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.