Pati-Pati Rock ‘n’ Roll
DER ZIBET’s concerts blow you away. They understand what it means to entertain the audience. Through repeated experimentation and destruction, they crept ever closer to their true form. —— But first impressions are important. They’ve been too straightforward with expressing their superabundance of energy that they’re being heavily misunderstood. Will this 3rd album that they’re working on be the answer? We’ll find out in this interview with Issei¹ and Hikaru¹.
DER ZIBET, also known as Derujibe (デルジべ). I think they’re a band dogged by the problem of having an awfully vague image. The kind that has you thinking you know them but at the same time, you don’t. Sandwiched between misconceptions and being misunderstood, they look out of place for some reason. Perhaps they have truly arrived in a situation where they have to be serious about their image and the preconceived notions that are at the forefront of what creates a fair representation of themselves.
“I’m confident that if they listen to our music, if they watch our concerts, people will understand who we are, but I’m not sure how to make them listen to us. Like those people who don’t know anything about us at all, those whose idea of us is still that same image of decadence, all of them.”
“Besides, it’s not as if we’re a closed-in band, you know?”
Hikaru and Issei are a bit irritated.
But that is, I dare say, a positive frustration. Because they’re so strongly confident of who they are as a band, they exceedingly detest the idea of being classified by their image. On one hand, it’s been said that their music had changed a lot between the 1st and the 2nd album, but at the same time, there are few who understand the current DER ZIBET.
Keeping that in mind, they are now as good as a new band who just made their debut. That much makes sense when we consider that in the three years since the formation of this band, the number of concerts they have played is the most concentrated in the past year.
The progression of this band that seems to be riding the wave of their “Alright, here we go” momentum is undoubtedly fast. Now that they have finally started their engines, where could they possibly be headed?
That being said.
I’ve never heard their 1st album and I’m a typical human being who judges based on first impressions. When you mention DZ, Issay² immediately comes to mind, and when you mention Issay², I’d immediately associate him with being the pantomiming oniisan…… I am ignorant to the point of having such an impressively simple thought process, if I do say so myself. That’s why I was thrown off when I saw the Baby, I Want You music video. It was a form of culture shock. It was a lively song of the sort that gets you dancing up a sweat. But it was such a big change that I definitely wondered, “What happened? Who are these people?” Sometimes, equating a band’s evolution with growth confuses people. This is especially so for a band like theirs where there is an extreme “suddenness” in their transition “from stillness into motion”.
“I don’t have a problem with it, but I don’t get it.”
Without quite knowing what to think of it all, I hesitantly went ahead with the interview.
―― What do you think about how you used to be?
Hikaru (H): I think we didn’t have as much power as we do now, but it’s basically no different than what we’re doing now.
Issei (I): Yeah. I don’t think the essence of it has changed, but the musical style and the appearances of what we put out have certainly changed.
―― You’ve probably been asked before, but how did this happen?
H: Things just naturally turned out like this while we were going around on tour, though.
I: I guess you could say, it was since about the time of the Revenge of Electric Moon tour that we turned our focus to dance, or rather, made [our music] easier to grasp.
H: Because we enjoyed it when we actually got down to doing it, you know?
I: Something about it just makes your body move on its own, right? I guess it’s that sensation that makes a seated audience get up and start dancing.
―― So, recently, dance beat bands have been garnering a lot of attention…… Is that why you’re…?
I: But we’re not making disco music. You see, we’re making dance music that falls in the genre of rock. Besides, I think even punk music can become dance music, so I think we can make dance music that comes from such a stance. But there aren’t any such bands in Japan, so I guess that’s where it’s easy for people to get misconceptions of us. If we’re talking about dance bands in Japan, I suppose it’d just be TM³, right?
H: They’re not a rock band, though. That’s why I feel that it’s hard to label us as a dance band.
―― But I listened to your 2nd album and as far as that is concerned, I thought it wouldn’t have been odd to call you a dance band, or rather, in a way, that’s how it turned out……
I: Yeah, I suppose it might seem complete if you’re looking at it from a dance perspective, but we wanted to become more powerful. More rock-sounding, or rather, more wild, I suppose. Also, there are some parts in our second album that seem sophisticated, so instead of that, we wanted to make music that’s more stripped-down, the kind that’s fierce and comes right at you.
H: Besides, there’s no point in making rock music sophisticated.
I: Exactly. You might as well do something else.
―― There’s also the way you all look. Like, Issei’s silhouette looks very thin compared to the other 3 members. And no matter how much you try, that just doesn’t tie in with rock music terms like ‘wild’, does it? So even if I do know what ‘wild & danceable’ is in my head, you won’t come across as a clear definition of it.
H: And that’s what we call a weapon. I believe there are a lot of rock bands that are made up of 4 big-boned members who 4 charge right into you. We may be slight, but you could say that we’re leaning towards being on the fine-edged side of things. In that sense, we’re not just a band that plays 8-beat music, but also 16-beat.
Besides, performing live is what we’re most confident in right now, so I think the impression that we give now is might be a far more brazen one that before. What’s rock-like about us is the parts of our performance that aren’t decided; the improvisation that we do so in any case, I’d like people to come and watch us play.
―― Another thing about DER ZIBET that hampers is the lyrics that Issei writes. It’s pretty much abstract poetry, isn’t it?
I: Basically, I think it’s straightforward, but I realise that what feels like everyday life to me is far removed from what everyday life generally is. Like when there’s a lot of imaginary elements, I’ve been told that it’s cold. That’s why I figured that I need to come up with things that are more relatable to everyday life. I think it might be a good idea for me to a little further forward too. With lyrics where you can see that there’s a second party, where you can tell there’s a “you” involved. And writing write lyrics that are obviously being sung to a particular someone. I think that’s how we’re going to do our 3rd album.
I: I suppose that’s what you’d call broadening our horizons, right? Because no matter how simple we make our rock and roll music, if no one understands the lyrics, then it gets us nowhere, right? So that’s why we have, or rather, want to diversify.
H: That’s why I think our 3rd album will bring across an even clearer message that “This is DER ZIBET.”
―― Finally, please share what’s the outlook for your 3rd album.
H: We plan to release it next year; either in January or February, and the concept for it is pop. What we intend to do is to make rock music that encompasses what we think is pop and those danceable elements as well. In short, we want to make use of our band members’ experimental spirit and expand our horizons so we don’t want to make things too rigid. And this time, it’ll be almost as if we’re working on 2 projects because we’ve asked Okano-san⁴ from Pink⁵ and Kisaki-san⁶ to produce for us.
I: We’re really taking on this challenge, you know. For people like Okano-san and Kisaki-san, if we don’t get involved, [the music] will definitely end up getting steeped in their signature styles, right? So we’re going to get into this like we would a fight. We have to drink without getting drunk. The outcome of this fight will probably be in our 3rd album.
H: In that sense, it feels like we’re bringing in new blood. Really, I can’t understand Kisaski-san. I do get the musicians he brought up (Sawada Kenji, Kikkawa, etc.) though. I’m looking forward to this.
I: It’s more distinct with bands, isn’t it? Because I think [their sounds] aren’t really audible among the music that the 4 band members are already making. Although I suppose they’d add depth to our sound by adding a horn section or keyboardist, right?
H: I get a dilemma, you know. When I have to express sounds using words. But you see, it’s because we don’t pander to everything. We make the music we want to make and we want them to understand that we want to be accepted for that.
I: Depending on the band, I suppose there are those whose style is to stick to one thing and go all the way with it, but that’s not the kind of band we are. I think we’re a band who changes as we go along, and I think we’re capable of making all kinds of music too.
H: That said, it’s not like we’re throwing away our past. It’ll always be kept somewhere in the back of our minds so we can bring it back out whenever we want. And right now, I guess you could say that we have confidence in ourselves when it comes to rock music for a number of reasons.
I: I guess we’ve been tumbling around, and we’ve finally learnt how to roll so that’s why we’re so confident in that.
H: When we were doing negatively, we didn’t know what to do if accidents were to happen, but now, we’ll be okay no matter what happens. We’d think that we can probably pull it off. That is something that each one of us can confirm, and it really feels like we’ve got our groundwork laid. Because of that, we’re also attracting attention in the streets now…… This is still the starting line. And we’re always in search of words and themes.
Contrary to their appearance and their image, there was a blunt and rugged rock band under the surface. What on earth had I been baffled and confused by…… In one sitting, I felt like an idiot. “I’m happiest when our fans happily come back and say that they enjoyed it even if they don’t really understand it,” said Issei. “It’s the same as making a woman climax. Captivate [them] in that moment (lol),” said Hikaru.
Those blatantly rocker statements blow away all the silly prejudices. What the hell, they’re a rock band, that’s all — This is no longer a question of “know, or don’t know”. DER ZIBET is DER ZIBET, and that is self-explanatory enough.
¹ The interviewer wrote their names in Katakana as イッセイ (issei) and ヒカル (hikaru). I’ll be spelling their names as written.
² Yet here the interviewer chose to use “Issay”. I suppose this is a deliberate distinguisher between the person and the stage persona.
³ Referring to TM Network, a Japanese rock/new wave/pop band that formed in 1983 and made their major debut in 1984.
⁴ Okano Hajime was a bassist in the band Pink. He is also a keyboardist, composer, arranger & producer working with Japanese rock bands like 44 Magnum, D, Asagi, Dead End, L’Arc~en~Ciel and many more. View his credits here.
⁵ Pink was a late 1980s new wave band from Japan. They formed in 1983 as a collaboration between Vibratones member Fukuoka Yutaka and Hero member Kamiyama Hoppy. Each member of the band was an established musician in their own right and they continued to work on solo projects while involved with Pink until they finally disbanded in 1989, ending the production of new material.
⁶ Kisaki Kenji (木崎賢治) is a Japanese record producer.
Scans: morgianasama on LJ