NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST are back with DESPERATE, the second of three new singles out this spring. While last month’s Strike in fact, the first release of this campaign, was meant to showcase the band’s unique brand of catchiness, DESPERATE brings a stripped-down, back-to-their-roots sound that all but knocked this writer out.
For their second interview with ViSULOG, the artists otherwise known as Nokubura sat down with us to share all the details on the new singles, plus their upcoming Tokyo/Nagoya/Osaka oneman tour.
This interview is not exclusive to Shattered-Tranquility.net, but serves as a translation for ViSULOG’s interview. Please view the original page for live details and interview photos, linked below.
Shattered-Tranquility.net has not altered this article from its original from.
Interview & text : Takaya Yamamoto
Translation : bambi [[email protected]]
“We’re one of a kind, a whole genre unto ourselves… and we wanted to prove that.” (Cazqui)
— What made you decide to do this three-month campaign?
Cazqui : We figured three singles in three different styles would be a great way to get people to see what we’re all about. Whatever form our sound takes, there’s always this core element there that’s us. All five of us have poured our hearts and souls into it. It’s easy to think of music in terms of genres before anything else, but we think it starts with the musician and his emotions, and the end product just winds up being pigeonholed into one genre or another. But when you have these preconceived ideas about particular genres, when you go around trying to label everything, all it really does is make it harder for the listener to get in touch with the essence of the music. That’s one thing that’s always made us kind of angry. We’re one of a kind, a whole genre unto ourselves… and we wanted to prove that.
— What’s the concept behind the first release, Strike in fact?
Daichi : For the title track, we looked to our roots — rap-rock, rap-metal, nu-metal, the kind of music we ourselves could all relate to — and the idea was to incorporate these in a way that would be totally “of the moment”, to create a song that would not only include everything about our music that makes it so great, but would also be catchy enough to have a wider appeal at the same time. We really wanted to hook people’s interest, given that it was the first one and all.
— How about the lyrics?
Hiro : “Striking out to find the truth”. The song has this great rhythm as it unfolds; it’s the most positive one of the three. You have these truths that have always seemed clear to you, and which you’ve always taken at face value. But the fact is, they all exist behind a wall of pretenses. It’s about tearing that aside, shattering those pretenses that distort the truth, and finding out for yourself what’s real.
— What would you say the song’s “selling point” is, sound-wise?
Masa : Well, the way it starts off, with the Japanese lyrics and the catchy melody — that’s a first for us, and I think people will be pretty surprised by it. Usually we tend to stick with the build-build-chorus structure.
— Now, this second single, DESPERATE, is a whole lot harder than Strike in fact, isn’t it.
Cazqui : I think it’s fair to say this song is the spirit of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST. Personally… I mean, I’m one of the founding members of this band, I’ve been involved in writing our songs since our inception, and the fact that we can put this song out there into the world means so much to me. It really is the song that fell from heaven — it was like one minute we started pre-programming, and the next, there it was.
Daichi : Yeah, we finished the whole thing in about a week.
Cazqui : Up to now, I’ve been using this system of colour-coding to work out the timing of our releases — it helps us know when to change things up, maintain variety. But I did start to feel like maybe, in this attempt to have some sort of control over my creative output, I might’ve lost track of what I valued the most. So I picked up my guitar and I just asked myself, “Who are you, really?”… and then the song came to me, the whole thing. That said, I still think we’d already succeeded in putting some seriously cool music out there, music we ourselves have total faith in.
— Would you say this is your greatest work to date?
Cazqui : I think so. With this song, it’s like we finally became that ideal version of ourselves that I’d pictured ever since we started out. And you know, I think we had to arrive at this point as a band in order for that to happen.
— And the lyrics?
Hiro : This one’s about evil, the “mother of all misery”. It’s about the human urge to destroy, about breaking a human being from the inside. Like, driving them to despair and piercing at all of their weakest points in the process. I want people to imagine an audience watching some torture show in an amphitheater.
— I’m curious what your approach is to playing it live.
Natsu : Well, it’s very high-tempo, it’s got that sense of speed — it’s actually 160 bpm, but physically it feels more like 320, and as the one who’s got to keep the beat here, out of all our songs this is the one that feels fastest for me. And it’s really hard to play live. But like Cazqui said, we all put something of ourselves into our songs, and our emotions are always running high when we perform them, so that came out when we were recording it, too. The way we play when it gets to the chorus… it’s full of something akin to passion, almost like bursting out of a shell. This is our first song with a drum solo — somehow, I just found myself breaking into one.
Masa : The guitars and bass are mostly in unison, so I just go as fast as I can all the way through. Above all we’re trying to create this “wall of sound”, and we can’t let the momentum or the heaviness die down, so even in the studio I was thrashing around all over the place. [laughs] But I did end up with a really rich sound. The interplay between Natsu and me after his drum solo, and in the rhythm session following the guitar solo — that, you need to hear.
Daichi : Obviously the song itself is very “us” — but a deeper sense, in terms of how there’s that whole drum solo, the guitar solos, and when you listen to the vocals as well… you’ve got something of each of us, all together in one song, which makes it very much “ours”. There aren’t a lot of bands out there that could do something like this — at least, I don’t think there are. We cover a lot of ground in this song. We almost crammed too much into it, in a good way, so it’s quite a satisfying one as songs go.
Cazqui : There’s this one part after my solo where Hiro’s singing, backed up by Daichi’s arpeggios… only Daichi could play an arpeggio like that.
Daichi : Basically, we think the five of us are the only ones out there who could’ve made this song.
Cazqui : Just a note on my playing: it’s heavily influenced by Scandinavian melodic death metal, which had a huge impact on me when I was a teenager. I hope people like the all-out dive-bombing, too. The guitar solo’s probably my longest one, in terms of our more recent songs. The long solo in “A Day to Re:member”, on our album GRIMOIRE… I was a teenager when I wrote that. Back then I had no idea about distress, despair… or the strength it takes to overcome them. But now I can look back and see the “future” that lay beyond those things. In a way, I guess I wrote this solo for myself, too… as a way to look back on my own personal journey.
— Hiro, anything you’d like to add?
Hiro : The hardest part of this was the thrash vocals, but those were also the most fun. I tried to put a lot of emotion into each and every word — we actually had to re-record a few times before it all came out sounding like I wanted. I know the third single isn’t out yet, but with each release, I’ve tried to make it so the harsh vocals encompass a whole different spectrum of emotions. The “ToRtUrE” part in the intro to “DESPERATE”… that’s supposed to refer to an execution, and there’s all sorts of ways to express that with your voice. Like for strangulation, I put so much feeling into it that I’m gasping for breath, and for water torture, I’m like, gurgling, like I can’t even speak. I really wanted it to feel very real that way, and I think it’ll be neat for people to listen to, especially if they’re reading the lyrics at the same time.
— What’s the story with the video?
Cazqui : Well, we filmed it in a church… it’s this church, and then you’ve got this satanic-sounding song, which makes for a whole “taboo” feel that I think is really kind of fun. And on top of that, we had Hiro there covered in body paint, so the whole thing looked fantastically demonic as well. [laughs]
Hiro : It was supposed to go with the cover art. Tears of blood and all that…
Cazqui : We’re seriously obsessed with it. Within the violence of our music, the utter darkness of it, there’s also a certain beauty… which I’d say we’ve managed to express pretty well. We always wanted to make a video like this.
Masa : Body paint included, we’ve managed to put together a video no other band could come up with. I almost want to say it’s one of a kind — no one but us could create the world you see in this. I mean, I’m sure there’s plenty of bands shooting videos in churches, but a church where things get this satanic, with this roar that just like, echoes everywhere? I don’t think so.
“I swear I’m not actually saying, ‘Drink, drink’ in it, though… it just sounds like I am. I know, it’s weird.” (Hiro)
— And what about the second track, “Liberation”?
Daichi : We wrote that one around the same time as “Strike in fact”. We wanted a song that’d be fun live, a song people could really get into and just go wild.
— Seems like this one’s a bit of a new direction for you as well.
Daichi : Yeah, we figured that since “DESPERATE” is the song that symbolizes us, when it came to the B-side we should just think about what would sound good live. I mean, it has this kind of bouncy feel to it, which is a first for us, and there’s that session part at the end of the middle chorus, with both of the guitars and the bass alternating with each other… we put in all these different bits that stand out on their own. We really had a lot of fun with this song, and I guess it brings out a part of us that’s a little more playful, in a way.
Cazqui : It might just be the most accessible song we’ve ever made.
— It does make for a nice contrast with the first track.
Cazqui : Oh, there’s no way we could’ve gone this far if “DESPERATE” didn’t come first. People would’ve just been like, “Wtf happened to Nokubura?” It would’ve been risky, to say the least. [laughs]
Daichi : “Strike in fact” and “The Beautiful Craze” were pretty experimental, too… but here we took it even further, in a whole different direction.
Hiro : Well, the vocal line might sound kind of… familiar. [laughs] The lyrics themselves are about how we’re all free in this world, and we all have to cherish each other for who we are. There’s no need to fight, no point hating one another. Like, free your mind, just be free and let’s have fun together. At first I’m just going along, nice and easy on the ears, but once I hit the chorus it gets more in your face, and then I come on with the nice melody again. Lots of different tones going on, which I think makes the whole song a lot of fun.
— The part where your voice rides along on the melody of the guitar is pretty neat.
Hiro : That was another first try for us. I put down the harsh vocals, and when they hit Cazqui, he came back with a guitar solo in perfect unison with my voice.
Cazqui : When we get to that part I rush straight into it, like, “I’m so hyper, mwahaha!” But when my arms go down and I let the melody die out, all the energy just goes right out of me. I pictured something like… you know when you’re hung over and you’re all, “Ugh, I had way too much to drink… (o。q°o)”? But then my arms come up again and I’m back, full-force… like, “I’m fine now, let’s drink some more! (o。q°o)/? [laughs] The original song title was supposed to be “Drink, Drink”, so… yeah.
Hiro : I swear I’m not actually saying “Drink, drink”, though… it just sounds like I am.1 I know, it’s weird. [laughs]
— So we have “light”, “evil”, and… how would you describe the third single, Libra?
Daichi : I wrote that one. The image I had in mind was one of people adrift in a world that’s essentially nothingness. Now, an empty space can bring up all sorts of feelings… maybe it makes you feel uneasy, if you’re alone in it, or maybe you’re curious as to why a particular room is empty. I tried to think about the whole range of emotions the idea of nothingness might arouse in people, and how I myself might feel about it, and I tried to put all that to music. That was the starting point. I think it’s one of our more laid-back songs. It’s the kind of thing you can just have playing in the background, in a positive sense… the kind of song that eases its way into your heart. I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of conveying human emotion.
Cazqui : No music is going to be universally adored by everyone. We get that. But whether you’re just a casual listener or part of our core fanbase, we hope we’ll take your breath away, if only for a second. For whatever reason, a lot of people don’t seem to have a great impression when it comes to heavier bands, but maybe they’ll hit upon one of the songs on these singles and think to themselves, “Hey, I could get into this.”
Daichi : And that’s what makes us special, I think. Our music covers a whole range of tastes, mood-wise and sound-wise. I feel like there are aspects of it that anyone can relate to — we have songs anyone can enjoy, so they’re not just like, “Oh, I don’t like heavy music, so I’m not going to listen to any of their stuff”.
— It’d be great if you could tell me about the artwork for these, too.
Masa : The Pegasus on the cover of the first one, it’s supposed to be opening the door for the listener, and it’s about to fly away. But it’s not just a pretty Pegasus, because parts of it are skeletal. It’s meant to symbolise our music: it might seem catchy at first, but there’s always a lot more going on underneath. And the Pegasus flies to Medusa, on the next cover, who’s there to get you to touch our darker side, to pull you further into our depths. We put Medusa there to show that this single has to power to turn you to stone. And the scales on the third one, those are meant to ask you how you, personally, judge these two extremes of music you’ve heard. The third single itself actually encompasses two extremes of sound as well, in terms of the songs that are on it… we wanted people to see that no matter what we do, it’s still our music. I imagine many listeners might be tempted to think of music in terms of set categories, but we want to show them they don’t need to keep doing that.
Hiro : We have a reputation for being scary, in-your-face, et cetera, and a lot of people really do judge us solely on the basis of that. But if you come to our shows, you’ll see that they’re actually really fun. We’re not trying to scare people at all — that’s another thing we’re hoping to demonstrate with these releases. We’re constantly trying to think how we can make thing more enjoyable for our fans, so please don’t just write us off as “scary”. We hope you’ll try and look a little deeper than that.
Cazqui : Even with Hiro’s harsh vocals… of course they’re way intense, but we’re hoping people will look past the sheer awesomeness and think about what’s going on underneath, why he’s screaming, what he might be screaming about. We all experience negative emotions, feelings we struggle to find an outlet for. It’s part of being alive. And we aim to express that, in an unflinching way. It just happens to come out in the form of this ultra-hardcore, extreme music. We hope to inspire our listeners to ask themselves, “Hey, is there something that makes me want to scream, in my own life?” And if the answer is yes, then we hope they’ll turn to our music whenever they start to feel that way.
— What can we expect on your upcoming Tokyo/Nagoya/Osaka oneman tour, The Liberation of Desire?
Masa : In terms of the staging, the performance, the quality of the lives themselves… we’re just getting better and better, so I can promise we’ll give you a whole new kind of total extreme entertainment show.
Daichi : Now that we have the chance to come back to Osaka and Nagoya, we’re hoping to make it even better than our last tour there. We want to give you the kind of experience we couldn’t the last time around, and show you a whole different side of ourselves each time we’re onstage.
Cazqui : We’ve come a long way since the last time we did an interview with you guys — people might not even believe we’re the same band. So we don’t want anyone to miss a thing we do.
— All right, in closing, how about a message for ViSULOG readers.
Daichi : I know I’m probably repeating myself here, but our music encompasses a wide range of styles, and when it comes to our live shows, too, we try to make them not only a feast for the ears, but also for the eyes. So, please do come and see us live.
Natsu : We get a lot of people telling us how much they enjoy our shows, and I mean, I’ve sat down and thought about it, and I do think that in the end, it’s because they’re like this outburst of emotion that comes from deep within. And that’s just going to keep getting bigger. I think we’re going to be able to put on a show that our previous tour won’t even begin to compare with, and we’re really looking forward to it.
Cazqui : Everything we’ve said in this interview… every last word of it is true. This really is how we feel, and none of that is ever going to change. This is what we’re about, and we fully intend to stick to it — so if you think you can relate, then I want you to believe in us, to stay with us. And I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our shows! (o。q°o)
Masa : All these labels out there… like, “This is visual-kei”, or “Here’s what the bands of the moment are doing” — these sorts of barriers we aim to destroy, with everything we do. With these singles and the shows, it’s no different. We aim to exceed people’s every expectation at all times, so we hope you’ll keep an eye on us. And if you find yourself getting tired of all those other bands out there right now, or tired of visual-kei in general, then we hope you’ll take a chance on us.
Hiro : Whether it’s in terms of our sound or our shows, rule number one is that we never want anyone to hear or see anything that we ourselves don’t feel one hundred per cent about, and we never will. We put literally everything we have into every last one of our shows. There are so many sides of us that we want people to see — these are not the kind of thing where you can just go to one and you’ve seen them all. Personally, we view this whole Tokyo/Osaka/Nagoya tour as one, extended gig. So if you can, we want you to come to all three and really, really enjoy the whole thing, like it’s the last show you’re ever going to see in your entire life. Each of us is really proud of our band — we love it, and we want all our fans to love it just as much. We want to be the kind of band that makes people want to shout out from the rooftops that they’re so glad they decided to support us, that they’re proud of us, that we’re so great, they just have to share us with the world.
1 Hiro says “round and round” in the song, but it sounds a bit like “nonde, nonde” (“drink, drink” in Japanese).
Tags: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST