girugamesh, a 4-piece band who plays loud and heavy music, has just released a brand new mini-album titled ‘chimera’. For the occasion, we met the band members in their rehearsal studio located in their home town at Chiba (Japan). They welcomed us in a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere and let us unveil the record’s most significant secrets. The band will be back in Europe on May, make sure you won’t miss them : all dates are available HERE !
In mythology, a chimera is a monstrous hybrid female creature composed of different body-parts of animals. What does the title stand for, to you ?
Ryo (Vo.) : Hum… We named this album « chimera » for multiple reasons. It’s not easy to explain but let’s start by saying that the term chimera perfectly fits the band’s image as it is today. The sound of girugmesh is a mixture of different types of music. Even though, people tend to identify us under the global label of visual kei, I do think we cast a wider net with an eclectic music. Our music is based on heavy sounds and beautiful melodies, but it’s also the culmination of our very different influences at the time. We also play music together with other musicians from different music-genres, which is uncommon. Most of Japanese visual-kei bands only play with other visual-kei bands. We, girugamesh, are an hybrid unit. We don’t want to fit our music into the label of visual kei, into any other label. girugamesh is like a chimera, an hybrid creature, a different unit. What we do should only be categorized as girugamesh.
Could you each of you introduce a song you would like to recommend from chimera ?
Shuu (Ba.) : As far as I’m concerned, I would recommend ‘Horizon’. This track pumps you up and rises the tension to the highest point. This song works amazing during the concerts ! It’s definitely made for the live-performance. The fans always sing the chorus in synch with the band. I love that feeling, the feeling of creating an intimate bond. This song unifies the fans to the band which is the reason why I choose it.
Ryo (Dr.) : As for me, I would recommend ‘chimera’ for two reasons. On one hand, because of the grotesque atmosphere that emanates from it which I like very much. On the other hand, because I feel that each in everyone of us, or more precisely the band’s spirit as a whole, is captured in it. I mean, the song summed up and illustrates quite well the band as it is today.
Satoshi (Vo.) : I think « slip out » turns out to be my preferred choice. During the last tour, we played it as a preview of the new album, who happens to be « chimera », and the reaction of the audience was cristal clear and straightforward. It produced an effect of “unexpected surprise”, I would say. We felt a geniune joy and excitement from them. We could feel something special thanks to their attitude. The fans were just very responsive and active. It’s quite difficult to translate a feeling into words. It just felt amazing right away, which means the song is efficient.
Nii (Gt.) : For my part, I would recommend the final track of the album, ‘END’, because it sums up quite well the long path we undertook as well as the dynamic work we accomplished since the band’s debut. I think we did well merging the old-school girugamesh into the new one. I think the fans will be able to sense the old and new us through the song. I advice you take a listen to this song in particular.
Is there a song that you like best for its lyrics or theme compared to the others ?
Ryo (Dr.) : Hum… Lyric-wise, I think that ‘chimera’ stands out ! Yes, the song was also my pick as for the previous question. I guess, I love it as a whole, for everything it represents — lyrics included. It translates « madness and pure energy »… (Ryo says the last sentence in English, which makes the rest of the band laugh out of surprise). I can speak English a little bit so if my Japanese ever starts being complicated, don’t hesite to tell me… Well… After consideration, my English is quite limited (everybody laughs) !
When you guys are in the studio, how do you work together ? What are the creation steps ?
Ryo (Dr.) : As for the creation process goes, we start off with working the basics Nii and I. Together, we agree on a general concept and we then test and experiment it with our computers, via the system MIDI among others, to the point of producing a demo close to the final build. From this point, we make the other members of the band take a listen. We share new ideas together with them in order to strengthen the concept of the tracks, and we put the final touches all together. To sum it up, we begin with a concept, an image, a theme. It’s the moment when we choose where to go towards to, music-wise. For exemple, with ‘chimera’, we selected the term “ikari” (rage, anger in Japanese) as the main conceptual basis. Right after this first step, we go through a phase of graphic representation. Designing an image is important to us to build a track, so we go through a stage of… ‘drawing’. This phase of creation helps us give a vibration colour and depths to our music. Finally, we agree on picking the main track of the album. This time around, as you may guess, we chose ‘chimera’ as the main song. The global idea, the anger for the new album, develops itself and comes into different shapes through the other tracks. This is how we create an album. It can only become clear when listening to the CD — rather than live. It’s the reason why I highly recommend you listen to the album before everything else.
Don’t you ever disagree with one another ?
Ryo (Dr.) : Ever since the debut of the band, I am the main composer. I create the foundations of the tracks, sometimes with precise concepts in mind. I then suggest the other guys ideas and they’ve always followed. We never argue. Their points of view have always merged together with mine. We are in complete harmony music-wise.
Your latest LP, MONSTER, was released in 2013. Why do you release mini-albums only now ?
Ryo (Dr.) : Creating a full-length album is quite difficult and we only function with our feelings ruling our hearts and heads, which means that we do what we only feel like doing. If we think it’s time to release a CD, we just do it, no matter the format, no matter the number of tracks. I think, we might release a full-length album next time though. It’s been a while, you’re right. This time around, we thought a mini-album was perfect for what we wanted to do.
What do you like best about the member sitting next to your right, work-wise ?
Shuu (Ba.) : Ah, huh ! I am the one who has to start right, ain’t I ? Well, what I like best about Ryo is his making-decision power. I mean, his effectiveness to make the right choices. I like his leadership role, which he successfully carries out. I trust him blindly in being the main composer of the band.
Ryo (Dr.) : You (he points Satoshi out with a mean look) ! You are about to be hauled over the coals (general laughter) ! I’m joking (smiles). Satoshi is serious-minded, almost solemn and very focused, which I like very much work-wise. In studio, when I suggest the guys an idea to experiment, he gets to work right away and to the fullest ! He’s always solicitous as for the recording progression of an album. I also like the way he screams, especially when comparing to his debut with the band. It’s very different ! He takes criticism well and listen carefully to advices he’s given. In brief, he is a very serious man when it comes to work.
Satoshi (Vo.) : Nii is genuinely free in his way of being. I mean, in general, not only in his way of performing. He is also very good at improvising, jamming. He’s a real performer, he has such a charismatic aura. He knows how to make the tension rise during the live-shows. It’s his biggest asset. Well, this is what I like most about him (smiles).
Nii (Gt.) : There’s only ShuU left now but he’s at the other side of the table (smiles).
Mandah : Indeed, I guess it’s my turn to receive kind words since I’m the one on your right (everyone burts into laughter)
Nii (Gt.) : Really (he says with a lost-looking face) ? But, this is the first time we meet each other… What can I say (he asks embarrassingly) ? You guys, help me (the band continues to laugh out loud) !
Mandah : No, no I was just joking (laughs) !
Nii (Gt.) : Aah (smiles) ! Well, when you are a leader, it’s nice to be surrounded by people who allow you to stand back in order to see further. ShuU is definitely one of them. He has the ability to see the bigger picture, to overlook, he has the ability put things into perspectives. He knows how to put himself in the position of an audience for example, which is very important to us. He knows how to see things with insightful eyes.
Can you tell us more about the artcover of ‘chimera’ and how much are you involved in the development of your image in general ?
Ryo (Dr.) : We are always invloved in the development of the band’s image. It’s quite important to us. The artcover of ‘chimera’ represents an egg from which an hybrid creature, a chimera, comes out. The chimera symbolizes metaphorically the band. Take a look at the artwork, the split created when the monster comes out reveals fire. And fire usually alludes to passions, anger and rage. Rage is the key-word of the concept of ‘chimera’. It’s Satoshi’s idea. He’s the one who designed it.
So, even though it’s a sphere pictured on the artcover, it has no link whatsoever with he previous album, doesn’t it ? I thought their common points were meaningful.
Satoshi (Vo.) : No, it doesn’t. There’s absolutely no link between both artworks. The spherical shape that you can see on both mini-albums is a real coincidence, I wasn’t even aware of the common point before you mentionned it (laughs). For ‘gravitation’, the sphere illustrates basically the idea of gravitation. With ‘chimera’, the sphere is actually an egg (smiles).
OK, I see.
How would you say your music has changed since you first began playing music together ?
Ryo (Dr.) : Almost everything changed (laughs) ! Our feelings towards the music, our excitement it makes us feel and the passion inside us are still the same, but our style — and more specifically the way we express ourselves through it — has enormously changed. Before we were just kids, we are now grown-up adults. What we liked back then is what we like today. We still listen to the same bands, bands such as Linkin Park, KoRn or Slipknot. I mean, our tastes in music haven’t changed. But we’ve grown up and became experienced adults. Our music has evolved and grown at the same time. And the result is « chimera » (smiles) !
What has been the biggest challenge of the band so far ?
Ryo (Dr.) : The hardest moment of our lives, as a band, was very challenging. We parted ways during a year, three years ago. Each in every one of us was very anxious and concerned about the uncertain future of the band, but still with the hope to be able to keep going and pick up where we left. Everybody fought to find solutions that would fit one another. Our record campany wanted us to stop what we were doing and this is what I said : ‘fuck it’ (he says rising his middle finger).
What were the reasons ?
Ryo (Dr.) : They clearly asked us to get softer by composing music less agressive. They told us to do just like l’Arc~en~Ciel, and follow the steps of the elders. It’s a Japanese way of thinking, an ancient and conservative way of thinking. They told us that with increasing age, you have to create music that is more popular, more mainstream. They didn’t know what they wanted us to do exactly, nor how to do it. So we couldn’t carry on and stopped during a year — approximatively.
It’s great that you overcame it and finally kept going.
Ryo (Dr.) : We just hold on tight. Our unity is definitely the greatest strength of the band. We remained united throughout this very depressive year. But we did it, we successfully went through it ! I feel that we can achieve whathever we wish for as long as we stick together.
You already accomplished everything a band may dream of. In reflection, what do you feel is the greatest accomplishment the band and do you have any new goal ahead ?
Ryo (Dr.) : Being able to keep making music after all those years and still be able to hold concerts are two great achievements. One of the biggest highlights of our career is the band’s involvement with the J-Rock Revolution in Los Angeles, an event hosted by Yoshiki (X-Japan) which occurred in 2007. We’ll always have the same goal, which is going further each time. We’d like to be able to schedule world tours whenever we want to. In the future, I’d also like to create my own company.
Talking about touring, you will soon go overseas for a European tour. What do you like best or least about touring overseas ?
Nii (Gt.) : As far as I’m concerned, the very first thing that pops into my mind is the fact that I am quite fed up with paying extra money for the limitation of the luggage’s weight which, of course, I always exceed (laughs). I really need to fix this, it won’t ever be possible otherwise again (laughs).
Satoshi (Vo.) : When we tour overseas, we live in a tour bus made in this regard. Tour buses always include very confortable beds, so we get to sleep well and therefore, we are able to recover after giving the best of ourselves into the performance. That specific matter is priceless (laughs) ! It’s very important to feel at ease… Speaking of which, there is no high-tech self-cleaning toilets in Europe which is a damn shame. Why don’t you have these automatic toilets there (laughs) ?
Mandah : You betcha ! Japan is on top, Japan is on point ! Japanese toilets are definitely the greatest of the wold. They are the Rolls Royce of the toilets (general burst of laughter) !
Satoshi (Vo.): Yeah, totally (rises the thumb with pride) !
Shuu (Ba.) : As for me, I only see positive aspects. Japan being an island, we are isoled from the rest of the world. And therefore, what I like most about touring overseas, is to have the opportunity to meet very different people from each other, to have the opportunity to have a glance at different cultures so close yet so far from one another, to hear various languages and so on. It really is a beautiful experience each time. I always keep wonderful memories from these trips and I’m looking forward to creating new ones.
Ryo (Dr.) : Definitely, I completely agree with you, ShuU. This interacting relationship with foreign countries is beyond great. Speaking of which, I really need to get back to learning english. It’s essential for the communication bewteen a band and the people who go see it live. I promise you guys to get back to it as soon as possible to be able to talk to you.
Well, « good luck with your learning » !
Would you like to add something to end the interview ?
Ryo (Dr.) : « Thank you for the wishes » (he says in english) ! We would like to thank you for being more and more people, each time, to support us. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It means a lot to us. You are the reason we are able to keep making music. As long as you support us, as long as you are on our side, we remain strong. You are our source of strength. We are looking forward to meeting you all again. See you very soon !