Dir en grey's Kyo forced on medical hiatus

Oh wow guys, here's some j-rock news that I jumped on before JAME got to it cuz holy crap I can read Japanese :P

As was announced on mixi news today, Dir en grey's singer Kyo has been diagnosed with vocal nodes and vocal cord damage and ordered by his doctor to take a break from singing. Dir en grey's planned March-April American tour has been canceled and all further band activities are currently on hold. The band offers their sincere apologies to the fans and everyone else, and begs for your understanding. Kyo hasn't been ordered to alter his lifestyle, except he's been advised to not to raise his voice.

I can't say this is surprising, but it does come as a slap in the face to a band that's been struggling lately, here's hoping Kyo recovers from vocal nodes as quickly as Ryuutaro recovered from Guillan-Barre. But about vocal nodes, as a singer myself, I'll say this: you get vocal nodes if you're using your voice incorrectly. Vocal nodes are injuries resulting from misuse and overuse of the voice and throat. To anyone with vocal training it's always been clear that despite his extreme power as a singer, Kyo takes supremely poor care of his voice. I don't know how much formal training he may have gotten over the years, it's possible that he did study how to use his voice better but the style of singing he does is the kind of thing that will wreck your throat no matter what you do.

However, a lot of singers who don't shriek and growl at the top of their lungs on 50-stop world tours get vocal nodes anyway, because they lack sufficient training. Once you learn how to use your voice correctly, if you are singing in a melodic style rather than screaming your lungs out, there is no reason why you should ever develop vocal cord damage. Singing should never hurt. If it hurts, you're doing it wrong and you'll reap the consequences. Buck-Tick fans can hear where Sakurai started taking voice lessons: it was right around the time the band was working on Taboo. If you don't know what I'm talking about, listen to "Dream or Truth," then listen to "Jupiter." Hear the difference there? And Sakurai has had some issues with his voice over the years but he's got damn sight better vocal technique than a lot of rock singers out there...why? Because he got voice training. It's a big reason why he sounds so good. A lot of rock singers never get any training and however good they sound at first, they live to regret it.

So I guess where I'm going with this is, if you are a singer but you haven't had formal voice training, you should seriously consider getting some, especially if you're planning on singing a lot in the future. It doesn't have to be Julliard. Even a few short lessons can work wonders for your sound and your throat, so you don't end up sounding like this guy.


  1. I'm sad that I won't be able to see them, (Dir en grey is my favorite band besides Buck-Tick), but at least they are getting some time off because of this, I guess. :(

    Atsushi's voice may be the reason I don't like BT's first releases that much. Even though he didn't sound horrid, compared to the later releases...

    Being a singer/lyricist is the only thing I want; I can't afford lessons -- do you maybe know of a website where I could find good singing tips? *is easily overwhelmed by Google results*

    And thank you for having such a lovely blog. ^_^

  2. None of the younger fans seem to understand the beauty of Buck-Tick's early work...give it more of a chance. It's kind of amazing in its own right. I'm glad you like the blog. If you are looking for singing tips, start on YouTube. I'm sure there is a lot of crap out there but there are a lot of instructional videos. But basically, practice is everything.

  3. I dont like their early work either. Sakurai sounds flat and childish. It also sounds very pop-ish. I dont know, i listened to it alot, but i cannot get in to it.

  4. "It also sounds very pop-ish" Which, as everybody knows, isn't quality music!!!.../SARCASM, in case anyone missed it.

    B-T's early work is kind of ridiculously amazing.

    Hurry Up Mode!♪♪

  5. @ Anonymous

    Thank you for appreciating the true brilliance that is songs like "Empty Girl." I am not being sarcastic, for once. Yes, B-T's early work is ridiculously amazing, especially for making you feel good again when you feel down!

  6. Anonymous, well ive never implied any of those things. I have nothing against the pop genre, but if i dont think the song is catchy or interesting, i will not listen it. Not every one loves every song of Buck-Tick.

    And for most older people out here, the older songs probably has some nostalgic value to you. To me, its technically (vocals especially but also guitar) less interesting, sound quality is less good, and buck-tick signature synth quality lacking too imo. To me the songs also lack that distinct dark, sinister but ellegant B-T sound. I always thought the first albums always sounded way too happy (maybe because of higher pitched sakurai or anything).

  7. I've liked all the newer performances of their older songs, so I think it's just the "sound" I'm not too fond of, rather than the songs themselves.

    "But basically, practice is everything."
    True -- I suppose I'm simply paranoid about Doing It Wrong. I guess I'm not damaging myself, at least, since I sing for about 1 to 3 hours everyday without it hurting...

    Thanks for replying! :)

  8. If you are a younger Buck-Tick fan, I urge you to take the opportunity to let Buck-Tick expand your musical education by giving a listen to some of their early influences - stuff like YMO, RC Succession, Ultravox, Kraftwerk, Love & Rockets, etc. It puts the music in context.

    As for sound quality, music production technology has evolved hugely in the past 20 years. Part of the reason why people used to recent music probably have trouble with Buck-Tick's old records is 1) recording technology was less good then and 2) the recordings were not optimized for CD. Maybe they sound dated to you if you're only listening to recent stuff, but in fact, when Buck-Tick first broke in the Japanese scene they were pretty revolutionary because they adopted elements of European music that were popular at the time and put a Japanese spin on it. Buck-Tick made a huge impact on the Japanese rock scene right from the release of Hurry Up Mode. They helped shape the whole generation of bands who came after them. The value of those records is much more than mere nostalgia, as becomes obvious when you listen to what younger musicians have to say about Buck-Tick.

    Furthermore, one thing that made Buck-Tick's early work distinctive is that a lot of the chord structure is actually very unusual -chromatic and whole-tone chord-scales, etc. Imai had no formal musical training and thus was not bound by the limitations of established song-writing conventions. "Interesting" is a subjective term, but anyone familiar with music theory can tell that some of the early songs are pretty compositionally bizarre..."Memories" and "National Media Boys" are just two examples.

  9. Cayce, there is more needed then whole-tone chords or some chromatic structure to make the song interesting. I mean, unless you know your musical theory well and your really paying attention these little rarities, you will not even notice them. Probably 99% of B-T target group will not be able to tell these things.In fact, the average listener probably cant even tell the difference between metal scales and blues-scales when both are being played with the same patch / tone.

    Also, sound quality is just one of the minor reasons i dont listen to this.

    ''Bizarre'' is a subjective term too, anyone familiar with for example japanoice, free-jazz, or classical dissonant music would tell you this is just a regular pop-song (memories). At least i wouldnt call memories bizarre.

    Bottom line, i personally dont think these songs are interesting enough. They dont have to be interesting, but i dont think they are catchy either (maybe i have to listen them more). So whether songs have a special chord structure or not, it wouldnt matter for me.

    Thanks anyway for your advice (these other old bands etc), im going to try these.

  10. I would like to appreciate the work of blog author that the person provided us with an extremely excellent information regarding the topic.

  11. @Angel Tears

    You know, I really like it that you participate on my blog so regularly, but I prefer to keep the comment threads more along the lines of constructive conversation, rather than just shoutboxes, so I'd like to request that you stop phrasing your personal opinions as absolutes. Also, really, it doesn't matter whether you like or don't like certain songs. Not that your opinion is worthless, but everyone has their own set of opinions on which songs they like and don't like, and simply voicing personal preferences doesn't make for a discussion, and thus, doesn't really add anything to Blog-Tick.

    Whether or not you like it or it interests you, I think most rock musicians will agree that the B-melody for "Memories" is quite unusual for a pop song, because it's based on a chord modulation that is not found in typical pop music. True, Imai only used this chord progression because he didn't know what the fuck he was doing. My point is, the fact that he didn't know what the fuck he was doing caused him to write songs that stood out. As you may have noticed, Imai stopped using these random, meandering modulations as he matured as a guitarist and learned more about music theory. Yes, the whole band improved a lot in many ways, but compositionally, you can't tell me "Memories" is less unusual than "Montage"...hell, for starters "Montage" has the exact same bass line as The Cure's "A Forest." Etc.

    I'm curious, do you listen to any music recorded before 1990? If you have any CDs of music recorded earlier than that, pop them in your stereo and compare them to early Buck-Tick...they all have that "something missing" feeling, and what that is is the less-than-perfect transfer of analog to digital. It's true that Buck-Tick didn't take as much time recording their early work as some recording artists at the time did, but they were just starting out and they didn't have the money...but really, for older music that was recorded on analog equipment, you have to listen to the analog recording on a good sound system to really appreciate it. Furthermore, a lot of artists I know who have been recording since the 80's talk all the time about how much better recording equipment is now than it was then.

    But even so, there is a LOT of amazing music that was recorded before 1990 and I urge all of you to give it a chance even if you're not able to invest in a record player.

  12. Like i said before; sound quality is MINOR issue for me, nothing major or anything. To answer your question; yes i listen to music recorded before 1990; i like '30 and '40 music.

  13. I really hope Kyo recovers from this. Not only for his sake but for the band all together. They wouldn't continue without him and I know they have so much more to produce. All the best for Kyo hope you learn from this and take care of your voice!

  14. I love Dir en grey and Kyo, really.
    Although, I'm quite sure that Kyo's been totally aware of the fact that his singing isn't good at all for his voice. He
    s had problem with his throat before, and it's really obvious that the sounds he's making in some songs just.. shouldn't exist. So it's probably not that he don't "know" how to sing (especially is you listen to their old songs or the 'clean' parts in their songs). It's more that he didn't really care.
    But since it got this serious, let's just hope that he's undderstood that his voice won't last forever if he continues in that way.

  15. You can actually growl properly without damaging your chords ever. I notice that he seems to growl with his real vocal chords rather than his false "chords" which is why he damages his throat a lot. Someone never taught him how to growl and scream I guess.


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