Talking PROGRESS with defspiral (日本語あり)
As a commemoration of defspiral’s first album release, ROKKYUU met with defspiral to discuss their activities so far. With over ten years behind them as a unit, the band is passionate about everything they do and the future looks exciting!
69: This is the third band together for the members of defspiral, and your first band, Transtic Nerve, lasted for ten years. You should know each other pretty well by now, so please introduce the person beside you and tell us what would be missing from defspiral if he wasn’t in the band. Also, please introduce the two members who are not here today.
TAKA: So, I introduce MASATO? We’ve known each other since high school so basically we were friends first and then we ran into each other and became a band and somehow we’ve been together for decades. If MASATO wasn’t there… I wanna say this well. A defspiral without MASATO… I was almost able to say something cool but it just won’t come out. [Bitter laugh] The flower would be missing. defspiral exists because we have this flower of a guitarist. Heheheh.
MASATO: Next to me is vocalist TAKA. Like he said, he was one grade above me in school. We’ve gotten great since the old days–we get along now, too. I can’t rally even imagine a defspiral without TAKA, but… I wonder how it would be. I really can’t imagine it. Out of all the bands I know, I think the high quality of TAKA’s voice could be called unique, it’s so good. Even now, I think there’s nothing to match it.
TAKA: Our bassist, RYO. He’s the band master. As defspiral’s leader, he does all sorts of work. He’s a very important man as he’s our mood maker and he properly takes care of all the little details a band needs. His body is small, but as a person, he’s huge. His heart is huge, too. Our drummer MASAKI is extremely tuned into his own pace, and… can you think of anything?
MASATO: He’s the dad.
TAKA: If RYO is the mother then MASAKI is the father. We’re the two children, doing as we please.
69: In your own words, what does “defspiral” mean to you?
TAKA: For one thing, it’s the name we’ve had since we began as a four-man unit, but it relates to how the four of us make music, perform live, release CDs, and as all this reaches the fans, our spiral grows bigger and that action is what defspiral is. The four of us, our fans, and anyone listening to our music together are part of defspiral. That’s my image. I think I said it well.
MASATO: That pretty much says it all.
TAKA: Heheheh, try a different angle.
MASATO: The word spiral means uzu (spiral) which never ends and the words we slate are “progressive…” Wait, what was it?
TAKA: Sorry, can’t remember! [laugh]
MASATO: We’re not allowed to forget this…
TAKA: True… The words are written on our backdrop, but it’s not like we can check that. [English] “Progressing Infinite Spiral” [Japanese] Like a progressive spiral.
MASATO: It expands, evolves, and grows. That kind of meaning.
69: How would you summarize defspiral’s music?
TAKA: Well first of all is “cool.” There’s the merit of the music and our message of course, but the most important point is the coolness of the sound. For the moment, we put aside all the hidden messages etc. rock bands have and make sure the song sounds cool from the moment you hear it. That’s the most important thing. That’s why cool music is first and foremost.
69: By the way, we’ve listened to your new album, PROGRESS. Including the title track, there are six brand new songs. I think the meaning of “progress” is easy enough to understand but what type of progress are we talking about? As a band, as a race, personally…?
TAKA: As an album, PROGRESS is our first album so it means “We’ll push on forward from now on.” The last track, “PROGRESS,” refers to things like the current situation in Japan. It’s about the feeling towards everyone and towards myself that even at times like this when there are all sorts of troubles, we can’t give up the will to move forward.
69: There are a lot of songs on this album that bring to mind the music of your last band. Was this on purpose, or a natural coincidence?
MASATO: You mean The Underneath? Actually, we always intended to make music as a continuation of our old band. That’s why it’s natural, because we like hard music with metal-sounding guitar yet melodies that stand out through it all. What we want to do hasn’t changed. You could think of it as a reset, but the basics haven’t changed.
TAKA: After all, we all have our roots. I think music projects the self. There’s a lot of choices like whether to sing or to play an instrument and music you make slowly changes along the way but there’s a part that will always come naturally. I think right now, the music we’re making is especially spontaneous. I think we’re naturally making the music we want to.
69: Of your music so far, what song do you each like best? Not your recommendation, but your own preference, that is.
TAKA: Of course, I have an emotional attachment to all of the songs, but “Shun” or there’s “PARADISE” which we first played on October 10. It’s a song that really heats up live and it feels like I can really sing it to the fans which is fun. I feel like it’s going to get much, much, much, much better at lives from now on so I really like it a lot right now. It’s something new for us, too.
MASATO: I like the first song on the album, “SALVAGE.” When we were making the album, I really wanted there to be something really heavy. I wanted TAKA to scream. I like being able to pump fists together with the fans and for them to get really worked up. The song was made with all those strong feelings in mind, so I highly recommend it.
69: What song of all your music would you recommend first timers listen to to get a feel for “defspiral?”
TAKA: Now that’s hard.
MASATO: There are a lot of different elements to our band. We really work a lot of different things into a lot of different parts so it’s almost impossible to push just one thing…
TAKA: Although, with our current feelings and enthusiasm, I really want people to listen to the first track of the album, “SALVAGE.” We said it’s really heavy, but it’s also full of our feelings at the moment. The sound is extremely heavy but it’s also melodious. I think the band’s power really comes across so it’s the song I most want people to listen to.
69: Speaking of songs, you have an unrecorded song called “69.”
TAKA: Hahaha, you’re well informed. It’s just a temporary title, though.
69: You played it at the live we covered recently and we found it interesting, of course, so we were wondering why you chose that title.
TAKA: I don’t know about overseas, but in Japan, “69” is a sexual term. It’s that kind of song, kinda sexy.
69: Well, it’s not on the album and the temporary title, “69” may not be heard again but we were happy to see it. Now for a change of topic, did performing in the Pink Spider Musical this year have any influence on defspiral’s sound or goals?
TAKA: Hmmm, by being involved, how were we influenced musically… frankly, a lot. Originally, I met hide as a listener. I listened to hide’s music and then when we moved to Tokyo we were given the chance to debut. That was about 13 or 14 years ago. He was our benefactor. As we worked in the music industry, a lot happened, but we received a lot from hide personally… Now, by appearing in the 13th memorial event, the Pink Spider musical, it was a chance to review everything we’ve done with our music over the last decade and more. Of course, I felt the power of hide’s music and there was the matter of expressing it. Being able to participate was a huge thing for us, beyond feeling.
69: How about from the guitarist’s side. Were you further influenced by hide?
MASATO: Right. Originally, I loved hide since I was little, since I started guitar. Having gotten the chance, I’ve continued playing all this time. However, there aren’t many big opportunities like this. I feel like I’ve finally gotten closer to hide. This period made me strongly feel that I must try even harder.
69: Sounds like it was inspirational.
TAKA & MASATO: It was very inspirational.
69: Taka, what was your favorite number in the musical?
TAKA: My favorite number, hmmm… Rather than feeling good, the song I was most honored to sing was the ballad called “FLAME.” The arrangement in the musical was done with piano. In the middle of the musical’s run, the earthquake happened. The run continued, and there was this one phrase… I completely forget. [Laugh]
MASATO: Keep trying. [Laugh]
TAKA: Oh! There’s a part that goes “kareru made aruite yuku dake” (Just keep walking until it falls apart.) with an English phrase, but… “Life is going on, kareru made aruite yuku dake.” There’s a song like that and a phrase that supports the basis of it, that goes “iroiro na koto ga arundakedo, soredemo aruite mae ni susunde iku dake.” (A lot of things happen, but despite that, just walk on forward and keep moving on.) The timing was quite amazing and made me feel more than usual that this was a very special song. Being able to sing that song at such a time, I felt very grateful and I felt that I was also rescued by it. Yeah, so it became a very important song in my life.
69: Did you feel a difference between musicals and lives?
MASATO: Well, there’s no call and response, for one thing.
TAKA: That’s true. Of course, the crowd are sitting and watching, too.
69: Do the hide fans who went to see the musical, sometimes show up at defspiral’s shows?
TAKA: I wonder. Well, it was a long string of performances, so I think a lot of people came to know about and become interested in us.
69: A lot of your song titles are in English although the content is mainly Japanese. Why do you prefer English for your titles?
MASATO: It sounds cool.
TAKA: Well, Japanese people have a fascination with it. I often use English vocabulary I already know. Of course, we can write in katakana instead of English letters, but I really don’t see it any differently from Japanese. For example, you could say “Twilight…” Wait, “Twilight” is in katakana. [Laugh] “Revolver” is a word I know well, it’s not like I made a choice whether to say it in English or Japanese. I don’t even know what to call a revolver in Japanese. I don’t even think about it.
69: As you said, “Twilight” is written in katakana, not English. Did the decision to write it that way have anything to do with the recent, over-popular vampire movie?
TAKA: [laugh] We didn’t really take notice of it.
69: Your first release as defspiral, also included on the album, is “Dive into the Mirror” which was the theme song for Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. Are there any Kamen Rider fans among the band?
TAKA: None of us are particularly ‘fans’ but we all grew up with it since we were kids. It’s a normal part of our lives. Even though it’s still going on today.
69: Did you watch the show? What did you think of an American produced Kamen Rider?
TAKA: I watched it! Every week! Seeing an American-made Kamen Rider-
MASATO: It was a strange feeling.
TAKA: It felt more like sci-fi than the Japanese Kamen Rider.
MASATO: Kind of like watching a movie.
69: Can you tell us about the collaboration bracelet now on sale?
TAKA: A collaboration designer offered us a few different options and from those we chose one to add our logo to. It’s being sold at concerts, at the store, and also online.
69: Having debuted with Kamen Rider, starred in a musical and released your first full album, what goals do you have for defspiral’s future?
TAKA: The goal immediately before us is the tour which began on October 10 and will continue until the final on December 9. By then, we want to release this album to the world and to set up a reputation for defspiral’s oneman lives. Putting on good lives is our immediate goal. Also, in December we’ll release a cover song of hide’s and then tour again next year. Rather than calling it a goal–it’s not exactly a final destination–but as in the lyrics of “PROGRESS” which we talked about earlier, we believe that “ayumi tsudukeru koto jitai ni imi ga aru” (There’s meaning in the act of moving forward itself.) Expanding defspiral’s spiral more and more, we hope to achieve even more next year than we have so far.
69: So in December, you’ll release a hide cover song, and on top of hat, you’re appearing at hide’s birthday concert. This year will be your second appearance as defspiral, but how many times have you participated to date?
TAKA: I can’t even count how many.
MASATO: Not every year, but almost every year.
69: Please spare a message for our readers.
TAKA: Let’s start with MASATO who’s so good at messages! [Laugh]
MASATO: People from overseas are reading this, right? Even though we haven’t done ay actual PR, we get a lot of messages on Twitter and Facebook from people overseas who have looked us up all by themselves. We’re really happy to receive those messages and follows on twitter etc. Thank you very much. I don’t know for sure if we’ll have the chance to perform overseas but we are certainly interested in doing so and if we have the chance, we definitely want to go, so we really hope you will continue to support us!
TAKA: That’s right. Because we live in the era of the internet, it’s possible to overcome distances and you’ve kept an interest in us even from really far away, watching our videos and listening to our songs. When we receive your messages etc. it’s really encouraging. I’m very happy that we can overcome words and touch people by making music. I want to perform overseas someday so please keep supporting us!