All of them, except for Toshiya, already played in one ore more bands together, most notably La:Sadie's, the direct predecessor of DIR EN GREY. La:Sadie's disbanded on January 15, 1997.
The band name is a combination of German "dir", French "en" and English "grey" and was thought to mean "Grey Silver Coin" (灰色の銀貨 "Haiiro no Ginka" in Japanese). It was probably inspired by a track title from Lareine's 2nd Demo. Except for Kaoru and Shinya, the band members use stage names, the full names of all band members are unknown.