Labelmates of such J-rock luminaries as Kagrra, Miyavi, and Alice Nine, the Gazette eventually surpassed all of them, riding the exponential growth of the Internet and attendant Western interest in the Japanese scene to become the biggest visual kei band in the world. (Dir en Grey were arguably bigger, but they had long since left their visual roots behind.) Specializing in alternative metal with a cinematic edge and a tendency for moderate stylistic experiments such as dabbling in jazz-rock, the quintet was formed in 2002 by vocalist Ruki, guitarists Uruha and Aoi, bassist Reita, and drummer Yune (in 2003 he was replaced by Kai). All members had previous band experience, but the starting period was still fraught with troubles, as the band’s first label, Matina, collapsed in 2003. However, early material (the Gazette’s first single was “Wakaremichi,” released in April 2002) sufficed to get them a deal with the PS Company label. The stability was all that the band needed, and by March 2004 they had five mini-albums out (the fifth of those, Madara, reached number two on the indie charts) and gave a number of performances, including a festival stint with D’espairsRay, Mucc, Miyavi, and Merry.
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