Dir En Grey is one of the hardest working bands in metal and more people really should be aware of it. They are one of the few J-Rock bands that makes an effort to regularly tour the United States. On November 1nd 2013, two days before their latest North American tour was supposed to start in Dallas, Texas they landed at Los Angeles International Airport in the midst of chaos. Some members of the band and their crew landed just before, and some just after, a man walked in and opened fire on people in the airport. It is scary to think of how close they could have been to the situation, but thankfully everyone was ok. Our hearts go out to those who were not so lucky. After the shooter was apprehended, the airport was on lock down for the rest of the day with roads blocked off for several miles around and few flights coming in and out. Despite all of this, we were able to make it to our scheduled interview with Shinya, at a hotel near the airport. Shinya has been the drummer of the band since its foundation in 1997. With the help of an interpreter, we asked Shinya a few questions about the bands current tour, recent EP, and the possibility of an upcoming full length album.
First and foremost, Shinya said that despite the tragic events of the day, he was happy to back in the United States, and the band will still be touring here as relentlessly as ever. Shinya also assures fans that, despite the bands following being smaller here, audiences in the US get the same show and the same energy as they give to their larger audiences in Japan. Shinya says there is absolutely no difference between playing here and playing at home for him. The band is back from a two-year absence from the United States due to vocalist Kyo having some issues with his vocal cords. Unfortunately, they had to cancel a planned North American tour with Asking Alexandria about a year ago because of it. When asked if Kyo’s voice was 100% and ready to go Shinya replied, somewhat cryptically, that only Kyo knows if he is 100% ready to go. Obviously the 14 date American tour has commenced and is underway and they are rocking as hard as ever so it must not be an issue.
Dir En Grey have amazingly had the exact same line up consistently throughout their entire career, an achievement very few bands can claim. They have made 8 full length albums together thus far. Currently they have just released an EP called The Unraveling, a follow-up to their most recent full length record Dum Spiro Spero. The Unrevealing features a new single and some older songs with new arrangements. According to Shinya, the new arrangements came about as a project to keep the band busy while Kyo’s vocal cords healed. One of the highlights is a new rendition of “The Final,” which has never technically been released in the US before. Especially odd considering it is one of the more popular songs with American crowds.
With a sound ranging from death and black metal to soulful rock and new metal, the band has continually kept an international audience guessing for over sixteen years. When asked how their writing process works, Shinya says that the band members write things separately and then bring the demos together and decide which ones they will work on for the album. Then they get together and jam on the songs as a group and get into the arranging process. He says they don’t go into their writing process with any pre conceived ideas of what sound they intend to capture with that record. Whether it is heavy, aggressive, funky, or melodic just comes naturally as they all work on it together. Shinya says the band will definitely be going back into the studio immediately following this tour to work on new material. At this point he can’t tell audiences what they can expect other than the promise is its going to be something very different from the previous record. Audiences will be given as taste of this direction with a promised new single to be released in January 2014. It is undoubtedly going to be something raw, unique, powerful, and awesome knowing them.
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