Mary's Blood Interview: Heavy Metal Forces Vol. 10
#1
Short interview with Eye and Saki of Mary's Blood following the release of 'FATE' last year in the independent metal magazine 'Heavy Metal Forces'. Any and all mistakes my own property (not Motonaga-san's!)

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Interview by Hisashi “SWA” Motonaga

MARY’S BLOOD are now flying high with momentum. "FATE", which is their third major work, was released in October 2016 (Oricon daily ranking 15th / Weekly ranking 23th). Amongst the popular girl’s bands, they are particularly high in their metal content, so here I talked to EYE (VO) and SAKI (G).

---What are both of your views on HEAVY METAL?

SAKI: Well I think that it’s manly music, so if I come by myself when I go to see LOUD PARK or such, I really feel that. I wondered how you could do it with four girls so I've been watching many bands from a long time ago. I was strongly conscious that metal is a very male thing.

EYE: Seeing L'Arc~en~Ciel was what caused me to start the band, so I was originally closer to Visual Kei. I thought that metal was an insular genre because it rather felt that I was watching metal from outside, I found it very unapproachable at first. But as I listened more closely to it, I came to think more that it’s a genre that takes a very direct approach. Also when I started to do nothing other than making music, how to sell it and such, I didn’t have any intention for the time being to do anything other than produce good songs, but then they said “We want to do this”. "You really want to do that genre and you’re confident about that decision?" I felt like that.

---Previously, in 2001, we did a Female Fronted / Girls Band feature in our magazine, but the current situation seems to be considerably more exciting compared to the scene at the time. BURRN!’s special issue METALLION magazine featuring female artists (of course, MARY 'S BLOOD is also in!) has been issued many times, and you two and the band have been featured extensively in it. But how do you feel about that?

SAKI: Originally we were playing in different bands from each other, and at the beginning, when I was starting out, I got the impression that there were not as many (girls’ bands). I don’t not know what the trigger was but gradually the number of such bands has increased. The number of girl’s bands in comparison to other bands has also gradually increased since I was in the Indies.

EYE: It was hard at that time to find a girls band.

SAKI: There were bands for female vocalists, but girl’s bands not so much. Now I feel that the number of girls' bands that can say "We are a HR / HM band” is also increasing.

--- I think that MARY'S BLOOD are at the centre of that scene now, but do you take pride in that?

EYE: No, we don’t (laughs). We weren’t at all trying to be at the centre of the girl’s band scene, just being able to realize that we wanted to do in our own way. We, weren’t really conscious of anything else (laughs).

--- If you are unaware of consciously doing that, how do you feel like about your current position?

EYE: It feels good to create that kind of excitement.

SAKI: But I feel like we’re in a transition period now. I wonder if it will come down all at once from here. I’m not really conscious of that, and it isn’t a kind of over-saturation, but I feel it’s a little like that...

--- Were you obsessed about your style of guitar and vocals on the current work "FATE”?

SAKI: Especially since we had discussions with the guests (Luke Takamura / ex. Seikima II, Miki Igarashi / SHOW-YA) from an early stage of the album’s production, this time I was thinking of how to get their individual personalities out there, through differentiation in phrasing and the like to create a specific mood. As compared with our 1st and 2nd albums, "FATE" has many compact songs, so what impact can be left behind, what kind of phrases can be put together as long as the solo is so short is also something I had in mind.

EYE: Simply good vocals aren’t something I like to listen to myself, I admire vocals in which you can express emotions and intentions properly. In "FATE" in order to express feelings, I drew on various knowledge and experiences and I though how this could be conveyed when combined. Up to now we’ve had quite forceful songs and songs with momentum, but almost "FATE" is a work that we assembled properly and thought carefully about the arrangement of songs.

--- Actually, I like the vocals of "FATE" the best, the difference with the two previous albums was their rather easily understood singing direction and somewhat different tunes, "FATE" had more similar songs but, little by little, the vocal expression differed I felt. I particularly like the sung melody of "Change the Fate". I felt a difference with the past.

EYE: I’m happy ~ that understanding is a long-cherished ambition (laughs)

---Even as MARY'S BLOOD are only on their 3rd album at the present time, I feel you’ve been around a while, so what about the future?

SAKI: Actually I'm already thinking about what to do next time and I don’t know what will happen next time but maybe we can do it the way we did back in the Indies rather than from our 1st to 3rd albums.

EYE: We can aim at generating something unexpected by combining things. That would be good.

---You don’t do a one-shot recording on the same day, right?

SAKI: That’s true, isn’t it, since we recorded each and every part separately including pre-production, next as a band with the experience of making three albums now we’re idly thinking about how we can do it all now (laughs). Gradually in making the second and third albums we became able to take a more settled approach to it, especially the third which wasn’t done slowly, but definitely without rushing, so I feel like we can do even better for the next one.

EYE: Next time I’m not only thinking how I feel about the vocals, and I think this is mutual, I also want to record something with a band-like feeling. I think that I want to make people listen to the songs as a whole now, or maybe give off a live feeling somehow? But whether it is a live feeling or a band-like feeling, because we all approach it like that we can put a unique touch on it with an emotional impact, my feeling is that is important, I think.

---Concerning "FATE", were there any parts of any songs you particularly felt were like that?

SAKI: I didn’t do much with the guitar in "Nautical Star". I didn’t put too many phrases on the bottom of the stack or over the short notes, so if you’re playing it live it’s interesting because we haven’t done something like that before, and there are many parts that are difficult to do. I think that this song fits in well because it's not taking an ordinary straightforward metal approach.

EYE: I have two, one is the position of "ta" of "anata" in the last chorus of "In the Rain" and (laughs)

SAKI: That’s minute (laughs)

EYE: And the breathless feeling of "Kieta~" in "Angel's Ladder". The whispering feeling was not quite convincing, so I re-recorded it many times before finally "this one!”, so please listen to it (laughs)

--- What kind of role does Yashiro (Support Guitar / Chorus) have in MARY'S BLOOD?

SAKI: Although she is a supporting artist for convenience, she’s always in the studio with us arranging but she talks a lot with us too, and it is a rather trite way of saying it (laughs) but we feel like she is a fifth member. She does the guitar and chorus with great care and saves us a considerable amount of trouble.

EYE: It feels like she’s always taking her work very seriously, asking me about how to sing, how to make her voice resound, and such questions. Even when she’s driving by herself she has MARY'S BLOOD on as BGM and sings while driving (laughs).

--- In comparing MARY'S BLOOD to other girls bands there is a stronger metal element, I feel. Do you keep that in mind?

EYE: It is heavy, fierce, fun, and easy to listen to, so it’s important to take care from the beginning, but if you keep to this it will inevitably lead to a straightforward style of HEAVY METAL. For example, even in something like "HANABI" it is sung in a way so that it does not become too pop-like, so that people are less likely to think "Oh, (MARY 'S BLOOD is) breaking out of character". To hold to tightly to our core, you try to stay in that area naturally though, by means such as the distorted style of vocals.

---Is that a commonly held feeling amongst the four of you?

EYE: I think so. We haven’t talked it through in detail until now, but I feel that it is inevitably become like second nature. I feel like we understand each other.

SAKI: If you have songs like "HANABI!" you can enjoy them live, and the difference from the intense songs you usually do you can be enjoyed by all the fans as well.

---There are things that each Mary's BLOOD member thinks, right? Including things when you four people understand each other?

SAKI: About the costume this time - for the 1st and 2nd we had a stylist, and she said “Let's do it this way”, but for the costumes for "FATE" photo sessions, we just met up beforehand, only the brand was decided and each one of us had to come up with preparing our own outfit, and there was a lot of unexpected deviation when the four of us gathered on that day (laughs). It is not that we were worried, there was no one who struggled strangely and ended up dressed like a boy, in MARY'S BLOOD, a woman is a woman, so we’re not separated by sex, and each of us picked an attractive band image, so much that none of us needed flattery.

EYE: When I think about it again, it feels like we’re a band where lone wolves have gathered together. In the world view of lyrics, I also include talk of romance, but when I look at MARY'S BLOOD by myself, it seems like a band that does not look soft or likely ever to lose heart. When I first started I thought that I wanted to be able to become like the girls I admired, so I feel like I'm approaching that little by little. Maybe I feel like an independent female warrior? (Laughs)

---Is there is anything left to say about "FATE"

SAKI: I think that it has been written with our broadest range so far, and that we could do something else other the approach we’ve taken before now for every song, but I think that the core has been passed through.

EYE: "FATE" is a disc with a delicious taste for those who like varied genres. You can listen to some sparkling songs with good rhythm without being bound by metal that will surely grow on you like dried squid.

---Nice ending! Dried squid (Laughs). Thanks a lot for today.

EYE&SAKI: Since we’ll continue to do our best in the future, thanks for your help.
Feel free to request a translation here. And check out my previous work in this section.
Please bear it mind I'm always busy though and it may take a while!
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#2
EYE certainly sounds like a female warrior. If her voice were a fist, it could punch someone out without even breaking a sweat.

billm99uk, out of curiosity, was there any additional context around that "convenience" remark about Yashiro and being a support member? As in, did it sound like the convenience was on Yashiro's end (not wanting to be tied down to one group) or on the band's end?
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#3
(01-13-2018, 10:47 PM)bhg70 Wrote: billm99uk, out of curiosity, was there any additional context around that "convenience" remark about Yashiro and being a support member? As in, did it sound like the convenience was on Yashiro's end (not wanting to be tied down to one group) or on the band's end?

Saki just used 「便宜上」 [bengijyou] which, according to my dictionary, is either 'for convenience' or 'as a matter of convenience​'. I'm not really aware of the subtleties of its use, but I'd assume it's either mutual convenience, or its polite to imply as such, as you can specify which party's convenience it is for easily enough, and she doesn't.
Feel free to request a translation here. And check out my previous work in this section.
Please bear it mind I'm always busy though and it may take a while!
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#4
Interesting. Okay, thanks for the update. I do wish they (the Japanese artists) would just come out and say what they mean sometimes. Smile
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#5
Well, in their defense, western artists don't always do that either, there's business interests to defend and stuff like that... Smile
If you can't get enough of me giving my opinions without having asked for it, you can read more of it on my Kevy Metal weblog.
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#6
True. I guess I'm just used to the fact that in the West, the truth behind those types of carefully worded answers usually finds its way out to the fans.

On the other hand, the lack of trash talking and airing of dirty laundry in the Japanese scene is quite refreshing. Smile
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#7
(01-17-2018, 11:54 PM)bhg70 Wrote: in the West, the truth behind those types of carefully worded answers usually finds its way out to the fans.

Depending on who or what, yeah it usually does. But I think part of that is also that our journalists are a little more inquisitive than those who work for Japanese music magazines. I'm not 100 percent sure if that's how it works, but I understood most of them are hired by the record companies in order to promote their acts rather than to delve deep into the psyche of the musicians involved.
If you can't get enough of me giving my opinions without having asked for it, you can read more of it on my Kevy Metal weblog.
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#8
Listening to Astraia I get the impression that Yashiro's style gravitates towards that wider mix. It does look like she enjoys performing and has strong friendships with Yucat and Kaoru Hayano who she is with regularly and have very different sounds from Mary's Blood. Yashi's guest guitar spots do tend to resemble Mary's Blood more than the others (Anri, Tamu Murata, Erika) and she does seem to play with MB when there is a schedule conflict.

The best is that Mary's Blood flew out on a vacation yesterday at a very nice resort (I suspect it might be a Tokuma Japan gift for Revenant based on the timing) and Yashi went with them. There were a few outings in the Yamaha mook which also looked like sponsored publicity events (ton of pro photos featuring the whole band) but don't have Yashi in them Sad Likewise with the booklets included in the 2 DVDs that were released under the Victor label. So I hope this weekend is an indication that Tokuma Japan, Hajime Okano, and the rest of the management involved will include more of the band's friend and "fifth member" Yashiro.

The recent Marshall blogs do mention "of course Yashiro is there" right off the bat, and the Yamaha mook (backstage photos and Yahiro interviewing) and Metallion usually does a decent job as well, so still under the impression that it was the old management/Victor.

In regards of Naon no Yaon, Yashiro will have a set for the first time and she mentioned that her choice for her support band would be Mary's Blood Smile
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