Interview with J-Rock Band VAMPS

The J-rock duo VAMPS is the edgy side project of Hyde, the leader of the mega-popular Japanese band L’Arc~en~Ciel, and Oblivion Dust guitarist K.A.Z. They performed at Roseland Ballroom in October 2010, an event they promoted with a guest appearance at the New York Anime Festival. They returned to Roseland on Sunday, December 8 for a highly anticipated show. JapanCulture•NYC met with VAMPS to discuss playing in New York, their new album, and food.

JC•NYC: VAMPS performed at Roseland Ballroom in 2010. How does it feel to return to New York?

Hyde: It’s been three years, and I’m wondering how many fans are coming to see us. We had a pretty good gig in LA already [at the House of Blues on December 4], and we’re expecting to have a good show.

JC•NYC: Hyde, you performed with your band L’Arc~en~Ciel at Madison Square Garden last year. What was that experience like?

Hyde: Playing at Madison Square Garden is the dream of every Japanese person. It might be really hard to repeat it. So when I was performing on stage, I was trying to feel it out and take in as much as I could.

VAMPS, Hyde, K.A.Z, L'Arc~en~Ciel, Oblivion Dust, J-rock, J-pop, NYC, Roseland Ballroom, Japanese bands, Japanese artists in New York

K.A.Z (left) and Hyde of VAMPS

JC•NYC: You both have your own bands, L’Arc~en~Ciel and Oblivion Dust. How do you keep the songwriting process separate for each project?

Hyde: If you go to a French restaurant, you dress a certain way. If you go to an izakaya, you dress differently. It’s something that happens very naturally. When I produce music, I produce songs for VAMPS so it sounds much cooler. When I produce songs for L’Arc~en~Ciel, it’s a different style. You don’t order French food at an izakaya. I don’t want L’Arc~en~Ciel songs performed by VAMPS.

JC•NYC: You recorded the songs for your latest album, SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL, in English. You have fans all over the world who love your Japanese songs, so why is singing in English important?

Hyde: I hope all the people in the world like us singing in Japanese, but most Americans and British people may not want us to sing in Japanese. For us, English is a must to get into the market where we really want people to listen to us: The American market. So we chose English. I didn’t want to regret it if we didn’t do the album in English.

JC•NYC: Japanese and English are opposite grammatically. How was translating your songs from Japanese into English?

Hyde: It’s really difficult to do it. I worked with an English teacher to do the translation. When I hear fans singing along in English, it makes all that hard work worth it.

JC•NYC: How are fans in America different from Japanese fans?

K.A.Z: American fans and Japanese fans express their feelings differently. American fans are more direct. It’s easy to find if they like the song or not.

JC•NYC: UNESCO just added Japanese cuisine to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. What kind of Japanese food do you recommend to American fans? And you’re not allowed to say sushi!

Hyde: Now ramen is popular here, but I choose takoyaki. It’s been a popular food in Kansai [where Hyde is from], but it’s getting more popular in Eastern Japan. In Tokyo people are getting together to have takoyaki parties. They sometimes change the ingredients; instead of octopus, they put something else.

K.A.Z: Kurumi dare no soba. It’s soba with a walnut dipping sauce. It’s not too sweet, and it’s delicious.