Recently Swedish rock band, Kerbera, made a stop in the US and visited XENON in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. They held a Q&A session with many of their US fans. As the evening when on they answered questions, signed autographs and took pictures with those in attendance. In the course of this evening A-To-J’s alavic_222 was lucky enough to interview the band. Their first interview in the US! Here is the first half of that interview…
Kerbera is a Swedish band consisting of vocalist Seike Clowniac (formerly of the band “Seremedy”), guitarist Zave Demonte, bassist Frederick Hale, and drummer Eric Foxx. While true to their own unique rock sound, they are also known amongst their fans for adopting elements of Visual Kei, both in style and music. Since their formation, they have released two singles, “Inglorious” and “Counterpoint” and the EP “She Saw Bridges Burn”. They have recently released the PV for their newest single “Deathbed”.
Okay, thank you for this opportunity! You just finished hosting a Q&A with some of your fans from the US. They seemed to have a lot of fun as I'm sure you did. Can you tell us a little something about your first impressions of the US fans?
Freddie: Very good impression
Seike: They were very happy and cute people. They were cute and they were not that different from the fans from Sweden actually. So I think that all the fans could really get along together and that's a great thing.
Freddie: They look alike too.
Eric: I was expecting them to be more shy actually, because a lot of our Swedish fans are pretty shy, but they didn't seem that intimidated by us. They were friendly and asked us a lot of questions. It felt good.
Seike: It's really cool to see that they're from another part of the world, but still connected to the same things. It felt like home.
I'm glad that this was such a positive experience! I'm sure the fans will love to hear your words! Now, can you tell us about some of your musical influences both personally as a group?
Seike: I'm very influenced by classical music. I don't think you can really hear it in my sound, because I don't have a special sound when I sing or anything, but I would say classical music. Also when I write music I do something that's more like instrumental music, video game music and soundtracks. That's actually my biggest influence and what I listen to the most.
Zave: My favorite band is Avenged Sevenfold. Muse is one of my favorite bands too. Then we have all the classic rock bands that have ever been. I'm also a huge fan of game and movie soundtracks. I take a lot of influence from them. I love all kinds of stuff, I take a little from this or that. Jazz, Classical, I take from everything.
Eric: I'm mostly into classic heavy metal stuff. My favorite band of all time is KISS. Besides that, it's mostly the classic, heavy, thrash, eighties, seventies kind of stuff. Also some technical, progressive metal like Rush and Dream Theater. Those are my individual influences mainly as a drummer.
Freddie: I like all kinds of music. I like film soundtracks, game soundtracks. Everything from pop, rock metal, hip hop, some jazz, everything. From Lana Del Rey to Bring Me The Horizon. Also a lot of classic acts, seventies, eighties, nineties, the grunge scene, nu-metal, everything. I even like Taylor Swift. I love tapping into other styles.
Seike: I think you can actually hear that in our sound. It's very influenced by everything. We take a little bit from here and there and it's a great mix. I think it's actually a very original sound. We don't want to limit ourselves when it comes to sound so I think our fans can expect anything from our sound.
You guys certainly have many varied influences! This leads me into the next question. From any genre, if you were able to do a collaboration with any artist, who would it be?
Seike: Actually I would say Nick Pitera. He's from Youtube. His voice. He has the best voice I've ever heard. I love it. I would love to sing something with him, but he would make me feel very weird since he's my all-time favorite.
Freddie: It would be pretty cool to do a collaboration with Lana Del Rey.
Seike: Yeah, that would be so cool.
Eric: There are so many.
Seike: Yeah, we have actually talked to a lot of pop artists and asked: "Would you like to try to do something together?" No limits. If a band came to us and asked: "Would you like to try something?" we'd try it and if it's a good result, we'd release it.
Eric: We're pretty open minded actually.
Freddie: We've already done collaborations with a singer called Emerentia and also another singer called Wednesday. Beautiful voice, really beautiful voice.
Seike: We actually have a girl who sings in a lot of our songs already.
Eric: She's been in three songs now hasn't she?
Freddie: Yes, she has.
Seike: As I said we're all open to anything. Of course we'd like to collaborate with our favorite bands.
Eric: Imagine if Ronnie James Dio was still around. We could have him do some vocal parts on some songs.
Zave: If we had no limits, then I'd have to say Queen and Freddy Mercury.
Seike: I am also very open-minded to do collaborations with my Japanese friends. I have a lot of Japanese friends especially in the visual scene from my old band Seremedy. We've had dialogs about making some sort of collaborations either in making songs or doing a tour or something like that.
You mention Japanese friends, much has been said about your friendship with ANTI FEMINISM's KENZI. Can you tell us a little about that?
Seike: Kenzi is my best friend from Japan. I've known him since I was sixteen, I am twenty-four now - how long has that been? Eight years. Yeah, it's been eight years. He's my best friend from Japan and he's the one who introduced me to Cure. It's actually why I'm here now.
Moving on a bit, do you think you could give us a little background into the period from when Seremedy broke up until the formation of Kerbera?
Seike: Yes, of course. What happened was that the band was at a point where everyone wanted to do different things. I have a very strong mind and everyone can agree that I can be very pushy. I pushed the band in a direction that wasn't right with everyone and everyone agreed that it would be better if we split and everyone do their own stuff. Then I started a new band. Actually, first I was thinking that I'd stop with music totally and focus on my clothing brand. Then all the fans came to me and I got thousands and thousands and thousands of messages saying: "I can't live without your voice!" I decided that I just can't stop. That's when I made Kerbera and the guys joined. In the beginning it was supposed to be a new Seremedy, very visual, but it turned out that since I had so much respect for their individual personalities now we are a band that is multi-influenced. You can't force someone to be what they're not, it's not going to end well. We really believe in this project and think that we're going to reach very far. It can reach to visual fans and lots of other fans.
Freddie: Pop fans, rock fans.
Seike: Yeah, we've met a lot of people into the pop scene that actually said that our sound is great.
Freddie: It's something fresh and new. We wouldn't want to limit ourselves to one genre.
Seike: We aren't just one genre, but I also wouldn't want to say that we aren't Visual Kei either.
Eric: Obviously we have style!
Seike: And that's sort of the short version of what happened.
It's interesting you mentioned many fans associating you with Visual Kei, this leads me to my next question. A lot of your fans consider your genre Visual Kei, what are your thoughts on this?
Seike: What I've always said, for me, whenever fans say that they're inspired by me, is that Visual Kei has no limits. When Visual Kei was created in the eighties it was a style. Nothing is feminine, nothing is masculine. You just take what you have inside and put on the outside. In music and in style, you use make-up, you use your hair, you use everything you have. You take that and you create something from it. That's what I think the foundation of Visual Kei is for me. I also know that many of my Visual Kei friends from Japan agree with this. They don't want to limit themselves, they just want to do something. Sadly, I think the scene has been limited by the fans actually. I want to reach out to the fans actually and say: “Open up your mind and don't exclude people from the scene.” That's very, very important. That's why I want to say that Kerbera is a Visual Kei band, but we're not. Because when the fans say that people exclude us from being Visual Kei I want to ask: "Why can't we be? Of course we can be!" That's what Visual Kei is, it's expressing yourself. The scene has no limits. When you compare bands you can't really find any connecting elements or common denominators. You take a band like MUCC that are considered Visual Kei for some reason and then take An Cafe and you're like: "What the fuck?"
Freddie: We are visual. We have a look we have the aesthetics.
Seike: The "kei" is just the word for "style". We are a Visual Kei band, maybe not as Visual as some of the fans would say.
Freddie: I mean the fans label us as a VKei band. I don't mind.
Seike: We don't mind, the thing is we don't want to limit ourselves.
Freddie: When you're a VKei band you're just a VKei band. We don't want to limit ourselves. We want to go global.
Seike: So that’s the thing that makes us not Visual, we don’t want to limit ourselves to any one thing. I would go as far to say that we're a rock band with many influences with no labels. We are not, not a Visual Kei band.
Zave: And if you limit the nuances, you're probably going to kill the scene.
Seike: Exactly, that's what I believe. I'm a big supporter of this scene. I made "Visual United" and pushed to make an impact to make people realize that there are bands from all over the world that are into this scene. To make it survive both in Japan and overseas. I think it's a wonderful scene and all the people surrounding it. I want to reach out to the fans and say: "Support all the bands in the scene."
This is a very contested issue within the Visual Kei scene unfortunately. I agree with you though and hope that the fandom takes your words to heart. Can you tell us a little about Kerbera's songwriting process?
Seike: It's very hard to say because we've tried out a lot of different ways. The songs are mainly written by Freddie, he's the bassist and also does vocals. It's hard to say.
Freddie: A few of songs Zave and I wrote together. Like the first riff came up at his place and the whole song was finished somewhere else.
Seike: We've tried lots of ways of writing songs actually.
Zave: Some of the songs we've done together [with Freddie] some songs he's done by himself.
Seike: And I can come up with a little thing and he can pick it up like that. I'm not very good with instruments, I can just piano that I taught myself, but I can come up with a melody and he can put it all together.
Freddie: Normally I write the instrumentals, then me and Zave kind of tweak it and do some minor changes. Then either Seike or the two of us write the lyrics.
Seike: It depends. A lot of the time he comes to me with the lyrics and asks: "What do you think about this?" I ask about the meaning and he explains it. If I like it, we don't change it. There are some songs that we have that are just fucking perfect. Otherwise, like on our new single "Deathbed", we write the lyrics together. Actually, we all came up with the melody. We wrote the song first then put on the melody.
Freddie: It varies. There's no one way.
Seike: That affects the sound as well. Very much. We have so many ways of doing it. Like I wake up in the middle of the night and I just record something I hear in my head to the phone. So yeah, inspiration comes from everywhere.
Eric: The thing about the latest single "Deathbed" that makes me attached to it is that not only is it a really good song, but we all were involved in the process that led to the final version of the song. We all worked on the vocal melodies, we all worked on the vocal harmonies in the chorus and stuff like that. It's the first song actually where all of us singing, all of us are doing one vocal harmony each. We want to keep working that way too. Do like The Beatles and KISS did.
Seike: Exactly, everyone has a really good quality in this group and we want to expose it to the world.
Freddie: It's really cool because all four of us can sing. Why not take advantage of it.
Seike: Sorry we talk so much!
Don't worry about it! The fans will love this!
Stay tuned for the second half of this interview and be sure to check out the links below for more information on the band and some of their PVs!
◆ Seike Clowniac (Vocals)
◆ Zave Demonte (Guitar)
◆ Frederick Hale (Bass)
◆ Eric Foxx (Drums)
Official Site: http://kerbera.com/
Official Facebook Page (Kerbera): https://www.facebook.com/KerberaOfficial
Official Facebook Page (Seike): https://www.facebook.com/madmanSEIKE
◆ Tom Kiryu