Here follows a very interesting interview with Ruki, the singer in GazettE!
Ruki interview – Ongaku to hito Nov. 2013
Translation credits: Heresiarchy
When this magazine comes out, you’ll probably be about done with the world tour.
Ruki: Yeah, it overlapped a bit with our promotion period.
I’d like to ask about that first. It’s really been a while since you went overseas for a tour.
Ruki: It has. It had been about 6 years since the actual lives. And we’ve been to Russia recently. The live was really fun, but as expected, getting there was horrible. When we arrived, we were already tired (laugh)
But 6 years ago you moved around Europe a lot, didn’t you?
Ruki: We did, but it was all centered on the live houses. That’s why we got to dislike it. Because the schedule was tight, and we moved around by bus. The bus would be parked next to the live house, and then we would get awoken by fans’ voices every day. So to be really honest, I only have bad memories of that (laugh). Also, we had a lot of invites to events, but we declined.
If it was that hard, why go this time?
Ruki: Recently, there’s been this mood in the band that we want some kind of a motivation. So we thought that we would go now. For a while now, here we’d go on a countrywide tour after releasing an album, and in summer we would go to festivals and that became pretty ordinary so we thought we would do something different. So I guess you could say we decided on it because we felt like it.
But it’s not just about the going, right? You’re anticipating to gain something as a band.
Ruki: We are. It’s different now than it was 6 years ago. Now, there are ways to deliver content other than on CDs so it’s also easier to reach overseas. So we wondered what it would be like if we went now, and we also wanted to set a single goal for the band.
Ruki: In the end, I guess we want to become the kind of band that gets invited for a tour in the US. We don’t want to be going away somewhere, but to be called over from there, and this is a way of planting seeds for that kind of thing.
You’re setting a new goal for the band.
Ruki: Yes. Even though it’s overlapping with the album promotion (laugh).
By the way, in this album there’s also a new goal, or rather, somewhere you are going with it?
Ruki: There is. There were a lot of things we learned from TOXIC and DIVISION, so this one ended up being a completely different album. Those two are really inclined a certain way—or should I say we were making them very experimentally, they were very conceptual, so simply said, they were narrowly-focused albums.
You’re a band that managed to get to Tokyo Dome so what should you do next? I feel like in both TOXIC and DIVISION, you were looking for the answer to that. But this time, the band again moves in a completely different direction.
Ruki: We first decided on the concept of expressing the irregularities of all five members. That’s why the title BEAUTIFUL DEFORMITY came even before the songs.
Translated, it’s similar to “beautiful heretics.
Ruki: Yeah. And this time, all of the members brought songs, and we made it in a way that we couldn’t complete it until everyone had a song in it. So, the members who don’t usually make songs also turned them in. And also, we did the song-selection meetings until everyone agreed on things, so it took some time.
So actually what you focused on was the five of you.
Ruki: Yeah, that’s why this stage was different from what we did before making TOXIC or DIVISION.
The previous two albums were an innovation for the band and they were really emphasizing uniqueness, and were also really extroverted, right. But this one is the opposite, an album that you made directed towards yourselves.
Ruki: That’s right. It’s not about this and that about our position in the scene. It’s first what the five of us are.
You’re a person who has a dream for the band, or a really strong aspiration.
Ruki: I am.
I mean, since you want to put that aspiration into shape more properly, you made this kind of album. That’s why I thought what you fussed over was the five of you.
Ruki: To be honest, DIVISION and TOXIC were albums made because the state of the band was not very good.
In other words, they’re albums that were made with you taking the lead.
Ruki: Yeah. After all, when you play in a band for 10 years, the member’s preferences and musical style tend to change. And because they’re different, they aren’t all included in the band—or should I say, there’s a feeling that it can’t all be included. And through talking with everyone during our previous tour, I realized that there is discontent in the band.
With the other four?
Ruki: Yes. That with how the band is now, they can’t do things freely, that they have a sense of belonging to a company called the GazettE. I realized there is that kind of dissatisfaction.
Why do you think they became dissatisfied?
Ruki: It’s because of the limits of the band image that was created along the way. Things like, that the GazettE is no good if it’s not dark. That it’s no good if the tuning is not a certain way. These are things that came about spontaneously during our 10 years.
But the key person in creating these limits was you?
Ruki: In the end, that’s how it was. DIVISION, in particular, was like that. It was like, ‘If there’s no other way, we’ll make a CD with just my songs.’ It was made with that kind of feeling.
You mean, you were in a position of so much control over the band.
Ruki: We’ve always been a band where a lot of the songs were made by me, but Uruha and Aoi also make songs, and also we aren’t even a band where you’d ask who the leader is. But, since a long time ago, I’ve been proposing and suggesting things a lot. Saying things like, ‘let’s make it like this,’ or ‘these kind of visuals are nice,’ and that’s a fairly forward way of turning things in.
And the other four?
Ruki: They’d be like, ‘That’s good.’ So it’s not like I’m pressuring everyone at all, it’s just that I come up with more ideas than everyone and have more things I want to do and I bring those in. And I think it would be a good thing to have opposition to that and if there are other ideas. But the one that brings things like that the most is always me. And then I want to make them soon, and as things speed up…
…the band has turned like this.
Ruki: Yeah. But with bands I like, such as LUNA SEA, it’s natural that the vocalist is the one that pulls the band forward, but there are also members with intense characters that don’t yield to the vocalist, and the main composer is also not the vocalist. So with me being the vocalist, I do have the position of pulling the band forward, but to have a band where the other members are just along for the ride…
That’s not the kind of band you’d imagined.
Ruki: Exactly. It’s not interesting to just have a band backing the vocalist. I want us to be a band where the member’s musical individualities collide more. Of course, I often say ‘I want to do it like this,’ but I don’t want the members to just get in on that. I realize, though, that it turned out this way probably because there are limits to this band called the GazettE.
But that’s what bands are like, aren’t they. Plus, when you play in a band for a long time, it’s normal that there’s some kind of format or set model.
Ruki: You could say that as a band that’s had 10 years since formation, a band that’s made it to the Tokyo Dome, that’s the pattern we surrender to. But that’s why even so, I focus so much on things like the impulse that got me into music, on my inner child.
And so you made TOXIC.
Ruki: But, if I do the music and the artwork and everything in that way, then naturally that’s what could make them into just a backing band. Of course, then the personality of other members wouldn’t appear in songs, either. Then for arranging, they would just do what I who composed the songs tell them, and everything that isn’t close to that sort of playing disappears. That’s what a backing band is, right? I felt very uneasy that the GazettE was becoming like that.
The name popped up before but, I guess the band image that you have always been pursuing is one similar to LUNA SEA.
Ruki: Because that’s the balance, or band image, that I want. Because my ideal band is the one whose members have such strong individual sounds that when you hear a song you can guess, “that’s that person’s song” and that when you hear the band’s sound, you know, “that’s them,” just like you can for LUNA SEA.
And this is an album that’s aiming for that.
Ruki: That’s why we talked a lot among ourselves. Not just superficially. We wondered how far we could go with this kind of idea. I think this album is one where we spent a lot of time on something like that.
This is the first time you say it but, you’re a person who’s had this band image up until now, and yet I’ve always thought that the band you’re in is clearly not close to that. I guess it really feels like since Tokyo Dome, it was you in particular who led the band, and everyone else was just there.
Ruki: That’s what TOXIC and DIVISION are.
Yeah. That’s why I’m wondering what you thought about the fact that the band was not nearing the ideal you imagined.
Ruki: Well…it’s not fun doing it. It’s not that I want to stand out above everyone else in this band, and I do think we should be a band where all five of us stand out. But, there’s the side of me that rushes into things… After all, I’m the one who says ‘I want to do this,’ and of course I want them to come along. So…I think that probably, there are also members who lost their individuality in all this. And, if the members lost interest in including themselves and just solved everything with saying ‘I’m fine with just following,’ then that would probably be it—I would give up on a band like that. If they said things like, ‘He said he’d do it, so let’s leave everything to him.’ But, I mean, it clearly is not like that.
In what way is it not?
Ruki: That was the dissatisfaction from the members I felt during the previous tour. Clearly there are things they want to do too. And if there are, then that changes things, doesn’t it? If that’s the case, they should bring things in more. There might be limits to our band right now but I want them to make songs that will surpass those, and I want to hear those things.
As in, if you want to do something, bring it in.
Ruki: I noticed something about that. For example, even if it’s something that’s clearly different from what the person themselves want, the song they bring is somehow a song that would be released on a single. And like, that’s not the real you? There were times at song-selection meetings, too, when I thought, “Is this what you really want to do?” They probably thought that if they don’t make a “the GazettE-like” song, it wouldn’t pass at the meeting.
There are those who, like you, can quickly act on the things they want, and those who can’t, even though they have something they want to do.
Ruki: We’ve been playing together for 10 years, so I understand them. That’s why I think “Is this what you really want to do?” and that’s why when I say, “Isn’t this the way you want to make it?” they say, “Ah, is it okay that way?” Maybe it’s only normal that they think that way, or maybe that’s a natural way of doing things. If the band is to continue on, I think that we need the right timing to do this kind of thing. So I guess that’s why that became the theme for this album.
And, I think that it turned out to be an album that reached your ideal.
Ruki: I’m glad if it’s like that. And that’s why overseas is the same, and appearing on festivals like Summer Sonic is like that, too. We wanted to test ourselves in a space where we’re not at home. What can we achieve in front of people who don’t know us, in a place where visual kei feels out of place? Daring to throw ourselves into a place like that is very like us, isn’t it.
Being able to play Summer Sonic for a regular band feels like a status statement though.
Ruki: It’s not like that. It’s more like, we can test out our band’s strength, and come capture some fans. That’s what we’re like and I’m glad we are.
You’re someone who’s forever obsessing about the band, aren’t you.
Ruki: Even if I were to do something like solo, I’d probably make it band-style, so there would be no point in being solo at all. Because the GazettE is the thing I want to do the most, and because it’s a place where I know all the strong points of the other members.
And that there is your strong point.
Ruki: Eh, why so? (laugh)
Even though there are a lot of things about the members that don’t go the way you wanted, you’re able to have this kind of feeling because you don’t reproach or make any complaints.
Ruki: Ah, right. Or actually, it’s more that I end up worrying. When I suddenly present an idea and proceed with it, I wonder, ‘Is everyone else okay?’
But when you compare the workload with others…
Ruki: I have an overwhelming amount, but I also like it that way, so it’s totally fine. I don’t mind doing the artwork without sleeping, and I know how amazing the process of completing a PV is because I’m present while they’re being edited.
But that’s probably something that’s difficult to share with the others.
Ruki: It is. But even though this is all part of our band, they’re not interested in it, and that’s really a shame, you know.
You probably have a strong wish to share even that as a band, right. It’s fun by yourself, but you’d want to share it with others too.
Ruki: Yeah…there’s probably that too.
So making this kind of album was something essential both to the band and to you personally.
Ruki: I think that came about very naturally. It’s not even that we thought ‘let’s do this’ and then did it—it’s because there was a moment when we thought we’d be able to do it now and so we did.
What was it like, completing it?
Ruki: The best. It had a different sense to it than the albums we made so far. We didn’t try to picture a final product, so it’s very fresh. Of course, that’s because you can feel that all five of us made it. Albums that were made according to what I’d imagined often had problematic parts appearing in different ways. Stuff that should’ve been arranged a bit more. Also, things according to plan turn out to be dull, after all.
Because the real pleasure of being in a band is being able to do things that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own.
Ruki: I guess there’s a feeling similar to that in here.
By the way, my favourite song on this album is the third one, UNTIL IT BURNS OUT.
What you’re singing about in this song is linked to what we are talking about here, isn’t it.
Ruki: Because I’m singing about the band, yeah. About the band’s attitude towards the present and the future.
I knew it right away. In short, it’s “I’ll dream until I burn out.” A song of a man who can’t get away from a dream about a band (laugh).
Ruki: Yeah. Very genuine (laugh). After all…what I’m afraid of the most is that feeling disappearing.
Ruki: Yeah. There are people who end up losing that feeling even though they are in bands. I hold very dear that impulse that got me here in the first place. I don’t ever want to forget the feelings I had back then. I’m scared that my motivation for getting into music and my reason to be in a band will slip away from me. Because I don’t want to become someone who only aims for the sales without even noticing, or who aims to become a household name.
‘I tell the youthful days I can’t go back to/In the future that’s still uncertain/I’ll continue to picture my dream’—only a really romantic guy could write those lyrics.
Ruki: Hahaha. But personally, I also think, ‘It’s just a band.’ After all, aren’t bands something that you start doing because you really enjoy it? There’s no need to consider it as something really difficult. So we should be having fun, and should be able to express our feelings.
But of course, there are bands who can’t continue with just that kind of simple thinking. In the end, those are human relationships. Both bands continuing on and ending. There are crude relationships there, and cold relationships. But it’s interesting, because all that becomes sound.
Ruki: Exactly. I’ve always understood that that’s the most important thing. We also originally had a crude relationship.
I guess so. Bands that are all, “Aim for Tokyo Dome!” are usually like that (laugh).
Ruki: But when you go on for ten years, it’s normal to turn out like this. So I think that an album like this was necessary, and because of that, we are now at our most suitable as a band.
If you went on tour overseas when it wasn’t like that, you’d definitely fight and break up (laugh).
Ruki: But we did go and a good thing about us is that it ends up feeling like a field trip, or having the atmosphere of one (laugh). It’s even fun to sleep all huddled together in the bus.
Is that so (laugh).
Ruki: We still have that kind of schoolboy mood, and we essentially get along well. In other words, we don’t really have a leader. Although, it’s fine for anyone to take on the role of guiding the band. I think that being like that is appropriate for us.
Ruki: Because there are five heads here. Isn’t it best to do things with everyone using their own head? It must be better than everything being done by one, and it also seems that we can do interesting things like this. So doing things this way must be good.
Band: the GazettE
|Vocal: Ruki||Guitar: Aoi||Guitar: Uruha||Bass: Reita||Drums: Kai|
Other posts about the GazettE on my blog:
The GazettE (ガゼット)
|Ruki||Ruki||Ruki: B||Ruki: FEB 1st|
|Aoi||Aoi||Aoi: A||Aoi: JAN 20th|
|Uruha||Uruha: O||Uruha: JUN 9th|
|Reita||Reita: A||Reita: MAY 27th|
|Kai||Kai: B||Kai: OCT 28th|
Categories: The GazettE (ガゼット)