Interview with GREMLINS

interview - 23.03.2017 11:01

JaME speaks to GREMLINS about their concept, new single, ambitions and more in a detailed interview.

Formed in 2013, visual kei duo GREMLINS is the brainchild of NIGHTMARE's guitarist Hitsugi and former AYABIE drummer KENZO, who shortened their names to Hits and KNZ respectively after joining Timely Records.

On March 1st this year, GREMLINS released their fourth single, Kiba wo tate kimi ni sachiare. JaME speaks to the duo about their concept, new single, ambitions and more in a detailed interview.

This is JaME’s first interview with GREMLINS, so please introduce yourselves and your concept.

KNZ: You’re up.
Hits: Me? Let’s see … Our concept … Good question. What exactly is our concept?
KNZ: Well, if it’s music, I’d say catchiness and elements of pop.
Hits: Yeah, I agree with that.

Well then, who are you, exactly, the members of GREMLINS who pursue a catchy, pop sound?

Hits: I’m Hits on guitar and vocals.
KNZ: I’m KNZ on drums and backing vocals.

You logo is styled after a paw, isn’t it?

KNZ: Yeah, it’s that cute padded part of the paw.

Who came up with that design?

KNZ: We wanted some kind of icon and we thought something simple, poppy, and cute would work.
Hits: Something easy to recognize. So we consulted a designer and that was the result.

Have your fans shared their thoughts on it?

KNZ: It’s gotten a great response! Everyone thinks it’s really cute! It was a good choice.

Speaking of choices, Hits, you’ve been a guitarist for a long time but now you’ve taken the role of vocalist in GREMLINS. Have you always wanted to be a vocalist?

Hits: It’s not like this was my dream or anything. More like, I wanted to challenge myself and try something new and this opportunity came up so decided to give it a shot.

You’ve been at it for a few years now, so how do you feel?

Hits: Well, even though you say that, it’s been more like once a year or so, so it doesn’t feel like I have the experience of a few years under my belt. That said, as I won’t be active with NIGHTMARE, I’m going to have to really put myself to the test as a vocalist now.

Do you have anything to add about your vocalist, KNZ?

KNZ: Rather than having a nice clean tone, he’s got a really unique sound and I think that really works for us.

You also have the experience of having taken on the role of vocalist in another band after spending most of your career playing drums. Have you two ever exchanged tips?

KNZ: Come to think of it, not really.

Your new single is titled Kiba wo tate kimi ni sachiare. What was the inspiration behind the title track?

KNZ: It’s been a while since we’ve made a released but I think it maintains the core of the GREMLINS sound we’ve established while also incorporating a new style in the visuals and lyrics. I think those two goals blended really well.

What kind of sounds can we expect to hear on Kiba wo tate kimi ni sachiare?

Hits: To put it more specifically … ?

Is there a part of the song you personally recommend?

KNZ: I like the chorus.
Hits: Yeah, the chorus is really cool.
KNZ: Rhythmically, it has a good, fun, pop feel to it but the lyrics are actually kind of twisted.

So it’s like pop with some added horror. How about the other two tracks, Dinner and Literacy. Could you tell us about these?

Hits: Dinner … Actually, the demo for Dinner has been around for about two years. We always planned to arrange it and add it into a release at some stage and then two years went by. The lyrics are all about desire and dark themes like jealousy and envy — everybody has these feelings within them but if you bottle them up they’ll eat you alive. There’s some word play, too.

And Literacy?

Hits: Even for GREMLINS, it’s really poppy!
KNZ: Yeah, Literacy is very poppy and refreshing.
Hits: That’s the word. Refreshing.

Did you try anything different with these tracks?

KNZ: I think it has to be the refreshing style of Literacy.

On the B Type of this release is a cover of hide’s ROCKET DIVE but let’s come back to that in a moment. This is only one of several hide covers you’ve added to each release. What is it that keeps bringing you back to hide?

Hits: At first, we wanted to give it a go, and then it became a regular thing. We decided to keep up with that trend until we reach a natural stopping point.

So this time, you went with ROCKET DIVE. Why did you feel it was the one for this release?

KNZ: Actually, we landed on it at the very last second, but it’s a song that everyone knows and one that you can really play with in a cover.

What appeals to you personally about ROCKET DIVE?

Hits: Singing the very last chorus is so much fun. I love the lyrics “Tsubasa, hirogete kimi ga fly.” (You spread your wings and fly.)
KNZ: A lot of people have covered ROCKET DIVE to date and I’ve heard so many different versions of it both recorded and live but I wanted to take a different approach again, so we went for an arrangement that adds even more speed.

So you added even more speed to the already speedy ROCKET DIVE! That’s bold! Clearly hide is a strong influence for GREMLINS but are there any other bands or artists you’ve been inspired by?

Hits: You know, I think that somewhere deep down at the heart of GREMLINS is a bit of Marilyn Manson.
KNZ: I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “industrial” but there is an element of that … well, yeah, that “horror/pop” (laughs). It’s something that is embedded in our name and that I personally keep in mind when writing songs for GREMLINS. However, I don’t want people to feel scared or get into a dark mood. I also don’t like the idea of straight-up happy pop. So we work hard to keep it in the middle ground and we plan to stay there.

The word “horror” keeps cropping up so it’s occurred to me a little belatedly with that cute little paw in mind but I have to ask … Is there any relation to the GREMLINS movie franchise? You know, with cute little Gizmo…? There are a lot of different kinds of gremlins in mythology but …

KNZ: That’s the kind of gremlin image we had in mind.
Hits: It’s only a source of inspiration, though. We’ve developed our own image, of course.

What are some themes or ideas you'd like to explore in future releases?

Hits: I haven’t really pinned down the concept yet but I would like to do something summery. Something to make people say, “Doesn’t this song remind you of summer?” There isn’t a whole lot of songs in this genre with that kind of feel. They’re mostly the kinds of songs to listen to holed up in a dark room.
KNZ: (laughs) That’s so true.
Hits: So I would like to try writing a song that makes people want to get out and about some time.

The kind of song that would suit an outdoor live?

Hits: That would be fun. I like the outdoors.

Are there any songs among your existing pieces that are particularly special to you?

KNZ: I think our very first single is the one that we poured all of our ideas and concepts into to create GREMLINS so of course, I think it’s the most definitive of our style.

Is there something new you would like to do outside of your music going forward?

KNZ: If we have the opportunity, it would be great to put out some video.
Hits: A DVD.
KNZ: Yeah, a live DVD. Of course, we want to sell goods, too. There’s a lot we haven’t been able to try yet, so hopefully we can do all of those things going forward.

Do you have any ambitions for an overseas live?

Hits: We’d love to play overseas.

You’ve both been overseas with other bands but is there somewhere you’d like to play?

Hits: South Africa.
KNZ: Really?
Hits: I want to take on a true rhythmic nation.
KNZ: Seriously, though, I’ve been to America, Europe, and Asia, and of course I’ll gladly go back any time, but … Honestly, I just want to visit but I’d also love to play there and that’s why I’d have to answer Australia.
Hits: Yeah, that would be awesome. By the way, how was Finland?
KNZ: Dude, it was cold! (laughs)
Hits: I’m in.

To wrap up our interview, please say a few words to JaME readers.

Hits: Sorry for spamming the title with Japanese this time. It’s probably a bit difficult to understand. But the songs! The songs are as easy to understand as any other rock music so we hope you’ll listen to our CD. And if you can’t do that, then find us on YouTube. And when you can make it, come see us here in Japan. And if we can make it, we’ll come see you, too.
KNZ: Some of you have been looking forward to this single while I’m sure others are reading this and learning about us for the first time, so please keep listening to our music. Being able to reach you guys overseas through interviews like this is the first step closer to being able to reach our goal of playing over there.
Hits: Coming up, we have a tour in summer and plans for more activity later this year, so please look forward to more from GREMLINS.

JaME would like to thank GREMLINS for this interview opportunity.

Watch the trailer for Kiba wo tate kimi ni sachiare below:

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