interview by Case / Damage
From Osaka comes BLOOD, the gothic three-piece band that is currently the biggest Japanese gothic export apart from the Gothic & Lolita Bible. If Eve of Destiny couldn't make it on the European continent, they surely can.
THE DOSE: How would you describe BLOOD to the audience who's not yet familiar with you, what is the concept behind the band? How much do you adhere to the visual kei scene?
KIWAMU: BLOOD is the gothic industrial techno newwave hardrock blackmetal visual kei band. I know this is too long, but it's very good for us - I think genres are for record companies. For artists, it poses no problems. I just want to make the best possible art. And I don't adhere to the visual kei scene in Japan. There are many-many stereotypical bands in the scene. Strange music and strage looks. They only imitate major bands. They don't have any individual characters. But BLOOD's good point is music and art. If you have good ears, you'll get my meaning.
THE DOSE: After a rather extravagant set of costumes, your new image is a return to the classic Gothic look. Why the sudden change and who desined the new costumes?
KIWAMU: We make concept albums, so we needed to choose costumes that fit the story. On the 3rd mini album, the story is dark, so I wanted to wear the classic gothic style. In Osaka, we found a good partner. She has the independent brand "unVolkeMen". She has a good sense about the gothic style. She designed them for us. We love them very much.
THE DOSE: The new image reminds us of classic horror films. Do you like horror movies? Do you get any inspiration from these and which ones are your favorites?
KIWAMU: My favourites are Dario Argento's movies. When making the image up, his influence on me is very big. For example, Profondo Rosso... This is Italian horror director Dario Argento's most prominent work. His movies about demons and zombies and such aren't the ones I like, I think the ones that play on human fears are the ones that give me the most inspiration when I create videos and stuff.
FU-KI: I like some movies, especially vampire movies. I'm very much influenced by them.
THE DOSE: In January you held an event called "VENGEANCE for BLOOD Extra 2" where the line-up also included some more Goth-inspired bands. How did you choose the bands for the event and do you want to shift towards the Goth-scene in Japan?
KIWAMU: I am the producer for this event. I wanted to make a unique event in Japan. In Japan there is a gothic scene, but it is very strange and small. So I wanted to change them by myself. In Japan, my event has a strong followership - like, a hundred gothic lolita girls do turn up. I'd worked out all the details for out next gothic sponsor event. This time I think I've found a lot of good and strong bands that will make it very different from other bands' sponsor events. The Candy Spooky Theater and Calmando Qual, two bands that also came to our previous event, will be coming back and bringing a world view that I really like. And I'm really happy that Brand 0, the new project of the excellent vocalist NOA, immediately agreed to come when I told him about this event. There's also Kokushoku Sumire, a group I saw in Gothic Lolita Bible and thought they seemed interesting. Isn't it kind of rare for them to attend the kind of event that we'll be putting on? I also saw Cannival Method in magazines and online and their dark image really caught my eye, so I asked them and they agreed to come. And I think Chihiro, who responded agreeing to appear first on stage, will be the perfect DJ for us. It's also really cool that this will become the New Year event for Ikekuro Cyber. I made flyers to promote the gothic event. I would like to do this sort of event at regular intervals from now on, so I think that's an important thing to consider, too. The gothic scene in Japan is really small compared to that of Europe, so I hope to sort of kick it into action.
THE DOSE: What is the band members' musical background? What were your favorite bands and what motivated you to start a band?
KIWAMU: I love the 4AD record company bands. If someone asked me a favourite music style - that's the 4AD bands. But Hanoi Rocks is the first impression for the band. I first heard of Hanoi Rocks long after they've broken up. I came across a feature in a magazine that said their old works were being compiled on a new CD and it caught my interest. I think this is probably the one CD I've listened to the most. They may not have had much influence on my musical career, but they are a really cool band. Maybe it's a good thing, since they broke up in 1984 while they still had so much potential. Their Up Around the Bend PV was awesome. I went ahead and bought their CD after they got back together recently, but it still feels like a different band now.
FU-KI: I like Finnish bands, like H.I.M., The 69 Eyes, Sentenced, Negative and so on. Now my favorite is H.I.M.. And I love Cradle of Filth from UK, they are so great!!! I also like Paradise Lost. And I wish to make a big-scale show like Mötley Crue. I wanted to be different from others, so I started to sing.
THE DOSE: Recently Fu-ki wrote about the European and US bands he's been listening to lately. What are the other members' current favorites?
KIWAMU: Nowadays I'm listening to Italian band Mandragora Scream. This is a gothic band with a female vocalist that I often listen to. In the beginning I decided to buy it after looking at the photos in the CD jacket. When it comes to gothic music, it's either good or completely off, but this one is really good. I think the singer's voice is very expressive. And Italian bands aren't often heard of in Japan.
THE DOSE: Beside Japan, you played in the US, Mexico and several countries in Europe. Do you see any differences between the audiences in different continents? What were your experiences?
KIWAMU: They are very good in every country. For example, I heard French fans were too shy before the live show. But when we went there, they were too excited for us. Swedish fans were a little shy. They were just listening to our music during the song and after it, they were very gentle. In Mexico, though, there was the most excited audience in the whole world. At the last concert in Mexico, the only thing that concerned me was that so many people just wanted to scream and go crazy rather than enjoying our music that it was hard to create the right atmosphere. Fu-ki tried to talk between the songs but they just kept shouting. Fanatics are fine, but it was really annoying when some of them kept screaming during ballads' intros and things like that, so I threw water bottles at them as hard as I could. They quieted down after that, which was good, but I still wish they would concentrate more on experiencing our world view.
FU-KI: Each audience was very good. The Japanese audience is a little shy.
THE DOSE: Which were the more memorable gigs in Europe? Your first live in Paris was very intense and the audience was quite hysteric. Were the later lives similar to that one?
KIWAMU: It was April 2nd, 2004 at Glaz Art (Paris, France). This was one of our live shows that I still have a lasting impression of. I had booked our oneman there around January of 2004. No visual kei band had ever played in Europe before then, so we became the pioneers. It sold out almost immediately and just when I was thinking about what kind of live we should do, some of the band members left. That caused some trouble, but Fu-ki joined us shortly after, so we were ready when the day of the live came. It was Fu-ki's first oneman live. I think it was the 4th for BLOOD? The live was great.
FU-KI: Of course I remember the first gig in Paris. I was very nervous.
THE DOSE: You played 3 gigs in a row in Mexico earlier this year and will return there again early 2006. Could you tell me about your experiences there? Is there a big audience for visual kei bands?
KIWAMU: I think it is not for the fans of visual kei bands. In Mexico, the gothic scene is very big. If Lacrimosa plays in Mexico, 5000 fans come to their live show. In fact, the Mexican price is too low. There are many troubles about live shows. But there are good organizers for us and there are good people. We don't go there for money but for the good fans.
FU-KI: Mexican fans are always very welcoming towards us.
THE DOSE: Your website is in seven different languages beside Japanese. How do you manage all the different versions?
KIWAMU: There are BLOOD agents all over the world. They help me, so I can make the website in other languages. I sometimes scout for the good person for our activities. Who thinks about the world market for the visual kei? Every day I got the emails from world fans in many languages.
THE DOSE: You released "VENGEANCE for BLOOD 3" in January which is the final chapter of a concept mini-album trilogy. Could you tell us about the story behind VENGEANCE for BLOOD?
FU-KI: The concept story of VENGEANCE for BLOOD is about a man from whom the life of his beloved and his own humanity was taken in an instant. He departed on the journey of revenge. And the story is developing. He knows more about his tragedy.
KIWAMU: I made the decision to use vengeance as our concept theme because I felt the emotions it carried would be easy for us to implement. Keeping a completely unforgivable person alive does no good for the world or anyone in it. He would want to inflict that same misery on everyone else. Personally, that kind of hatred is my own driving force. I would probably never forgive anyone who would stand in the way of the activities I'm doing now.
THE DOSE: What are your plans for the future? Any plans for a new Europe tour? And will there be a new direction after you close the "VENGEANCE for BLOOD" period?
KIWAMU: The long-running VENGEANCE for BLOOD series has come to an end. Following our last tour in April, BLOOD will suspend all band activities. Our primary focus at the moment is this final tour.
THE DOSE: Do you know that visual kei gained popularity in Europe and the US thanks to MP3s and filesharing programs? So that basically everyone who buys your CDs, merchandise and goes to your concerts originally started off downloading your MP3s?
KIWAMU: Sometimes there are stupid and bad fans of visual kei, updating MP3s on their websites. They are illegal, crappy persons and I hate them. But I know the truth - fans know J-music through MP3s. So if we sell CDs in European countries, their strange system will not be big. I want to buy the CDs as the goods. So I hope they will buy the CDs by the legal way.
THE DOSE: Musically, aesthetically and professionally, what were the best moments and creations of 2005 for you?
KIWAMU: When I wrote the song "VENGEANCE for BLOOD 3". It was the best moment for me last year. When you've written a lot of songs, you come to understand how difficult it is to write music. The melodies you write come from yourself so they're naturally impressive to you. But that's only a personal opinion, reality is that other people see it from a completely different point of view. It's the same whether you write a lot of songs or don't write many at all - to you, they're good songs. But it's a different story when you've written a truly excellent song. When you've written a lot of songs, you learn to realize when you've written a really amazing one. I think I experienced that most recently when I wrote the bridge of VENGEANCE for BLOOD.
FU-KI: To play in Finland. Finland is special for me. And when we finished our latest album.
THE DOSE: How would you briefly summarize the Japanese Gothic and visual kei scene? What is the club and community life like there, what are the key venues, shops, parties, bands and organizer groups whom you would recommend to those who would visit Japan and would like to take part of the scene life?
KIWAMU: The visual kei scene is the setting sun now. So there are many strange bands, very stereotypical. The Gothic scene is very very very very small. For visual kei bands, Takadanobaba area and Urawa narusis are good clubs. For gothic, it is difficult. There are some events in Tokyo. But almost event has 50-70 fans small events. Most biggest event is 300 fans. In Tokyo, there is good CD shop about gothic "shinjyuku GOLD" Oh, sorry. Honestly, I don't have any interest in these scene.
THE DOSE: What is your message to the readers of THE DOSE and the Hungarian BLOOD fans?
KIWAMU: BLOOD has the range of vision on the international Gothic and J-music markets. In the future, if I'll get offers from your country, we can go there. I hope you will feel our world and listen to our music. If you feel BLOOD one time, you will experience an abstinence syndrome!