Interview with Kaoru from Dir En Grey: Keep Moving Forward

Music isn’t the only sound that Japanese metal band Dir En Grey wants to get out to the world. They are calling for people everywhere to raise their voices and not just demand, but scream that the truth be revealed. In March of this year, the earthquake that hit Japan captured the attention of the world. Dir En Grey is asking for attention to be given to new matters that are arising from the quake’s aftermath.

Singer Kyo, guitarists Kaoru and Die, bassist Toshiya and drummer Shinya were, at the time of the earthquake, in a recording studio in Tokyo, working on their new album. Thankfully the band was fine, but they still had an album to make, even through the hard times that had fallen on their country.

Moving forward, Dir En Grey released the album, Dum Spiro Spero, which translates to ‘While I Breathe, I Hope,’ close to the end of summer with a supporting tour that followed. Having just begun their South American tour, Kaoru took time to answer questions concerning touring, the new album and the future for Dir En Grey and Japan.

How are you doing today?

We just got off a very long flight and arrived in Santiago for our first show on this tour, so I’m a little tired.

Are you excited to begin the tour?

South America is not a place we tour all the time, so I’m really anticipating what awaits us in the next few days. We hope to also be able to present the fans with a great show.

How did The Birthday Massacre come to be your support for the North American tour dates?

We got the offer from our agent and we’re really looking forward to touring with them.

Do you feel your fan bases mix well?

I don’t think they are exactly similar, but I’m pretty sure both fan bases will be able to find something they like out of both bands.

I would like to talk about a serious matter that your band is bringing to the public’s attention with your website campaign Scream For The Truth. What information are you trying to let people know about concerning the devastating events the occurred in Japan from the earthquake?

We ourselves are just trying to get information on what the current state in Japan is and especially of what will become of Japan in the future. However, from the information we are getting from the government, we are not sure what the truth is. It was then we realized that since we as band have the opportunity to travel abroad, we felt that we are in the position to be able to reach out and share information with others concerned by the situation.

You had a billboard up in New York City to spread the word. Do you feel not only the people of Japan, but the people of the world, are being kept in the dark on the aftermath and effects caused by the earthquake?

We are a band from Japan and what we say perhaps only applies to people living in Japan. But all over the world natural disasters, prejudice and wars are happening. Many people are affected by the misfortune and pain inflicted all over the world. We are conveying the suffering that is felt and we just want people to know.

As mentioned in your open letter on, do you feel it may be a horrible reality that the members of Dir En Grey will be part of a group of Japanese that cannot leave the county due to having been exposed to radiation?

Some may think that that was a little too over the top to say something like that. I think that if this actually happens, it would not be the decision of Japan, but the decision of the world. And if that happens, Japan would have to survive on its own, to keep the country going. If you look at the current situation, yes, I do see that one day there is a possibility of this happening. We just don’t know.

You were in the studio when the earthquake happened, did it affect the recording of the album, Dum Spiro Spero, and how so? Was there any rewriting?

No, there was no rewriting done. In fact, we were already at 80 percent completion of the writing process. Recording was, however, still in the early process at that time. In the aftermath of the earthquake, we definitely were affected by the disaster and it was reflected on our music arrangement and play. As you may already know, the title of this album also came to us through this experience.

I read it took over a year to write this album. Why do you feel it took so long for the music to develop?

Usually, once we decide the release, date we work towards that, but this time we didn’t fix a release date and instead worked on the album until we thought [it] was done. We got into the trial and error phase and we knew we wanted to produce something that we have never done before. It was also important for us that we receive that extra push to hold the band together to keep moving forward.

What is the meaning behind the album title, Dum Spiro Spero, and the album’s artwork to you?

The album title came to us after the March 11 earthquake, as we witnessed and lived through the aftermath of the disaster. The title, as the meaning says, is a medium of hope. It may be perceived as being something too optimistic, but just as I mentioned before, light exists in darkness, so we didn’t want to hide anything but just convey what we needed to.

As for the design, we didn’t want to use graphics or elaborate editing work, but we wanted to use something real. We had an idea of shooting photographs in a forest, and ended up with the bamboo image you see on the cover, which is pretty Japanese.

It will soon be 15 years that Dir En Grey has been together and you have had a consistent line up. What do you think keeps you all together and wanting to keep creating music?

We are always asked this question. The biggest thing for us is that we have respect for each other. I think we also know that we are able to convey what we have to this day because we are the five of us. In the future, who knows, there may come a time when we may decide to take a break for a breather, but I can’t imagine us breaking up.

Would you ever consider re-recording old material?

We do not just get around to re-recording our old tracks for the sake of it, or just because we have nothing else to record. If we feel like we can come up with something interesting out of our old songs, then sure we would do it. We just don’t know when the time will come, but when it feels right it will happen.

What do you see for the next 15 years?

For me, personally and ideally, I would just like to be able to continue being and playing in this band. I hope I can convey my messages through my music even more effectively than today. It would be my wish to be able to do that.

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