1. What's "j-rock"?
"J-rock" (or "japanese rock") originally included alternative music, but widely this word is used for all japanese rock and even metal.
Japanese rock had developed the late 1960s. Artists like Happy End are considered to have virtually developed the genre. During the 1970s, it grew more popular. Japan has a vibrant underground rock scene, best known internationally for noise rock bands such as Boredoms and Melt Banana, as well as stoner rock and doom metal bands such as Boris. More conventional indie rock artists such as Eastern Youth and Number Girl have found some mainstream success in Japan, but relatively little recognition outside of their home country.
Japan has been known for being a huge successful area for metal bands from around the world in which case majority of recorded live shows have been recorded and filmed in Japan.
Early power metal/visual kei band X Japan and 80's heavy metal bands Loudness and Anthem were the most successful Japanese bands with X-Japan having mainstream success in Japan and Loudness having mainstream success worldwide. Dir En Grey has currently been the most successful modern metal band from Japan to date gaining huge success all around America and Europe.
2. What's "visual kei"?
Visual kei is a movement in Japanese culture characterized by the use of outrageous, usually androgynous looks. This usually involves striking make-up, unusual hair styles and elaborate costumes. There is an opinion that it came from ancient japanese theater where all roles were played by men, but actually X-Japan is considered to be founder of such a style in j-music. That's why this style is assossiated with j-rock, thought it's mostly a fashion style.
X-Japan was the first who represented this style overseas in 1992 but it didn't draw much attention. Recently it has become more popular in America and Europe.
Visual kei is divided in diffrent sub-styles now [for example, Gothika Lolita (launched by Mana)]. Magazines with a visual kei focus are Arena 37°C, Cure, Fool's Mate, Zy and Shoxx.
3.The Gazette: indies or major?
Despite the fact that the GazettE has a great success in Japan, and PS Company is a "major" company, the band is considered to be indies. But their growing popularity in Europe can bring them "major" position in j-rock.
The GazettE themselves said defines their status as "neither". Aoi commented this like: "I don't understand bands and people to whom this kind of labeling is very important. We've never cared about the faltering borderline between major and indies bands, since to us the most important things are performing and making music. We just are the GazettE and in our opinion, everybody has the right to decide for themselves if they want to see us as an indies or major group. We don't care about it or prefer either option over the other."
4. What does name of the band mean? Why did they change the name? What's the meaning of "the" and literal "E"?
Ruki said that "Gazette" came from the word "cassette". They changed it to make it sound better. The term "cassette" itself stands for the fact that they don’t make a highly technical kind of music, but every instrument is played and every song is written by themselves. To make it simple: everything is handmade.
Reita said that this word is more like a sound. If the tape in a recorder messes up and you pull it out afterwards, this sound is a little bit like "Gazette".
Originally "Gazette" was written in japanese letters. In 2006 "Gazette" changed their name for "the GazettE" in English. There are opinions that it was a kind of show-off, but may be it was a kind of preparation to "invasion" into Europe (next step: NIL release in France). Official reason is that it’s only because of visual reasons. The writing "the GazettE" is supposed to have the effect of a logo on the viewer.
Article "the" and capital "E" has no special meaning: with "the" name sounds better, "E" is just a design.
5. How was founded the GazettE?
The GazettE was founded by Ruki (vocal), Reita (bass) and Uruha (guitar) in 2002. Later they found Yune (drums) and Aoi (guitar). They signed a contract with Matina Label in 2002 but label dissolved in later. Yune left the band in early 2003 he was replaced be Kai (drums). A month later band signed the contract with PS Company and became one of the most popular band of Japan. Short story^^
6. What's the line up of the GazettE?
Kai (drums) - since 1st of February, 2003.
Ex-members: Yune (drums) - left on 21st of January, 2003.
10th of March - birthdate of Gazette (and the GazettE lately).
7. Did the GazettE members take part in other bands?
Before the GazettE guys were in other bands. Ruki was in Mikoto as a drumer (and he didn't think about becoming a vocalist), Reita and Uruha were in Karasu. Then Reita and Uruha joint Ruki in bands Ma'die Kusse and Kar+te=zyAnose. Yune and Aoi were in Artia. Kai was in Mareydi†Creia.
After the GazettE formation all members has no b-side projects or bands.
8. What was music influences on band members and their music?
Luna Sea and X-Japan mostly. There are opinions that the GazettE is pro-Dir en Grey band, but actually these bands have very little in common.
9. Who and how writes lyrics and music?
Lyrics are written only by Ruki.
Music is written by all members. Mostly famous examples:
- Anti Pop by Reita (it means the intriduction to song with bass solo)
- The Social Riots Machines by Aoi
- Saraba by Uruha
- Cassis by Ruki
- Wakaremichi by Aoi
First the band compose music. There's no special thing that influence the process of composing the music. It depends on members' tastes, according to Aoi's words. They compose music at home, then they give everything to Ruki together with their suggestions. They don't use spicific knoledge such as music theory when they work on music.
Then Ruki adds lyrics and works on melody. "I am often inspired by sad things such as war or murder which I hear of in the news," - he says. Also he's inspired by the small things that happen in life. "I don’t care if these small things seem to be not important to other people. I write down what I think about them and that does not necessarily need to be something that is of interest to the whole world". Reita: "Ruki writes the lyrics in the language his voice can take. Pronouncing these two languages is so different that for example at certain pitches he simply isn't able to sing in English even if he wanted to."
They confessed that they don't have any messages in their music. "It is more like we are born to make music. It is our most important way to express ourselves, to tell stories, to give people something. It is just our language".
10. How do ideas of PVs appear?
Their songs are almost never directly related to the videos. They want to give their fans some space for imagination. Music videos that are related to the song are rather useless. They, almost without exception, ruin everybody's personal images that the music gives.
There are a lot of things that give ideas to PVs. For example, for REGRET PV Ruki suggest to use the Frankenstein idea of giving life to a doll.
11. The GazzetE: visual kei band or not? [style question]
The GazettE is included to bands visual kei styled. According to this they are usually compared with other visual kei (and former too) bands such as dir en Grey and MUCC. But bandmembers themselves annonce that they have thier own style, together with their own kind of music. And they do not want to be put into categories or compared to others all the time. Ruki: "Our image is mostly made up of our music and our lyrics. Style, make up or clothes are not closely linked to it. Our outfits change from single to single, from CD to CD." But they don't reject the visual kei elements in their style. "Of course the visual aspect is important to us because it belongs to the music and the whole product. Our look depends on the creative phase we are currently in and also on the current record we are making. Therefore, we can not say what will be in the future" - Uruha said.
The origin of their style are just things that they like, for example, Ruki has always collected what he liked and in the end, this styling was created. He started to do this at the age of 15.
They create their clothes themselves. Reita: "I guess, we can be proud of it and of course it changes self-confidence in the end". But this is only for their perfomance, not for real life. "We always think about an imaginary person called Gazette and what he possibly looks like at certain times" - that's how style made. When the basic idea is ready, each of us develops his personal style a bit further. As a result, they look like Gazette as a whole but they all also have some of the personal elements to be recognized by.
They create their clothes with dresser. "We have an image and tell our dresser "I want to go with this", and our dresser will come up with something for us. And our dresser doesn't really give us any other ideas". Sometimes they even come up with matching outfits.
12. Are any of the GazettE songs soundtracks?
Song "Chizuru" from Stacked Rubbish album and Hyena single is soundtrack to horror japanese movie "Apartment".
13. What achivements has a band?
- Disorder, first full-length album, was ranked no.5 on the Oricon Album Chart
- Madara mini album reached to no.2 on the Oricon Indie Charts
- Live at Nippon Budokan and Yokohama Arena (the largest venues in Japan); they were sold out
- Concert at AnimagiC (by German Anime & Mango Convention) in Bonn, Germany (first concert in Europe)
- Concert in France was sold out during first 7 days; tickets (only online counted) on concerts in Germany, Finland, UK were sold out during 30-40 minutes after sale beginning (and concerts itself is held three months later)
- According to Jabra Music Voting to determine the bast band in the world, the GazettE holds the 18th position
- Cassis is so popular in Japan that is used as an opening for one of the most famous television shows.