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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Big In Japan: May Featured Artist Dir En Grey

Recently I've discovered Japan. No, not just because of Gwen Stefani, but because of this awesome Japanese metal outfit called Dir En Grey. Their first American release Withering to Death is an amazing feat of melodic metal. Even though I can't understand most of the lyrics, the vocals still keep me drawn in. I had a chance to see them in March when they played at the Wiltern in LA and when they took the stage no one was safe. Of course, that was nothing compared to the giant sized sold out shows they play at home in the Tokyo Dome. They can't even approach the venue until it's time to play. I'm super excited about the future this band has in US. When they played back in March I sent Groupie Nicky Agnew to interview them:

Groupie Nicky Agnew: Have you guys seen all the people waiting outside yet?
Dir En Grey: We drove in from the backside so just a little.
GN: Is it really common in Japan to have fans waiting that long to see you guys?
DEG: Actually in Japan we have those kinds of fans around the venues. But nowadays we’re kind of getting used to this kind of situation so we’re coming late and getting rushed to the stage but this kind of thing has been happening in some Asian countries, which we have been touring for a couple of years and we were in Europe last year and the very same thing happened in Germany too.
GN: What do you think of the States so far?
DEG: We are just having fun.
GN: What do you think of the Groupies here?
DEG: [Laughing]You mean the girls following us around?
Groupie Nicky Agnew: Yes…
DEG: Actually it’s hard to say because we keep out distance from the fans like when we’re walking down the street but when they ask for pictures or autographs they’re not really hysteric.
GN: They’re polite about it?
DEG: Yes
GN: Do you guys have girlfriends back at home?
DEG: Manager says no comment.
GN: I guess we shouldn’t ruin the mystique… What are you guys influenced by musically?
DEG: Nobody is narrow-minded musically. When we started the band in ‘97 we were influenced by Japanese bands from the 80’s and 90’s that we were into as teenagers. But basically our musical tastes haven’t changed too much.
GN: Is there one American band that you were influenced by? I see you’re wearing an AC/DC shirt…
DEG: Actually AC/DC is Australian… It’s hard to choose, but if we had to choose one it would be Guns N Roses.
GN: You need to see the Whiskey and Roxy!
DEG: Cause they were there in the 80’s, right? Actually we walked around Sunset last night and saw the Rainbow and stuff, we wish they could stay longer, but we’re leaving tomorrow morning.
GN: That’s too soon! When are you coming back?
DEG: Actually we played New York before Los Angeles, but LA might be the place for us.
We’ve actually spent time in LA recording. We think that we know about Los Angeles.
GN: What do you make of all this attention? Are you used to it by now?
DEG: Actually we are kind of getting used to that situation. But it’s still fresh and inspiring. Actually we have some friends here who told us we have a lot of fans and should play here. We didn’t believe it until we saw the crowds, though. We don’t really get to talk to the fans, so the stage is the one and only place to experience that reality which keeps it fresh and new for us.
GN: The Rolling Stones played here not that long ago so you’re in good company. Do you guys fight for the mirror when you get ready for a show?
DEG: We don’t have that kind of vibe around. We used to play small venues so we know how to share and nowadays we don’t take that much time anymore.
GN:: Visually who influences you?
DEG: It’s really hard to tell, but originally we started putting the makeup on because it thought it was part of the original expression and expanded the image of the music it self, but that kind of thing always escalates after time. Nowadays we wear what we like to wear so it’s not so much a concept but at the same time the visual elements sometimes become outside motivation which drives the music. Does that make any sense?
GN:: Yes! Your bio says you’re influenced by pain and suffering… where does that come in?
DEG: When we do the big show those are elements we connect with through films, etc.
GN:: Are they films you make yourself?
DEG: We always have our own ideas and then they create them.
GN:: So you create it all?
DEG: Yes, sometimes we need help but basically we make all the decisions ourselves.
GN:: That’s good. It’s usually the other way around here. Music is very corporate…. Is it strange to see the Japanese influence on American culture?
DEG: It’s kind of interesting and funny, because we don’t care so much about that, but when we saw the Gwen Stefani thing we said oh they see things big in this light, so it’s kind of a discovery about the American people’s point of view... Maybe we can extend some new influences and that must be a sign of the future. The eastern and western cultures are different so even if we copy each other it’s totally different. If a Japanese person dresses like a cowboy he looks totally different and if an American girl dresses like a Japanese student she looks totally different too.
GN:: What’s the craziest thing a fan has done?
DEG: It’s really hard to say because we have been doing this for like 9 years so we have experienced a lot of different kinds of things. We’ve changed a lot, the music has changed and the fans have changed. They have said so many things and demanded so many things and we’ve had so many episodes it’s hard to say. Last year when they played in Germany we had fans show up from Brazil.
GN:: Thank you very much! I can’t wait to see the show tonight!


Blogger Zucci said...

This is amazing. Thank you!

"If a Japanese person dresses like a cowboy..."
I wanna know exactly who said that, I find it highly amusing~

3:28 PM  

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