Kaoru, lead-guitarist of DIR EN GREY, sat down with VKH just before the band's sold-out show at The Gramercy Theater in New York. With an extremely relaxed posterior in the lounge of the venue, he discusses what brought DIR EN GREY back to a more visually expressive style, what may be next for DIR EN GREY, and much more!
VKH: We heard about the paralysis in your hand. How are you doing with that right now, especially on an overseas tour?
Kaoru: Yes, since the beginning I’ve been using tape on my right hand while I play, and also using a sort of double-sided tape on my thumb to keep from dropping my pick.
VKH: Compared to your previous North American tour, this one holds considerably fewer shows. Is there a particular reason behind that?
Kaoru: Our schedule and the timing of the tour didn’t quite sync very well, but we tried to do as many shows as we could in this short amount of time.
VKH: In Mexico, you performed with Jupiter. How was it performing with a band in a different country that contrasts both musically and visually?
Kaoru: There was really no difference (laughs)
VKH: There was a time when DIR EN GREY decided to tone down the theatrics, but after 2013, we were surprised to see a sudden reappearance of both of these things. What was the reason behind this?
Kaoru: Tone down..?
VKH: Wearing makeup, for example.
Kaoru: Ah! So you’re saying we do it a bit more now than a few years ago… Well, there’s no real reason for it, [we] just wanted to start wearing it again (laughs)
VKH: You released a design in collaboration with MOSES earlier this year. Do you plan to continue experimenting with fashion at all?
Kaoru: If someone were to approach me and offer to collaborate on something again, then I would love to. (laughs)
VKH: Your song Revelations of Mankind was used in Resident Evil 2. Did you write the song for the video game or was the song chosen for it after it was recorded?
Kaoru: For that tie-up, we had recorded the song already, and [Capcom, the game company] requested to use it.
VKH: We heard that “Sustain the Untruth” makes a statement about the government’s supposed attempt to cover up the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. What is the connection between sustain the untruth and your feelings in those developments?
Kaoru: Everyone has a different idea of what the song conveys, but we don’t want to go too deep into it and let the listeners think what they want to think.
VKH: When ARCHE was released, translations were available in its European version. What other steps are DIR EN GREY taking to make their music and the official meaning behind the lyrics more accessible to fans?
Kaoru: Yes, well, we were able to print the translated lyrics in the European version as they released a physical cd, whereas here in the U.S. it was just a digital release. If we had the opportunity to release the cd here then we’d definitely include the translations.
VKH: Do you have any plans for the next CD?
Kaoru: Well, after this tour is over we’ll be starting work on new songs, so next year [we’ll release one.]
VKH: How does the album artwork relate to album’s title and concept?
Kaoru: Each member comes up with their own impression from the songs on the album, which colors to use and such, and we’ll meet with a designer and put it all together.
VKH: Any member have particular hand in art direction
Kaoru: We all work on it together.
VKH: Are there any songs on ARCHE that you have a particular hand in writing? If so, which ones?
Kaoru: We all write them together.
VKH: Recent ones too?
Kaoru: Recent, huh? (laughs) Well, "Revelation of mankind" was particularly difficult to write and took a long time, so that one still sticks with me.
VKH: What is your creative process when writing a song? Do ideas for songs come to you naturally or do you have to sit down with the purpose of writing new songs?
Kaoru: From the beginning I came up with a lot of guitar riffs -- really hard, violent ones. Each song always starts with the guitar. I thought it would end up being too long of a song so I stopped writing. (laughs) After we finished the previous album I went back and reworked it, making it a bit shorter and more clear.
VKH: In the music video for Uroko why is the band eating a mermaid?
Kaoru: (laughs) …What was the meaning behind that? I’m sure there was a reason for it, but I’ve forgotten. (laughs)
VKH: Who usually comes up with the ideas for the promotional videos?
Kaoru: The director (laughs).
VKH: For music videos during the GAUZE anniversary show, you blacked out your faces on the screens. What was the reason behind that?
Kaoru: We thought it would be interesting to do that for the old PVs… There's no real hidden meaning for it. Well, other than they’re pretty old. (laughs)
VKH: How do you view your older style from when you first began?
Kaoru: Hmm, well, back then we were trying to visually express ourselves…we’ve changed a lot over the years (in regards to how we do that)
VKH: What’s the next step for DIR EN GREY? World domination?
Kaoru: Maybe not that (laughs), well we usually stick to a certain routine, producing an album and then touring. I’d like to do something spontaneous, something fun. [For example] we’ve never played an outdoor venue here in new York, so that would be interesting.
VKH: Do you have any future plans that you would like to share?
Kaoru: Well, every two years or so we’re able to come out here, and we want everyone to enjoy themselves at the show since it’ll be awhile before we come back.
VKH: Thank you very much for your time! Would you please send a message to your fans and our readers?
Kaoru: After our show at Budokan in February we’ll go back into the studio to record, and by next year we’ll have a new album, and hopefully we can come back [to the States] in 2017.
*Special thanks to DIR EN GREY's management, Rubab, and staff for making this interview possible!