14:22 - 9th October 2014, by Tom Smith

Girugamesh Go Off The Record

Drummer Ryo and leader ShuU reveal to Tom Smith how the band nearly fell apart, and why their latest album is their most important to date.

“Turn the recorder off. I want to tell you something, but you have to promise me not to share it with anyone – this is strictly ‘off the record’, okay?” – it’s not the first time I’ve heard this during an interview, and each time it happens, my heart sinks as I know what’s about to follow is likely to be much more exciting than the band’s usual rehearsed and rehashed spiel about how great their new CD or tour will be. I wasn’t wrong.

Girugamesh is a band that has changed a lot since their first album, but no change has been quite so jarring as the one in their 2011 album GO.

The group had built a following in Japan’s indie visual kei and hard rock scene through the years, gaining a number of top three singles in the Oricon Indies chart, and managing to tour Europe and perform in America several times. Their sound has always had a nu-metal feel to it, which they’ve never been afraid of combining with other genres. Most recently, a lot of that has been coming from electronic sources, with one of the biggest influencers being dubstep producer Skrillex (who Ryo tells us he loves, while beatboxing the rhythm to Bangarang). Yet GO saw the band take a direction very different to any of those travelled before – a much softer, toned down and altogether ‘safer’ direction. It turns out this direction also caused the most turbulence both inside and outside of the band.

I’d just asked Ryo and ShuU about the differences between their latest album MONSTER (out now from Gan Shin) and GO, as there’s a distinctive jump in style.

“Stop right there. What do you mean there’s a difference?” the group’s manager suddenly steps in, switching the tables and making me the interviewee. After I check if it’s okay to speak honestly, I tell them that in my opinion, GO sounds like an entirely different band, that the momentum that Girugamesh were making seemed to evaporate following the album’s release, and that MONSTER felt like the band were back on track again. There was silence, all members looked at each other and then Ryo spoke in Japanese to the manager, who nodded back.

“Turn the recorder off… this is strictly ‘off the record’…”
“I’m glad you noticed the difference. It nearly tore us apart as a band. We love hard music, and right now I’m really into metalcore and dubstep. What I’m saying is, no matter what we look like, our visual style or how we’re being marketed, we just want the music to be good and something that we would enjoy. That’s the most important thing. But with GO, our management company wanted us to change our sound to be more commercial and try to attract a mainstream following – they told us if we did this, this and that, we could become much bigger. You know, you think you can trust the people you work with to do their best for you, but listening to them was the biggest mistake of our ten-year career. We lost so many fans because of GO, and we almost lost band members too. It caused us to have so many fights within the band. In the end we fired our manager and got this guy [pointing to the new manager], and he’s cool. And you know what else? F*** it. I’m putting all of this on the record, I want people to know about this and I don’t care for the consequences. MONSTER is the result of all of this, we were like ‘f*** you, from now on we’re going to create the music we want to create’, and that’s MONSTER.”

The fans agree too. “When we released the music video to DRAIN, the lead video from MONSTER, I read so many comments from excited fans saying things like ‘Yeah! Girusgamesh is back!’ or similar things. I felt really happy reading such comments from all over the world, and it made me even more excited about going on this tour. We’ve found ourselves again and can’t wait to rock!”

Girugamesh’s latest album MONSTER and compilation THE BEST are out now on CD, digital and streaming platforms from Gan Shin Records.

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