Q1: This is Winger’s first new record in about 10 years! I’ve been really looking forward to it and it’s a wonderful incredible masterpiece! Why did you decide to make a new WINGER record now?
【KIP】: It was the first time Reb and I both had an opening in our schedules. I have been working on Classical for many years now plus a musical entitled Get Jack. Reb has been mostly working with Whitesnake for the last 10 years. When we finally had an opening we starting working, but then COVID stopped everything and we had to wait again to be able to travel. Finally it came together.
Q2: “IV” was about the story of American soldiers serving overseas, but the world seems to be more contentious than it was back then. How do you perceive the darker world of recent years?
【KIP】: I agree, The world now is worse. It’s seems that the Rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Power struggles, extremist ideology and religious fanatics have gone out of their way to divide the people of the world. It’s very sad.
Q3: Your last album “Better Days Comin” was an album of hope that the world would get better, literally, but this “Seven” album seems to have a more tragic tone, as if people keep making mistakes and fighting over and over again, would you agree?
【KIP】: Well, I write from a personal perspective of my life and the life of the people around me. So in some cases yes, the album is Of a more serious tone, but for example the song It’s Okay is literally Better Days Coming 2.0. I feel that SEVEN is very balanced record over all and it hits all the classic Winger markers song by song.
Q3: 前作 “Better Days Comin” は文字通り世界が良くなることを期待する希望のアルバムでしたが、今回の “Seven” はより悲劇的なトーンで、まるで人類が何度も同じ失敗を繰り返し、争い続けるような印象を受けます。そのあたりも、現代の状況を反映しているのでしょうか？
Q4: I feel that this album has the best balance between the catchy side of WINGER and the “Thinking Man” side of WINGER, a duality that WINGER has sometimes respected and sometimes suffered from, but do you feel that you have finally found the right balance?
【KIP】: Exactly, as I said in the last question, I do feel overall SEVEN has all the hallmarks of classic WINGER. Add to this the return of Paul Taylor and the return of the original Logo.
【KIP】: その通りだよ！さっきの質問でも言ったけど、全体的に “SEVEN” はクラシックな WINGER の特徴を備えていると感じているんだ。それは、Paul Taylor の復帰とオリジナル・ロゴの復活でより強調されているね。
Q5: I think METALLICA’s biggest mistake was to make fun of a great band called WINGER and force you to break up. That said, I also love “Pull”, a product of its time, and believe it should be reevaluated. Have your feelings about METALLICA and “Pull” changed between then and now?
【KIP】: First of all, we never “broke up” we took a long break because grunge music took over and between that, Beavis and Butthead and the Metallica thing it was impossible for us to continue at that time. As an Artist I would never publicly insult another artist. As far as Pull goes, I’ve always stood by that record as being one of our best.
Q6: This time, Paul Taylor returns to the album for the first time in a really long time. Personally, I feel that the songs are more “romantic” when he is here, but what do you really think of his contribution?
【KIP】: Paul is extremely talented and definitely adds to the power of the band. Having said that, I did the mahout of the writing so I’m not sure how you come to that conclusion. Perhaps your nostalgic feeling of early WINGER is influencing your perception.
Q6: 今回、本当に久しぶりに Paul Taylor がアルバムに帰ってきました。個人的には、彼がいると曲がより “ロマンティック” になるような気がするのですが、実際のところ、彼の貢献度はどうなのでしょうか？
【KIP】: Paul は非常に才能があり、間違いなくバンドのパワーを高めている。とはいえ、作曲の大半は僕がやっているので、なぜそのような結論になるのかよくわからないというのが本音だ。おそらく、君の初期 WINGER を懐かしむ気持ちが、認識に影響を与えているのだろうね。
Q7: WINGER, you, Reb, and Rod’s lineup has not changed since its inception, which I think is very rare for a band like this. Of course, you have a solo career and the other two are involved in various projects, but what is the special chemistry between the three of you?
【KIP】: We are very good friends. We never fought about anything. We love hanging out with each other and admire each others talents. Paul Taylor and John Roth included.
Q1: At First, I was a huge fan of Unexpect, why did that band end?
【ChaotH】: Well, for the same reasons any band breaks-up I guess. Some of the guys got older and wanted to have another lifestyle with the house and the kids and all. I mean, the band was active for 17 years so it really had its time and we all lived our rock ‘n roll dream through it. Of course there was also some tension and not all members wanted to quit but you need everybody on board to make it happen and some members were clearly pulling back. I do wonder what a 4th and 5th album would have sounded like but in retrospective after all these years I am very much at peace with the breakup.
Q2: Mixing progressive, death metal, black metal, jazz, classical, operatic, folk and electronica, metal’s diversity has clearly influenced the modern, more fragmented and eclectic world of metal. How did you come up with those transcendental ideas? Unexpect was a band that came too early, would you agree?
【ChaotH】: I wouldn’t say too early, no. The whole point is to bring something new to the table so in my perspective you HAVE to show up too early with some new ideas that bring the whole scene forward. There was something really special about the metal and hardcore scene in the 2000’s as the style was still being explored and developped and you had these sub-genres of music still being born left and right, and Quebec bands really had something going. Like there was no tech-death before Cryptopsy, there was no Deathcore before Despised Icon, bands like Ion Dissonance pushed the extreme math-core forward… and as for Unexpect we helped coin the term ‘Avant-Garde Metal’ whatever that meant. It’s always quite fascinating when a style of music is being explored and invented all around you and the 2000’s really had something going in extreme music and I am fortunate to have been part of that.
Q3: Why did you start Vvon Dogma I alone from there?
【ChaotH】: I always had some demos and ideas recorded on my computer for as long as I can remember. I could even say that some of the material that is on The Kvlt of Glitch could have been Unexpect material. I mean it’s a very different band format overall but it comes from the same mentality and some of that material is over a decade old. I did start the project alone yes and it took years to make it into something tangible… from 2017’s modest ‘Communion EP’ to today’s ‘The Kvlt of Glitch’. Fun fact is I found the name for the band as I was driving back from our last show ever with Unexpect… when you drive for hours and your mind wanders, that’s how I nailed the name VVON DOGMA I. So yes, it was me crafting these songs alone for a few years and I tried to make the band happen with different musicians and it just wasn’t working, you can’t force chemistry. And when I found Kevin Alexander on drums I knew I had a strong partner to write songs with that would bring the write mentality and attitude to the project.
Q3: UNEXPECT の解散後、VVON DOGMA I を一人で立ち上げることにしたのはなぜだったんですか？
【ChaotH】: 僕は物心ついたときから、長い間デモやアイデアをコンピューターに録音し続けているんだ。だから、”The Kvlt of Glitch” に収録されている音源のいくつかは、UNEXPECT の音源だった可能性もあるとさえ言えるかもしれない。
UNEXPECT と VVON DOGMA I は全体的なバンドの形態は全く違うけど、同じメンタリティから生まれたものだし、このアルバムには10年以上前の音源もあるからね。確かに一人でプロジェクトを始めて、それを具体的なものにするのに何年もかかったよ…2017年の控えめな “Communion EP” から今日の “The Kvlt of Glitch” までね。
面白いことに、バンド名は、UNEXPECT での最後のライブから車で帰るときに見つけたんだ。何時間も車を走らせていると、頭がぼんやりしてくる。そんな時に思いついてね。それから数年間は一人で曲を作っていたんだ。違うミュージシャンとバンドを作ろうとしたけど、うまくいかなかった。ケミストリーは無理やり生み出すことができないからね。そんな時、ドラムの Kevin Alexander に会って、一緒に曲を作る強力なパートナーができたと思ったんだ。
Q4: The band name Vvon Dogma I is also very mysterious. What does it mean?
【ChaotH】: Yeah hehe, possibly the least catchy name ever, right? It’s hard to answer. It’s an expression that I created that means ‘the second incarnation of an entity’… the larva to butterfly kind of idea. When an entity transcends its previous limited form to evolve into something greater, wiser, emancipated. On a personnal level, me creating this band and finding inspiration in this new free-form of expression is exactly that. Or society moving into the 21st century with wiser and more sustainable values than in the 20th century… Or when the physical body dies and liberates the soul and the entity becomes pure energy and connectedness… Those are all examples of what I mean by VVON DOGMA I.
Q4: その VVON DOGMA I という名前ですが、謎に満ちていますね？
【ChaotH】: うんうん (笑)。もしかしたら今までで一番キャッチーじゃない名前かもしれないね？ 僕自身も答えに窮するね。
これは僕が作った表現で、”ある存在の第二の化身” という意味なんだ。幼虫から蝶になるようなイメージで、ある存在がそれまでの限定された形を超え、より偉大で、より賢く、より解放されたものに進化する現象。個人的には、僕がこのバンドを作り、この新しい自由な形の表現にインスピレーションを見出すことが、まさに VVON DOGMA I なんだ。
あるいは、社会が20世紀よりも賢く持続可能な価値観を持って21世紀を迎えていく…。あるいは、肉体が死んで魂が解放され、実体が純粋なエネルギーとつながりるとき…。これらはすべて、僕が意図する VVON DOGMA I の一例なんだ。
Q5: Anyway, The Kvlt of Glitch is a really great album! It’s an image of Cynic and Meshuggah fighting in a cyberpunk world! haha! Actually, what kind of influences or inspirations are sprinkled in this near-future progressive world?
【ChaotH】: You pretty much nailed it, haha. ”Cynic and Meshuggah fighting in a cyberpunk world” is a very apt description I’d say, hehe. That being said, I get the Cynic connection A LOT obviously because of the vocoder but, strangely enough, it wasn’t at all an influence for the making of this band. Meshuggah was though, yes. I mean it’s hard to understate how much they brought to modern metal sound. But this whole band is my attempt at reconciliate all of the genre of music that I ever listened to, from 90’s alternative and nu-metal to 2000’s experimental hardcore and metal to 2010’s electronic explosion. The unlikely blend of artists like James Blake, Bon Iver, Deftones, Meshuggah, Mars Volta, Igorrr…
Q5: それにしても、”The Kvlt of Glitch” は素晴らしいアルバムですね！CYNIC と MESHUGGAH がサイバーパンクの世界で戦っているような空想が膨らみましたよ (笑)。
Q6: The Kvlt of Glitch has really beautiful artwork! Is this person related to the concept of the work?
【ChaotH】: Related, I don’t know. I just loved the esthetic of it and found it very fitting. It’s no secret that it’s been done with the MidJourney AI as a tool. I gave a sense of the vibe to my old friend and photographer Patrick Filteau and he came back with this awesome image. I always liked his sensibility in photography, seemingly always capturing magical moments. He took some of the best pictures of Unexpect live. So it was a cool collab with an old friend. Also, creatively I thought it was very interesting to have an AI on board with the creation of the artwork because, in a way, that’s very much how the vocals were made… an analog input into a computer. So the voluntarily ‘synthetic’ aspect of the record is underlined by the artwork and I thought it was very fitting. It’s not a very popular concept with metalheads… to embrace the synthetic… and I think it’s complete bullshit, that elitist mentality that everything needs to be analog or else it’s not ‘metal’ hehe.
Q6: “The Kvlt of Glitch” のアートワークも非常に美しく、こうした音楽のファンに刺さりますよね。描かれている人物は、アルバムのストーリーに関連があるのでしょうか？
Q7: Your 9-string bass is also one of the stars of the album! One of the best bassists in the world! For example, Billy Sheehan does a great job with 4 strings, so why do you need 9 strings?
【ChaotH】: Hehe, thank you for the kind words. Well, I’m aware that nobody ‘needs’ 9 strings.. it’s a bit much. But it’s just the influences that I got at a very early stage in my developement as a musician. I was following that Californian band ‘Nuclear Rabbit’ that had Jean Baudin as a bass player and he was the very first guy to use a 9 string bass in a rock setup. In fact he was pretty much only the 2nd ever known player to use a 9 string bass (after Bill Dickens). I saw footage of him with his instrument and it left a big impression on my young self. Also, I was exposed to the Chapman stick when I started playing bass and I was fascinated by the mechanic of it and so, the 9 string bass became a way for me to kinda blend all these influences in one instrument. That being said, of course Billy Sheehan is a fantastic player. Jaco, Victor Wooten, Sheehan, Flea… they just need 4 strings, right… I just chose a different direction that seemed fitting to the music I made in my life.
Q7: あなたの9弦ベースも、アルバムの主役の一つです。まちがいなく、世界でも有数のベーシストの一人ですね！ただ、例えば Billy Sheehan のような名手は4本の弦で素晴らしい演奏を披露しますが、あなたはなぜ9本の弦が必要なんでしょう？
【ChaotH】: 嬉しい言葉をありがとう！まあ、9本の弦が “必要” な人なんていないことは重々承知しているよ (笑)。でも、これは僕がミュージシャンとして成長する非常に早い段階で受けた影響なんだよ。
かつて僕は、Jean Baudin をベーシストとするカリフォルニアのバンド “Nuclear Rabbit” を追っていたんだけど、彼はロックのセットアップで9弦ベースを使った最初期の人だったんだ。実際、彼は9弦ベースを使った史上2人目のプレイヤーだったんだよ（ Bill Dickens に次いで)。彼の楽器の映像は、幼い僕に大きな印象を与えたんだ。
とはいえ、もちろん Billy Sheehan は素晴らしいプレイヤーだ。Jaco, Victor Wooten, Sheehan, Flea…….彼らはただ、4本の弦しか必要としない。僕はただ、自分の人生の中で作る音楽にふさわしいと思える別の方向性を選んだだけなんだよ。
Q8: Radiohead’s cover of “2+2=5” is also really great! It’s rare for metal bands to cover their songs, so why did you choose this song?
【ChaotH】: Yeah, I always loved the bands that take a seemingly ‘unrelated’ song and bring their style to it and completely revamp the song. It would have made sense for me to cover a metal song, and it’s pretty clear that I am a huge Radiohead fan. That album Hail to the thief doesn’t get enough love and the few first tracks on this record are pure bliss. It really was a last minute idea though. I brought this to the table litteraly one week before hitting the studio and me and Kevin Alexander made it happen. He is a great drummer and musician and the collaboration that this band needed.
【ChaotH】: そう、一見 “関係ない” 曲を、自分たちのスタイルを持ち込んで、曲を完全に刷新するようなカバーをやるバンドがいつも好きだったんだ。メタルの曲をカバーするのも意味があっただろうけど、僕が RADIOHEAD の大ファンであることは明らかだ。あの曲が入ったアルバム “Hail to the thief” は十分に愛されていないと思うんだけど、このレコードの最初の数曲は純粋に至福の時だよ。でも、これは本当に直前になって思いついたことなんだ。スタジオに入る1週間ほど前にこの話を持ち込んで、Kevin と一緒に実現させたんだ。彼は素晴らしいドラマーでありミュージシャンであり、このバンドが必要としていた最高のコラボレーションが実現したよ。
FIVE ALBUMS THAT CHANGED ChaotH’S LIFE!!
The Dillinger Escape Plan “Calculating Infinity”
It was my last year of highschool.. something like Ferbruary 2000. I’m casually listening to Incubus Make Yourself on my discman (as you do in 2000) and the hardcore kid in my class is like ”psst.. check this out. Track 2”. So we swap discs and I press play. My face melted. My brain boiled. It’s like it was an answer to a question that I always had. It’s hard to describe. The feeling of being colorblind your whole life and then someone is like… ‘Hey man… PURPLE!!’ and you’re like HOLY SHIT! I HAD NO IDEA. Game changer and they went to be one of the greatest band of all time. I was fortunate to be super early on them and recognize the genious.
I was already a fan of At the drive-in and was bummed that they split up. So when I found that band on the internet I was like.. hey that kinda sounds like At the drive-in. I fell in love with the album and the band instantly. One of the greatest prog record of the 00’s for sure.
当時僕はすでに AT THE DRIVE IN のファンで、彼らが解散したことにがっかりしてね。だから、インターネットでこのバンドを見つけたとき、”あれ、なんか ATDI に似てるな” と思ったんだ。このアルバムとバンドに一瞬で恋に落ちたよ。00年代の最も偉大なプログのレコードの1つであることは間違いない。
Marilyn Manson “Antichrist Superstar”
Yes. I was 14 years old and it was 1996. This one was a game changer and got me into more extreme music and esthetic. That was the ‘filthy’ Manson era pushing the limits of shock rock, that was all new. But yes, it’s a game changer album and it still holds really well today. It was before the glam Manson.. there was something punk as fuck about it. And no other album ever had as much of a complementary esthetic to the music. The videos, the album artwork, the bigger than life character… He created a whole world with this.
I mean. Obviously. What else can be said about this record that hasn’t already been discussed? I was 15 and on shrooms at my friends place and I was discovering this record. There was something different about these guys.. they just sounded mysterious and like they knew something about the future. It was dark, mysterious, depressing, magical. They went on to have the best body-of-work of any band ever.
Possibly the most disturbing and dark record ever made. This one totally got me into dark ambient music and yet has never been toped. If metal can be sensual and lush like Deftones, then ambient music can be violent and disturbing and this record is exactly that. It’s a nightmarish soundscape and it’s pretty much all analog and just.. beautiful. I dare you to take a midnight walk with headphones with this one. You’ll start seeing the dark corners differently.
Q1: First of all, we in Japan are also heartbroken by Russia’s outrageous aggression. What is your situation now? Are you safe now?
【HELLE】: Thanks a lot for inviting us and for your interest in our band! It’s been more than a year since the beginning of the full-scale war. While the situation is way better now in Kyiv, where all band members are still located, there’s still no safe place in Ukraine. For instance, in the middle of the night on April 28th, the release day of our album, there was a massive missile attack. And a week after, a drone hit 5 apartments in the house just next to the house where I live. Of course, the closer to the frontline, the worse. But still, we cannot be sure about the next day.
Q2: It must have been really difficult to make music in the middle of a war. Still, why did you decide to share your metal with the world now?
【HELLE】: Our album was already composed and half of it ― recorded, before the war rolled out. In the first several months, it was more about survival for us. We couldn’t even listen to music because we were afraid of every sound. When our region was de-occupied and when we got used to the situation (I know, it sounds horrible), we felt very determined to continue with our album, for several reasons. First of all, we’re Ukrainians, and with our art we create Ukrainian legacy. Secondly, our album is dedicated to a famous Ukrainian, and we tell her story to the world, showing, among other things, what we’re fighting for. Finally, music is what we do for living, and we cannot support our country in full if we don’t earn money.
Q3: This concept album reflects the life of Ukrainian photographer and documentarian Sofia Yablonska. Why did you choose her as your theme?
【HELLE】: We were writing this album in 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. Our composer Yevhenii already had some demos, with middle-eastern and oriental sounds. It felt as if it was about other countries and traveling. Being a passionate traveler, I felt awful sitting at home. So I thought: and travel-related album would be great. I started digging information about famous travelers, and this is how I found out about Sofia Yablonska. She was an amazing woman, especially for her time, traveling to exotic places on her own, making a breakthrough in travel photography, and writing captivating travelogues. She had so many adventures that it would be enough even for several albums. And I was really sad that not many people know about her, even here, in Ukraine.
Q3: おっしゃる通り、”Dreams of Lands Unseen” はウクライナ出身の写真家で作家 Sofia Yablonska の人生を追ったものとなっています。
Q4: In this album, you have featured ethnic/traditional music and instruments from different countries, following her journey, right? Recently, more and more bands are fusing traditional music with metal, but is there a strong affinity between metal and folk music?
【HELLE】: Actually, we incorporated middle-eastern tunes in pretty much every record of ours. In the beginning, we even called our genre oriental metal. But we mix too many things in our music, so it’s not really true. For this particular record, it made even more sense, as with our music, we were reflecting the journey of Sofia. Replying to your second question, yes, more and more bands experiment with that but we don’t see us as a purely folk metal band. We want to have the freedom of creating music as we feel it.
Q4: このアルバムでは、様々な国の伝統音楽が、まるで Sofia の足跡を辿るかのように配されていますね？ 最近では、多くのメタル・バンドが伝統音楽をミックスするようになりましたが、フォークにはメタルとの親和性があるようですね？
Q5: In such a situation, there are two songs that were sung in Ukrainian, right? Does this express your identity or pride?
【HELLE】: Yes, 2 songs are entirely in Ukrainian, and To No One I Owe is 50% Ukrainian. There are several reasons for that too. Wherever Sofia Yablonska traveled, she always brought a small part of Ukrainian culture with her, and she emphasized that she was Ukrainian. She also had a great way with words, and I wanted to leave some phrases in the lyrics just as they were ― in Ukrainian. Finally, yes, we’re Ukrainians, we love our language, so it’s a tribute to our roots as well.
【HELLE】: そう、2曲は全編ウクライナ語、あと “To No One I Owe” は50％がウクライナ語なの。それにもいくつかの理由があってね。
Q6: Still, “Dreams of Lands Unseen” is a wonderful piece of work! What a great feeling of watching a movie classic. What is your ideal album and who are your influences as a musician?
【HELLE】: Thank you so much! Our main influence is the diversity of music we’re listening to. It’s not only metal but also pop music, electronic music, movie soundtracks, classics. We’re open-minded to pretty music anything, and this is why we don’t feel the limits of the pure metal genre when we create our records. .
Q6: それにしても、”Dreams of Lands Unseen” は素晴らしい作品ですね！名作映画を見ているような気持ちにさせられます。
Q7: Speaking of Ukrainian metal, you guys, as well as Jinjer and White Ward, are famous for modern and innovative metal that is now gaining worldwide attention, what do these Ukrainian bands have in common?
【HELLE】: I don’t really think we have something in common other than the country we’re from. But maybe there are some common problems we’re all facing: fighting such neighbor as Russia (not only on the battlefield, but aso culturally, as Russia has been erasing the Ukrainian culture for centuries), all Ukrainian bands had troubles touring because we needed visas to enter the European Union for a long time, several revolutions we saw with our eyes and participated in. IGNEA band members are around 30 years old each, and in our years, we already experienced so much, especially last year, as some people don’t experience in a lifetime. I’m not complaining here, I’m still proud of being Ukrainian, and maybe this determination to preserve our culture and heritage is also what keeps our band moving.
Q7: ウクライナのメタルは近年、あなたたちはもちろん、JINJER, WHITE WARD など、革新的でモダンなサウンドが世界的な注目を集めています。どこか、共通点のようなものがあると感じていますか？
Q8: Finally, it seems to me that darkness now covers not only Ukraine but the whole world. Do you think music can change the world?
【HELLE】: I think you expect some kind of a romantic reply here. But as a person who faced war, I have to say that people need to have the way to defend themselves, in the first place. Because, as it appears, some countries are still in the medieval century. And, sadly, music cannot defend anyone when the missiles are hitting the buildings. Music is a very important thing, and this is what also was shown over the past year here. Because we see soldiers singing in trenches or when they’re wounded, people singing in bomb shelters, because it makes them more calm. So, I’d say music can definitely change people’s mood and mind. But changing the world… I’m afraid, I cannot be so naive because of everything happened to me and my country.
I cannot say the albums changed my life but I keep returning to them all the time. Something, really attracts me to them and brings certain emotions: Chelsea Wolfe ― Pain is Beauty; Lana del Rey ― Lust for Life; Cellar Darling ― The Spell; Onuka ― Kolir; The Hardkiss; Arkan ― Sofia. But my music taste changes all the time, and, depending on the day, some albums I’d name would be different.
I am very fascinated with your country and culture, even though I’ve never been there. With this album, people keep asking me, where I’d like to travel. And I always name Japan along with 2-3 other countries. I really wish and hope to come with a show to Japan and meet our listeners there. For now, I invite you to listen to our new album Dreams of Lands Unseen and experience the journey we created! Thank you!
私は行ったことがないにもかかわらず、日本という国や文化にとても魅力を感じているの。このアルバムで、みんなに “どこを旅してみたいか” と聞かれるようになったわ。私ははいつも、他の2～3カ国と一緒に日本を挙げているの。だから、本当に日本でライブをやって、そこでリスナーに会うことを望んでいるのよ。今のところは、ニューアルバム “Dreams of Lands Unseen” を聴いて、私たちが創り出した旅を体験して欲しいな！ありがとう！
Q4:You seem to have a much better relationship with Arthur Rizk, who is now leading the new wave of American metal? What is the reason why you continue to work with him?
【KNOX】: Arthur knows exactly what he’s doing/creating and has a firm understanding with how bands of certain styles and sounds should be presented.
Q4: 今、アメリカのエクストリーム・ミュージックを牽引するプロデューサー Arthur Rizk とも良い関係を築いていますね？
【KNOX】: Arthur は、自分のやっていること、作っていることを正確に理解していて、特定のスタイルやサウンドのバンドがどのように表現されるべきかをしっかりと理解しているんだ。
Q5: I think the word “hybrid” is the common denominator for Arthur Rizk’s bands Power Trip, Code Orange, Primitive Man, Turnstile, and you guys. Is there a common consciousness among young American metalheads these days to break out of the old norms?
【KNOX】: To harken back to the old traditions while still keeping it new and fresh for new listeners.
Q5: その Arthur が手がけた POWER TRIP, CODE ORANGE, PRIMITIVE MAN, TURNSTILE, そしてあなたたちには、過去と現代の “ハイブリッド” という共通点がありますよね。音楽オタクというか、様々な時代の音楽を吸収しているというか。
Q6: The title of this album is “War Remains”. Of course, there is a big war going on in Ukraine right now, but there are also many other conflicts going on all the time in the world. Was this title inspired by the karma of humanity?
【KNOX】: Humans are violent by design. That’s how we’ve survived. War pushes technological progress and all the commodities that people who strive for peace enjoy. Take away war, take away the progress, and we’d still be living in the 1800s.
Q1: First of all, Italy has an image of progressive rock, and although there is Frontiers music, I don’t think there are many bands playing melodic hard rock in Italy. How did you come to be oriented toward this type of music?
【FRANCESCO】: We all love melodic hard rock and grew up with this kind of music so it was quite natural being oriented towards this genre. We share many common musical influences (Toto just to name a band!) but we also have some peculiarities that are reflected in the different nuances that you can hear in our music.
Q1: まず、Frontiers Records があるとはいえ、イタリアはやはりプログレッシブ・ロックのイメージが強いですよね？ そんや場所で、メロディック・ハードロックに心酔した経緯からお話ししていただけますか？
Q2: I was first surprised by the album title Bushido. Why did you decide to make an album on the theme of Samurai & Bushido?
【FRANCESCO】: About three years ago Frank, the bass player, talked to me and proposed to make a concept album and I thought that the idea was very fascinating. He developed the story of this samurai to pay homage to a country we like a lot. Once he completed the plot we started to work on the music.
Q2: “武士道” をテーマにしたメロハーはおそらく前代未聞で、とても驚きました。
【FRANCESCO】: 3年ほど前、ベースの Frank が僕に、コンセプトアルバムを作ろうと提案してきたんだ。そうして彼は、僕らが大好きな国へのオマージュとして、この “サムライの物語” を作り上げたんだ。彼がプロットを完成させた後、僕らは音楽制作に取り掛かったんだ。
Q3: “Bushido” is an epic concept album that sounds like a real movie! We hear that it is a tale of a young samurai growing up. Can you tell us about the story of the album and what you want to convey through it?
【FRANCESCO】: Thank you very much! Our goal was to write an album that was a cinematic musical experience, so we paid great attention to every detail, even the smallest. It is the story of a boy who is born with a disability but whose dream is to become a great samurai, like his grandfather. It will be the grandfather, through an amulet and talking to him in a dream, to spur him to walk his way and meet his destiny. The moral is to always believe in your dreams and fight to overcome your limits to achieve your goals.
Q4: For example, concept albums are common in progressive and metal, but I’ve never heard such a great, cinematic concept album in melodic hard rock! It’s not easy to make a concept album with catchy and compact songs, is it?
【FRANCESCO】: Yes, it’s not easy at all. You have to be able to balance the typical structure (and duration) of hard rock songs with what you have to narrate, chapter after chapter. In addition, there must be a musical theme that recurs in certain moments of the album and the narration, as well as particular moments that the music must emphasize in some way. It has been a long and demanding job but we are satisfied with the results.
Q5: Bushido is a way of life that respects loyalty, bravery, sacrifice, faith, integrity, honor, simplicity, civility, and love, and is willing to die for honor. In Japan, some consider it outdated and others consider it a lost and precious culture. What do you think?
【FRANCESCO】: We think they are very important values that are somewhat lacking today, especially in some Western cultures. Perhaps these principles should be partially recovered and adapted to today’s world.
Q6: By the way, are you interested in recent Japanese culture, such as anime, games, and music?
【FRANCESCO】: I have a very nice memory of mecha/robot anime I watched during my adolescence. I also know video games and other excellent Japanese products in the field of electronics and musical instruments. Speaking of music I remember some famous Japanese rock bands like Loudness, just to name one, but I don’t know traditional Japanese music. Anyway it’s not difficult to find italian young guys who are passionate about mamga and anime.
Q7: In “Bushido”, We can hear Japanese traditional music and Japanese language in the introduction and narrative, but there is nothing Japanese traditional music about the songs on the album itself, would you agree?
【FRANCESCO】: Yes, we wanted to use musical themes that could be reminiscent of traditional Japanese music and were a sort of common thread of the songs without changing the typical hard rock nature of the album. As in a movie we put a main theme that recurs every now and then between one song and another and is then developed in a different way becoming the conclusion of the story, the moment in which the credits scroll.
Q8: Your music is melodic hard rock/AOR at its finest, but some say the genre is outdated or dead, right? Yes, the fan base is older and the genre is probably supported by a fixed fan base. What are your thoughts on its current state, and is it possible to “Make Melodic Hard Great Again”?
【FRANCESCO】: What you say is true. Melodic hard rock is an increasingly niche genre. Fans are especially those who lived through the glorious period of the 80s or had the opportunity to listen to music from that period. I believe that reason is always what is proposed to us. If the younger generations were given the opportunity to know this kind of music, I am convinced that they could appreciate it. The problem is always the same: you can not appreciate what you do not know and today all the largest networks and promotional channels often impose the usual, same cliches not giving us the opportunity to choose.
Q1: First of all, you used Fromsoftware’s Kuon “九怨” package for the artwork of “御霊信仰”, didn’t you? It was a long time ago, but were you attached to that game?
【IER】: Thank you for having me once again, Sin! Regarding the artwork for the “御霊信仰” single, that’s correct! The song is based on the Onmyōji “陰陽師”, or should I say, in the different fictional representations of them through popular culture.
The first time I heard about them was in X/1999, which is one of my favorite anime/manga and is also an influence for the song. Then, as you pointed out, I heard about the Onmyōji “陰陽師” again in Kuon “九怨”, which is a game I loved during the PlayStation 2 era. I’m a big fan of survival horror games since I was a little kid, and this one was really interesting because its setup in the Heian period, which is not a very common thing in survival horror games. Plus it was really scary! I haven’t played it in ages, but I’d love to revisit it sometime.
Another inspiration for the track was Teito Monogatari “帝都物語”, which also includes the Onmyōji “陰陽師” as a central plot device. Sadly, there are no English or Spanish translations, so I cannot read it yet. Still, got to watch the 1988 film and found it amazing!
Q2: Was the “赤い部屋” similarly inspired by the Praystation 2 software “零 Zero”? Horror games seem to be one of your inspirations, be it Silent Hill or Biohazard?
【IER】: As a matter of fact, no; although “零 Zero” inspired the track “楔 ～紅い蝶～” from my 2020 album “妖怪”.
“赤い部屋” was inspired by Sakebi “叫” a 2006 horror film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa “黒沢 清”, one of my favorite directors ever. It has a very distinctive atmosphere and a slow burn-feel that’s absolutely surreal. The song deals with collective guilt, loneliness and homicide, which I think were the themes of the film.
What you see in the cover art is a picture of actress Hitomi Manaka as Lavinia in a production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus by Yukio Ninagawa “蜷川 幸”. People tend to shit a lot on that play, but I actually enjoy it even though I despise gore and brutality. I’m not gonna spoil Sakebi “叫” just in case you haven’t watch it, but I though the color red and the character of Lavinia have a lot in common with the film.
Regarding horror games, yes, they are a big inspiration for me! I got a PS1 when I was eight years old: original games in Argentina were too expensive, but everyone could buy pirated games for just a couple of bucks. There was no censorship due to the clandestine market, and parents didn’t mind what we were playing either: back in the day, videogames were “stupid things for children”, especially in Argentina (same with anime or manga). So, buying videogames was cheap and unrestricted. That’s why I was playing Silent Hill at such a young age!
I always loved survival horror games due to their pacing, atmosphere and tension, especially Japanese video games: Silent Hill, Biohazard, Dino Crisis, Galerians, Koudelka… They all shared the cinematic camera angles, twisted concepts and storylines and a very peculiar type of gameplay that is extinct but was really cool at the time. Plus, they used to have some hard ass puzzles that were very challenging.
All this traits continued during the PS2 era: I got mine when I was eleven, and it had even better games, be it sequels or new IPs. By that time, I was already investing a lot of time in Internet forums debating about survival horror games, especially Silent Hill. The cryptic and somewhat vague elements of the sagas made for some neat discussions and theories, so I made a lot of friends thanks to those forums. Most of them were older people that recommended me books, music and films that helped me further understand the games and their influences, so you could say survival horror games were a very important part of my life (still are!).
Q3: As well as movies and games, horror anime has recently become very popular in Japan. Do you use such horror anime as inspiration?
【IER】: Oh, I wasn’t aware horror anime had a revival in Japan! I love some classic horror manga and anime such as The Drifting Classroom “漂流教室”, Uzumaki “うずまき” or Pet Shop of Horrors, but I wasn’t aware of this! I know there’s a new Junji Ito “伊藤 潤二” anthology on Netflix, but I haven’t seen it yet. If you could recommend some new horror anime, that would be amazing!
Now that you mention it, “物の怪” had originally a track named “漂流教室”, but it was scrapped because it didn’t really fit with the overall concept and also because it sounded really similar to Dir en grey’s Dozing Green, which has a PV featuring many scenes from the manga (that was how I discovered it!).
【IER】: ホラーアニメが日本でリバイバルしているとは知らなかったよ！”漂流教室” や “うずまき”、”恐怖のペットショップ” など、古典的なホラー漫画やアニメは好きなのだけど、新しいのもあるんだね！Netflixで伊藤潤二の新作アンソロジーがあるのは知っているんだけど、まだ見ていないんだ。新しいホラーアニメのおすすめがあれば教えてほしいな！
そういえば、”物の怪” にはもともと “漂流教室” という曲があったんだけど、全体のコンセプトに合わないのと、漫画のシーンをたくさん使ったPVがある Dir en grey の “Dozing Green” にすごく似ている（それで知ったんだ！）から、ボツにしたんだ 。
Q4: “犬神佐清” is clearly about “The Inugami Curse,” isn’t it? What attracted you to that film or novel?
【IER】: Indeed! “犬神佐清” deals with family, war and the loss of innocence, so the 1976 film The Inugami Family “犬神家の一族” was perfect in order to illustrate those topics. I love the original film, but I haven’t seen the 2006 remake yet: I know it was directed by Kon Ichikawa “市川 崑” himself, so that must be a very interesting film. I love when artists revisit past works, so I will check it out soon!
I read about the film on some newspaper article about Quentin Tarantino and classic Japanese films from the 70, so I decided to check it out. Somehow, they didn’t list it as a horror film, and to be honest it is more of a thriller/murder mystery with a lot of family drama. But still it is an incredible movie and I hold it in high regard.
As for the book, I haven’t read it! It is very popular even in the west, so it has a Spanish translation. It’s pretty easy to get here in Argentina, thus I have no excuses!
Q5: By the way, your favorite Kyo of Dir en grey has a more progressive and experimental band called Sukekiyo, and they are named after Inugami Sukekiyo. It’s perfect for you to cover, would you agree?
【IER】: Can you believe that I realized the connection between Kyo’s band and the film as I was doing research for the songwriting? Thus I found out Sukekiyo is a very iconic character in Japan, right? That mask is really creepy, instantly recognizable just like Michael Myers’ one in the Halloween saga! It made total sense to name the track after him, so the Dir en grey/Sukekiyo connection was further enhanced!
Oh I’d love to do a Sukekiyo cover! I was really inspired by them this time around, especially when incorporating funk/jazz influences. The track “死国巡礼” has a heavy Sukekiyo feel to it, or that’s what I hoped to achieve! May have to do it sooner or later! I love the track “foster mother”, so maybe I could try that!
Q5: あなたの大好きな Dir en grey の京がやっている、よりプログレッシブで実験的な別バンド sukekiyo はまさにこの佐清なわけで、あなたがカバーするのにうってつけではないですか？
【IER】: 曲作りのためのリサーチをしているうちに、京のバンドと映画のつながりに気づいたなんて、信じられるかい？佐清は日本を代表するキャラクターだよね。あのマスクは本当に不気味で、”ハロウィン” シリーズのマイケル・マイヤーズと同じように、一目でそれとわかる！だから、この曲の名前も彼の名前にしたんだ。だから、僕と Dir en grey / sukekiyo のつながりはさらに深まったね！
sukekiyo のカバーはぜひやりたいよ！今回は特にファンクやジャズの影響を取り入れたりして、彼らからすごくインスパイアされたんだ。”死国巡礼” という曲は、ヘヴィなスケキヨ感というか、そういうのを目指したんだ！だから、いつかやってみたいよ！時間の問題さ！”foster mother” というトラックが好きだから、それをやってみるのもいいかもしれないね！
Q6: You always include Dir en grey covers in your works, but how do you decide which songs to include?
【IER】: Interesting question. I try to find songs that fit in the concept of the album or single, not lyrics-wise but in terms of sound. For example, “犬 神 佐 清” has a very thrash/speed metal feel to it with some hints of “madness”, so I chose the 2011 version of “羅刹国” as the cover for the single because it had a similar vibe. I also try not to repeat albums when choosing songs, but I think I almost covered them all!
“流転の塔” was really hard to nail, especially due to vocals: I’m not really happy with my falsetto, but that’s the only way I can reach the notes that Kyo hits during the chorus. It ends up sounding more like King Diamond (I wish!) or Claudio O’Connor instead, but it is what it is! Same happened to me with the “凱歌、沈黙が眠る頃” cover on the “御 霊 信 仰” single, but I think that sounded way worse!
I have a couple more releases with this J-Horror aesthetic before I “change skin” again, so expect more covers to come. I’ve been working on a MACABRE cover (THE UNRAVELING version), but is hard. REALLY hard. That would be a nice farewell to this series of albums though!.
Q6: あなたは毎回、Dir en grey のカバーを収録していますが、その楽曲はどうやって選んでいるのですか？
Q7: “最後の詩” a rebuild of two songs from Silent Hill 2 by your beloved Akira Yamaoka, is also wonderful! I can feel your love and respect for him, right?
【IER】: That’s correct! “最後の詩” quotes “Overdose Delusion” and “Angel’s Thanatos” by the master himself. They are not the same melodies and notes, but the homage is pretty clear. The bonus tracks on these J-Horror albums/singles are all based around the Silent Hill videogames (each one represents an entry in the saga. They all use the same chord progressions and structures, but I always change them in order to suit the feel of the release. They are like an album inside the albums, if that makes any sense. Might release them in a compilation, but I’m afraid I’ll have to deal with copyright issues
This time, I wanted something more gothic and strange, so those songs by Akira where perfect to achieve that atmosphere. Plus, “最後の詩” is based on Silent Hill 2, the samples of James and María and the homage to “Overdose Delusion” and “Angel’s Thanatos” being a perfect fit. I have a lot of love and respect for him, indeed. The first four Silent Hill videogames and their soundtracks are a very important part of my life, so I worship his output and still consider him a main influence for IER, even on the albums that are not based on J-Horror. He recently played in Chile (past weekend I think), which is just next to Argentina! I’m so jealous of my Chilean brothers: would love to see Akira live some day! I’d love to meet him too, but that’s an impossible dream.
Q8: I was really surprised and cool to see how you turned Red Hot Chili Peppers into black metal in “日本の都市伝説 Vol.1”! Isn’t it the first time in the world? haha! Your black metal is really, really free and wonderful!
【IER】: Thanks for the kind words, Sin! I’m really happy you found out that “By The Way” reference! I’m getting a lot of hate from those funky influences already, but as you said, I try to keep my mind open and my music as free as possible.
I’m really proud of how those elements fit within the overall music. I’m mostly listening to funk, hip hop and contemporary R&B nowadays so I really wanted to have those influences on “物の怪”. I mean, when it comes to progressive rock/metal, everything is permitted (well, is it?), but the black metal scene is far more conservative. I think that influence is not forced and that it makes perfect sense in the way the album is presented, but I understand why it might put off metal fans.
Take “般若の面” for example: that’s a nu metal song, isn’t it? It even has a “Freak on a Leash” homage at the end with the scat vocals. Can you believe a guy messaged me and told me he was not a fan anymore because “nu metal sucks”? How crazy is that? Somehow nu metal keeps being the black sheep of the metal scene even though it is now enjoying a lot of popularity and some kind of revival with all the amazing “nu-metalcore” bands that are appearing.
Q8: それにしても、”日本の都市伝説 Vol.1″ で RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS をブラックメタルに料理していたのには驚きましたよ！あなたのブラックメタルは本当に自由ですね！
【IER】: Sin さん、嬉しい言葉をありがとう！”By The Way” の引用を発見してくれて、本当にうれしいよ！君の言葉通り、僕は自分の心をオープンにして、できるだけ自由な音楽を作るように心がけているんだ。
例えば “般若の面”。これは Nu-metal の曲でしょ？ラストのスキャットなんて、ほとんど “Freak on a Leash” のオマージュだよね。ある男が僕にメッセージを送ってきて、 “ニューメタルは最悪だからもう君のファンじゃない” と言ったなんて信じられるかい？そんなのおかしいだろ？最近では大きな人気を得て、新たな “Nu-metalcore” の素晴らしいリバイバルがあるにもかかわらず、なぜかNu-metal はメタル・シーンのブラックシープ (鼻つまみ者) であり続けている。
Q9: Finally, please tell us why you chose the name “物の怪” Skekiyo’s upside down feet as artwork, for your album?
【IER】: I chose the title in order to keep the theme of naming the albums after different Japanese terms for supernatural entites. I ended up with “物の怪” because it made sense when following the same concepts: “怪談” was about rage, “うずまき” about fear and “妖怪” about loneliness. “物の怪” however conveys more topics due to how pop-oriented it is instead of being a concept album .Although you could say there’s a prevalent theme of madness through it. Not in an individual kind of way, but more like a “moral panic” thing, irrational thoughts running through society. And also, the name “物の怪” reminds me of one of my favorite films, which is Mononoke Hime “もののけ姫”!
Regarding the artwork, I think it might be the most iconic shot from the film, just as powerful as Sukekiyo’s mask. I understand that the shot is referenced through Japanese popular culture quite a lot, isn’t it? I remember seeing a post about it on some forums: there were a lot of nods to Sukekiyo’s legs in the TV shows and films listed, even in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Also, the image is really powerful, no matter if you haven’t seen The Inugami Family “犬神家の一族”: who are those people? Sailors? Cops? Military? Where are they? What have they found? A friend thought it was the antlers of a demon; other friend thought they were branches! It is really mysterious and abstract, and the cheap black and white aesthetic with heavy noise I use helps hide it even better.
This is an undisputed heavy metal classic! It’s fast and heavy with lots of shredding and killer riffs, but it also has progressive and symphonic elements that make it really stand out. I discovered this album through those Internet forums I talked you about before. It was really important in my musical journey, hide and Pata becoming big influences and one of the many reasons I started playing guitar. I was finally able to see X Japan in Buenos Aires back in 2011! Really magical show, especially because I attended it with Fabri and Marco, two great friends I made on those forums that introduced me to X Japan when I was just a kid. It was amazing!
これは誰もが認めるヘヴィ・メタルの名盤！シュレッドとキラーリフを多用した速くて重い曲が多いけど、プログレッシブやシンフォニックな要素もあり、本当に際立った作品になっている。このアルバムは、さっき話したインターネットのフォーラムで知ったんだ。hideとPataからは大きな影響を受けたし、僕がギターを始めた理由の一つでもあるね。僕の音楽の旅において本当に重要なアルバムだったんだ。2011年にブエノスアイレスで X Japan を見ることができた！FabriとMarcoと一緒に観に行ったから。素晴らしかったよ！
Nujabes “Modal Soul”
I love all Nujabes albums, but this is the one I have listened to the most alongside Samurai Champloo Music Record: Departure. This guy was a genius, so sad he passed away in such a tragic way. The atmosphere of his music is some of the most moving I’ve heard, and this album has a mellow yet melancholic touch that makes it perfect for silent spring nights. His music is one of the many reasons I love hip hop, so it is an obligatory mention.
Nujabes のアルバムは全部好きだけど、”Samurai Champloo Music Record: Departure” と並んで一番聴いたのはこのアルバムだ。この人は天才だった。悲劇的な形で亡くなってしまったのはとても残念だよ。彼の音楽の雰囲気は僕が聞いた中で最も感動的なもので、このアルバムはメロウでありながらメランコリックなタッチで、静かな春の夜にぴったり。彼の音楽は、僕がヒップホップを愛する数多くの理由の一つなので、最も重要なんだよ。
Dir en grey “UROBOROS”
This album had a very big impact on me, especially on the way I write songs. It was the one that made me fall in love with Dir en grey’s music. Shit: I even named my first band (Uroboros) after this album! It was released during the right time in my life because I was just getting into experimental music back then. I was listening to a lot of Opeth, King Crimson and Faith No More around that time, and this record managed to fuse it all somehow. The Vinushka performance on the [ANDROGYNOUS -a view of the Acro- ] show is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life. Hope I can see them live again someday!
このアルバムは僕にとても大きな影響を与えてくれた。特に僕の曲の書き方に。Dir en grey の音楽を好きになるきっかけになった1枚だよ。自分の最初のバンド（Uroboros）の名前もこのアルバムから取ったんだ！当時は実験的な音楽にハマっていた時期だったから、ちょうどいい時期にリリースされたんだ。当時は Opeth、King Crimson、Faith No More をよく聴いていたのだけど、このレコードはそのすべてを融合させることができたんだ。ANDROGYNOUS -a view of the Acro- のショーでの “Vinushka” のパフォーマンスは、僕の人生で見たものの中で最高のもののひとつ。いつかまた生で見れるといいな！
Ryuichi Sakamoto “Thousand Knives Of”
Impossible not to mention Sakamoto. He left us this year, but his legacy is infinite. This was one of the many albums that made me fall in love with electronic music. Back in my teens, I was a very close-minded metalhead that was trying to expand his musical horizons. So, I started with the fathers of the genre: Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream… And of course, Yellow Magic Orchestra! I love the solo works by its three members too, Hosono being my favorite one. But man, this album is something else! It feels like “the future”: listening to this back in the late 70s must have been mind-blowing!
I used to HATE punk rock and hardcore music with such a passion… And I don’t even know why! Before founding Uroboros, I had a band with Seba (who became the original drummer of Uroboros) and Manu, a singer with a hardcore background. We were called Favces and played a very slow sludge/doom metal similar to Burning Witch and Khanate. Manu introduced me to a lot of bands from the genre and helped me realize I was missing out a lot of music! This G.I.S.M. album is just incredible: might not be their best, but it has a very raw passion (Randy Uchida was a beast!) and it also was my gateway into the genre. Thanks to this I got into the whole Burning Spirits scene and then into crust punk and metallic hardcore like Integrity. A real eye opener!
Seatbelts – Cowboy Bebop
Dead End – Shàmbara
Envy – A Dead Sinking Story
Sigh – In Somniphobia
Boris – Flood
Luna Sea – Mother
Kuroyume – 迷える百合達 ~Romance of Scarlet~
Flower Travellin’ Band – Satori
MESSAGE FOR JAPAN
Thank you very much to all of you for your support! A lot of IER’s listeners come from Japan, so I’m really grateful and happy you liked this four albums inspired by your culture. Some people have asked me if I could play live in Japan someday: would love that! Hope it can happen soon!
Sin, I want to thank you again for giving me this opportunity! It was a really fun interview. Marunouchi Muzik Magazine is still one of my favorite websites when it comes to metal, and the work you do is amazing. Cheers!
Sin、こうした機会を与えてくれたことに改めてお礼を言いたい！本当に楽しいインタビューだった。Marunouchi Muzik Magazine は、メタルにおいてずっと僕のお気に入りのウェブサイトの一つで、君の仕事は素晴らしいものだよ。ありがとう！