Sunday, December 1, 2013

Interview - ViSULOG HYSTERIC CIRCUS vol.13

The monthly event, "HYSTERIC CIRCUS," will be held at Shibuya REX on January 17, 2014 (Fri). This time brings a power-up with the venue move to Shibuya REX.
With ViSULOG PRESENTS "HYSTERIC CIRCUS Vol.13," which will adorn this rising curtain of 2014, as the first [of the year], we held a discussion with representatives from each appearing band. The four participating members are Ayumu from Glam Grammar, Jojo from THE GALLO, Chitose from Chanty, and ral from METEOROID. What kind of discussion resulted!?

Interview by Takaya Yamamoto
Translated by Ku
Republished in conjunction with

―Let's first begin with an introduction of your bands.
Chitose: The concept of our band is "piercing music," and the idea of being able to honestly express ourselves through our music.
Ayumu: When you say Chanty, don't you think "gorilla"?
Chitose: Oh, that person is Ousmane Sankhon's son, Yonkhon (laugh). It's not a joke; he's an entertainer -- DJ Yonkhon.

―As a supplement to those who don't know -- when Chanty's formation was announced, instead of photographs of the members Yonkhon's photographs were published on the official site.
Ayumu: I thought it was a strange band (laugh).
Chitose: We wanted to do something strange... Ideally, we'd wanted to get five black people together to hold our instruments, but it was really hard to find five people, so we had Yonkhon do all five roles.

―Moving along, please introduce Glam Grammar.
Ayumu: Following Yonkhon... What can I even say that's interesting?

―It's okay to give an honest introduction here (laugh).
Ayumu: More than having a concept, we wanted to make a band were we could do what we think is cool, and since everyone shared that opinion, we're a band that -- while not necessarily "freestyle rock" -- can consistently put out things we actually want to create.
Jojo: We also don't think it's too good to lock ourselves into a decision, but we use the word "heresy." Still, when I sent our band introduction to a magazine, I wrote, "theme: heresy; content: shameless extremes" (laugh). After we put that out, I thought to myself, "I wrote something really risky, huh," and from there thought that just "heresy" was fine. We also have no use for rules and perform with the thought that it's good to be able to do all kinds of music.
ral: The word METEOROID means "meteoroid*." We play with the concept that the final fall over the earth emits the most beautiful glow, and we're always touting the idea, "let's just do cool stuff."
*The band's name is in English, so ral is simply giving the Japanese equivalent to readers who may not know the word.

―I think there are [musicians] who may or may not have acquaintances; what's the reason you get close to other bands?
Chisato: If we play sessions together we get close, fast.
ral: That's right.
Chisato: Since we start with "nice to meet you" at the studio and there's a lot of time together in the green room the day of the live, we tell personal stories and in the end it's like, "Shall we go for a drink?" (laugh).

―Getting to the point you go drinking is a pretty long time.
Chisato: But in the past other bands you play with were thought of as enemies... (laugh). But we didn't dislike each other.
Ayumu: Is that how it was?
Chisato: There was some mutual feeling of distance. But recently at event [lives] themselves there's a good atmosphere, and keeping that in mind we can make friends even at events now. My goal is to make 100 (laugh).
Ayumu: Since you definitely have chances to talk when you do sessions, it's normal to get close, but if we're playing with other bands I wouldn't say that...
ral: And since everyone is busy with preparations, we don't know when it would be okay to start a conversation.
Ayumu: But on tours and such, when you're always together, you get close. When you see lives and you think, "That guy's so cool!" or, "That staging is cool," normally you hardly get to talk, but I start conversations myself. Starting with an earnest opening like, "You were super cool; how do you usually practice?" and in the end something like "Please let me treat you to a meal" (laugh).
Jojo: Since there are times I can watch someone and know they must like such-and-such musician, even I sometimes strike up a conversation, but really rarely.
Chisato: Lately there may be a trend of asking to take pictures together, too. It's an opportunity to talk, but timing an approach to talk is pretty hard.
Ayumu: Sometimes it's like, "Why're you talking to me?"
Jojo: Sometimes it is (laugh).

―At a typical event there are a lot of bands in the green room -- do you take pictures with every band?
Ayumu: Well, you pick and choose. To be frank, I pick the most popular band at the live.
Everyone: (roar of laughter)
ral: He's super-honest (laugh).
Chisato: It might be because I'm a coward but my timing for asking for pictures is really rough... So I'm really jealous of people who can go [and ask] without that kind of [hesitation].
ral: I understand that. I'm shy with strangers...
Ayumu: If I'm excited I'll just go as I please. Before this, I was with Black Gene For the Next Scene, and isn't Ice-san just super macho? My seat in the green room was next to him; he was constantly lifting like five folding chairs and weight training with them and naturally I couldn't ignore it. So I asked him like, "Um, uh, Ice-san, this is the first time we've met, but why do you maintain such a great body?" (laugh). So that was the reason, then I found out he's a fan of Vivienne. I am, too, so the talk just kept coming.

―The reasons are important. So, can I hear the reason each of you got involved with music?
Jojo: I saw my senpai performing a live at my school festival, so I think the first thought I had was "He's so cool." But at first I thought people with instruments looked cool. I wasn't able to buy an instrument, but my friends' parents bought them for them and even though they said "let's start a band," I was the only one who couldn't join their circle. At that time a friend told me, "Try singing? You don't need an instrument, right?" and that was the beginning.

―So you were a vocalist from the beginning.
Jojo: That's right. It was to get in with my circle of friends, but I also wanted to be popular with girls.

―Were you in visual kei from the beginning?
Jojo: I started with visual kei and flowed into punk. At the time I had a Mohawk, but even now there's a marked effect punk has left on me.
Chisato: Now that you mention it, I do get a punk-vibe from Jojo-san.
Jojo: I think visual kei has some parts that somehow or another look like they have no rules, and I think there are also times when it's like, "Actually, you have to do it like this," but my attitude is that I want to break that kind of thing.

―What about you, ral-san?
ral: I liked L'Arc-en-Ciel and Mr.Children, and originally I was a vocalist and guitarist. But along the way I decided I wanted to play bass, too, and I made my little brother buy a bass that pretty much only I played...
Ayumu: You're a bad brother (laugh).
ral: From there I started a band, but no matter what we couldn't find a bassist, so I said that I could play bass. In the beginning I was singing while playing. At the time I was fascinated by how good it felt to keep time with the drums, and thought, "Isn't this so much better than singing?" From there I had a longing for the bass. So I'm grateful to my little brother (laugh).

―What about you, Chisato-san?
Chisato: When I would stay up late during summer break, "BREAK OUT" came out on TV, and it was like, "What the hell is this! Something amazing's started!" (laugh). Until then I didn't know the word "visual kei" and I'd had no interest in music and was a so-called studious type. From there I delved into it in my own way bit by bit and for some reason decided I'd play the guitar. More than being interested in a particular person, I just wanted to be a part of the scene. I might have wanted to slip away from the "unpopular group" I'd been a part of until then, but even my parents said "You were kind of a creep before, but since you started playing an instrument you've leveled out" (laugh).
ral: There's this desire to walk around your hometown carrying a guitar.
Chisato: There is. Because carrying an instrument in your school uniform somehow made you a really cool person... (laugh).

―So "BREAK OUT" was your reason.
Chisato: That's right. Even saying that "BREAK OUT" changed my life is no exaggeration.
Ayumu: When I first saw "BREAK OUT," too, I thought, "Whoa, what are these people? Wearing makeup -- what is this?" I don't really know what's okay to say, but in the beginning I hated visual kei... As for music itself, my parents bought me a guitar for my graduation from junior high, and naturally I formed a band. But I didn't like that guitarists stay in the corner; I thought the center was better (laugh). Since then I started singing, but somehow it was in a hardcore band where it was almost entirely shouting instead of singing. Then one day I realized that if I kept that up I wouldn't be able to make ends meet. So I quit the band, told them I was going to Tokyo, and left.

―How did you end up in visual kei from there?
Ayumu: After I got to Tokyo I was in a band that wasn't visual kei, but we weren't getting many fans and I thought if it stayed like that I'd return to my parents' house. At that time Tara-kun (ex-176BIZ) had his eye on me and I got to sing for him as a guest. Then the CD got popular and there were also lots of fans, and I thought, "This genre's amazing! It's super fun!" And now I'm here (laugh).

―It was because of Tara-kun.
Ayumu: If Tara-chan hadn't approached me I'd have already gone back home (laugh).

―Changing the subject, what do you do on your days off?
Chisato: On my days off I relapse back into how I was in the days of the "uncool group" (laugh). Like, staying inside to the best of my ability and just sitting at my computer...
Everyone: (laugh).
Chisato: Aside from that, I also really like looking at new instruments and gear, so I go to music shops.
ral: Music shops are exciting. I go just to buy strings and before I know it I've been there for hours...

―Vocalists don't often go to music shops, do they?
Jojo: But there was a period where I thought this one guitar was cool. But I think it was probably because my friend wanted to go.
Ayumu: Naturally (laugh).
Jojo: I'm someone who easily gets lonely so I like to join the topics people with instruments [discuss]... (laugh).
Chisato: Are vocalists the fashion people?
Ayumu: They are. I could spend all day in a clothing shop.

―Is there anything you want to ask each other?
Chisato: When you make songs do you make them alone, or do you make them together at a studio, or what?
ral: For us, first we get the demo sent to us by computer from the composer, then we each play around with it, and after it takes shape to some extent we often meet at the studio.
Jojo: We also get the music from the composer, and we each arrange and memorize it, then it's like we refine the composition at the studio and focus on the details.
Ayumu: We all come together at the end, too.
Chisato: I thought it was like that. Isn't there the opposite, too, where the demo may be really good, but when you meet at the studio it's like, "Something's off?" It's like sorcery.
ral: It happens.

―Finally, please give the viewers of ViSULOG a message.
Chistao: 2014 is a year on the offensive for Chanty -- soon after the year starts we have our first sponsored live, are putting out our second single, "Yoku no Katamari," on January 29th, and have our first countrywide tour!! This will be our second time in "HYSTERIC CIRCUS," so please look forward to a chanty which has grown even more since our last appearance!!
Ayumu: As this is our second time appearing at a ViSULOG event, as a principle I'd like to show everyone even more than last time. So to the people who have come to see Glam Grammar before -- which is breaking into its second year -- and of course to the first-timers: Let's all get loose* together!
Jojo: Next year we also have a tour carrying the album, but we'll also be doing a one-man on February 23rd at Shinjuku's Fuurin Kaikan, so I think it'd be great if we can do big activities next year -- and of course this [ViSULOG] event is one, too. I think right now I seem surprisingly quiet, but I think it'd be good to show you the gap between this and really being a wild person (laugh). I'd like us to have a good time, so please [come see us].
ral: We've been rushing forward since our commencement on February 11, 2013 until now, but from December through next year we'll be starting the "GEMINI program," and we have our anniversary one-man on February 11th so I think we'll keep rapidly rushing ahead in 2014. We've also appeared in "HYSTERIC CIRCUS" several times, and I think each time is better than the last, so I'd like everyone who comes to rock out. Let's have a great live!
* This looks like a play on words; while the literal meaning translates as written, the word used is also an abbreviation for Glam Grammar.

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