A Ray of Despair

Despite the tough title of their latest tour (currently tearing up Europe), Human-clad Monsters, as of this morning, most of the Jrock community is probably ready to agree that a more fitting description for the band would be Monster-clad Humans, as an announcement on the D’espairsRay official website today shows the band is more human than perhaps we thought.

From the D’espairsRay official website, Tuesday Sept. 21:

D’espairsRay Announces Hiatus

To all our fans who have followed us and supported us throughout the years;

After much consideration and discussion, all 4 members of D’espairsRay have decided to take an indefinite hiatus following the conclusion of the ‘D’espairsRay World Tour 2010 “Human-clad Monsters”‘. During this time the band will be taking a break from all concerts and recording.

The reason for this hiatus is to allow HIZUMI (vo.) to fully recover from a past illness that has affected his throat and made it difficult to sing. HIZUMI has dealt with this rare throat condition for over a year, but the band’s busy touring and recording schedule hasn’t allowed him the time to fully undergo treatment. He currently plans to spend the early part of next year in recovery, and return to the band as soon as possible.

Although HIZUMI has undergone treatment to temporarily allow him to continue the current tour, it is not a permanent fix and there is no guarantee as to how long it will last. All 4 members of D’espairsRay plan to give their all for the remaining shows on this tour, both in Japan and overseas, and thank you for your continuing support in these difficult times.

D’espairsRay

HIZUMI

Karyu

ZERO

TSUKASA


Even after the band goes on hiatus, we will continue to update all websites and media outlets with the latest information.

While consulting with various voice and throat specialists around Japan we have tried many treatments, but have not yet found one that has a high chance of success.

If anyone has any information regarding promising treatment options, including those done overseas, please contact us. Thank you.

email:info@despairsray.jp

Sword Records Inc.

Everyone who saw their shows during their US tour remembered to buy the limited-edition D’espairsRay hankies, right? Not to try and make the fan-girls cry into them or anything, but it’s that final message that really struck me as the most melancholy. The call for assistance, that seeming plea for help, hit me like woah. I suppose I appreciate their raw honesty, though, rather than some syrupy, vague message we usually get such as “But everything will be ok. HIZUMI is seeing the best doctor in Japan and should be good to go in a couple of months.”

What really shocked me the most was really not the news itself, but more my reaction to it. I realized that in my eyes at least, D’espairsRay was one of those bands that always seemed so invincible. Like the only bad thing that could ever happen would be ZERO’s makeup during their Love is Dead era.

Strangely, HIZUMI is one of a few vocalists who have had to cut out for some R&R time this year. A few months ago fellow Visual Kei veterans Vidoll suspended activities for the same reason – needing time for Jui to overcome his throat condition which went so far as to necessitate surgery. Somewhat recently, as well, The GazettE had to postpone tour dates due to Ruki contracting an infection of the vocal chords. Slightly different in the alignment of physical woe, yet relevant all the same, megastars guitar-genius Hotei Tomoyasu and everybody’s idol GACKT also had medical misfortunes this year, requiring hospital visits for both when Hotei had serious wrist problems, and GACKT ran high fevers, finally resulting in his collapse in Munich.

It’s a tough time to be delivering, and receiving, this message. The band just stirred up a ton of hype in the overseas Jrock communities with the release of their brand new summer album MONSTERS, and their world-tour. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m still on my D’espa-live high, which is amplifying this rancid sense of disappointment by a healthy margin.

I think that the important thing is for Visualists and fans alike to be able to discern between ‘disbandment’ and ‘hiatus’. Even so, in this moment, I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to see them live this summer, and didn’t pass it off with the thought ‘they’ll be back next year’. Although I have absolutely no doubt that D’espa will pull together and HIZUMI will fully recover, he will need some time and space to let his throat heal. Let’s all continue to support and rally around D’espairsRay and HIZUMI, causing such a universal uproar that his condition has no choice but to completely and permanently heal, bringing the band and their epicness back to us.

www.despairsray.jp

D’espairsRay Live in NYC: Human-clad Monsters

Acey Slade and The Dark Party took their bow, in a manner of speaking, and with a word to prep us for the madness to come, left the stage. A slight hum returned to the crowd as everyone lingered in that strange twilight zone of neither relaxing and just chilling, nor spazzing out totally (aka shrieking their heads off every time a sound guy appeared on stage. This audience, unlike others I have experienced, actually seemed to be able to recognize the band members themselves…well, that is, aside from when Tsukasa came out to check his drum set and everyone was murmuring “is that Tsukasa? I don’t know…what do you think? Is it?” Just for the record, yes, it was.). The crew bopped on and off stage, taping down set-lists, testing mics, drums, etc. At this point the adorable girl standing directly behind me leaned over my shoulder and said, “I’m trying not to let the people behind me crush you, but when D’espairsRay comes out, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do anything. I might fall on you.” A pretty apt foresight of the show, really.

I’m not sure how long exactly we waited between acts, but it wasn’t terrible. Considering everything we, and especially the band, had done to arrive at this point in time, this place, in this city, time was absolutely irrelevant (another way of putting it would be that I didn’t check my watch). That is, it was until the lights flickered, dimmed out, and the shadowy AA-Pass-wearing ninja faded from the stage, and a group of figures–or rather, a cloud of pulsating charisma– emerged from the back. And damn, it was about to get funky in there. As soon as the members appeared, it was like the entire audience, which had merely hovered during the opening act, became instantly vacuum-packed. The entire crowd surged in toward the stage, and suddenly there was totally no space to move, barely enough to breathe. Everyone was magnetically pulled as close to that rough wooden stage as possible, drawn by the gravitational pull of D’espairsRay.

They sauntered out, suited up, Tsukasa settling at his kit at the back, Karyu moving off to the right, and Zero Monster assuming the bassist’s place about 15″ from where I was standing. The audience flipped out. Did HIZUMI say something then? I can’t remember. Whatever slurred Engrish welcome he may have given us was lost in a roar of general insanity from the audience.

And then the drums rolled, Karyu started shredding, and Zero’s fingers began flying. With HIZUMI howling hoarsely into his mic, DEATH POINT opened the show.  Although the song is fresh off the press, the crowd was extremely receptive, with everyone chanting along to des poin des poin des poin…by the end of the first song were our throats already totally dry and hoarse? Why yes, how did you know. The only let down to the opening masterpiece was that there were no mics kicked over, and no water sprayed. Karyu did not suddenly grow claws and start transforming into some kind of horrific Pokemon about to jump into the mosh-pit and devour an innocent fangirl. He had cool contact lenses, though.

DEATH POINT was followed by a flood of thrashing epicness. The energy of the band, the excellent set-list, the hectic drive of the crowd, HIZUMI’s MCs (I almost wish he had just spoken Japanese, then I may have understood him) all fused together into one nuke of an experience. In a way, it almost became difficult to separate where one aspect of the show ended and another began. Being that close was incredibly intense; it was like the venue condensed into one circular pulse of…well, insanity. Although fan-service and activity was generally mild, and the band’s behavior was relatively reserved (surprisingly, I thought), they had this incredible, perceivable, dark aura that showered down over us.

The first ¼ or so of the performance, the crowd was pretty mild. Some crazy headbanging was carrying on, but the moshing wasn’t horrible. About halfway in, though, as songs like Devil’s Parade, Garnet, Dope and Sixty + Nine started cycling through, it became quite rowdy. The second row seemed like a tough place to be, as it felt, physically, like the entire audience was trying to close the distance between the third row and the stage. I was crushed between everyone around me so tightly, I probably could have completely lifted my feet off the ground and been totally supported. Doing my best to keep the danger of a broken nose at bay, however, I didn’t give that a try. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a mosh-pit like that, and although the adrenaline rush was intense, it was wicked fun.

By ¾ into the performance, the claustrophobia and heat started to take its toll on me. My arms ached from the furi, my ears were throbbing from being directly under the left speaker, my neck hurt, and I would have killed for a bottle of water. But instead of the velocity abating at all, it steadily increased. Now that D’espa had warmed up a bit, they started pulling out the really heavy stuff, the classics. HIZUMI was screaming – everyone was screaming. A crowd at a show like this is like a force of nature; a body of water. It has ebbs and flows that are dictated by the music and the energy of the band in the same way the tide is orchestrated by the gravitational pull of the moon. The instant you start to resist that flow, you get sucked under and you drown. The best thing you can do is just relax as much as possible and match that flow, go with it, and know that at the end of every Jrock live, there is water. I somehow remained psychologically sound enough to remember this.

Alright, I can’t put it off any longer. Here’s the tally: Touched HIZUMI once during the actual performance. He mostly stayed toward the middle of the stage, and only moved over, at least to our side, once or twice. Karyu mostly stayed off to the right, as well, although he did wander over two or three times to dangle his ratty blond locks into wriggling droves of grasping fingers. Touched him twice. Also got to touch both his and HIZUMI’s hands when they were…at risk of sounding strangely awkward, touching hands before leaving the stage. ZERO was so close the entire show, and spent half the time standing right at the very edge of the stage, looking down on us with this sultry smile, I got to touch him so many times, had it been off-stage, it would probably have been considered unseemly groping and I would have been lynched by a 250 pound Russian bodyguard. Just telling it like it is. Dedicated a handful of ZERO to @kimber_leigh.

Set-lists never catalog themselves properly into my brain. However, along with the aforementioned songs, they played, among others, Human-clad Monsters, 13-Thirteen-, Mirror, Falling (not positive about this, though). Not too surprisingly, LOVE IS DEAD was easily one of the most memorable songs of the night. The instant the disco track started up, the entire audience began moving. HIZUMI’s hoarse Shall we dance hissed over the audience, and some rambunctious movement broke into intense moshing and dancing. The energy was terrific,  from the audience as well as the band.

Just as I anticipated, Abyss closed the show. The minute I heard it on the album I figured it would. The sense of melancholy mixed with triumph that floods those chord-progressions and choruses were too perfectly suited to the emotional rise and fall of a show’s climax and close.

At the end of the show, Zero (designated fan-servicer) opened a couple of bottles of water and spat most of it on us. After getting two healthy facefuls of Zero’s spit, I felt satisfactorily baptised.

After we stood there for a few minutes, ears ringing, drenched in sweat, Zero’s spit, and the tingling energetic residue of a mind-blowingly rockin’ show, we realized, with some resignation mingled with relief, that the band wouldn’t be coming out for a second encore. The lights went on (kind of), and the crowd began shifting toward the back of the venue where the merch stand was. As we moved away from the stage, a whitie venue staffer came on the speakers and announced that we weren’t to go far, as the band would be coming out to sign posters. I stopped by the merch stand for a poster, hoodie, postcard set, and the Askew magazine special live-tour edition and a few packs of buttons. They also had about three designs of t-shirt, a folding fan, and live-limited guitar picks signed by Zero and Karyu. I think that was everything. The merch stand was hustlin’, but both people who gave me my stuff were friendly.

After we got the goods, everyone was instructed to organize into lines to get to the table where the signing would happen. If there are two words that fall on deaf ears in a Jrock live show venue, they are organize and line. Needless to say, everyone sort of organized into a great blob full of random people without posters (I don’t even want to know what they asked to have signed), half of whom seemed to weirdly disappear after a few minutes. The band came out, flanked by security and some venue staff, and took their place at the long table near the entrance. Despite the lack of order in the club, people filtered through quickly (a thoughtful staff member instructed, via loudspeakers, that no one was to tell them their life-story, and it seemed like people obeyed). In a way, it almost went way too fast. When it was my turn, faced by this row of quiet, suddenly very-Japanese-seeming guys who had just completely demolished us musically, those careful sentences I figured I should have said went right out of my head. Each member was patient, and seemed a little shy. They signed my poster, shook my hand, and thanked me for coming (in English). I managed to say something to each of them in Japanese without completely mangling their language, as far as I could tell, and then some Japanese woman rolled up my poster and it was over.

As Kaxxina put it right after the show, “That was violent in so many ways.”

D’espairsRay Adds 2nd NYC Show

Note: this show was canceled.

Wow, this whole D’espairsRay world tour thing has really had us all on tenterhooks since they first started hinting at the possibility. It’s amazing to think back to all the anxiety and excitement there was leading up to the official announcement/confirmation. All that wondering if it was really going to happen, and whether or not they would come to a City Near You.

It hasn’t been a wicked easy ride, either. They had to scrounge a bit to get their visas in order, but fortunately some awesome fans from all around the world chipped in to get them all the materials they needed in order to get the big brother’s OK to enter our domain and rock our souls with their gnarly rhythms.

Then, last week they (very) unfortunately canceled the three southern shows, Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas. This jumped the sold-out NYC show at Webster Hall to the finale spot…Until, that is, this morning, when I checked my email only to find…some random spam note from somebody I don’t know. And then I saw the subject, and had to stop for a moment. Oh, I guess D’espairsRay isn’t classifiable as spam.

Due to the swift selling-out of the tickets, and the uproar caused by under 19’s about the 19+ show on the 12th, a 2nd NYC show has been added for Friday, August 13th, at the same venue. Woah. I just realized that’s Friday the Thirteenth…That really jammed my thought-process.

Moving on. Not only that, but the show will be All-Ages. This means they will be satisfying everyone. The youngsters, hardcore fans, and those who missed out on tickets for the first show will all get what they want. And don’t worry, guys, our 19+ show will still be elite.

Tickets are on sale via Ticketweb as of 10 AM today, July 27th. $18 in advance, general-admission, all-ages. Doors are at 6PM and show starts at 7PM, which leaves enough time for the kids to make it home before curfew…and hopefully leaves enough time for me to catch the last train from GCS. Although I’m already going to the August 12th show, I just ordered another set of tickets for the 13th as well. This will be my first time ever attending the same show two nights consecutively… As long as something bad doesn’t happen to me on Friday, it should be killer.

Our D’esparation To Finally Pay Off!

Some of you (notably anyone who posted comments or Tweeted me this week) may have noticed that I haven’t been around very much lately. I apologize if there’s been a lag on moderating and replying to comments and contacting you– my personal life has been extraordinarily busy of late, and the past few days I have only had access to my computer in passing. Things should remain kind of hectic on through Thursday, as I still have 12 chord-progressions and 4 bass-lines to write before then. Yes, I know, I’m so not organized right now. After another very long day away from the Source, I was just checking all those necessary components of life– email, Facebook, Dashboard–, warding off sleep with the efficiency of a 4 year old fighting off a grizzly bear, when I happened to skim through my news-feed and find something that sobered me up as effectively as getting struck by lightning.

D’espairsRay World Tour 2010: UNITED STATES


You heard me right, baby! Finally, after months of tedious waiting and multiple panic-attacks and nervous breakdowns, they are here!  Only a few dates have been announced so far, but the rest of the locations are steadily flowing in.

CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA

Monday, August 3rd

SAN FRANSISCO, CA, USA

Tuesday, August 4th

WASHINGTON

SEATTLE, WA, USA

Thursday, August 6th

ILLINOIS

CHICAGO, IL, USA

Monday, August 9th

CANADA

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA

Wednesday, August 11

NEW YORK

NEW YORK, NY, USA

Saturday, August 12

GEORGIA

ATLANTA, GA, USA

Friday, August 14

TEXAS

DALLAS, TX, USA

Sunday, August 16th

HOUSTON, TX, USA

Monday, August 17th

The venues, times, ticket information, and the rest of the dates and cities are on the way. As of right now, some of the dates may be subject to change (they rearranged the schedule since I posted this). I’ll be updating every alteration to the current schedule, so this list isn’t static.

Source: Official Facebook

UPDATED: UPDATES CLOSED AS OF 6/13. FULL INFO HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED SEPARATELY.