Biography Special: D'espairsRay - Part 1

file - 19.09.2009 20:00

We present a "small" special in three pieces for the group's 10th anniversary, starting with the first six years of D'espairsRay's history.

Part 1 - The band and its history: Years 1999 - 2005


September 9th, 1999 is referred to as the hour of +DéspairsRay+'s birth. You could say it was very good timing that the former bands of the four young men had disbanded by then. Vocalist HIZUMI, guitarist KARYU, bassist 零-ZERO- and drummer TSUKASA first met in high school, but it was KARYU who initiated the whole thing. They chose the genre of visual kei because they liked to style themselves, and because visual kei gave them the perfect playground for their own rebellious music. KARYU invited the three musicians to Tokyo, where they got together in a studio. Immediately, they made their first recordings, and that night they also decided the musical direction for the future. It seems that their chemistry concerning music fit well, and they soon recorded the demo tape ao, which was distributed at several lives in December 1999. But prior to that, their very first concert was held at Takadanobaba AREA on September 24th. +DéspairsRay+ first performed in front of about ten people, but with every new live more fans showed up.

Full of energy and vigor, they made more industrial style songs and brought two new demo tapes to the people at the end of January 2000: S yste M and Sakura. The latter song was also featured on the omnibus album SouNDBeast, which was released on May 3rd, 2000. They began their tour, AN EXPERIMENT OF A HUMAN BODY, on the 25th of July and ended it on the 26th of September. In the same month, CD number four, titled RAZØR, was released. Approximately four weeks later, their first indies single [Kumo] was released under XXX-Records, a sub-label of Speed-disk. Their visual look around this time was rather dark: they wore black and red patent leather with lace, their faces were pale, their eyes were made up with colored contact lenses or garish eyeliner, even accessories like spiked collars could be seen. The release of the single was accompanied by a short tour, which began on October 29th in Ikebukuro CYBER and ended on December17th at Takadanobaba AREA. Around the end of the year, they were featured on the omnibus disc HYSTERIC MEDIA ZONE. Just a few days after that, they performed their last gig of the year, on the 31st of December in Takadanobaba AREA.


On February 10th, 2001 they held a live in Nagoya BOTTOM LINE. This concert was the beginning of a short tour (consisting of four dates in total) and ended on March 12th. Not even seven days after that, the promotional tour of the new single was already getting started. As this came to an end it only took a few days until the release. But they also made some new recordings in the studio at the beginning of the New Year, in particular, they worked on their second single, titled -genwaku-. The first press of the disc (limited to 1,000 copies) was their first and only single to be sold out by pre-order so far. The label reacted promptly and so on April 1st they released not only the first and second press of the single but also the second press of their first single as well. Their wish to perform abroad was growing already at this early stage, but they did not yet venture it. They were touring a bit before the release, and mostly performed in Takadanobaba AREA. Shortly after the release, to be more precise on April 7th, they gave a special live in the above mentioned hall. With barely a break there were a lot of other concerts in the Tokyo area around the end of April and in the middle of May. With the first of May their "semi-official" homepage murder freaks opened up their virtual doors.

And there were more lives in the summer: on the 29th of June they held a live in their deeply loved Takadanobaba AREA and on the 12th of July a three man concert in Meguro Rock May Kan. A premiere took place on July 19th with the first self-organized event [D]eep69[R]ed, which was held again at Takadanobaba AREA. In addition to playing lives, they spent some time in the recording studio and brought life into their new baby. The result could be described as rebellious and extremely provocative. It was their first mini album -TERRORS-, released in July. The four musicians have nowhere else worked in calls of the Gestapo or assigned a more provocative song title like Fascism. The accompanying promotion tour with the very interesting title Tour - Nine TERROR SEEDS - began on July 19th with a live in Takadanobaba AREA and led them to Nagoya, Hiroshima, Sendai and Osaka. The Tour also ended with the first +DéspairsRay+ one man on August 29th in Takadanobaba AREA. At the final one man with the special title Sixth TERROR the fans were able to get their hands on a free distributed single under the same title. On the single was the first ballad song [Monokuro] ni natta saigo no hi, for which KARYU played an acoustic guitar for his composition. Their look changed a bit with that new album, becoming more wild and dark. 零-ZERO-'s appearance in particular stood out: the orange blonde shoulder long hair made way for blue black extensions while the left side of his head was shaven. The clothes were dark (black patent leather or black worn-out fabrics with suitable accessories) and their faces were very pale except of the emphasized eyes.

The eventful summer until winter held some small and sometimes sold out concerts in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya and Sendai. On November 29th a two man found its way into the long list of lives, and on December 31st it was topped by the stylish wave COUNT DOWN'01-'02 in Yokohama Bay Hall.


Opening the new year, on January 19th, 2002 the continually growing Mania bunch (as their fans are called) were able to enjoy the second [D]eep69[R]ed vol.2 event in Takadanobaba AREA. And just a few days later followed the barely finished limited release Ura mania theater (1,000 copies). It was the first release under their own record label "MANIAC RECORDS." The four musicians had thought of a very special look. The tape lay in a VHS cover and the tape itself in a paper video cassette. On the tape was Valentine and the b-side [Monokuro] ni natta saigo no hi in the slightly modified Maniabreak Ver.. The tour [mania theater] followed the release, and consisted of nine lives. Its final was held on March 9th at Osaka MUSE HALL. Into the net of concerts was braided in an event by Like an Edison (on the 23rd of February). As the songs on the release had changed, so had their look, now incorporating bright hair colors, girlish haircuts, make up, long artificial fingernails and costumes made of patent leather, which were occupied with hide or net tops. In the same and two consecutive months followed a number of lives, though not as many as their tours before.

The first tour documentation was released on VHS in May and allowed fans to take a closer look behind the scenes of this extraordinary band. Meanwhile they were busy with new recordings from the 1st to the 8th of May for the new single. On the 29th of May they held a one man titled SEXUAL BEAST in Shibuya ON AIR WEST as well. On June 5th they released their new single SEXUAL BEAST (limited to 2,000 copies) and the second press of their first mini-album. In the booklet were manga illustrations of 零-ZERO- who had portrayed his band mates with their favorite hobbies. HIZUMI is shown looking out from a cave, KARYU hanging down from a branch like a bat, 零-ZERO- trapped in a golden cage and TSUKASA behind an easel, in his hand a brush and a paint palette. Before and after the release of the single they held several small lives alongside Syndrome and Nightmare. The hair color remained, as well as their love of black patent leather - but they still focused on the dark side despite their bright hair colors. 零-ZERO- especially seemed to like the girlish look, as he really looked like a woman.

Just one month later (in July) the second press of SEXUAL BEAST found its way into the CD shops. KARYU’s black cat Ryutarou debuted in the booklet of it. The shooting was inspired by the fairy tale world and its colorful fantasy settings and costumes: HIZUMI as a green scaled monster, KARYU suited in a black velvet costumes with a fitting hat in front of a bubbling witches' kitchen, 零-ZERO- as Snow White with the famous red apple, dark hair and unusual gloves; and TSUKASA was dressed up as harlequin.

Of course they took some time for new recordings: From July 23rd until August 18th they worked on the recordings for their omnibus single.That summer saw a short tour as well - including a few two man lives with Syndrome and deadman, plus an event organized by Takadanobaba AREA, with several other artists. On September 8th the above mentioned single titled Ori no naka de miru yume (limited to 3,000 copies) was finally released and for the first time featured a track from ANIMAL MANIA, +DéspairsRay+'s alter ego band.

ANIMAL MANIA started as some sort of joke, but due to its undeveloped conception didn't last for long. The four musicians couldn't agree about who would play which instrument and who would sing. In some encores the four entered the stage dressed up in animal costumes and performed one or two songs. From time to time they changed roles as well, but they mostly stayed with their normal positions. They all kept the same names, however they attached an “animal” to it (for example: HIZUMI-animal). In September and October they were featured alongside a number of other artists on two omnibus albums: SHOCK JAM CD Edition.1 and Shock Edge 2002, and at some small lives too. The album released in September was more a special edition, and the fans got not only a CD but also some stickers.

At the beginning of November Takadanobaba AREA invited the group to a play, and in the middle of the same months +DéspairsRay+ performed with Iroha, ViViD, S and many other artists in Sapporo Pennyland. On the 23rd they performed in Kyoto MUSE HALL with genre colleagues Nightmare, NUDE, Doremidan, PERSONA and Kra on boards that meant the world to them. By the end of November the band starred at the sold out event Chikashitsu de mania-tachi mikkai in Meguro Rock May Kan. Throughout most of December they were touring, only interrupted by the recordings of the upcoming single between the 8th and 11th of December. Two big events also found their way into the tour schedule of December, the last one of the year taking place at ON AIR OSAKA on December 28th.


Around the turn of the year the group thought seriously about possible disbandment. There was a disagreement about their future musical style and whether the fans would like it or not - tough times, as KARYU described it. But they worked things out with each other and set their new guidelines for the future. And so for +DéspairsRay+ the year 2003 was a very emotional one - full of upheavals and decisions. Today (or better said since 2006) they are often sit together and talk to each other freely about their imaginations, process of compositions, the lyrics and so on - everyone makes proposals. So the current songs are influenced by the spirit and influence of all members. And something else has changed as well: In the past the improvement or changing of songs stood in the foreground (that’s why some songs were coming back with new brilliance), but lately the musicians have not emphasized those kinds of plans.

Aside from more recording sessions in the studio, +DéspairsRay+ spent a lot of time at several concerts and events with several musicians. After the talk (around February) everything was running smoothly again. The manias were presented with the release of the second Ura Video and the so called secret single Itanji in January. The most characteristic aspect of this single was its simple design and the fact that no artist's name or the name of the songwriter have been revealed. All that was shown was a pair of question marks. The manias could take the single for free at one of the concerts. Interestingly the single was released one month later under a different name and featured alongside three other tracks as MaVERiCK (limited to 5,000 copies). The four always referred of this single as the single of their change in musical style. The fans seemed to have enjoyed the change as well, because the single had to be re-released one month later. Even a little, inconspicuous imprint proved it: “Existence is proved now here.” The completion took place between the 13th and 22nd of January.

The first big crisis was overcome! The first big domestic tour with the baneful title -Pregnancy eight months- followed the release and the boys were pretty active in hanging up promotion posters at doors, also pinning them on shelves in several CD shops themselves. This could be seen in another tour documentary, where it was obvious as well that they had a lot of fun off the stage, for example at common soaks or in the gambling dens. From February 14th to April 3rd they were touring. On the visual side they abandoned the patent leather and made way for costumes by Coeur de Roi, with a lot of cords, black material and in the case of HIZUMI, a lot of naked skin.

Not stopping to slow down, they held a one man on April 27th in Shinjuku LIQUIDROOM - in the encore of this show they starred as KARYU.H Zungle with They played in the following order: KARYU (vocal), 零-ZERO- (guitar), HIZUMI (bass) and TSUKASA was sitting behind his drum set. Only a few days after in the newly started month they were touring again.

On May 5th they appeared on the television show, At Saitama TV’s “Hot Wave”, promoting the second press of the single MaVERiCK. They also held a new Mania-tachi chikashitsu de mikkai vol.3 at Takadanobaba AREA (May 23th). By the end of the month they played at the stylish wave'03 Mega Force event in Shibuya Kokaidou.

Just a few concerts later, on June 19th, they could be seen together with Schwarz Stein at a two man live at Takadanobaba AREA. And so the summer went by: From the 17th of July until the 2nd of August they scheduled their Mania no JIN tour, which was nearly simultaneously accompanied by the stylish wave'03 Natsu no JIN tour, which began on July 22nd. After that their short tour titled ~Doom & Gloom~ (the 13th and 20th of September and the 2nd of October) followed. It’s clear that because of that tight tour schedule there was only a small amount of time left for recordings in the studio, but nevertheless they announced a new release titled Gärnet. Before this single found its way into the stores, the first release of the Zy.FORCE series waited. On that disc, limited to 2,000 copies, was footage of the stylish wave'03 Natsu no JIN event from August 2nd. On November 12th the release day finally had come: the single was released and charted directly in the #1 position in the Oricon indies charts.

There were three minor changes within the band then. The style of the name underwent a small but fine change - +DéspairsRay+ became just DéspairsRay; they changed to SWEET-HEART Co.; LTD. (a sub-label of UNIVERSAL MUSIC) and their final website opened. Their first website was taken offline by the end of 2004. Almost at the same time they filmed their very first music clip. They returned to black, tight patent leather and dark colors, but didn’t emphasize their eyes so muchh; just the color of the iris was hidden behind the white of the contact lenses and created a tremendously visual image, fitting the dark sound of the single.

Again the release was embedded in a series of event performances. The very last event and probably the biggest for the band was held on December 28th - the Beauti-fool’s Fest 03 in TOKYO BAY NK HALL, where they played alongside genre colleagues miyavi, deadman, Gazette and many more.


A turbulent year ended and a new, exciting one was ahead of the four musicians. They played a number of gigs and performances at events through the first four months of 2004, including their one man tour Garnet... ~Sennou shite xx e~ and their participation at stylish wave CIRCUIT’04. However they also found enough time for a new recording session and worked eagerly on their second mini-album. BORN was released on April 28th and included in its limited press not only the PV on the bonus DVD but also an additional track. Furthermore they were able to get SUGIZO (LUNA SEA) for their recordings; He played the violin intro in Marry of the blood. Naturally the release was embedded into another tour (DEEP SWEET INSIDE 04) and several events. The hair got longer (thanks to extensions) and was also colored; even the songs were multifaceted. Besides the already mentioned Marry of the blood, the album also included clear, more melodic songs like the title track BORN, quarter void and Yami ni furu kiseki, the second ballad song.

And just before the second press of the album was released on the 21st of July (it included a slightly modified version of the song murder freaks), they were shooting their second music video, BORN. HIZUMI, Karyu, ZERO and TSUKASA rocked out wildly, dark and sinister in a foggy tunnel. From August to the middle of September they held another tour. In the middle of it they performed at LIKE AN EDISON PRESENTS “EDISIDE~Tokyo sen~”, where they played alongside An Café, Vidoll, Fatima, Shulla, D and alice nine. in Shibuya O-EAST on August 16th. The above mentioned music video clip found its way onto the limited press of the next release named -GEMINI-.

The single, which was released on September 1st, made it to 2nd place on the indies charts. The two songs [Fuyuu shita risou] and Reddish -DIVA version- dealt with the "ryoukyotan" - two extremes - of the theme “summer." While Karyu’s aggressive composition, [Fuyuu shita risou], created a feeling of openness (the summer time in the open air), TSUKASA devoted his song to the image of summer indoors. Furthermore -GEMINI- was their first single which was released in two editions: a limited one with bonus DVD (see above) and a regular CD-only edition. An additional conceptual one man tour followed. This was split by DéspairsRay into three concerts titled Bloody marry Day on September 16th (in OSAKA MUSE), Furachi na toiki Day on September 17th (in Nagoya ell.FITS ALL) and murder Day on September 23rd in Tokyo LIQUIDROOM ebisu.

Short after they ran a big risk, taking the step to go abroad! On the 30th of October they rocked Berlin (Germany), under the tour name Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben, and the day after they played in Paris, France. Both gigs were sold out and were eagerly received by both sides, so DéspairsRay quickly responded, “We’re coming back!” Even though they played only two days abroad, they were able to collect innumerable, new and intoxicating impressions, which inspired Karyu and TSUKASA to make new music. Furthermore they experienced a completely new feeling through the EU tour: They felt finally real! The European visitors saw a dark, androgynous, charismatic and energetic band - the look of DéspairsRay was formed by black and red costumes as well as mostly white contact lenses. In a way, you could say that DéspairsRay accomplished a pioneering work for the VK scene with their courage to play concerts in foreign countries as well; Since their successful trip abroad a lot of other bands have followed their example.

On November 20th the troop of fans enjoyed Chikashitsu de mania-tachi mikkai in Takadanobaba AREA, and the next one at Kyoto six days later. On December 15th, they played in Kawasaki CLUB CITTA’.


“Not doing things by halves” was probably the basic idea of 2005. You couldn't describe their work abroad in any other way, but before heading overseas, their domestic fans were able to enjoy a live on January 7th in Shibuya O-WEST. The spring - the favorite time of the band - was marked by another recording session. The result was their first full album [Coll:set], which was full of new sounds. But before it, the live DVD of the previous year's murder Day concert was released on April 1st in two versions. The limited edition came with a special signed random card, and the music clip and the off shot of Reddish -DIVA version- was featured on both discs. Also before the release two tours were taking place. The first one, titled One-man Live Tour 2005 [fifth Coll:set], consisted of five gigs, starting on May 15th in Sendai Hook and ending May 28th in Shibuya O-EAST. Not long after, Americans were able to enjoy four concerts. The US Tour 2005 -Infectious I Mania- started on May 30th in San Jose and ended with two lives on the 2nd and 4th of June in Dallas, Texas. Always at their side was their manager Naoya Sato - he was a good sport and joined in a lot of their silliness.

This first US tour also had some other good results: The four guys of DéspairsRay were able to form a friendship with the two US bands TRASH LIGHT VISION and soundevice (they played alongside both in several cities). And then, on the 15th of June, the limited press of [Coll:set] was released with a special booklet and packaging. The listener ended up in a completely new world of sounds: totally unexpected diverse and multifaceted songs like ”Forbidden” or the associate work Tainted World (which is the first song where all four members worked together on the lyrics). Their visual style included blue and white contact lenses, and black satin and lace dresses. Because of the clothes and certain songs like in vain, they were quickly categorized musically as gothic rock (even though this was already the case before, [Coll:set] strengthened this impression). Moreover the four haven’t dealt with or explained the genre “gothic” even today. Two weeks later DéspairsRay released the regular version as well, and it ranked 8 in the album chart. The so called Premium One-man Tour [Secret Coll:set] followed starting on the 29th of July. Consisting of four lives, it ended August 2nd. Hidden between on July 30th was their performance at stylish wave CIRCUIT’05 Manatsu no kyou en in Kawasaki CLUB CITTA’.

Just one day after, they stood on stage together with Gargoyle, and from August 8th together with D. At the tour final, the Mad tea party vol.7 (a D organized event), they rocked alongside D, Vidoll and Phantasmagoria in LIQUIDROOM ebisu. On the 17th of September they performed for SWEET EXTRA 2005 -ON THE BORDER- at SHIBUYA-AX.On October 6th they started the kagerou x DéspairsRay COUPLING TOUR 2005~Ryuugai no kannou~ in Kawasaki. In the middle of the month the second press of their best-selling single Gärnet found its way into the record shops. Furthermore by the end of that month they traveled in double pack - together with kagerou - around Europe as well and visited Munich, Germany on the 21st, and on the 23rd Paris, France. Additionally they used the occasion to sign a contract with Gan-Shin, a German J-rock label. The cornerstone for the conquest of the world was laid! They only allowed themselves four days of rest before scheduling the next trip abroad - a new US tour, titled -Infectious Mania Act II-, where they scoured the west coast. With that relatively long tour they strengthened their sense of unity, because they were mostly cooped up in a tour bus together, and so they made another internal change: Where they had seen the just the negative aspects of a band member in the past, now they began to discover the advantages of their colleagues. In the end this encouraged their sympathy for each other. They grew closer together and their thoughts of disbandment, which still hung over them like a sword of Damocles, disappeared into thin air.

Meanwhile in Japan's SHOCK WAVE CD the SELECT, a best-of from several Shock Edge and Shock JAM CDs, came out. DéspairsRay were featured on that album, which was released in October, with their dynamic, aggressive [Tatoeba] kimi... ga... shinda... ra....

They returned home, back to the studio and onto the boards of the live houses by the beginning of November. Into the tight schedule was embedded the three man event THREE IN THE BLACK. They starred alongside ISABELLE and Közi on November 14th in Shibuya O-EAST. By the end of December the tour was followed by events like -Degrade to Maniac- with Phantasmagoria (a coupling live), EDISIDE kyokugatsu no JIN (an event organized by Like an Edison) with several visual bands, Black X’mas and BEAT SHUFFLE LIVE SIDE 2005 ~7th Anniversary~, where they shared the limelight with artists like MUCC, Nightmare, SID and Merry. As if that weren't enough already, one last live was held at Omiya Sonic City on the 30th of December.

The years 2006 to today will follow soon!
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