In 2005, birthed from a series of exchanged emails and a meeting at a convention, the German band Cinema Bizarre came to life as a highly diverse band. Alongside playing a wide variety of sounds and genres, they also have a common love for visual kei and have adopted it in a manner that suits them best.
In the wake of their first live performance as a band, Cinema Bizarre’s first single Love Songs was released on September of 2007. Since its release, the “Love Songs” video has pulled in over a million views on the band’s official YouTube channel. In the month that followed, they kept their fans on their toes with Cinema Bizarre’s first album Final Attraction, which worked its way into the top 10 upon its release.
In early 2008, Cinema Bizarre showed just how capable of success they are when their Final Attraction Tour 2008 wound up completely sold out across Europe. Later in the year, the band released a teaser for their second album Toyz, which was released in May of 2009.
As of 2009, Cinema Bizarre has participated in Lady Gaga’s Fame Ball Tour, played two sold out shows of their own in the United States and have also announced that they will be releasing an album, BANG!, in the United States on August 25th.
For our first question, would you please explain who you are and what you do in the band?
Strify: My name is Strify and I am the singer and frontman of the group.
Yu: I’m Yu, I rape the guitar and look good.
Do you still have your first instruments?
Strify: My instrument has always been my voice, so yes I do.
Yu: Yes of course. It’s a B.C.Rich look-alike, no name guitar my parents once made me as a present.
Since Visual Kei is a Japanese subculture and genre, what has the reaction, positive or negative, been like from Japanese fans or artists in classifying yourself as Visual Kei? What about internationally?
Strify: There is already one mistake in this question that a lot of people make: we never classified us as Visual Kei. We [came] together because of our interest in it and our early look was inspired by some Japanese bands such as the GazettE, that’s a fact we won’t deny. But we never wanted to copy those bands. We make different music and I don’t even know if it would make sense to try to be a Visual Kei band that’s not from Japan because bands there have another cultural and [societal] background. I’ve seen an interview of girugmesh’s singer where he said that he likes the fact that Visual Kei has a huge influence on bands outside of Japan as well.
Yu: Visual Kei is not only meant to be Japanese, it’s a spirit!
What advice would you give to other non-Japanese bands exemplifying Visual Kei?
Strify: Find your own identity as a band.
Yu: Don’t cage yourself by something and just let yourself go, like screaming out your emotions!
You played in the US for the first time this year and it seems you made a lot of new fans. How do you plan to gain popularity in the US In the future?
Strify: Playing a lot of concerts to put songs and images in the heads of the crowd.
Yu: We bring the toyZ!
When you explain your concept to those not familiar with Visual Kei, what do you say to people who lump anime and Japanese music together?
Strify: They just don’t know any better. Japan is a very exotic country for most Americans and Europeans. They have another beauty ideal and you can notice that in manga as well as in Visual Kei. That’s what makes some people lump those together.
How is the Jrock scene in Germany different than the US? How is the domestic Jrock scene in Germany different than the US?
Strify: I haven’t experienced the US scene so I can’t judge that.
Cinema Bizarre’s members are young and already successful. How do you cope with your success? Has anything changed because of that?
Strify: Strangely a lot of people take me more serious since I got a record deal.
Yu: Success [means] changing a lot in your life, in good and bad ways. [It gave] me the most amazing moments in my life!
Does any one person write the majority of the songs, or do you all take an equal part in the composition?
Strify: The band can only exist when everyone is doing their part. When each of us would make solo projects you could see how different we are. Cinema Bizarre is the result when you count parts of us five together. I write most of the lyrics.
Yu: It’s up to us all. We’re collecting ideas much and then [mixing] everything up with the help of some people.
Do you always agree with each other on the songs or are there compromises?
Strify: We try to agree but very often we have to find a compromise. Being a band can be compared to a family, everyone is different and has different opinions, but you work on the same thing together.
Yu: We often have to compromise because we’re 5 guys with different tastes in music, but this is the way the CB sound got created!
What goals or dreams did you have when you started making music? Have any of them changed since then?
Strify: I always wanted everyone to sing along my songs. That’s why I wanted to make pop music.
Yu: I just keep getting more and more!
If you could cover any song, which one would it be and why?
Strify: We worked on a cover of a T.Rex song for the first American album.
Yu: For me, personally I would love to cover some stuff from the GazettE because, at the very beginning, Aoi was the kick-off for me to get on the guitar! Leech would be a great song [to cover]!
What’s the worst or funniest thing you’ve had happen so far while on tour?
Strify: In Atlanta, our tour manager came on stage just in underwear, playing golf. I was so confused that I forgot all the lyrics.
Who assembles your live set lists? Is there anything in particular that determines what songs you decide to play?
Strify: I do that with the voices of the other ones in my head. We just pick the songs that we feel are the right choices. It’s a very intuitive decision.
Yu: We decide it all the time together and in the end I do some special drawings on it!
Do you have any goals for this year, either personal goals or goals as a band?
Strify: Spread the Bizarreness.
Yu: I made myself kind of big goals in personal things. It’s about growing up!
The internet has become a vital tool for bands to connect with their overseas fans. How do you feel that internet exposure has helped Cinema Bizarre expand their fan base beyond the borders of Europe?
Strify: Cinema Bizarre wouldn’t exist without the internet. It’s a blessing and a curse. You just need to know how to use it. The internet is revolutionary and we are something like the first digital natives band.
Where do you see Cinema Bizarre in the next five years?
Strify: [On tour a lot]. You wanna come?
What advice could you give to people that would like to express themselves in music the way you do, but are afraid to because of what other people may think?
Strify: Do you believe in yourself? If you do, it doesn’t matter what people [think]. One thing I learned is that the only way to happiness is to be yourself.
Yu: Try ignoring the [world’s thoughts] about this stuff. You should be like you want to be, not like [other] people want you to [be]!
Lastly, a message for the fans reading this interview.
Strify: Stay bizarre!
Yu: Rock on!
Cinema Bizarre Official MySpace: myspace.com/cinemabizarre