By Joe Yokomizo | 2016/02/10
When I talk about my musical roots, I could not avoid GASTUNK. Their best songs for me were before their major debut. This “EARLY SINGLES” album was the collection of singles from this era: This was the time I truly felt their music from these songs. At that time, Hardcore music and Metal music had mixed slowly and then Thrash metal started. I thought GASTUNK was a novelty. In addition, I think their gig that I went to was the first time I went to a live concert in my life. I never forgot the awe I felt, like it was surreal. I saw every audience as if they were vampires. The tension of a small venue was also the first time for me, so it was huge impact for me. Actually, that is the goal that we would like to do in VAMPS. It might be that I’m trying to recreate that impact; like how it would be like if I do it in this era.
The Misfits『Legacy of Brutality』
GASTUNK had the essence of horror, so I tried to find other similar musicians. And I found the one that fit my image of the CD cover design, 『Legacy of Brutality』. However, sometimes even though the cover design is great, the music does not necessarily fit my taste. But when I came back home and listened them, it was actually perfect. The sound was perfect and I just thought, “This is the one!!”. At that time, the skull was not famous at all. This album is more Horror Punk compared to the other Misfits’ albums, which are more hardcore. For me, the perfect hardcore sound is the music in the “BATTALION／The Return of the Living Dead”, so I tried to find that kind of song. Then I found the Misfits. I got so much influence from their music. I made my first music around the time when I listened to them, so my music was Misfit-ish. However, my chord progression was more like Nirvana when I listen now (laugh).
David Sylvian『Brilliant Trees』
After finishing JAPAN, I started solo project and got to like David Sylvian. I felt his sound is difficult if I listen simply now. At that time, in his promotion video, he sang with a bare upper body in a hot spring surrounded by wilderness. However, he sang a song like a curse and also his face was really beautiful, so he was like congeries of beauty. It was the beginning of my decadence at that time. I did not know exactly why I liked him but I listened to him so many times. In addition, I was in a susceptible state at that time in terms of assimilating things into my style. Thus, his influence might be huge for me. David Sylvian is an idol for me still.
MÖTLEY CRÜE『SHOUT AT THE DEVIL』
I listened to MÖTLEY CRÜE when they were a hit. At that time, L.A. metal became popular and it was mixed with New Romantics. I might be able to say these music genres were similar because their appearances were similar too. I could not tease out whether they were punk or metal from their appearances at that time (laugh). Their hair style also looks like Siouxsie and the Banshees (1). thought “Wow, what are these outfits??” and I started to be curious about their music too. I still think appearance is one of the most important aspects. I think once the appearance and sound are linked successfully, music creates a great impact. I remember watching their promotion video of ‘Too young to fall in Love’ (in the album of ’Shout at the Devil’) at a café in Osaka. I loved their mysterious atmosphere. After a while, I covered their songs when I was playing my guitar at first. Moreover, Nikki Sixx, who was the bassist of MÖTLEY CRÜE previously and Sixx:A.M. now joined VAMPARK FEST this year. After the fest, we joined their tour. He was so kind and cheerful but he also worked extremely hard. I thought he would enjoy drinking party after the show, but actually he worked for the radio. I thought I could not compete with his energy (laugh).
(1) An English punk rock band formed in late 70’s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siouxsie_and_the_Banshees
Depeche Mode『Some Great Reward』
Depeche Mode is my favorite since I got a huge musical influence from him. I love him even when his music was not good - I am okay with it (laugh). Like as long as he releases a new song, I am satisfied. I like his music to this level. I am so glad even if just Dave Gahan (Vocal) and Martin Gore (guitar, vocal, keyboard) played. I would like to cover their music some day. This album was released in 1984, during which there were a great number of musical ideas. It is even convenient for me (laugh), that when I feel I would like to change my song to the better somehow, I think of Depeche Mode. Then, my music became my favorite taste. I imitated their way of singing sometime before. I used to often feel ‘I would like to sing like a Depeche Mode’ when I sang in L’Arc-en-Ciel. For instance, “Kuchizuke (KISS)” (in album SMILE) was the song Ken created with an image from Depeche Mode. So I sang the song as if ‘I would like to sing as Depeche Mode’ respectfully.
Off course 『We are』
When I started to create music, I was more interested in Hardcore and Gothic Rock. So when I started playing in L’Arc-en-Ciel, members brought catchy melodies and I could not figure out how to write lyrics for these catchy melodies. I was confused like “What can I say for this melody?”. Then, I did trial and error and I found Off Course. Their music is actually urban taste and cool, and their lyrics are really abstract I think. They choose each words carefully. From their songs, I found out “Oh, I could use this approach”. My lyrics show the influence of Off Course music. For example, “Blurry Eyes” shows the words which Mr. Kazumasa Oda (Off Course) might use in his songs.
BY JOE YOKOMIZO | 2016/02/09
I have been organizing the annual Halloween event. There are other interesting events like in Shibuya recently. Some people are against these events, but I think we cannot stop anymore. From my experience organizing the Halloween events, I think Japanese feel that Halloween is important. So, I think they should not be stopped but instead do the parade in divided streets for three blocks like the American Halloween events. I don’t know which authority has the power to control, but the government should control these events to prevent unnecessary troubles. Right now, citizens managed by themselves but it should be the government.
There are a lot of wastes after the event, but this also means people buy so much stuff. It shows a high potential for positive economic impact through the Halloween event. So why don’t we see this not in a negative way but as a positive opportunity? If there are a lot of wastes, why don’t we set up more garbage bins and hire people who can take care of it? That way, local government can benefit from the events. On the beaches in USA, we can find garbage bins every 10 meters. Even in Japan, we see more garbage bins during festival seasons. If the local authority could manage the events for huge parade, I think it would not be chaos like this. In addition, if the government sends out official notice about the event, it would prevent traffic jams, unlike the recent event.
I think, overall it leads to economic improvement. However, there are people who do not know the meaning of the event but claim Halloween is a childish festival or question the real meaning or origin. I would like to ask, how many people understand well the meaning of Christmas? I wonder how many Japanese even know well about the meaning of Obon (1). It is just non-sense. It may take time to accept new culture. It is like there are still people who question why Japanese celebrate Christmas even though they follow Buddhism. It is fine, but my point is that if the local government could manage the event officially like the other festivals, I think it would be a great fun event like Hanami and Fireworks festivals. Right now, the registration has not reached the same level yet, although there is a high potential.
HALLOWEEN JUNKY ORCHESTRA(2011)
(1) Obon; Japanese Buddhist custom which their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon and pray for the spirits. (http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2286.html )
Translation by: Yumi
BY JOE YOKOMIZO | 2016/02/09
I call the live gig SEX. There is a lyric “The gig’s sex” in our VAMPS song. I think this expression really fits us. The synergy, taking care of another person, the gestures of getting to know each other, sometimes doing it hard or soft: I think the these elements of concerts are really similar and connected to SEX. We play our concerts with these feelings. So if we could reach even higher…. maybe we reach climax (laugh)? So, I think that live show is very similar to SEX. I believe if we could love each other like SEX in the show, we could truly feel great.
「SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL」
Translation by: Yumi
BY JOE YOKOMIZO | 2016/02/09
When I heard of the term ‘antiwar’, it sounds very ideal and good. However, it is really hard to know how to stop wars in practical way. Even though we claim to stop, there are no actual ideas of how to do it. Living in Japan is peaceful for us in our era, so claiming about peace might sound easy. However, for people who live in countries that got air strikes and if your kids were killed from that, you couldn’t think of forgiving someone for peace I think. In that sense, stopping war is really difficult in reality. Rather, there is no answer.
When I made the song ‘Hoshizora’ (in ‘AWAKE’ album) in 2005, Iraq War was going on at that time. So I read some news about that and I wrote lyrics imagining about the children in Iraq. When I wrote these kinds of songs, people asked me ‘can music change the world?’, but I do not think music can change the reality of war. However, music allows me to speak out my mind even though it cannot change everything. I don't think I am the kind of musician nor I would like to be the one who sends strong messages. It is not my taste to display ‘LOVE & PEACE’ directly. However, I put my desire of peace in quite a few of my lyrics. This is because in my daily life, I feel sad when I heard these kinds of news. I like to write about weird or inconsistent situation using metaphoric expression in my lyrics. For example, I used the expression to show humans’ wretched stupidity from VAMPIRE’s point of view. After all, if using these expressions can make some of the audiences feel something in their heart, maybe it’s meaningful.
I think rock music has some kind of religious aspect. So, if the song portrays only about cruel stuff, it will leave just cruel elements for the audience. But if the song shows some ideas or ‘maybe it is like this?’ expression, and audience can empathize with the lyrics, it will remain in their heart. Sometimes, it will support the audience. Thankfully, our fans especially are enthusiastic of our music and these songs support many fans I think. ‘Changing the world’ is too huge an idea for me, but I think music has some power for change. At least, some people can feel ‘Light My Fire’.
Translation by: Yumi