Girugamesh interview (2011.03)
Before their concert in Budapest, back in in March, 2011, I sat down with the guys from Girugamesh to ask them a couple of questions about their music, history and their recent album, GO.
First, I would like to ask you about your new album, GO. Your ealier albums had darker, more aggressive sound, while the new one, sounds much lighter and a lot more positve. What caused this drastic change?
Яyo: The new album is much more vocal and melody oriented than the previous ones, with songwriting-wise, we wanted to widen the possibilities and have much more variety, that is why we tried a new challenge.
You already had several concerts since the release. How does it feel to play these new, brighter songs live and how do they fit together with the more aggressive older songs?
ShuU: As we now have all these more pop oriented songs, our setlist is much more diverse than before. So, we have rock, pop and dance songs, but all these are still Girugamesh songs, they represent us and with these, we can show our fans, that our musicality has widened.
And how did the audience react to the new tracks?
ShuU: So far we did not get any bad impressions from them, but we always see many smiling faces in the audience, so I guess they like them.
I’ve read in an earlier interview that for this album, you used a new working method: you did not come up with a general concept for the release, just started to work on new material individually, with only minimal guidelines. Why did you decide to change and how did it work out?
Яyo: We wanted to widen our songwriting, so, that is why we decided not to have a general concept this time, we just said, let’s go, you can compose any kind of material you like and if you think what you created is cool, it is cool, just bring it when we get together to work with what we have. And it worked out pretty well.
GO has very strange cover artwork, with a big G letter in the middle, with mountains, planets and so on inside and also with a car driving on skyscaper. Who came up with the concert and who did the artwork?
ShuU: It was made by our regular designer, but actually, the concept itself came from me. Basically my idea was to have a big G in the middle of the cover, to make it stand out, to have the maximum impact for the fans, to make everyone notice the letter. And inside the G, you can see these futuristic or decadent pictures: we wanted to display the feeling of the future, how it will be. But I also have a question for you: How did you think and feel about the cover, when you first saw it?
I thought that it is strange, as I did not expect anything like this from the band. Based on it, I could not tell what to expect from the album, but it also made me curious.
ShuU: Actually we did not like the idea of us, being categorized into only one particular kind of style, so that is why we did not want the cover to suggest anything like that. That is why it looks completely different from our previous works, that is why we wanted something “strange” as you said, that people can not categorize us so easily. You know: “Do not judge the book by its cover.”
And what about the cover of the previous album, NOW, with the little kid on it? That was also quite unusual and unexpected.
ShuU: The basic concept for that cover was that backthen, we celebrated our sixth anniversary and we were thinking about who would Girugamesh look like if it was not a band, but a human being. So, we found this little boy, who looked kind of naughty, like us.
There was also a special version for GO, that included a live album as well. How did you came up with the idea of doing a live album?
ShuU: Our strongest points are our live show, that is why we wanted to show the world, that we can be really great on stage. Basically we did it, so everyone can listen and hear how we play live.
And what do you prefer, studio work or playing live?
Most bands release a concert DVD after each of their albums, however you only released one so far, Crazy Crazy Crazy back in 2009. Do you have plans for a new one maybe?
ShuU: We are thinking about making a new live DVD, that would include the show we recently played in Chiba, our hometown, which started the current world tour and we are also shooting videos during each stop of this tour. So, it would include on and off stage material from the European, Asian and Japanese part of the tour.
So, there might be something from Budapest as well?
ShuU: Yeah, definitely!
This is your longest tour in Europe, how were the concerts so far?
Nii: This is the first EU tour for as in two year, as we did not come after the release of NOW, so we honestly forgot about how exciting it is to be on-stage in Europe, but during the first show in Moscow, it all came back to us and we felt really great and from that moment on, we felt that we can do our best again.
So, is it very different to play in Japan and overseas?
Satoshi: Generally in Europe, fans are more active, they dance to ballads and mid-tempo songs as well, which is not really trypical in Japan.
Yeah, they prefer doing all these para-para moves during the show, right?
Satoshi: Yes, but they do not do that for ballads and such, so, during those, they usually do not move around much.
Satoshi, usually, what are your main inspirations when you write your lyrics?
Satoshi: For GO, my main inspiration was our bond with fans and I wanted to write lyrics that show our appreciation and gratefulness to fans without whom we wouldn’t be here. There is a strong bond between us and the fans and we know a lot of people, whom, without Girugamesh, we wouldn’t even met.
So, you usually have an idea what do you want to write about? Or you only decide after you listen to the music the others wrote?
Satoshi: Most of the times, I listen to the songs first, but, for example, during tours, like now, sometimes it happens, that I get inspiration from somewhere and I just start to write lyrics, without listening anything. And then, after some songs are done, I listen to them, choose some of the lyrics I’ve already written, and try if they match any of the songs.
How do you share the songwriting duties?
Яyo: I am the main composer. However everyone can bring their ideas, their riffs, things they’ve done with ProTools, I am just the one who gathers all these and put them together into a song.
What kind of music do you prefer to listen and does it have an effect on your songwriting?
Яyo: We listen to every kind of music; bands from overseas and of course Japanese music as well, everything, really. But I was influenced most by American nu-metal bands, like Linkin Park, Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and also, Prodigy for digital sounds.
And back, when you started to play music, what was the thing that made you decide to take it seriously and become professional musicans.
Яyo: Basically, in the beginning, we got together, because we all had the same taste, we all loved the bands I just mentioned.
Why did you choose the name of Gilgamesh as your bandname?
Яyo: Actually, it is from Final Fantasy, it is the name of a character that appears in the games several times.
Oh, so it has nothing to do with Gilgamesh, the great, legendary king of ancient times?
Яyo: *laughs* Oh, nothing at all. It is just for the impact actually.
Did you play in any other bands before Girugamesh?
Яyo: Only Satoshi.
ShuU: Yeah, Satoshi had prior bands before Girugamesh, but for all of us, in this band was when we decided to take it really seriously, to become full-time musicians.
Back in 2003, when you started, you had a quite typical visual kei look, with lots of make-up, crazy hairstyle and so on, but after a few year, you dropped all these. Despite this, do you still consider yourself a visual kei band?
All: Yeah, visual kei.
But then what does visual kei mean for you?
ShuU: I think the visual kei bands can do the best job in combining the fashion and look and the music. However nowadays there are so many similar bands are around, doing similar things, so, we decided to go on a little bit different way, but I feel we still have this capability I mentioned, to combine these two elements.
And what do you think you would be doing now, if you were not a musician?
Яyo: I would be working for Sony Computer Entertainment.
ShuU: I think I would just live a standard, normal life, being envious of the professional musicans.
Nii: Me too, I think I would just live a normal life, working for a company, wearing ties and jacket and only play guitar as a hobby, at home.
Satoshi: I would be unemployed. *laughs*
Did you know anything about Hungary, before you came here?
ShuU: Hot springs! There are a lot of them here. And it is close to Austria and also, it is quite famous for the classical music culture.
Did you get a chance to see the city?
ShuU: Oh, not at all unfortunately. Tight schedule.
And the final question is the usual one: what is you message for your fans?
ShuU: As you probably heard already, yesterday the history’s most powerful earthquake hit Japan, and we are very aware of this disaster and that many people are suffering now… So, we are honestly very glad to be in Hungary for the first time, to play a show for our fans here, but at the same time, we are very worried about our land and people, however we will still try to do our best tonight. And please, keep on supporting us and the people in Japan, that are suffering now.
Disclaimer: this interview was originally arranged for soundofjapan.hu.
Satoshi / vocals
Nii / guitar
ShuU / bass
Яyo / drums