Monday, 10 October 2011

Rock and Read vol. 025. Shuu [Girugamesh] Interview: Part 3 of 3

Well, we're finally at the last part of Shuu's interview. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did translating. In this section Shuu tells us more about his musical career and what led him to Girugamesh. So, without further adieu, here's the last instalment.

So when did you decide yourself that you wanted to make a living out of music?
Em… Since always. I went to university after I graduated high school. As well as university I had Girugamesh and helping Kagerou. It was a five day a week job, so I had to choose. Everyone had something to say about it but what mattered was what I wanted. So I had to think and I decided on the band. I was paying school fees myself so I just told my parents “I’m dropping out of university and playing in the band”. I remember thinking at the time that it was a really cool thing to be doing (laugh).  “I only have one chance in life to do this, so let’s go for it!” is how I felt in words.

That is cool (laugh). So what was your parents’ reaction?
They were indifferent about it.

Did they try to stop you?
Not in particular.

Was it strange that they were so indifferent?
I thought they were indifferent. However, I had a teacher who thought I was in trouble with the police, so he called me on the phone angrily. When he found out I’d dropped out and why he was even angrier.

Well, you had a strict upbringing, concerning your methodical way of life and individualism. Did you stand on your own two feet?
Ahh, well, let’s say I left home early (dry smile). When I entered high school, other kids would ask me why I worked a part time job.

Usually high schoolers drop out and keep their part time work, don’t they?
Yeah (laugh).

So you used your own money to pay for university?
I did night classes for 40,000 yen a month. I had to take out a loan to pay for four months.

What did you study there?
I was an economics major, but I did psychology, English and law as well as economics.

What kind of career were you looking for with that?
I liked law. Psychology too. It helped me understand the mystery films I liked at the time (laugh). Even though I was an economics major, I didn’t go to university for that.

So, when you graduated high school, you knew you were going to be a musician…?
Not really. I wanted to do a lot and by the time I was 19 I was quite tough.  At the time Girugamesh was about two years old, so I thought about it and I ended up sticking with the band and quitting university.

You listen to a lot of music. Did you ever think you’d steer away from what you play?
Yeah (dry smile).

Were you influenced by Kagerou at all when you roadied for them?
Yeah, of course they really did. They changed not just my life but my band mates too (laugh). When I was in high school, they had a live in Club Gio, Ichikawa. The booking manager was really stern.  If we didn’t sell one ticket he’d make us pay the monthly quota, because he thought we were all spoiled high schoolers. This guy saw me at lives and would always ask me “We should book you high schoolers for a live, don’t you think?” I’d reply “No, we’d be too uncool to go out there”. “Yeah, but isn’t a Culture Festival a live?” (Dry smile). “Yeah, but it takes practice and everyone’s leaving the capital”. “And what are you doing? You could be dead tomorrow,” he told me. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time. All I thought was “no, I don’t want to die” (dry smile). Whatever he said I always just thought that guy was joking with me, but Daisuke from Kagerou told me the same thing later, when I was about 19 or 20. We talked a few times, and he said to really do my best in what I wanted to do. Even when I was going through things. He taught me about things like rock music. Even now I still think about his advice. After that the invent producer in Nagoya told me the same things.

So those three people’s words had a huge influence on you.

How did you did get to do things as Roadie to Kagerou?
I was wandering around in Shibuya when I went into this instrument shop. I asked the shop assistant “do you know Kagerou?”  I heard that Kazu came to this shop a lot. All they said was that’s right. Although Kagerou were still indie at the time, I’d listened to their stuff. After that, I was buying one their live DVDs when I bumped into the same guy from the instrument shop. He told me I could get my DVD signed, so I did (laugh). I still have it. “To Shuu, from Kazu,” it says. We kept talking and he said that Kagerou were recruiting roadies and if I’d signed up. I asked him what a roadie was. He told me it was carrying their equipment and that I’d learn on the job. I thought why not? And decided to do it right away.

But you had to be very disciplined, right?
Yeah. The first place I roadied at was Shibuya AX. We were told the setting and given a map of where everything was to go exactly.  I couldn’t do anything, especially when it came to the equipment. They’d give me a half smile and say “No, never do that,” and that’s how I learned. They taught me how to drink too (laugh). It was an amazing world (laugh).

Oh, really? So, since your first time as a roadie was in AX, was it really moving for you to play your first oneman there?
Hmm… Yeah, it was moving.

So Girugamesh’s music is gradually getting heavier now that before?
Yeah. When our previous vocalist left after we graduated high school, Satoshi joined the band. We all really liked Evanescence, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit. We listened to Korn too and we’d talk about how good these bands were.  That’s how I think the sound we have today developed.

So eventually, as you all grew closer together as a band, were you all close enough to eat together?
Yeah. It was nice to share meals together. At first we all had our respective part time work, so it was physically tiring. I think it’s what brought us into adulthood.

Did you like the other bands signed with your current label (Maverick) when you were first signed to them?
Yeah. They were different. We really had to manage ourselves and that was exhausting, but for the most part enjoyable. I think it helped us grow up.

Girugamesh has also had been active overseas in recent years. Is that something you all wanted?
Yeah, we did, but we half joked about it. I remember saying “we’ll be on Music Station!” (Laugh).  That got the four of us practicing to be on Music Station.

What?! (Laugh)
It was at the back of the music room (laugh). Tamo’s advertisement was there (laugh). We really wanted to play overseas, and maybe this was a sign outing into words that we should.

Okay, so what’s in store for Girugamesh now?
We haven’t really thought about it but I want to get better at studying English (wry smile). But of course, I want to be happy. I really respect Kazu (Kagerou) as a bassist and he’s influenced me especially. I listen to a lot of music, of course. So, thinking of it that way, I want to influence other people. There are so many overseas fans of Girugamesh, and that makes me happy. And our ideas for here? Japanese people are being influenced by Western music lately, but there are Japanese bands that are influenced by Japanese music too. This makes me really happy – and proud too, seeing it from the standpoint of the person influencing. You feel a big responsibility to that extent.

Ah, you really think so?
Yeah. When Danger Crue (now Maverick) signed us, every live was like masturbation. I’d throw my bass, kick the amp; all because we thought people thought it was cool. Stage diving too. But… why did we do stuff like that? I’ve been thinking about it more and more recently. It gave off a bad vibe. People said we were influencing others, so it’s made me think about respect more.

But aren’t you known for attacking and beating your bass on stage?
Yeah (laugh).

You seem so sociable but then onstage you attack your bass. As I’ve mentioned before, you really do have a dual personality.
 Yeah. I feel like I reach my limit when I’m in Girugamesh, and I don’t know which side of my personality is me. I’m quiet at home but not so much so during lives. I’ve talked about it with Daisuke (Kagerou) too (wry smile). He told me it was good to let it all out, and it was good to have somewhere to express those feelings. Still though, I’m not sure how I feel about having a dual personality. It’s scary.

Could this violence be part of your unconscious?
Yeah… I don’t know. Isn’t it psychology [11] ?

Psychology (laugh).
That’s what I think. I don’t do it now but before I saw fans as rivals. Maybe if they thought I looked scary I was cool. It’s the same line of thought as you’d have in middle school as a boy. When I saw the empty seats at a live I was eager to see them full of people instead. Then, when they filled up for the next live, you didn’t feel thankful.

So what changed your outlook?
Definitely around the time I started receiving fan letters. Fans wrote saying that our songs saved them, and boys wrote saying that they took up playing the bass because of me. Satoshi’s lyrics were probably the biggest influence above all else. A lot of people sympathise with his lyrics. When we first started as a band, we wanted to be on Music Station and play Tokyo Dome, but I think our goals have changed from then. Two, three years ago, we thought that only people who bought our music were fans, but we realised that those who didn’t cared just as much. Satoshi once sung about being “original over popularity”. Lately I think it’s a brilliant contrast. It shows that the most important thing is individuality. It stops you becoming jealous of others. Surely it’s best to be original? After thinking of it that way, we dreamt bigger and our way of thinking changed.

Do you want to be the best now?

Have you started to think about your fans and supporters?
Yeah. When we did the 47 Prefectural tour, we got to play my hometown, which has a lot of high schoolers. I want to thank them for their loyalty. It was great to see them so happy, it made me cry. From now on I want to keep playing like that.

Sounds like the 47 Prefectural Tour meant a lot to you.
Yeah. It had an effect on my emotional side as well as my intellectual side.

You’ve grown a lot since the time you considered your fans your rivals.
I think I was still finding myself then. That’s probably how scary Shuu was formed. I remember the moment I first switched. We were playing a boring live.  I started thinking about what would make the performance better. Don’t people like a bit of violence? Objectively speaking, people buy their favourite artists’ CDs and want to go to their concerts, so I thought I should do stuff you’re never supposed to do.

Even now your performance is pretty violent. Is that just traces left from before?
I still feel traces, but I’m working on it… But there are still huge preconceptions about bassists. Take Rob Trujillo from Metallica or the bassist from No Doubt or Ken Ken from Rize for instance. They always look like they’re enjoying themselves as they’re playing, and I wanted to be able to be like that to. I’ve stopped hitting the strings so hard lately. When I hear other bands play, I think “wow! Sounds so boring!” (Laugh)

That sounds really twisted! (Laugh)
Of course there are people I hate, even now. (Laugh).

But Girugamesh are still working on their originality, right?
Yeah. With titles, design, we keep our ides quite unusual. We did a lot of things badly too (wry smile). We’ve stopped acting too eccentric to counteract that now.

You have to have balance in the band. Lastly, can you tell us your personal goal and Girugamesh’s goal for the future?
As for Girugamesh, we want to stay positive and we want to influence others with what we do. We have our own style that’s ours, and I hope our nature spreads. Apart from that each member has their own dreams for the band. We all have our own expectations. Personally… I want to become better as a bassist. Obviously I’m interested in playing the bass - otherwise I’d be playing drums or piano (wry smile). I want people to pick out my sound on bass, and I want to become more unique as a bassist. As for music, I want to be the person who helps with designs, messages, staging and stuff. Anything goes when it comes to being artistic.

You want to express yourself in all forms, right?
Ahh, yeah. I do (laugh).

Translator's Notes

[11] I have no idea what 脳内ワーキャー is so I took a guess. If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know.

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