DIR EN GREY was playing at La Cigale, Paris (FR) on June 13rd to promote its new release, ‘The Unraveling’, an EP that includes a brand new song and six rearranged and re-recorded tracks from previous versions. The bonus CD includes a remake of Macabre off the eponymous 2000 album and The Unraveling unplugged versions. The extra DVD footage also adds shot-in-one-take versions of Rinkaku and Kiri to Mayu, live-performances from their performance on December 25, 2012 and an interview with sound engineer Tue Madsen. We discussed this third EP with guitarist Kaoru in the backstages of the venue just before the band coming up on stage.
The new mini-album includes one new track and six self-remakes. How did you come-up with the idea of re-working old songs of yours for a record ?
Kaoru : We decided to rework several old songs of ours just because we felt a need and a compelling desire to do so. This is as simple as that. We did not want to introduce old songs to new fans nor expound them due to lack of creativity, it is quite the contrary actually. As for us, the aim was to artistically challenge ourselves. Trying to make something new out of something old requires a real creative commitment. Re-working your own compositions while attempting not to repeat yourself is a difficult exercice. For each album, we try our best to broaden new horizons and take a fresh look at music. We do not want to repeat the same things over and over again. It would be boring for the people who listen to us and mainly for ourselves. The band is constantly seeking new inspiration. As for the chosen tracks, I would say that they were self-evident, no doubt. We just felt like we could exploit and explore their potentiel to the fullest with the help of what we have stored-up to date.
How does it differ as a musician to re-work old songs compared to create one from scratch ?
Kaoru : Hum… I know that we do not think the same about it. Opinions really differ from each other. We have a different approach towards music, so I cannot speak for themselves but can discuss the matter personally. As far as I am concerned, it is more difficult to create a song from scratch than to re-work old tracks. It is simpler though not easy. It is far from being easy actually. Readjusting something that comes from you in the first place can be a brainteaser. Though in absolute terms, I find it amazing to create music (laughs).
You have been working with Tue Madsen for quite some time. He mastered and mixed « The Unraveling », he also mixed « Dum Spiro Spero » and the 2012-version of « Uroboros ». Do you feel like you found DIR EN GREY’s sound with him ? How is he like to work with ?
Kaoru : At the time being, Tue Madsen is the greatest in his particular area of expertise and we want what is best for the band. As for now, we are very happy to create music with him. He does know how to endow sound intensity and depth to our music. He is a pleasant man to work with. That being said, nothing is freezed. We haven’t set-up an exclusive agreement with him and we are never against the idea of trying something new with someone else, far from it. Like I said, we do not want to repeat ourselves.
Most bands get softer as they release more music. DIR EN GREY doesn’t happen to be one of them. Your latest albums are actually the most extreme of your discography. How would you explain that and what maintains your anger ?
Kaoru : Hum… Firstable, I must admit that we like to do things against the tide. If we are somewhere unexpected doing something unexpected, it is great ! The band is not trying to follow the trend or any movement. Secondly, I would say that each in every one of us has been gathering an overwelming sense of negative feelings, such as anger, which comes-out naturally in our songs. Our music is simply the sound expression of our state of mind and what we live in on a daily basis. If it doesn’t get softer with time, it is only because what we live, as individuals, does not permit it. We spit and channel our negative emotions through music. It is probably true that we are angrier than we were back in 1999 (laughs). But, with age increasing, you realize that the world is going wrong and it doesn’t get any better.
As for your you, what is the greatest strength and weakness of the band ?
Kaoru : Hum… Our greatest strength and weakness. Hum… It is a hard question to answer ! I would say that, individually, we are weak people, like every other humain-beings that live in this world. Each of us has flaws, doubts, many different and varied weaknesses. Yet, once united, we get strong. Thanks to our weaknesses and negatives feelings, we succeed in creating music. Alone, we are weak. Together, we are strong.
The cover art has been said to be the result of the fusion of DIR EN GREY’s universe and Yasuyuki Nishio’s perspective of the world. Can you tell us more about it ? Besides, Kyo is about to release two photobooks. Have you ever considered using his photographies for DIR EN GREY’s artwork ?
Kaoru : It is very likely that I am going to disappoint you but, apart from the fact that I find the cover art pretty, I have absolutely no philosophical thoughts about it (laughs). I am sorry, I am not able to answer this kind of questions, you are interviewing the wrong member of the band (laughs). Besides, I still haven’t seen Kyo’s photographies (laughs).