonderful if we did actually make reality the visual kei festival and I’m sure the fan would be more than happy to see something like that put together as well. We would like to encourage our fans to keep the faith and help us work towards getting there, look forward to it. Thank you.