Underground’s Artists : One Ok Rock

       Well, I said that I’d post when I found something good for y’all!

It has taken me a while, but I recently stumbled across a band that renews my faith in kids these days!  I was preoccupied with the new goodness that BUCK – TICK  had given the world, all the while ignoring new stuff. Now, this was a mistake, as I realized when this popped up on a recommendation from Youtube.  I listened, went “Hell Yeah!” And now I pass this along to you.

Meet One Ok Rock:

Hah! Made my job a little easier! Just count out the token white kid (who got arrested/kicked out of band for feeling up a private school girl on a tram) and you have it!

The change in musical style is directly related to dumbass there being evicted. Now the sound is somewhere between mid- era punk, some metal, and a dash of hardcore. The rhythms  are pretty obviously meant for a two guitar band, but are disguised nicely. Thus flowing into their newer stuff that’s more appropriately arranged.  Honestly, I like the new sound better.

Par example:

So check them out, give support (they’re now on Itunes) and let’s see how they continue rolling!

Top 10 Most Influential Dir en Grey Songs

We all have those bands that stick close to us. Those bands that you “grow up with” in a sense and you feel like you actually can relate to these people even though you’ve never met them. A band like this is a very rare thing, and one that lasts over two years in Japan is considered old school!  The fact that Dir en Grey has been around as long as Tool is something that has to have had divine intervention. (Or, we will go with my continued theory that Kyo is either Satan or has sold his soul to said entity. I think there is enough proof to uphold either argument!)

My first experience with Dir en Grey was in High School. My brother had moved back in with us and he was into mostly everything Anime. He had a buddy that was huge into Jrock and had managed to get his hands on some X-Japan cds and a few Japanese radio rips. (You know, the old school kind where you hold a boom box recorder up to the other radio in the room and hit that little record button…that kind of radio rip.) Well, this guy had managed to get his hands on, and copy, a not too old recording of Gauze and Kai, a re-mix album; along with some of Hide’s independent work, amazingly a La;Sadie’s song, some Deu le Quartz,  and some older BUCK- TICK.  So, kind of like a big o’le bag of Skittles was thrown into Paul’s lap.

The sound was barely there, it was scratchy and the tape had been recorded over a couple of times so you had to crank it up to full volume and deal with the cellophane sound that wrapped the music.. I thought it sounded weird but the more I stole the mix tape, the better I liked it…until it was left in the glove box on a particularly hot summer day in Florida. Gone forever is the least you could say. I wasn’t too upset, as I had yet to even know who did what song on there. I just remembered a couple of the names on the tape; and at the time I was more into punk, old school rock and the late 90’s genres that didn’t involve trance mix or Latin Fever. So, Kai actually annoyed me greatly and I didn’t mourn it’s loss too much when Paul “lost” all of his boxes that Frank( my other brother who pawned the lot of it) helped him move.

It took me a few years to finally re-discover Diru, at Hot Topic of course, My niece and I had been browsing for Cure magazines for me and Invader Zim stuffs for her, I wandered around, recognized a name on an album, guess who!? 13 dollars poorer, I came out with Uroboros and began looking for the rest of the shit that I had missed.

So there you have it, that’s the story of the beginning of my love affair with Dir en Grey.  And now I shall give you a treat, the most powerful/influential songs that this band has given us… This is my opinion and this list will not be the same for everyone, new or old Diruphiles, we are all awesome!  These songs are not really ranked or in order of importance.

So let’s start off with…
#10

Amber

This is the closest thing that DEG has ever done to a love song…because Kyo mostly talks about his love leaving him well…this does follow the same theme, but is a promise dedicated more to the fans than anything. And it kicks ass!

#9

Grief ( uroburos tour)

This lovely little ditty is from The Marrow of A Bone and perfectly calms you down on a frustrating, want to kill everyone, seeing red kind of day. Just plug this in your stereo, scream along and be satisfied. You will have no voice and be very calm when you arrive at your destination.

#8

Shokubeni

Now, this one is an example of the double meanings that Kyo uses quite frequently. Depending on how you interpret the lyrics, I either hear Hooker!!! or that girl that got tortured by her boyfriend and his sick ass friends…or child prostitution. Whichever way you slice it, this song does not paint a pretty picture, and it is not meant to. DEG is known for many controversial lyrics, videos and opinions on society. It might surprise some that several of their videos are banned in their own country….you know, the country that laughs at the Human Centipede….

#7

Different Sense PV

Here is another of those songs/ videos that are not wholeheartedly welcomed by the media of Japan. It is a very confrontational piece towards Japan’s government and their handling of the Nuclear crisis that followed the Tsunami.  The whole tentacle rape theme to the video actually has a point. But I have no doubt that one late night, a burst of inspiration over too many beers made this whole thing possible.

#6

Taiyou No Ao

OH MY GOD HE HAS NO TATTOOS!  This is so old school it’s not even funny…not quite as old school as another song on this list, but still friggin old! This came out around the time that VKei was not so much their true love, but they still had a soft spot for it…as Shinya still does today.

#5

Obscure ( Vulgar tour) track 13

Probably the most famous of Dir en Grey’s songs. If you type their name into youtube, this is the very first song that will come up. The rumor is it’s about an ex-girlfriend…but as Diru hardly ever (Let me correct that with never) talks about their personal lives, that little piece of gossip will continue to be unsubstantiated.

#4

Mr. Newsman PV

A more punk song, not as punk as some of their others from about this time period. This one again is Betchslapping the media so hard that they are still feeling it to this day.

#3

Garden (Original Pv)

This one is even older and is still one of the most popular for them to play at lives.  Most who are now just getting into the band will sneer at the cadence of the instruments and vocals. This is classic Jrock though and is meant to sound this way!!! Still kicks ass after all these years and provides a fun game of guess who? with the members. Hint: The pretty little brunette is Kyo.

#2

The Final (Live at Nippon Budokon)

The live version of this song is always beautiful. This particular one is from the live DVD of their two day performance at the Budokon, which is kind of equivalent to our Madison Square Gardens. The Final ranks up with their most popular songs for it’s meaning and the band/crowd’s enthusiasm towards it. It’s a particularly epic concert when this song is played in the encore.

#1

Ain’t afraid to die ( 5 ugly kingdom tour)

This is the version of this song that was the clincher for me. I fell absolutely in love with this band after seeing this. I experienced this not long after my uncle had passed away, and though the version I saw had no subs (and has since disappeared), the tone of the song and what they were communicating was not lost. I actually cried, and still get a little teary eyed sometimes with this song.  There has not been a piece of music since that is able to pull that reaction from my cynical ass!

Instant Reaction- BigBang Style

So, as I was trolling my Facebook for something to entertain myself with, I saw that one of my collected Koreans had posted something.

Now, this particular Korean I was thinking about getting rid of…until I saw this shit!

I then realized why I keep this kid, even though he/she (I haven’t figured this one out yet) likes to over share videos and lyrics.

So, I will give you laymen out there a bit of connections for the immediate reactions we had

#1.  Oh, what’s all that stuff on the ground, ohs shit it’s attached to his head it’s alive!

#2. GENOVA

#3. Miyavi!?

#4. I think you have enough tattoos….and not one of them makes you look hardcore. And that better not say FRIZBEE…But I think it does.

#5. Trying to be sexy isn’t working out for you. Take a lesson in subtlety from SCREW. (It’s infallible logic… because it rhymes)

#6. Liberace  wants all his stuff back, so does Napoleon.

#7. Oh….it’s BIGBANG….oh shit, Korea has discovered Visual Kei…

#8. Green eyebrows and blue hair, though on the same color spectrum it still doesn’t work. It makes you wonder though…is it ALL of his hair?

#9. Besides the no music thing, what exactly was the riot about?

#10. Dancing Chinese Dogs….What the fuck was that about? Actually, this video had a whole lot of What The Fuck Was That About moments. You may determine your own.

Also, there was maybe 5 seconds of choreographed dancing. Five! Two weeks ago this band looked like a sparkly version of an all male Zumba class! What the hell!? We are all done for, it’s over now.

Underground’s Artists: Dir En Grey

  

In the music industry there are usually two classifications of the beginnings of a band.
Scenario #1: the band/singer has incredible luck (or a neglectful father in the music industry) and has immediate success.
Scenario #2: They bust their asses and scrape their way from the bottom to the top.
In these scenarios the latter is usually the most successful and have the most longevity. Mostly because they know exactly what it’s like to work in a noodle shop and they never want to take a bath in a sink again.
For Dir En Grey, their beginnings were a combination of the two.
Like all bands, there is never just a one shot deal where your first attempt is the perfect combination of members and sound. So telling a hardcore Diruphile (from the Latin Dir, meaning Awesome, U, having the distinction of Bad Ass, and Phile, meaning Lover) that Dir en Grey gained their start under the moniker of La Sadie;s is like trying to tell a Christian that there is an Old Testament.

To cut the story a bit short, the band failed. Sorry to spoil that for you guys, I know you were so looking forward to a reunion tour!  The entire collapse of La Sadie;s is unanimously agreed to be the fault of this guy:

(This is Kisaki, he now plays bass for free for Phantasmagoria. Good job, Son!)

Whether he stole Kyo’s girlfriend, rubbed Kaoru the wrong way, drank way too much of Die’s beer, was the only person they could find to play bass for free and had to put up with him, or was that guy in the group that everyone thought someone else liked and put up with him out of begrudging comradery until the day that they had a big discussion of “I can‘t stand that douche!” and “OMG! You don‘t like him either!?” …We’ll never know.

However, this was a good thing! Not long after they kicked Kisaki to the curb, you know, like that freeloading brother or the hooker you just got out of Grand Theft Auto;  the guys set out to Nagoya to find a myth of a man who could slap bass more awesomely than a trailer park domestic dispute at a Bootsie Collins show.
Only he was no Myth! His name was Toshimasa Hara and he had been hiding in a Ramen Shop the entire time!

(We also call him Princess)
So, with a new bassist in line and a little back story in, let me officially introduce you to

DIR EN GREY

Kyo.

(Aka, The Prophet, God, Warumono, Tooru Nishimura(Niimura?), Angry Midget from Hell, Satan, Flawless Baboon…I think that last one applies here.)

Ah, the front man, always the focal point of any group, you know him by the fact that he holds no instrument…or well, as I was once told he “plays the microphone.” And boy, can this man play it!
Kyo has a range that jumps over the borders of ridiculous and keeps running. This antisocial, moody little bard can reach to operatic highs then switch to lows so low you can’t hear them over the bass, in fact sometimes you think they are the bass. He fluctuates between them so swiftly, your head will spin. And unlike most performers it is not digitally altered, the voice on the CD is even better in person.

With being a performer, comes a certain amount of pretentious bullshit that this guy loves to spew. He is notorious for blatantly telling the most ridiculous lies in interviews as well as revealing nothing about himself. Lately he’s been giving some seemingly honest answers to interviewers, I recommend reading some, because they are usually profound, if not entertaining.
He also writes all of the lyrics for the band and is even responsible for a few re-mixes. Kyo has often stated that without his voice and his fans he would not be able to live, gotta give the guy props for throwing himself whole heartedly into what he does. That and this Japanese High School dropout makes more than you can imagine!  For way more information on him than I care to have admitted to reading, go here.

Kaoru.

(Aka, Leader- Sama, Asian Chuck Norris, Kaoru Niikura, Batshit Crazy, Stoner Extraordinare.)

Being a Band Leader means you have your shit together, and that also means that you have to keep everyone else’s shit together too. This poor bastard is responsible for all members of Dir en Grey, and responsibilities include, but are not limited to: sound checks, equipment checks, keeping to schedules, tour dates, overseeing venue booking, making sure you have everyone on the plane when you leave the country, holding people’s hair back while there has been too much liquor involved, being the sounding board for arguments and band disputes, shoulder to cry on, making sure none of your posse end up climbing into vans with gang bangers, the no shit taking, hard as hell pimp hand owning, Band Dad, Kaoru.

In addition to all of this, he is lead guitar as well as the main composer of Dir en Grey’s music. He also is the most abused of any member of the band, earning his bad ass reputation from such events as face-planting into Die’s windshield, face planting into an AMP at a live, and being konked in the noggin by Kyo with a fire extinguisher…accident my ass.
For his personal specs, you can see more here.  For his awesome guitar collection, you can go here. Just don’t drool too much, your computer is expensive.

Die.

(Aka, Daisuke, Daisuke Ando, I’d Tap That, Last Call My Ass, Top of The Pole, Blatant Camera Whore and Yes I Know I’m Hot, You Don‘t Have to Yell it Out, Stoner #2)

Rhythm! You need it! And that is what this guy does best. That and having a good time anyway. Die is the band’s rhythm guitarist as well as having (officially) composed a handful of songs and re-mixes for the band, including:  Children,Yokan,Twentyfour Cylinders, and Wake.

His other hobbies include teasing the drummer as well as everyone else, being hot, drinking (you know that earlier part about Kaoru’s job, yeah, most of it is this guy’s fault), and generally having a good time.
His Teen Beat interview is here. His badass guitars are here.

Shinya.
“Why yes, I am a drummer for a metal band, why do you ask?”

( Aka, Shinya Terachi, Enigmatic Poodle, OMG Hello Kitty! Stick Boy, Them hips is for birthin’ babies, Trying to Bring the Flowy Shirt Back, Visual-Kei is not Dead, Mabeline Spring Look Model)

Every band needs a drummer, otherwise it’s pretty much pointless. Don’t be fooled by his coquettish charm, this boy can pound out some ridiculously hard, complex and beautiful rhythms.  His influences span the board from creepy French duets to (of course) X-Japan. I am happy to say that he looks much better without his shirt than his mentor, Yoshiki. (Just put it back on!)
To top it all off, his drumset is one of the largest I’ve EVER seen. again, hahahaha! no, really!
For all you sensitivity loving ladies, he loves dogs, specifically Chihuahuas (you know, since they don’t take up much space and taste good with soy sauce and a little bit of hibachi.), not eating, exercising, and curling his hair.  He is also as temperamental, if not more so, as Kyo and therefore is allowed to do…pretty much anything he wants.  He also parties as hard, if not harder than the band lush, Die.

Full Specs here and mostly Drum Porn here.

And finally,

Toshiya.

(Aka: Helicopter For Satan, Princess, It’s not a skirt it’s a kilt, band diva, I secretly like Cher, I drink more beer than Die does, Human Scarf )

The bass makes the beat, and it’s a Rhythm Party!  Toshiya’s compositions are usually very easy to spot, as the bass is very heavy and prevalent. It makes for some bad ass listening though and keeps the boy occupied (he is known for messing around and making up new riffs at lives out of boredom with the original song).  He is also notoriously lazy, only learning the bass because of the logic :less strings = easier:  His official compositions include:  Erode, Raison D’etre (with Shinya), Bottom of Death Valley,  and Yokusō ni Dreambox” Aruiwa Seijuku no Rinen to Tsumetai Ame (Remix)” .

His re-mixes are also easily recognizable, full of chem stick, warehouse ravey techno goodness. They usually just hand him the studio keys and a couple of “sugar cubes” before letting him at the soundboard. And some Fruit Rollups too, gotta have those.  Out of all the members of this band, Toshiya is easily the one that I would take a couple of days off and go party with. He also pulls a move that emasculates (close enough for spell check, close enough for me) the lead singer of Flyleaf…only she’s spinning for God, Toshiya’s spinning for Satan.

His personal stuff’s here. Spanking recipients here.

So there you guys have it! Don’t say I never gave you anything!

On a sincere side note, not long before I finished editing this I found out that the band had canceled their current tour due to Kyo developing throat polyps. He is slated for surgery next month or so, so let’s just wish him luck and pray that he gets better soon! The rock world has lost enough greats recently, so pray that doesn’t happen to this one. Here’s to you Kyo, kick ass and take names later!