amber gris “The bell of connection” [日本語あり]

Interview

by chi.yow, Maya Kawaguchi, posted May 4, 2014

English日本語

Following their two days of onemans in Tokyo during January, amber gris held another two days in Osaka on March 1 and 2. Each day with its own theme; Shouten no Kane (the bell of focus) and Setten no Kane (the bell of connection), amber gris’ mesmerizing world unfurled. March 2 in particular was rather special as it was the birthday of bassist koto and many fans rushed over to celebrate.

It all started from the sound of a ringing bell. The house grew silent and as blue light faintly backlit the stage, the members took their positions. The silence didn’t linger long, however, as the up-tempo intro of “love in the first.” began. The venue was enveloped in colorful light and the atmosphere changed drastically as the tension that had prevailed moments before was blown away. Unlike the first day with its rather dark and ponderous set, the second kicked off with energy from “love in the first.” and continued with pacey guitar in “bright or blind.” The members were aggressive in their performance from the very beginning and in “Bishuu” they daringly set the floor alight with bouts of headbanging breaking out en mass. In “sinker.” vocalist Temari fueled the crowd further with a shout. The sharp sounds of the instruments dashed through with koto’s impressive grungy bass and fans answered with fists shot through the air.

The venue dimmed and calls for each member rang out from the crowd. In midst of these, Temari took the mic. “Good evening. Welcome to the Osaka two days. As you know, we are amber gris and we came from Tokyo with the melting of the snow! I’m glad the rain is gone today and also to have many people come today. Thank you. Today’s theme is Setten no Kane (the bell of connection). We all repeat the process of encounter and farewell with friends and fellows. Today, we would like to resume our show while focusing on such relationships.”

The music began anew with “sunny day’s seeker.” The song was bright and uplifting and Temari used the stage fully as he walked about, singing in a rather peaceful voice. Then, during “Rogii,” Temari dutifully gestured giving a piece of cake to koto who was the birthday boy of the day. “-sequel-” followed with rami’s constant drum beat and the guitar duo put out a mellow sound which continued in the melancholy “amaryllis.” Gesturing to wayne in a pleading manner, Temari infused a sense of entreaty into the tune of “a merchant and a red flower,” in which koto’s profound bass carried the flow of the set to a deep, gripping current.

“Thank you. I’m glad you are all having fun. As you all know, our theme is ‘connection’ and this is one of the places in which we are all connected. Also, it is a place where our voices, words, and feelings connect. So… let’s enjoy it! Give us your voices!!” Temari’s shouts readied the venue for the storm to come even as rami mistakenly played the wrong intro—which left the crowd agape for a moment.

As rami gestured apology, Temari teasingly scolded, “I don’t have any connection with YOU at this moment!” Once the laughter subsided, Temari shouted, “This was all a dream! Now, let me hear your voices!” and with the stormy “Grand guignol,” the set took off once more. The members all swarmed the front with kaname and wayne shouting at the tops of their lungs and Temari fueling up the crowd for the headbanging and jumping that was required of them. “looking all the pain“ then featured more powerful bass which stood out drastically and further escalated the maelstrom of headbanging throughout the course of the song.

“When you meet and know a person, from that point, there will always be a farewell. When I was a child, I used to think that if I didn’t meet people, I wouldn’t have to feel sad. But then, on the other hand, I wouldn’t be able to feel or share the joy of others.”

“ In appreciation of this, I would like to encounter farewells with many good memories in mind while saying goodbye.” The next song, “Kanashimi ni kureru Cote D’or,” was played with Temari’s words lingering through the bright melody. The up-tempo “Franny wa gokigen naname” and the melodious “hazy moon luv gaze” followed with feisty fists shooting through the air before “in sickness and in health” closed the main set as a fond tribute to the theme of connections.

In the encore, rami appeared onstage for his usual rami-time talk and though it was shorter than usual, he took some time to announce the conceptual series of oneman lives which will take place in three different places in August. The other members then came back to the stage sans vocalist and the fans cheered them all. rami threw the question “What day is it today?” up in the air and the fans shouted out, “koto’s birthday!” As soon as the words were heard, the lights dimmed and out came Temari with a birthday cake. The cake was handed to koto who blew out the candles and the crowd burst into cheers as koto commented, “(My birthday) last year was a live and now this year, as well. I’m fortunate to have people celebrate my birthday.” Temari then added the question, “Ok, then can you give us some memories of Valentine’s day? “Without any hesitation, koto responded with a story highlighting his sweet-tooth, “This year, I bought 1.2kg of cracked chocolate bars and I’m almost finished eating,” even while taking a bite of the strawberry on his cake.

Then encore resumed with, “Yokushitsu no ningyo” in which wayne’s harmonious chorus lingered and as Temari’s powerful vocals made a lasting impression, the set was crowned with “for crying out loud.”

In 2014, amber gris are going to be busy with two days of onemans in May and their event tour in June as well as the conceptual onemans to be held in August—not to mention their upcoming May 28 single release. Each of the band’s songs has its own story and the manner of combination in a set can narrate a different plot each time. That is the feature that makes amber gris very unique and worth seeing over and over again, so don’t miss out in 2014.

69: You’ve successfully finished the two days of lives in Osaka. It must have been tough to prepare for them. Can you share with us about it?

temari: It was difficult for me to maintain my condition and motivation throughout the two days. It’s practically sports; you need thorough image training, concentration, and stamina.
kaname: I’ve always felt Osaka is like amber gris’ second home so I was very honored to do the two days in Osaka.
wayne: We’ve succeeded in our first two-day oneman in a region where we have a close bond. It was a refreshing feeling to be left alone backstage where we usually have company during events.
koto: Concentration for the live and preparation (for example relaxing the body). Indeed, like temari said, it’s just like sports! [Laughs]
rami: It’s done! The two days of onemans were fun and it was in a place that is memorable to me so it was very touching.

69: You also had a live in Osaka last year in March. How is it, performing in Osaka?

temari: I simply feel fortunate to have done a oneman in Osaka as a person from the Kanto region.
kaname: It’s sort of like the feeling of awkwardness, happiness, and nervousness you have when you go to see your mother once in a while to show her how you’ve grown.
wayne: I’m amazed at how Osaka is always very energetic.
koto: I don’t know if it’s the nature of the locality or what but Osaka is very lively. Last year, we came to Osaka as a part of our oneman tour but, this time, it was nice to have done a one shot performance.
rami: Personally, I don’t find much difference between Tokyo and Osaka but Osaka is a very nice place.

69: Both days had a theme; “Shouten no Kane (the bell of focus)” and “Setten no Kane (the bell of connection).” Which day was most memorable to each of you? Please also tell us your reason.

temari: The second day. Both days were fun but the second day had more challenging songs.
kaname: If I were to say, it would be the start of the first day and the end of the second day rather than either day.
wayne: This time, I made opening music with singing on it so on the first day I was nervous that it wouldn’t stream properly.
koto: Both days were fun but there was the birthday surprise… [Laughs] So I would say the second day.
rami: The second day; because I made a big mistake. Also, we sang happy birthday.

69: Please tell us about the themes of the two days. Why did you choose these themes?

temari: I am mainly the one in charge of making the setlist and thinking up themes. For this oneman, my personal sentimentality was involved as well. In many ways, the two days in Osaka were a reaffirmation for myself and to others.

69: Amber gris has announced three project lives so called, “If amber gris did ○○.” So what would amber gris do if you were to live overseas?

temari: In Europe, I’d make jam and go fishing.
kaname: I’d drive a Renault box wagon in France. VOWWOW!
wayne: I’d live in Hawaii relaxing.
koto: Hmm. Difficult question. I would like to go to Europe; places like Germany, Italy, and the U.K. Maybe I would appreciate more of Japan if I live abroad for a while.
rami: I’d Make documentary in Hollywood.

69: Your maxi single release on May 28 is on the way. Is there anything you must do or have during recording?

Temari: Being at ease and taking care.
Kaname: My own headphones and my usual perfume.
Koto: Candy and Cola.
Wayne: Washing my hands before playing is my jinx for getting a good take in a short amount of time.
Rami: Not overeating before the drum recording.

69: When making a song, is there anything you fixate on while coming up with the lyrics or melody?

Temari: I think about if I would be satisfied with it or not.
Kaname: I use whatever comes into my mind without fearing it.
Wayne: Making songs that are player-friendly, and cool.
Koto: The interaction with the melody and bargaining about who will take the main role in the music and who will be in the background.
Rami: I think of how I can rile the song up.

69: Lastly, please give one promise to ROKKYUU’s readers for 2014.

Temari: Daily devotion and health.
Kaname: We will provide music that fans can always feel at ease with.
wayne: Daily devotion
koto: We will continue to provide good songs.
Rami: I will watch out for my unbalanced diet.

VK Exclusive

There are 45 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

Maya Kawaguchi is a Japanese native who grew up in California. She was introduced to VK in college and soon became fascinated by the genre and nagoya-oriented bands in particular. Since then, she has been surprised by the number of foreigners who are interested in VK and hopes to introduce this world to as many potential fans as possible.

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