Interview with Dir En Grey: Becoming Unraveled

Dir En Grey are a heavy metal band from Osaka, Japan, that has been around since 1997. They formed after La:Sadie’s broke up and reformed with four of the old La:Sadie’s members and added a bassist named Toshiya. Dir En Grey typically use events going on in their everyday life to record new music, and are one of Japan’s most successful metal acts.

In 2014, Dir En Grey are looking to release a new album and may possibly revisit the American shores for yet another visit. This month, however, they’re coming to the Tri-State Area as part of their Ghoul tour, which stops at Philly’s Theater Of Living Arts on Nov. 9 and NYC’s Irving Plaza on Nov. 11.

I got to speak recently with Toshiya about touring, their upcoming plans, recent events in Japan, and more. The transcription is below:

Your tour this time around to America is entitled Ghoul. Was this just a random name you thought up, or is there is some meaning to it?

Actually, this time, the tour title is not just for the American tour, but for the whole leg—including the Japanese tour—is called Ghoul. There are also a lot of subtitles to it. Basically, there is no meaning behind the title, but there is a difference to what we are presenting to the fans. However, we do not have a subtitle system for the upcoming American tour.

With your recent EP, The Unraveling, are you trying to bring forward old studio outtakes that most of the public didn’t get to hear, or were these re-recordings of songs that you wished to go back to?

The latest album we put out was a mini-album called The Unraveling. In that particular album, we had only one new studio track. The rest were all re-recordings of previously released songs.

What is the message of your song “Unraveling?”

Basically what we wanted to put across through The Unraveling was just what we thought was cool at that particular moment.

Your new single, “Rinkaku,” hit number four on the Japanese Oricon charts this year. Any advice for foreign musicians trying to find their way to get charted on the Oricon?

(Laughs) You probably need to get yourself a big sponsor. In fact, I am curious how Dir En Grey can chart into the American Billboard charts.

I would imagine doing well on the radio charts through the College Music Journal. I’d recommend that.

As for Japan, we do not have college radio like you guys have in the States. It’s mainly the power of the media and the press. That is where the support comes from.

What was the inspiration for “Rinkaku?”

For Dir En Grey, we don’t have any special inspiration. Basically, we are inspired by things that we do on a daily basis, the things that we see, the things that we do just in real life. That is how we go into songwriting. There is nothing special in regards to the song “Rinkaku.”

What can you tell me about your new album coming in 2014?

Of course, at this point, I can’t say anything concrete because we are still working on it. I have a feeling the next album will be something a little less complicated in regards to the song structure, and musically as well. Something a little bit simpler. But, of course, you can’t take my word for it right now, since everything is still not confirmed.

Are you aiming to have any new songs featured on movie soundtracks next year, kind of like how “Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami” was on the Saw III soundtrack?

If we got an offer, obviously we definitely would want to and be interested in being in another part of a movie soundtrack.

Looking at the current state of Japan, are foundations like the Red Cross still involved in the aid of people over there following the earthquake and tsunami disaster of 2011?

Yes, they are still active over there.

Has the concert industry in Japan changed much after 2011 for Japanese as well as foreign bands who wish to perform in Japan?

Actually, I feel since the March 11 incident, the whole industry has gotten a little more active. People are even more into doing concerts and stuff like that so there weren’t any bad effects lingering in that regard.

What do you feel like the aftermath of your Scream For The Truth campaign has accomplished looking back on the past two years?

If you remember, the whole campaign of Scream For The Truth was done to raise awareness following the earthquake and tsunami. We weren’t collecting money or anything like that. The whole goal behind it was to get people to look at Japan to want to see what is really going on there. I can’t really say about the results of what happened.

What we were trying to do was to bring people’s attention to what was going on in Japan. Of course, when you think about it today, since it’s been two years, there are different ways to bring forward attention to a topic that happened so long ago.

What types of things do you have in the works for fans of yours looking forward to your concerts at Budokan next year? What is it like for a band of your level to perform at Budokan?

First and foremost, it is always an honor for any band to be able to perform at Budokan. We feel that way every single time. As for what we are doing next year, the last full album we released was Dum Spiro Spero, and that was released about two years ago. A lot of things have happened since the release of that album. We will end the album cycle at the Budokan show.

Thinking back on your Wacken 2008 concert, what did you learn about your worldwide audience, and have preparations for big concerts of yours since then changed very much after experiencing a concert like Wacken?

Of course, playing at Wacken in 2008 was an amazing experience for us. We learned a lot of new things as well. We are also looking forward to playing the next big stage when that comes to us. We are always looking forward to presenting stages in order to present their current selves, the current music, the current band, as well as feeling out to the audience.

Any final words?

The band is thinking and hoping that we will be able to go back to the States sometime next year. There are a lot of exciting things coming up, we have new music to share, and our new album is coming next year. We hope that our fans will wait for us when and if they come back in 2014.

Dir En Grey play at Philly’s Theater Of Living Arts on Nov. 9 and NYC’s Irving Plaza on Nov. 11. For more information, go to