J!-ENT Interviews the Japanese Rock Band VAMPS by Wynne Ip
July 1, 2009 by rabi
Be ready to get bitten! Because VAMPS is coming to the U.S.
Popular Japanese rock band VAMPS has planned a 10-city tour in the United States, beginning with New York on July 11, 2009, and ending with Los Angeles on August 1.
The 2-member band, which consists vocalist/guitarist HYDE (L’Arc~en~Ciel), and guitarist K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust), was officially formed in 2008. But the two have been working together on HYDE’s solo work since 2003. Their first tour “VAMPS LIVE 2008” was played in various Zepp live houses throughout Japan – a total of 46 sold-out shows over a span of three months.
Not only are they touring the U.S. in 2009, their first self-titled album, which was released on June 10th in Japan, was also simultaneously released in the United States via iTunes.
But this is not their first time performing in America. Back in July 2006, K.A.Z has accompanied HYDE in his solo tour “FAITH” as his guitarist, performing four sold-out shows in California.
In addition to the planned tour, VAMPS will also be stopping by Otakon the day after their performance on Thursday, July 16th at Baltimore’s SONAR. They’ll be answering fans’ questions and signing autographs at Otakon, a convention of the “otaku generation”, dedicated to everything anime, manga, and all facets of Asian pop culture! Otakon is one of the largest convention of its kind in the United States.
J!-ENT’s Wynne Ip was recently given the opportunity to interview VAMPS prior to their arrival in the U.S.
J!-ENT: Your fans in the United States are probably familiar with your music. But to those who are new to VAMPS, how would you describe your musical style?
HYDE: SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL!
K.A.Z: We both went through the golden age of Rock n’ Roll in the 80s and 90s, so we have absorbed various tastes. I think we created my own mixture by going though that era.
J!-ENT: Many of us are aware that the two of you collaborated on HYDE’s solo work and HYDE’s 3rd solo album “FAITH” in 2006. How did the idea to officially form a band come about? Who suggested it first, and how long did it take for you to decide? And why did you decide to form a 2-member band?
HYDE: Since HYDE’s second album, I have worked together with K.A.Z. When working together, I was thinking it would be fun to work with him, but let’s see how it goes… but his existence became so important to me that I decided to share one name with him, rather than using my own name.
K.A.Z: At first, I was a bit anxious while being excited about the idea. I was wondering what other people would think when my songs are created with HYDE as VAMPS’ songs. But I didn’t need to worry—It has been just fun.
J!-ENT: Who came up with the name “VAMPS” and why did you decide to go with this name?
HYDE: It’s from vampire. I love vampires. I like mysterious women, too [laugh]. I like horror.
J!-ENT: On June 10, 2009, VAMPS has released its self-titled debut album. What can we find in “VAMPS” that we cannot find from your previously collaborated album “FAITH”?
HYDE: We have more fun with sounds, say, sound effects. We created music especially for cool lives, so we have a lineup of good live songs.
K.A.Z: The fun part of this album is that it’s VAMPS’ first one [laugh].
HYDE: I think I am making the music that I used to dream of making in my teens. When I started the band, I liked hard-core bands with some horror taste. I feel like I am expressing the stuff I felt back then—maybe not really hard core.
J!-ENT: Can you highlight some of your favorite tracks on this album for us?
HYDE: SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL!
K.A.Z: I love them all! If I have to choose one, maybe “COSMOS.”
J!-ENT: Are there any interesting stories you can reveal to us during the production of this album?
HYDE: K.A.Z. likes spicy foods very much, but he is not good at handling them, so it was funny to see him screaming while eating.
J!-ENT: What was the inspiration behind covering songs such as “Life On Mars?”, “TROUBLE” on your recent singles, as well as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”?
J!-ENT: Now that you are returning in July for “VAMPS Live 2009 U.S.A. Tour”, what made you want to come back to play in front of your U.S. fans again?
HYDE: Four lives in America were fabulous. That’s why we could come this time again.
J!-ENT: You are stopping at ten different American cities from coast to coast with venues of different capacities. When did you first start planning for this tour? How did you decide to tour these specific cities?
HYDE: Since the 2006 tour, we have anticipated this kind of tour.
K.A.Z: There are many places I’ve never been, so I look forward to visiting every city.
J!-ENT: In your mind, what would be a successful “VAMPS Live 2009 U.S.A. Tour”?
HYDE: I’m excited to visit cities for the first time and try new things. First of all, I look forward to lives in front of the American audience.
K.A.Z: I can feel how much American audiences enjoy the live. Their cheering voices are so loud! We get excited by that.
J!-ENT: We had asked some of your fans to send us some questions and comments for VAMPS. Mariko from San Francisco wanted to know if HYDE’s part as Kei in “Moon Child” has anything to do with the name “VAMPS”. She wanted to know if HYDE and K.A.Z believe whether real vampires exist.
HYDE: I love vampires and an intrigued by their never-ending lives.
J!-ENT: Jess from Ottawa, Canada, wanted to know what you think, if any, are the advantages and disadvantages for Asian artists to break into the North American market. What are your biggest challenges so far in this regard?
HYDE: I see more Japanese-American musicians, so I guess the music scene has been changing, but we don’t get the same treatment as American artists yet. There is no point of doing the same things that American bands are doing. I believe our band will be appreciated — judging from my own sensibility. Without living in America or lots of passion, it’s difficult for Japanese to obtain English skills. I might want to live there…
K.A.Z: Of course the language is important, but I don’t think you can’t make music without learning the local language. Because it’s music that counts.
J!-ENT: Last but not least, please say a few words to those who are coming to watch your shows in the U.S.
HYDE: Can’t wait to see you! Wait for a little bit more; I will bite your neck!
K.A.Z: Let’s have a fun party!
For VAMPS Live 2009 U.S.A. tour schedule, please see http://vampsliveusa.com/.
For J!-ENT’s previous articles on HYDE, please check out http://j-entonline.com/INTERVIEWS/HYDE/
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