Japanese metal band Dir En Grey, having recorded eight full-length records and toured through Asia, Europe, South and North America, returned to the United States this fall with their “Ghoul” tour. Hailed by critics for what’s called a “transcendent sound”, the music of Dir En Grey continues to break through all language barriers as their popularity grows.
DarkMedia special correspondent JD Phillips sat down with bassist Toshiya on their stop at the House of Blues in Chicago on November 16th to talk about the band, his time on the road, and their upcoming single “Sustain the Untruth”.
JD Phillips: How are you?
JD: You collaborated with (Silent Hill score composer) Akira Yamaoka, for a remix of Rinkaku. How did that come about and would you work with him again?
T: Of course you know Akira Yamaoka is known for his game soundtracks/compositions, and of course it’s very different from Dir En Grey. But we actually knew each other from working on other things. So this time we wanted to see how someone from a totally different genre would be able to work a Dir En Grey song. We were very curious about what might come out of this collaboration, so we got him involved – and I guess things turned out for the best.
JD: Do you feel music allows you to express yourself completely or do you also have other creative outlets? If so, what are they?
T: At this point, music is definitely one of the main methods of expression for me to express myself. But you know anything can happen from now on, and there are so many other mediums of expression. Perhaps I will get into some of the other methods in the future.
JD: Dir En Grey has had some of the most fascinating music videos. How involved are you in the conception process?
T: We are definitely involved in the direction or messages – the images, the style – of the overall video clip, but it’s definitely a work-art. It’s a collaborative effort between the band and directing, but we definitely put in our two cents into the production for sure.
JD: What’s your favorite song to play live?
T: I can’t really pick out a favorite song to play live, but with every song I play there are always parts that feel very good.
JD: What do you think you’d be doing now if being a musician hadn’t worked?
T: I mean it’s impossible to think about that, you know, what I would be doing if not (being) a musician. But I feel if I wasn’t a musician today, the only thing that would really strike me is that there would be so many people I had not met, and so many things I would not have done – that much I can say.
JD: How do you pass the time on the road?
T: I do the same things anybody does to kill time: surf the internet, watch movies, read books. You know, traveling on the road, it’s a long, long, long journey, so I feel I spend a lot of time just thinking about all sorts of things.
JD: If you could witness any event – past, present, future – what would it be?
T: There’s actually a lot of things that I would not want to experience.
JD: It probably is easier to think of things you wouldn’t want to see.
T: Yeah because I’m just thinking – you know – your parents are going to die one day, thinking they’re going to leave you one day, and that’s something I don’t want to happen. So there’s a lot of things that I don’t want to experience but I can’t think of anything that I would want to experience.
JD: What kind of music do you listen to in your downtime?
T: I actually listen to a wide range of music so there is no one particular band or artist.
JD: When you first formed Dir En Grey all those years ago did you ever think that you’d still be together now?
T: Every day. I think about it every day. Yeah. It’s still so unbelievable that we’re together with the same lineup up to today. It’s been sixteen years.
JD: Can we expect the new single (Sustain the Untruth, due out in January) to have a similar sound to those on The Unraveling?
T: It’s going to be different. It’s definitely going to be something very different from The Unraveling but I don’t want to spoil the surprise by explaining too much about the upcoming single. Although I’m pretty sure that fans and listeners will probably enjoy it. It’s going to be different.
For more information about Dir En Grey (and the Ghoul 2013 tour) please visit their official website.