When G.L.A.M.S announced that they would be touring Europe again despite the developments surrounding the COVID-19 virus I originally said that maybe it wasn’t the greatest time to do an interview. I recently spoke with vocalist and band leader Mikaru through an email-interview about the new album after all! It was a brief interview with only a few questions, but since Mikaru is so good at answering questions I was a little unsure what more I could ask him about this release.
When Mikaru and the others heard this they were incredibly disappointed, because as it turned out they were looking forward to an interview during their stop in Dordrecht! So a lot of “pleeeeease ☹?” came my way through their tour manager here in Europe. And if you know me at all, you know I really can’t deal with sad faces. So I tried my very best to come up with some questions for this interview, and their happy faces and eager answers made it all worth it!
Especially since the guys already knew at this point that it would be their last show in Europe, since the tour final in Brussels was canceled due to the pandemic. All the more reason to make this last show as fun as we possibly can.
This interview is with all members, but since by now G.L.A.M.S aren’t exactly strangers on Arlequin Magazine I’ve decided to skip the introduction part. You know who they are, right? ?
So, let’s get into this interview!
You’re currently on tour to promote your latest album: “TWILIGHT AFTER THE RAIN”. It’s a bit of a strange situation because the album was pre-released somewhere during this tour, causing fans to be familiar with two songs only: “In Endless Rainfall” and “Another Lonely Day”. But how did they respond to the new songs when you played them live?
Mikaru: Especially with “In Endless Rainfall” the fans have been great. This song is intended to be sung together, and I feel like they’ve listened to my music very well. This made me very happy.
Tetsuto: My answer is almost the same as Mikaru’s, but “In Endless Rainfall” is supposed to make them sing. So we’ve created the song to be this way. Another one is “Unbreakable Chain”. We have this image for the chorus, and when the song reaches the chorus I’m very happy to see the reaction from the audience.
Yudai: I wrote the basics for “In Endless Rainfall” and “Another Lonely Day”. I imagined the opening of a show for “In Endless Rainfall”, and it worked perfectly for the image I had in mind. We’ve actually played “Another Lonely Day” during our last tour already, but now the song has matured and we’ve finally been able to finalize it for this album. It’s also the most emotional song for me.
Syu: I’m going to talk about the other new songs, like “Sailing Away”. During the last European tour we’ve played this song as well, but this time the audience had a better response to it. “Tokyo Ginza Blues” is a new style for G.L.A.M.S, and we are planning to make another music video. For this song, yes. So you can expect this one in the near future!
In these new songs you’ve used more English than ever. Meaning the previous releases of G.L.A.M.S still lean towards Japanese, but “TWILIGHT AFTER THE RAIN” is mostly in English…
Mikaru: There are two reasons for this. The first is that I want to make it easier for everyone to understand the words of the song, but the other is to make it possible for everyone to sing along during the show. Yes. These really are the two reasons!
Despite that the songs are meant for the audience to sing along, you’ve touched on some pretty “heavy” topics within the songs. I’m sure a lot of people will find something relatable in the lyrics and topics, but why go for these rather than something more “lighthearted” like the theme of true freedom for “Sailing Away”?
Mikaru: “Sailing Away”… I think I wrote this song in the sense of life being like a journey. Everything in life is determined by your own choices. You should never regret that choice. I hate the word “regret”, in fact. Regret means that you are not responsible for your choice at that time You don’t believe in yourself. I want you to believe in yourself. Life is created by every single one of your choices in the moment. In that sense we are free. So don’t tie yourself or your journeys. That’s the image I want to show with these songs as a whole.
The last time we spoke here in Dordrecht you told me that unlike at the start, you see G.L.A.M.S as a full band rather than your solo works with support members. But how does this work behind the scenes? Does each member bring their own ideas to the table, or do you come up with everything and present it to the others?
Mikaru: The final decision is of course made by me. But when I am making a song I listen to and use their ideas to make the songs even better. I believe in their talents.
One band, four different personalities
Since Mikaru is still the leader of the band he will of course have an answer for most of the questions I can ask. But since the interview is with all members I wanted to give them all an equal opportunity to participate in the interview rather than sitting around like an audience that’s just watching Mikaru and me talking to each other for half an hour or so…
I have prepared some questions for each of you individually as well, so let’s start with Yudai! A lot of people know about Mikaru’s lovely bunnies Lily and Mimi, but he’s not the only pet owner in G.L.A.M.S. What’s it like being on tour and not being able to see your cat every day? Since I know you have a very close relationship with Rin-san.
Yudai: I feel very lonely. Rin-san loves to sleep with me, so when I go to bed she will always sleep on my legs together with me. I take so many pictures of her every day, and I think about her all the time. Day and night. We have a very happy life together. I love the tour, but I really miss her and I am sure she misses me too. But luckily I get a lot of updates and photos from her throughout the tour!
The next question is for Tetsuto, since I heard that you’re also a big fan of the drinks here in Europe. There are a lot of countries and cultures really close to each other so during tour you get to try out a lot of different foods and drinks. Were you looking forward to eating, drinking or visiting something here that’s not available in Japan? And what do you miss the most when you return to Japan again?
Mikaru: Rabbit? (laughs)
Yudai: Cat? (laughs)
Tetsuto: Yeah, almost the same. (laughing as well)
Syu: People? (everyone laughs some more)
Tetsuto: No, seriously. I want to drink wine in each place I visit, I’m really enjoying the tour but for me The Netherlands is the number one.
Stephany: Are you sure you’re not saying that because we’re in The Netherlands now, and you don’t want to insult me? (laughs)
Tetsuto: (laughs) No, no! It’s from the bottom of my heart! I really want to stay here in Europe. I don’t miss anything from Japan!
And the last individual question is for Syu, who’s life really revolves around music. Since next to G.L.A.M.S we also see you as a part of Alpha999, David and other music-related activities. You must really love music in order to have most of your life revolve around it!
Syu: Before I answer the question, I really want to thank you for the interviews you’ve done with Alpha and David as well! But regarding me, this is what I wanted for a really long time. Each music project, style and world are always interesting to me. I’m sharing the stage with a lot of different musicians recently, and they all inspire me. My passion is getting fired up more and more. I’m sure this can keep me motivated and make my career grow. But I can also grow as an artist as well.
Honestly, I’m really glad Syu was so happy that I did an interview with TAKA (Alpha999) and SUI (David) recently! I actually asked for his support during that time and it seemed to come as a surprise to him that I asked about the other projects he was involved in, but he was more than willing to help them out by supporting me during these two interviews. His passion for music is one of a kind, even in G.L.A.M.S!
From Japan to Europe and back to Japan
You’ve all been to Europe several times now, I mean Mikaru and Syu were actually in the very first band I ever took photos of, all the way back in 2009! But this means you’ve seen a lot of Europe. Were you looking forward to a specific country this time as well? And of course, why?
Mikaru: I have always wanted to walk around in Prague. And this time this dream finally came true. It was a very beautiful city. Next time I want to travel to Prague again too!
Tetsuto: I have been looking forward to coming to The Netherlands again. The first oneman show we did as G.L.A.M.S was actually here in Den Haag, and that was very impressive for me. During the last tour we were also here in Dordrecht, in the Dolhuis venue, and we went to visit a nearby church. This time there’s a lot happening due to the COVID-19 virus, but I’d really like to walk around here someday.
Yudai: I’m looking forward to every single country, because they’re all interesting to me. Prague as well. I walked around a bit today in Dordrecht as well, I went back to see that church we went to see last time. So every country is interesting to me. But the most interesting one was Prague, it was so beautiful.
Syu: During my career here in The Netherlands we’ve visited Amsterdam and Utrecht for shows with Dio, and we’ve had a show with BLACK LINE in Utrecht as well. With G.L.A.M.S it has been Den Haag and Dordrecht. I’m interested in seeing other cities, but also for having shows there. And of course sightseeing in general. My favorite character actually is Nijntje, so I’m also curious about Dutch characters and cities. I have seen many things, but I really need more time!
Before we started this interview we actually had to go and find Yudai, since he had gone out just before I arrived at the venue, we literally missed each other by only a few minutes! So a few phone calls later, Yudai arrived back at the venue safe and sound, and with a new image of the now familiar church in his memory!
Even though you’ve released a new album only moments ago, I’m already going to ask the familiar future-question: What does the future of G.L.A.M.S look like? Are you going to continue with the “movie soundtrack”-style like you’ve used for this album for example?
Mikaru: I just make what I want to make. I will never change until I die. So I am looking forward to what songs will be born next!
And you’ve guessed it already, but this is the last question. Also very familiar: Do you have a closing message for everyone reading this interview?
Tetsuto: I want to say “hoi” to everyone. But also “hallo” and “nice to meet you”. And of course, come see us someday! That’s what I want to say for now.
Yudai: Please enjoy the new album. These crazy five songs. I had a new crazy idea for some new songs yesterday, so please look forward to it! See you next time!
Syu: The situation in the world is very complicated right now, as you know. We’ve had a lot of problems with this tour in particular because of it, even before the tour started. But we’re here now, and so are you. We can go together, see you soon!
Mikaru: Share. Share. (Everyone starts laughing as Mikaru puts up his demonic voice) SHARE. Well well well. SHARE. You know. You already know what I want. HMMM… (growling) Wait. In bed…. I want you to share… Your blood! I want your blood! (everyone is still laughing) Give me… Blood! (by this time everyone is in stitches)
“Hoi” and “hallo” are the same as “hi” and “hello” in English, and because they’ve heard quite some Dutch chatter during their tours here Tetsuto is starting to pick it up a little!
I absolutely love doing interviews or just talking casually with the guys from G.L.A.M.S, they always manage to say or do something funny that makes me laugh so hard it’s difficult to go back to the more serious parts of the interview.
Like the guys mentioned themselves already, this tour was a difficult one due to the ever-changing rules and restrictions to contain the virus. A lot of their shows were canceled and tour agency Uknight did whatever was within their power to stay one step ahead of the game. The day before this show the venue it was originally scheduled at had to cancel the show, but the local anime and Japanese themed-goods store Special Edition opened their stage behind the shop for the band and supporting act VII ARC to play an acoustic set instead.
Playing an acoustic set was completely new for the band, but this performance was a great success either way, a large audience showed up to watch both bands play, and they all seemed to enjoy it!