VII ARC has been around since 2014 and since has already had quite the colourful career. With their unique visual influenced music they’re combining metalcore that is relatable to the western audiences with Visual Kei into a genre that is completely on its own, making the Japanese visual scene more accessible to the European public. With these qualities, they’ve already supported some great acts on the stage such as Jupiter, Morrigan and Madmans Esprit. And as they’ve already performed 3 times here in the Netherlands, and a 4th performance coming up soon, we from AVO couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask these men some questions.
AVO: Let’s start off with addressing the elephant in the room first, shall we? Could you each give a brief introduction about yourself?
KAY: My name is KAY, I’m the vocalist.
Bena: Hi! I’m Bena! I play the guitar and backup KAY when it comes to death vocals.
AVO: VII ARC is known as quite a unique combination of modern metalcore and visual influences, creating a genre of its own. Where would you say, does the inspiration come from? Do the visuals come first and does the music form itself around that, or is it the other way around?
KAY: I think 90% of my musical influences are originated in Japanese music and especially in VK music. I adore the aesthetics of Japanese Visual Kei a lot, so I’m getting a lot of inspiration on that way. The music and the visuals emerge without an overall concept. First, we create music, then we try to add fitting visuals.
AVO: Could you describe the vision of the band, what are some goals you’re aiming for?
KAY: My vision from the time we started the band is still the same. I just want to entertain people, reach people and to play a lot of shows all over the world.
Bena: Personally I want to play on a big open-air festival stage. I love festivals. That would be Awesome! As a band, we want to reach more and more people that go crazy on our live shows.
AVO: When recording, or just before a live, do you have a certain routine you go through? What about pet peeves from some things the other members do?
KAY: I just need my tea for the stage and some vocal exercises to warm up my voice a little bit.
Bena: Before a show, I drink a lot of water and go to the toilet so I feel fresh and free. Then I usually do some stretching to not strain my muscles when I go wild on stage.
These vocal exercises KAY talks about are really weird noises from him, Grazel & me. Must sound disturbing when random people pass by.
AVO: The band has been around for quite some time as well, starting in 2014. What would you say has been the biggest growth you’ve made these past 5 years? And if you could go back and tell the past you from this period anything, what would it be?
KAY: I grow with each show, each song we wrote and recorded and of course my skills as a vocalist improved throughout the time. Maybe I would tell myself to do a lot of things in a different way, but that’s not what life is all about. You have to make mistakes. That’s what makes life so interesting in the first place.
Bena: The biggest growth and change in our band we made in 2016 when we produced our first full-length album DOXA. We changed to seven-string guitars, filtered and rewritten all our songs and worked the first time with professional Audio Engineer and film making team. It was a big step and the most stressful months in my life. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a band. I would tell myself to plan more time ahead for production and guitar recording and something like “hang in there! cuz the hard work will pay off!”
AVO: During lives, we’ve noticed you always close off the performance with Chasin’ Dreams. Is there a specific reason for this? What started the tradition?
KAY: We decided this a long time ago, when we realised the positive and hopeful vibe the song transfers to the people.
Bena: People mostly remember the first and the last song of a set. When we play this song everybody smiles and jumps to the music so it’s a good way to say goodbye with a good feeling.
AVO: In these recent years, you’ve also shared the stage with some great bands from the Visual Kei genres like Morrigan, Madmans Esprit and Jupiter. How would you describe this experience?
KAY: It’s so awesome to share the stage with artists who share something like a genre, or furthermore an approach to express themselves with their music. Furthermore, I have this feeling of being seen as somewhat like a real musician. Especially throughout the EU tour, everything has been so professional and well organized that we got the feeling like “We are a real band. We did it.”
Bena: Some of these Musicians like Mikaru or Hizaki were some of my idols as a teen. Now I share the stage with them. It’s a big accomplishment for me that makes me very happy to be a small part of this genre now.
AVO: Coming back on that, during your tour with Jupiter you went to a few countries outside of Germany as well, right? What was that like?
KAY: It was the best time of my life as a member of VII ARC.
Bena: These Live shows were all so different from each other. We played on giant stages like in Switzerland or a pirate ship-like stage in Madrid. We met many new people that enjoyed our music and had some funny talks with them. It’s always exciting to play in front of a new audience.
AVO: Of course, a lot can happen during long-distance tours, what would you say is an unforgettable moment that happened during those times travelling/touring?
KAY: Definitely the nights we hang around and drink with the other musicians. It was such a great experience to meet all these people who toured with us. The staff too. In addition to that, it was awesome to meet fans outside of Germany and celebrate a show with them together.
Bena: Every Night after the live shows we had a party on the tour bus, but the last night was special! Everybody knew it was the last time together so we went all out. We made some heartfelt connections with the other members especially with Kuze-senpai (of Jupiter). He shared his drink with us and said that it was a special time for him and that we are now tomodachi’s (Japanese for friends). That was a great final moment.
AVO: Since AVO Magazine is originally a Dutch platform, we can’t forget to ask about the three shows you had over here. What did you think about our small country?
KAY: I’m from western Germany and I just have to drive 30 minutes to be in the Netherlands. So I visited the country countless times and went there to vacation several times too.
I really like the Netherlands and the Dutch people. Except for the crazy bicycle drivers out there. (haha)
Bena: I like Dutch people! It feels like they are very open-minded.
AVO: You’ve also hosted the Visual Invasion in Essen together with Esprit D’air, Nana[shi] and GAZTREA, just a few of the small rising group of visual inspired, European-based artists. What was this event like to you? And how do you view the small upcoming of the genre in Europe?
KAY: The idea of this event originated in an idea Seike from Kerbera and I had back in 2017. We just wanted to play a show together and out of that random idea arose the first V-Rock Invasion in early 2018. I’m happy to work and play with artists who share the same passion as me. I hope to work with all of them in the future again, despite the fact that the European Visual Kei scene is really small at the moment.
AVO: A few weeks ago there was a very special performance of you in GroundZero, wasn’t there? Could you tell us some more about that? Was it difficult to translate your music from such hard metalcore into acoustic versions?
KAY: For me, as a vocalist, these little ARCoustic shows are a lot of fun. The arrangements are more vocal centred and so it’s been a lot of fun for me to do these two shows.
Bena: We could only rearrange a couple of songs that are melody centred and have chord progressions like our recent song Kurage or songs like Chasin’ Dreams. It wasn’t hard to rearrange them, it was way harder to play them smoothly and without mistakes. You hear a lot more detail in playing with an acoustic guitar than playing metal guitar.
AVO: KAY posted some pictures of himself with DADAROMA during their performance in Paris a while back, can we assume you’re a fan of them? What about the rest, what are your interests and inspirations when it comes to other bands and music?
KAY: I have been a huge fan of the whole Visual Kei scene for more than 13 years now and DADAROMA are one of my faves since their debut song. So for me, it was unquestionable to see them just 5 hours away in Paris. I have to admit that I’m quite the fanboy. Bands like this still have a huge impact on my musical development.
Bena: I love DADAROMA! Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend their live show in Paris. Right now I listen a lot to DIMLIM. Years before, Lycaon and the GazettE had the biggest impact on my musical taste. Outside of the Visual Kei scene, I listen to various Artists of Doujin and Artcore music. My favourite artist of this genre is M2U.
AVO: Staying on the topic for a bit what would be an act you’d consider travelling for to have a chance to see them even just once? And how far would you consider going?
KAY: I would travel for a lot of Japanese artists throughout Europe at any time. But I know that I have to travel to Japan again to see some of my favourite bands live.
Bena: If I had the chance I would love to see Femme Fatale live but they already disbanded…So if I had to pick an existing band right now I would choose Mili. That would be a new experience in contrast to metal concerts.
AVO: Besides touring, there hasn’t been a release since 2018. What can we expect for the future? Any juicy teasers you can share?
KAY: We still hope to release some new music in 2019. We’re already working on the last steps towards our next release.
AVO: And lastly, of course, some final words for our readers perhaps?
KAY: Thank you for reading this interview. Check us out and, if you like it at least a bit, come to a show to go all out with us.
Bena: Enjoy your time with the music! It’s the best thing that spices up your life! And maybe you let VII ARC be part of it 🙂
VII ARC will return to the Netherlands on October 26th with a performance at Songbirds 078 Festival in Dordrecht! Please check them out if you can!