It’s been five extensive years since Yousei Teikoku released an album, way too long for any fan to be able to sit still and bare it. But at last, the age of villains is now out and not only that, it’s available on streaming platforms such as Spotify so anyone can be graced by vocalist Yui’s virtual presence at any time, whenever.
We spoke with the band members during the production stage of the album, including their previous guitarist Tachibana who is no longer a part of the line-up, but active in the shadows.
It is our understanding that there has been a bit of a restructuring for the Fairy Empire (Yousei Teikoku). What prompted this change?
Yui: It started with the departure of our guitarist Shiren, followed by the decision of Tachibana to not participate anymore in our live performances. Then, we took the decision to integrate two new guitarists into the band.
For the new corporals, how has it been serving the Empire thus far?
ryöga: I knew about Yousei Teikoku before joining the band, I was a fan actually. I succeeded at the audition—which gathered more than 20 applicants—and became a member, I felt truly honored.
XiVa: I’d already had the chance to perform on stage during shows overseas (in Mexico) and also participated in the composition of the new album the age of villains. My role is to inherit Yousei Teikoku’s past sound and bring new musical elements to it.
In guitarist Tachibana’s parting statement he said: “I’ll be working hard to create songs that take advantage of the new level of power our two new guitarists will bring to the band”. How was it playing Tachibana’s songs and do you feel he achieved the goal of taking advantage of your power as guitarists?
ryöga: I think Tachibana’s words “take advantage of the power of our new members” mostly refer to composition and arrangement, but I think he properly demonstrated it in this new album, and I think the level of the band has been significantly raised regarding the guitar parts.
Has the introduction of both XiVa and ryöga had an influence on the bands’ current sound?
Tachibana: In terms of composition, I think our sound has been modernized. On stage, I feel that our ensemble looks much better balanced, and our sound as a whole can be more clearly heard and perceived.
Was it difficult to chart a new course forward for the band with a new lineup or was there more of a focus to try to remain the same?
Tachibana: We have thought about a way to “progress on a new path” regarding our production. The idea of hiring a guitarist through auditions also came to our minds for this particular purpose, and for about five years we had countless discussions, wondering if the path we should walk was actually “Kuusou Mesorogiwi Part. 2″, a path we had to build.
From your recent album “PAX VESANIA” through “SHADOW CORPS[e]”, Yousei Teikoku’s sound was moving in what seemed to be a more aggressive direction. What does the latest album “the age of villains” deliver?
Tachibana: Indeed, it’s more aggressive than before. And I think some of the songs on the album have succeeded in expressing a sound that no one has made before, be it in Japan or anywhere else in the world. It has been made possible thanks to our new guitarists but also to our four years of recharging our batteries.
Why did you go with this direction for the album?
Tachibana: Nowadays, the number of bands in heavy metal, gothic, or anime song styles with Japanese female vocalists has been increasing (by the way, our vocalist Yui isn’t Japanese but a “Fairy Empire national”), but it’s becoming popular all over the place. However, the creation of a unique style shouldn’t mean to keep protecting it but to make it evolve and present another new style to the world. This album has been made following this way of thinking.
As it has been a long time since Her Highness Yui graced her presence, how have you evolved during the time you’ve been away from the Empire?
Yui: I made the best use of my voice and developed new vocal techniques and my power of expression. I also leveled up my Ragnarok Online character.
In that case, what part of the vocals should your subjects focus on when listening to the new album?
Yui: What has changed the most is definitely my singing techniques. In this album, you can feel an oriental atmosphere from the vocals. The type of distorted vocals which we would choose to exclude in the past, we actively decided to integrate them this time and make them a feature instead, depending on the song.
Each title of a Yousei Teikoku release seems to play into the lore of “Yousei Teikoku”, is there a significance to the title “the age of villains”?
Yui: There are actually three meanings behind it.
1. The fans of subcultures such as anime, games or heavy metal were a minority and used to be mocked, for example at school they could have been compared to villains lurking in the shadows.
However, nowadays those kinds of people have become more prominent, and they are able to speak freely and without shame about having hobbies based on such subcultures. We entered into a new era where subcultures are culturally influencing the world.
In other words, the age of villains, who were persecuted in the past, has come.
2. The human society says that it is good to be just and to do the right thing, but even if you follow these norms and rules, the world revolves around the concept of “Those who act, win”, “Those who speak up, win”, “Those who steal, win”.
In other words, in our current human society, these selfish “villains” are shaping the world, and aren’t they reveling in it while pushing aside the “right people”, those who play by the rules? That is the question.
3. When Yousei Teikoku is performing during events, no matter if it’s anime events or music events, our singular music and world view make us outsiders, put into the role of “villains”.
However, “villains” from movies or novels have a powerful charm, the fact is it makes them more attractive than the “good people” like the main character. We enjoy this position a lot, therefore the title of the album implies that this era, the age of “villains”, will be ours.
There are quite interesting song titles included in the album such as “Hell in glass”, “Paradiso≒Inferno” and more. Are they connected to the album title or its story?
Yui: There isn’t any particular connection between the stories. But the concept of the album is connected to Hell in glass, and Paradiso≒Inferno. For example, the story of Hell in glass is about “A doll who is trying to kill a lively and adorable person”, like a villain who could come from a horror movie.
Then there’s Paradiso≒Inferno, a song about how while the current times may feel like paradise to the ordinary people, there are some who still consider it hell.
There’s also, IRON ROSE, Zetsu, or Sousou Friesian who were also made based on the concept of the album.
How are you planning to help promote Yousei Teikoku’s return to form?
Yui: We are still planning everything out at the moment, but with the new members joining us, for now, we just want to do more shows.
Not only a tour dedicated to the album, but also gender-specific gigs like we used to do, or joint lives with other bands, and of course we would like to perform overseas some more. Our subjects living outside Japan should actively recommend us to local conventions and music festivals.
It’s great to hear the overseas market is still in the corner of your eyes. Your overseas subjects have been showing quite a bit interested in the new album.
Yui: Expanding abroad is obviously important. As a part of that, we will first allow the entirety of our work on streaming platforms. Also, we would like to participate in smaller gigs, as we used to neglect them until now.
Since Yousei Teikoku has been performing abroad in the past already, do you feel that the language barrier makes it difficult to unite subjects during a live performance?
Yui: I have never felt that sharing our world view has ever been obstructed by any kind of language barrier. Probably because even in Japan, regarding lives and such, we’re considered weird [laughs]. Despite language differences, our subjects from overseas do understand us.
Any departing words for your subjects?
Yui: We made you wait for a long time, but Yousei Teikoku is finally back, bringing with us the most powerful album we ever created. We are proud of you, our subjects from overseas, who kept your loyalty towards us during those five years.
We’re hoping to see more overseas activity from Yousei Teikoku! As subjects of the Fairy Empire, make sure to spread the word about Her Highness Yui and her loyal servants.
the age of villains