Can you briefly summarize how the band formed and what you do in Grief of War?
Manabu Hirose(Vocals,Bass): We formed GoW in 2002 and started just for doing the music we really wanted to play, not only Death/Thrash metal. At that time we got kind of bored about domestic Thrash metal bands and scene as well, so we decided to start our own metal band. We’ve been playing around the clubs here in JP to get more publicity and released 1st album from domestic label. We also opened some foreign bands coming to JP and expanding our activities but after some members left the band, we had to be in hiatus for a while. We signed up with Prosthetic while we’ve been writing songs for 2nd album, then we got new lineup so now ready for more activities.
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a concept behind the writing of Worship?
Manabu: Lyrics are something chaotic deep inside my mind and also reflect my daily life, what I feel, what I think. I try not to set a goal for lyrics beforehand but it’s changing and evolving through many days to be a final version. Sometimes themes are world news or situation that we got involved and struggling in. I don’t represent only anger but also show sometimes how weak our mind get. So it might be shown as a raw emotion. Our 2nd album “Worship” is not a concept album but I put how I felt toward the many problems I saw. I know my feelings that I put in this album are so eclectic so people might think the lyrics in this album is discursive but this album can be a concept album that all lyrics are based on what I feel, haha.
When it came to releasing Worship how did that whole package come together? What was the recording process like, how long did you have, was their any pressure on you?
Manabu: The production for “Worship” was done all through in my private studio we did recording and mixing. It was very painstaking job like many trial and error, though. We asked Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, NY for mastering. It took almost a year to finish all the thing for the album. When we made our 1st album, someone introduced recording studio and recorded there. But we got no time and always running out of budget so we were very frustrated. It was the hardest situation ever. After the horrible recording experience, I thought we could make something better if we do everything by ourselves, so I renovated my house to be a private studio. It was a hard job cause houses here in JP are very small. We had some replacements of members and got confused, had quarrels and fights but I think we grew up and changed
through those moments. Another good moment about the private studio is Shane Gibson, supporting guitarist for Korn came down and had a good time!
How do you think you will effect the Thrash/Metal scene you are part of?
Manabu: Unfortunately, I must say we are not someone that can effect the Thrash/Metal scene at moment yet. we may answer this question after becoming much more popular through the activities in many countries.
You guys are from Tokyo, Japan what is the local music scene like there?
Manabu: I want to have more people listen to our sound and want to play bigger stage. I believe that we have no music scene in Tokyo, nor JP so the situation around us sucks. There are tons of posers, though… I think JP people are used to suck up to foreign people and always follow their styles. We want to help our younger generation open their doors to the world.
How has Prosthetic Records been thus far for you guys? Who approached who?
Manabu: Prosthetic has been doing great for us, they are very enthusiastic and making good efforts for us. They made us set in the starting line against worldwide metal scene. we really appreciate them. But sometimes I feel the distance between JP and US and got irritated. We want to have more tours over the world and want to be big but I know it’s not an easy way to the top. So we should do what we can do now slow and steady and prepare for the moment.
Who did the artwork and title for the album, when you look on the final project, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
Manabu: We asked Silent Q Design, Canada for the artwork. we must have been bad customers for them cause we didn’t like the first version in the last minute and asked them to write it again… But finally we really like the final version, we are all satisfied with it. The title track “Worship” is the song that we all gathered our inputs in it and this song means much to GoW. That’s why we chose it as a title track.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Manabu: The emotions I envisioned in the recording studio are very personal and subjective meanwhile those emotions in live turn so intense and aggressive, there is no subtle feeling and just let the power go straight to the crowd.
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Manabu: I’m main songwriter and I’ve writing all songs. Sometimes I got the inspirations or ideas from other members or guitarists arrange the riffs but all the GoW song form into shape through my filter. Since I trust my instinct for songwriting, this could never be changed.
What are the upcoming plans for Grief of War?
Manabu: Now we’ve been adjusting the schedule but not big tour confirmed yet. We really want to play more shows with the release of 2nd album. It would be great if we have tour around many countries, regardless of size of the tour and I know we still have to prepare for that. I really hope the show in US come true!
Going back to the music business, what do you think of everyone downloading music, possibly even your music? Do you think it helps or hurts bands in the long run?
Manabu: I’m against the downloading. I used to be a big fan of vinyls and liked that big disk. It was more artistic with wonderful artworks. I understand many people like to have cheap and handy MP3 but I feel sad when I hear its weak sound by lossy compression. It might be good for the bands to get more chances to spread their music to the people casually. But if you get something very easily, you may leave it soon cause you can’t see any importance of it so too much convenience can damage your sense.
How has MYSPACE and the internet impacted your band and do you think downloading helps or hinders the artists?
Manabu: It was such a huge impact to connect to the whole world via internet. US or Europe used to be like dreamland, thousands miles away from where I live. But now we can have conversation or sending data immediately and experience the reality of thousands miles away. It’s a fact that more chances are given to the artists through internet or MySpace. We also thank internet or MySpace to get the chance even in this far east Asia. So downloading can help the artists.
What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage?
Manabu: It was the recordings of 1st album. We are running out of time and money, always lack of sleep but still had a lot to finish. People around us said it’s impossible to complete the recording but we made it. I think that experience helped me grow up stronger
What bands would you like to tour with and who has been your favorite to tour with this far? Any particular reason?
Manabu: The band I’d like to tour with is Strapping Young Lad! One of my dreams! I don’t have any fave bands to tour with but want to tour with much more bands from over the world.
What is currently playing on your iPod or CD Player?
Manabu: Divine Heresy-Bleed The Fifth
Describe Grief of War in three words.
Manabu: Inheritor/ evolution / sensibility
If you had a chance to go back in time, where, what, and why?
Manabu: I won’t go back. It’s much more important for me how I live my own life now.
How do you think the recession is affecting musicians like yourself? Is It at all?
Manabu: Sure we got the effect from recession. I heard we will have US tour or join some fest with the release of 2nd album from Prosthetic last year. But the recession made it difficult. I won’t give up for US tour but hope the economy will get better soon.
What’s your reaction when/if a fan told you a very meaningful statement such as “Your music changed my life?” Has this ever happened to you?
Manabu: Unfortunately, not yet, haha. This must be the highest praise as artist and responsibility will also come up. I would be happy if someone said to me so as a main songwriter of this band. I would also feel pressure but I should make more efforts to be a musician like that.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands And artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Manabu: Early Anthrax and Early Metallica Max Cavalera and Davin Townsend. I think most metal bands wouldn’t have existed without them. But we got more influences from many bands, artists, of course heavy music but also technical music. Too many to mention!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Manabu: THRASH TILL THE DEATH Just listen our new album Worship. Not downloading! Thrash till death!