Interview: TYRANT
Title: With very own taste

Japan – actually famous as the country of smiles, brings also every now and then some pitch-black shimmering night-shadow-plants forth, thereunder this immense aesthetic quartet.

Though their whiplashing 1898 debut album „Under A Dark Mystic Sky“ was a true masterpiece of Symphonic Melodic Black Metal, nevertheless the Tokyo-troup Tyrant did not attain therewith the large attention and high recognition that accrued therewith to them in the Metal-stronghold Europe.

At this much to low degree of popularity, also the imposing 2002 album successor „Legend“ changed unfortunately nothing. Although Tyrant did act quite brilliant on it with of noble classic-inspired, orchestral hammer-songs, full of raising festive melodies.

The current third long player „Grimoires“ of this self-true ensemble shows them enormously ripened again and around a few things profounder, itself its possibilities more deliberately.

This, typically for the aesthetic Nippon-tyrants, in many concerns unique symphonic disk, appears now from the third record-label.

Of iron will-power to survive and self-confidence it does truly not lack the four-piece around singer Keisuke Kubo therefore, presenting itself up-to-date in surprisingly new outfits.

Hey Keisuke, how do you do these days, how are things in the big city Tokyo for you?

„You know, I lived in London until the end of this March and cannot stop thinking of the city with nostalgia even for an hour because the climate in the city is far more comfortable than that in Tokyo. How about the climate in the city where you live? The climate in Tokyo is unbelievably humid and that is beyond your imagination. Probably if you come to Tokyo in a summer, the climate will soon melt you down! In addition to that, the climate makes it impossible for me to compose tunes for our 4th album, we have to enter a studio to record our 4th album this year, though.”

How would you describe some new listeners the new music of Tyrant?

„Hmm… This is a quite difficult question. OK, you know, our basic way of composing has not changed since our debut „Under the Dark Mystic Sky.” However we’ve gradually gained how to use musical instruments such as the violin, the viola, the cello and so on. By that, as a result, our way to compose has seemed to progress. However our basic way of composition has not changed, as I said before, at all for ten years and we’ll maintain our music style, Atmospheric and Brutal Symphonic Black Metal Art!!! What I should tell all readers of Metalmessage magazine next is our music style and attitude. Firstly our music style is symphonic Black Metal influenced by the early 1990’s Black Metal, especially the early 1990’s Norwegian Black Metal. Some denies their influence by Norwegian Black Metal bands, but I don’t have any intention of denying it. You know, I’m over 30 years old now and I had experienced the 1980’s Thrash Metal, the 1990’s Death- and Black Metal movement on real time, you know and those music styles have always fascinated me. I like those types of music, but what I like the best has been Symphonic Black Metal since I listened to the early 1990’s Norwegian Black Metal. As long as the early 1990’s Black Metal is concerned, what shocked me then was Mayhem’s “De Mysteries Dom Sathanas,” Emperor/Enslaved split album and Satyricon’s “Shadowthrone.” I have to say without doubt those bands and albums prompted my forming Tyrant. Of course we have our own taste, strongly influenced by some classical music, Thrash Metal and some Goth music and I always try to mix our own taste and those influences. You can easily find those influences on our tunes. Secondly I have to say our attitude against Metal music. That is „Keep the Flame of Underground Black Metal Art!” I believe music like Black Metal should keep underground attitude, I cannot understand what occurred in Norway then. In fact, the early 1990’s Black Metal bands were really interesting, weren’t they?”

Are there any bands or specific classical composers as influences for your new songs to mention?

„Our new songs are, I think, crystallization of our various music backgrounds. As far as I’m concerned, I was surrounded by classical music when I was a child because my mother was a piano teacher and my sister wanted to become a professional pianist (Now she is!!!) and practiced it quite hard. In my house then, records of Bach, Mozart and so on were played everyday. I liked Bach’s pipe organ works especially. Actually classical music has not struck my fancy perfectly, but the environment I said above really helps me when I compose songs without doubt. Not classical composers but the environment is my musical roots, I think. In addition to that the other members of the band had received an education of classical music; Z3 – the classical guitar, Masato – the electric piano and Ayumi – the piano for many years. As far as metal bands or composers are concerned, I have to say many bands. In my early days of listening to underground metal, my favorite was Thrash/Power Metal bands; Slayer, Bathory, Metallica, Razor, Artillery, Kreator, Wargasm, Celtic Frost, Exodus, Testament, Destruction, Metal Church, Sabbat (Martin rules!!!), Vicious Rumors, Paradox, Sacred Reich, Death Angel, Forbidden, Sanctuary, Sodom, Onslaught, Dark Angel, Death, Tank, Sepultura, Living Death and so on (too many to mention!!!). They taught me aggression and speed of metal!!! In the early of 1990’s, I was into Death Metal first such as Entombed, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Dismember and so on. Then I got myself blown off in the gale from Norway. At that time the scene of Black Metal seemed to be really exciting, didn’t it? Norwegian Black Metal bands such as Mayhem, Emperor, Enslaved, Satyricon, Gehennna, Burzum, Arcturus, Darkthrone and so on… they were, are and will be forever my biggest atomic stimulus to play music. They are the very bands taught me mixing brutal metal music with beautiful and ominous atmosphere by using keyboards. All of the bands (great Thrash/Death/Black Metal bands) and some classical composers (and the environment as my childhood) were my real strong influences when I composed the songs on „Grimoires.” I cannot narrow my influences to one band or composer.“

Btw: which other Metal acts or classical composers do you like nowadays? And which among them count to your eternal favorites?

„I answered this question written above, but if you pursuit my favorite further, I can answer more and more about this. My favorites are changing momentarily, you know. I think it’s far natural that someone’s favorites are always changing day by day. So here I will mention my recent favorites in 1 month listening frequent order.

Opeth “Blackwater Park”
Enslaved “Isa”
Emperor “In The Nightside Eclipse”
Behemoth “Demigod”
Kreator “Terrible Certainty”
Satyricon “Nemesis Divina”
Dissection “The Somberlain”
Secret of the Moon “Carved In Stigmata Wounds”
Coroner “R.I.P”
Exodus “Bonded By Blood”

If I have to choose my eternal favorite albums just now, I choose the ultimate best 30 albums written below:

Slayer “Reign In Blood”
Bathory “Blood, Fire and Death”
Celtic Frost “To Mega Therion”
Candlemass “Nightfall”
Dark Angel “Darkness Descends”
Possessed “Beyond The Gates”
Emperor “In The Nightside Eclipse”
Kreator “Terrible Certainty”
Satyricon “Shadowthrone”
Sabbat “History Of A Time To Come”
Enslaved “Isa”
Death “Individual Thought Patterns”
Mayhem “De Mysteries Dom Sathanas”
Darkthrone “Blaze In The Northern Sky”
Morbid Angel “Altars Of Madness”
Voivod “Killing Technology”
Exodus “Bonded By Blood”
Opeth “Blackwater Park”
Mace “Evil In Good”
Sepultura “Beneath The Remains”
Entombed “Left Hand Path”
Gehenna “Seen Through The Veils Of Darkness”
Burzum “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”
Destruction “Infernal Overkill”
Ulver “Bergtatt”
Arcturus “Aspera Hiems Symfonia”
Sigh “Hail Horror Hail”
Artillery “By Inheritance”
At The Gates “Slaughter Of The Soul”
Exciter “Heavy Metal Maniac”

These favorites order will soon change, though, ha!”

Keisuke, to my mind the new album of Tyrant marks a very refreshing piece. And also a work with the most unique conceptions in Melodic Black Metal out of Japan ever! How far do you agree in this?

„Thank you, Markus, but I don’t think so perfectly. It’s quite difficult to judge whether a band has an originality or not, or is unique or not. You know our music is basically fully influenced by what we’ve listened as I said above and I think fundamentally that there’s no music influenced by nothing. It’s sure that a Black Metal band from Japan is really unique for some European people, but you know some Black Metal bands from Japan such as Sigh, Abigail and Sabbat already established their own taste, I strongly believe that we’ve just established our own taste of music on the latest album as well, though. To establish band’s own taste is really hard. In Japan Death/Black Metal with melancholic, beautiful and ominous atmosphere is quite popular and many bands try to be those bands, but they cannot success because they don’t have their own taste. What they play is a full copy of European bands. The most important thing to play music, especially underground Metal is to digest what they’ve listened and to mix the digested music with the players’ own taste. Generally that could be called „originality,” I think. You know we are fully influenced by Western European or American music culture in spite of our being Japanese, but we’ve mixed the music cultures with our own taste, so in the meaning we are unique. However we are not the most refreshing and unique band from Japan. If you mean „one of the most…,” I agree with you.”

In which qualitative position between nowadays Black Metal acts do you see Tyrant now?

„I’m very proud of the workmanship of „Grimoires.” So we really hope many people would get and hear this album. I think we’ve gradually grown up since our debut and this album is the final results of our growth in our first chapter. Of course our music will progress further and further!!! I think our quality has reached a high position in this genre by this album. What do you think of it?”

One can only agree in full manner. Where has been the new work produced?

„It was recorded, mixed and mastered at studio Nest which was located in Chiba-prefecture quite near to Tokyo and which we have used since the recording of our debut, „Under The Dark Mystic Sky.” The reason why we would always use the studio is that we know how Kenji Kikuchi, the engineer of the studio works for us and that he knows who we are and what we want to do.”

Does exist something relevant to tell out of the time in the studio?

„We had a lot of bothers in mixing the tunes on the album. This time we used average of 50 tracks each songs. It took 4 months to record all tunes and the recording itself finished in January 2004. Once in February 2004, we tried to mix them, but we couldn’t finish it, because the engineer didn’t have enough time to mix them using average of 50 tracks. Our guitarist, Z3 has a keen knowledge of „pro-tools” which we used for the recording, so I left him the mixing. However it’s quite hard even for him to mix them. Meanwhile I had to go to London for my business in July 2004, and I couldn’t check out the completion. During my staying in London, Z3 re-tried it, but I couldn’t be satisfied with his work. I ordered Mr. Kikuchi, the chief engineer of studio Nest again to mix them by himself, he was really busy, though. In March 2005, at last he, Mr. Kikuchi could concentrate the mixing and he finished it in the late of March 2005. In the early of April 2005, I had come back to Tokyo and mastered it. It took 16 months to release the album after finishing the recording. So we feel the album is quite old.”

To my mind the sound of these album comes way too bass-filled. Are you satisfied with the result of the production?

„Compared to the first quality bands in Europe, sure the sound quality of our album might not be perfect, but the production was, at least, approved by ourselves then, so we don’t regret the result at all. However we have an intention to use a foreign studio, especially a studio in Scandinavia of which engineer knows what underground metal is, when we mix and master our tunes for next album.”

How long has been taken the time for the complete songwriting of the new album?

„If my memory serves me well, it took 8 months or so for the songwriting perfectly. Basically when I or Ayumi composes a song, first I or she considers a keyboards’ lines, because keyboards can make a whole atmosphere of a song, and then Z3 and Masato considers their guitar and bass lines with listening to keyboards’ basic atmosphere, so it usually takes much time to complete it.”

Which members of the band composed all these new exciting melodies?

„Although the main composer of Tyrant had been me (Keisuke) and Ayumi until „Legend” album, this time Z3 participated in our songwriting. Actually, he wrote 2 songs on the album. His way of songwriting is far different from ours, so his songs are really interesting to us. He is well influenced by the ‘70s, ‘80’s and 90’s Progressive Rock bands, and his musical background is quite different from us. I really like ‘70s Progressive Rock band, though, so it is quite interesting for him to take part in the songwriting team. My main influence is, you know, Metal stuffs, so if we can mix my idea or her (Ayumi’s) idea and Z3’s idea, then we can create something new. Please look forward to our next album. That won’t betray you at all, I promise!”

What is the meaning behind the new album title?

„Probably you know the meaning of the word. This week the terror broke out even in London where I had lived for a while, and I think that all over the world the uncertainty of the future has became far stronger than before and this world has changed since the incident on 11th September 2001. I do think that not all Mohammedan but a part of fanatics have done those fucking affairs. I strongly believe that a grimoire written by a fanatic has led them. Effectively historical doctrinaire matters done by human, were led by those ideas guided through the grimoires. Religions sometimes destruct human soul… Perhaps the Bible would be one of them. I think I should write this matter especially now when the uncertainty of our future comes to us and when we face the crisis. Do you understand?”

Which were your main lyrical influences for the new album?

„The main theme of the new album is the uncertainty of our future and I didn’t care what source of our lyrics is. You know, our music has basically been heard mainly by European people and Japanese, so it is difficult for me to choose the material in order to have those people understood our lyrics, but Bible is a common theme for them, so that I chose it for our lyrical theme this time.”

And which are your own expectations, concerning these new album?

„I think that the first chapter of Tyrant ended at the release of „Grimoires,” and that the album is the corpus of our first chapter. We’ve grew up whenever we released albums, and this time we put all what we learned through the releases, „Under The Dark Mystic Sky” and „Legend” album into „Grimoires.” Basically, as I said before, our way of composition has never changed since our first demo, but we’ve learned how to use instruments and the way of recording, so we improved gradually how to compose and record. To be honest with you, the trigger to form the band was the longing for playing Black Metal like the early ‘90s Norwegian Black Metal, and especially on our debut you can easily find the shadows of Norwegian Black Metal bands, but by degrees we establish our own taste on our tunes. I hope that many people hear the album and that all of them feel our own taste on the album!!!”

The cover- and booklet layout of Jarno Lahti has become awesome. It’s overwhelming to my mind. What’s to tell about?

„To tell the truth, he offered us the other artwork (I mean album cover) and sure that was also far brilliant, but our keyboardist, Ayumi, wanted to see another covers. Soon he offered us the other cover and we liked it better than previous one. That is what we used for our new album. We are quite satisfied with what he did for us. His artwork is perfect!!! We intend to use his artwork for our 4th album and our debut reissued on World Chaos Production as well.”

Where do you see Tyrant in ten years?

„It’s very hard for us to keep the band alive for another 10 years, because 10 years later I’ll be over 40 years old, ha! However I have the plan for our future. I will talk about this on the answer in the overnext question.”

In which country of the globe does Tyrant have the most dedicated fans?

„I don’t know in which country there are our most dedicated fans, because we have never had a sales report should have been sent from labels to which we belonged. According to the number of email that our fans sent me, probably not in Japan, but in Germany, Holland and USA we seem to have them, so that we want to go there to play gigs!!! Does anyone invite us to those countries?”

In which specific direction will go the sound of Tyrant?

„As I said recently, our first chapter has just ended at „Grimoires,” and henceforth our second chapter will begin soon. Musically speaking, probably we will change our music style a little. You know, last year I lived in London and often went to a gig. What I felt then was that the speed of tunes was quite important for playing a gig, because I could not well distinguish what a band played at a gig when they played very fast songs like the ‘90s Norwegian Black Metal using blast beats in spite of the fact I know their songs. Of course I like tunes like those, but when I saw an Enslaved gig, I was greatly touched by their playing. They were quite magnificent on the stage and I found myself being able to quite well distinguish what they played. I think that’s because almost all their tunes are medium tempo ones. You know we have the plan to play gigs more often after the release of our forth album, and we had never considered whether a tune fit gigs or not, but I have to consider it hereafter. I think probably medium tempo tunes fit gigs better than fast ones, so our sound style will be medium-tempo atmospheric symphonic Black Metal art on the next album. I strongly believe the style fits us and playing gigs far better than our previous style, of course we will probably play some fast songs, though.”

Please report me about your upcoming live concerts – special effects planned?

„You know, we did not intend to play gigs often and wasted some opportunities to play them, but I found it very important for Metal bands to play gigs after going to London. We are entering a studio to record our forth album in the late of this year and after that we will soon play gigs all over the world, I hope. Of course, we have an intention of going to Germany, if someone invites us. My friend in London, Dayal who is the chief editor of English fanzine, Crypt, said to me that he would like to invite us to London if possible and my Norwegian brother, Tjalve (hi! mate), the guitarist of 1349 and Pantheon I, promised that we would play gigs in Norway together. In addition to that our new drummer is from Sweden and he has many friends playing extreme Metal in Sweden, so that maybe we will have an opportunity to play gigs in foreign countries. I forgot my important friend, sorry: Markus! Please invite us to Germany!!! I would really like to go there and see you!!! I really appreciate your support every time!!!”

Any specific plans for the future to mention?

„From 2nd December, we will begin to record our fourth album at studio Nest which we’ve used since our debut, but probably this time we will use the other studio in Finland for mixing and mastering, because we require high quality sound in order to express what we want to do. The release of the album will be around in August 2006 and after the release finally our gigs will begin. I cannot wait the time. Thank you, Markus, very much for the interview and I would like to appreciate your magazine for giving me this opportunity to be interviewed. I hope if you, readers of this magazine, become interested in us when you read this article, buy and hear our album at all cost. Thank you, see you then!”

© Markus Eck, 26.07.2005

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