Guren – A Belgian “family” inspired by Visual Kei

In all honesty, this interview wasn’t planned at all. There had been no notification of a support artist for the show of the fool in Amstelveen, but since these three musicians played such an enjoyable set on stage I decided to ask for an interview on the spot, and I actually ended up making the questions during the second half of their performance. Can you feel the pressure already? I sure did. So, let’s see what my stress actually does when it has to be channeled into an interview, shall we?

 

Let’s start!

I’m pretty sure this interview will be as much of a surprise to the readers as it is to me right now, since I really didn’t expect I would be sitting here with you three right now… So, first question: can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Sunako: I’m the vocalist, Sunako.
Katsu: I’m the guitarist, Katsu. At the moment I play both the rhythm and lead guitar.
Kaori: And I’m the bassist, Kaori. I also play the drums in the studio.

Guitarist Katsu during the performance in Amstelveen (The Netherlands).

My Japanese isn’t that great, but doesn’t “Guren” mean “red lotus” in Japanese? Why did you choose to use this name for your band?
Sunako: In our case the “Guren” from our name comes from the word “Gurentai”, which means “family”* in English.  The three of us really feel like a family together so that’s why we’ve decided on this name for our band. An example of our chemistry together is the fact that we do things we normally wouldn’t do. I personally don’t like the screaming vocals I do, but I do them anyway because I know the guys do like it.
Katsu & Kaori: We’re really grateful, because we try to support each other no matter what we do. So we’re standing with Sunako even if she doesn’t like doing the screams. Like you just heard, she does it for us anyway!

* I feel like something went wrong in translation here, because the Japanese word “愚連隊” (Gurentai) actually means something closer to “hooligans” or “hoodlums”… A type of family if you want to stretch the meaning that far, but probably not the type of family they intended with this name!

As a band with only three members you’ve toured with other Japanese bands in Europe here already, like El -Ethnic Legist-, UnsraW, Dio ~Distraught Overlord~ and Pinky Doodle Poodle, and now you’re playing with the fool. What is it like touring without a drummer? Wouldn’t you like to add one to the lineup?
Sunako: When Râmen Events has a Japanese artist for a European tour they ask us if we want to join as a support act. We did have a drummer, as well as a second guitarist, but both of them have quit in the meantime.
Katsu: It was really frustrating, because it’s often really challenging to play without a drummer. But we won’t let that get us down. We’ll always find a way to play after all!
Kaori: For now it’s just the three of us, and I play the drums in the studio. It works, so I’m not complaining.

When you first started you played covers of Japanese songs, or at least, that’s what I understood from the minimal information I was given about you guys before this interview. You’ve evolved from covers to your own songs now, but what motivated you to create your own works?
Katsu: We had a really good chemistry between the three of us. We liked playing together, but we just ended up getting frustrated in the end.
Sunako: That we did, indeed. We got really frustrated. It was fun to make music together, but it wasn’t “our music”.
Kaori: That’s why we started to write and record our own songs. And that’s what you see now. We play our own songs with all of our passion.

What about your plans for the future? Do you have any hopes or dreams for anything that might happen in the future?
Katsu: We want to play as many shows as we can, wherever possible. In as many countries as possible!
Sunako: That’s right. We love to travel and see all kinds of different places. We also really want to go to Japan, but if this will happen next year… We’ll have to see!

Bassist Kaori during the performance in Amstelveen (The Netherlands).

The audience here in Amstelveen really seemed to welcome you with open arms, even though it’s not the biggest audience out there. (Probably has to do with the weather, there’s a huge snowstorm raging over the country right now, public transport is almost completely shut down by now…) Despite that, would you like to come back in the future to play here again?
Katsu: Of course! Of course we want to play here again!
Kaori: The audience gave us a really good vibe, and even though it wasn’t the biggest crowd, it was the best one we’ve ever had! Together with a show we played in Dijon (France) recently.
Sunako: I do agree with this, but we want to play wherever we can. Even in places we haven’t been to before.

Even though most Japanese artists look pretty young, you guys are all from Europe here so when we look young, we usually are. So do you want to work with Guren full time, or would you also go back to school for example?
Katsu: Guren currently is my only “job”. I’m indeed quite young still, I recently graduated even! I’m not sure what I want to do next year, I’m thinking about taking a year off before going back to school.
Sunako: I also have another job next to Guren. I’m the oldest of the three of us, so in the theme of family I do have to look after these two to make sure they’re alright. (winks)

Unfortunately that’s all the time we have for today, but before we officially end this interview, is there something you’d like to share with everyone reading?
Kaori: Thank you, thank you! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Katsu: Steph, write this in a big, bold font because we really mean this: THANK. YOU. SO. MUCH! We want to return here in the near future and we love The Netherlands! Like we said already, it was the best show together with the one in Dijon!
Sunako: We hope to see everyone who came tonight the next time too, but also new faces who couldn’t make it today. You’re all welcome to our show!

 

Extra information

We also took photos of their performance at P60 (Amstelveen, The Netherlands). You can find these photos on our photography portfolio, Arlequin Photography, by clicking the image below!

 
(In 2021 Arlequin Photography was officially changed into a full photography portfolio, while all interviews and news were moved to a new domain called Arlequin Magazine. At this time Guren were no longer active in the music industry. This is why there is no social media section for this article.)

 

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