We wanted to create this album to reflect the current atmosphere
--Dir en Grey has completed their 8th album, “DUM SPIRO SPERO.” At a total of 14 songs - including the three singles “Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami,” “LOTUS,” and “DIFFERENT SENSE” - this is an album that even non-fans should listen to. Looking back at your previous album, “UROBOROS,” your superior performance skill and progressive song development collided within your epoch-making literary style, and it was a successful album that took the band’s originality to the limit.
Kaoru (guitar): Around the time of “MACABRE” (2000), we were constantly listening to King Crimson and Pink Floyd. Maybe we were attracted by the fact that we couldn’t really understand them. Since Dir en Grey formed, our way of thinking has been “If it’s cool, it’s good.” Having said that, it’s not that we were just putting out music that’s not really that difficult; we were thinking about how to create an arrangement that sounds like Dir en Grey. As time went by, we wanted to make music that had more substance, so we created “UROBOROS.” We wanted to create an album to display the music that we’ve been developing all this time - the music we’ve been trying to make, the music that only we can make - and I think that “UROBOROS” achieves that.
--With a sense of accomplishment in your hearts after successfully creating that kind of album, you delved deeper into the mission you’d had with with “UROBOROS.” For that, you relied on all five senses, and went through on unexplored terrain. It seems like you wrote the songs, then gathered together as a band, so that when you finally started recording you were able to see the path of the album come together little by little.
K: As usual, we didn’t discuss the songs. But even though we didn’t talk about it, if feels like we all tried something different from “UROBOROS” while working on this album. But it was really time consuming. We wrote four or five songs in the first half of the year, and we started to wonder if we could finish. Although it’s fun when the work takes time, we started to doubt whether we’d be able to finish the album to our satisfaction. Rather than just throwing something together, we only want to put out music that’s been crafted, and looking back on that we realized that it was strange that we never considered the ramifications of that philosophy. So we expanded on our songs by letting the other members listen to riffs and things that we put together.
--This album has a lot of good riffs, and there are a lot of parts that shower the listener with questions, to a greater degree than on previous albums. Of course, it’s not just that. It’s each song’s variation, and scene development, and artistry. To quote you, all of the songs are pursuing the question, “Changing as little as possible, to what extent can we create music that’s never been heard before?” In one of the songs all five members are hectically replacing one another as though struggling to take the leading roll, or to be the “King of the Mountain.” The former tends toward naked aggression, and in the latter the performances call to mind vibrant images, so that when you’re finished listening you’re attacked with the understanding of the ups and downs of this violent and magnificent story. Then, in your previous single “DIFFERENT SENSE,” your trademark guitar solos make a come-back, but you made your listeners nervous with the bluesy quality of the solos in “VANITAS” and “Juuyoku,” despite the hard rock lyrics.
K: I just started doing something that I hadn’t done for a long time. We wanted to create this album to reflect the current emotional atmosphere. If you listen, you hear the music; how many years did we make music that was just there to help along the vocals? Here, different performers rise to the top, and I think it’s good to have songs that stand out. It’s more interesting to listen to as the various members’ emotions comes forward. Simply put, leaving the atmosphere and expression of the whole song to the person playing the guitar solo is the easy way out.
While we still have breath, we won’t give up hope
--I’m also very interested in the CD jacket artwork. In it, Kannon, the thousand-armed Goddess of Mercy, sits in a bamboo grove in the half-light. Looking at that very Japanese scene on the jacket, I sense a strangely “Japanese” mood in the music. Is this is a misinterpretation?
K: With this jacket, we wanted to create an image with things that exist rather than going with an illustration or something manufactured. We really created this image. When we thought about where to take the picture, we got the idea to do it in nature. We didn’t mean to create something so “Japanese,” it was just a happy accident that we wound up in a bamboo grove. In our case, we had to link together different parts of the album at the very end. It’s not that we were trying to give off this very Japanese vibe, but because we all live in Japan, Kyo’s (vocals) melodies and tempos, and also the guitar riffs, would probably have a “Japanese” atmosphere.
--For the last question, let’s touch on the album title. “DUM SPIRO SPERO” is a Latin aphorism that translates to “While I still have breath, I won’t give up hope.”
K: Speaking for myself, there was a time when I thought about having done the band for 14 years, and thought about how much longer I’d keep doing it. And when we finished this album, I had this sense that I’d just keep going. That is, the title reflects what we wanted to say. Right after the Tohoku Earthquake, when we talked about what we should do about recording, we decided that we should do whatever we possibly could and get out an album that ties in a message of hope. We filled the album with that message.