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X-Japan ready to rock the world

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Yoshiki speaks about a planned world tour by his rock group, X-Japan.

Jin Kiyokawa / The Yomiuri Shimbun A world buzzing with the pleasurable artifice of electronic dance music might be ripe for a revival of raw rock reality. And X-Japan is revving up to make it happen.

Six years after it reunited, the iconic rock band is planning to go on its second world tour.

The band’s leader, Yoshiki, announced the plan at a press conference in late May in Tokyo.

X-Japan broke up in 1997 in the wake of the withdrawal of vocalist Toshi. Guitarist Hide died the following year. In 2007, the band reunited and went on a world tour. But it has not released a new album since the reunion.

The May press conference was the first in about two years for the band’s five current members. The last one was in the summer of 2011, when they participated in the annual Summer Sonic rock festival.

During an interview after the Tokyo press conference, Yoshiki said, “Recently I came to think I’ll start a new era of rock,” showing his strong desire for the world tour.

His comment also showed his readiness to buck the current world trend of electronic dance music (EDM).

“Last year, the United States also was virtually saturated with EDM. As I make EDM sounds for fun myself, I got stimulated by it,” he said. “But rock also has a human side, and has accidents and dramas in many senses.”

With a strong will to revive rock, Yoshiki compared his role to that of a stone falling into water and rippling the surface.

“We’ve yet to have influence overseas, but we want to go all-out for that goal. We’ll make next year’s tour thrilling,” he said.

Since its reunion, X-Japan has recorded a number of songs, with some of them already completed. But the members worry about how to winnow the songs down to those worthy of inclusion in their new album and when to release it.

“We’re living in a world of information overload, so we can’t just relax and listen to the music. It seems to me that we can’t do it for much more than about 30 minutes. I don’t hesitate to throw away completed songs. I hope you will hear only good songs,” Yoshiki said.

Yoshiki has been living in Los Angles for about 20 years and has his own recording studio there. He was in charge of the theme songs for the Golden Globe Awards for 2012 and 2013.

“When I heard the theme song the first year I did it, I felt as if I were dreaming a dream. I have confidence in my composition, but I couldn’t imagine I’d reached the stage like that,” Yoshiki recalled.

“I was often told that people feel that my songs represent a fusion of the Eastern and Western worlds,” he said. “I’ve lived in the United States for a long time. But when I make a song without any constraint, my Japanese-taste melodies may come out.”

When he was 10 years old, his father committed suicide. For that reason, he has been involved in charity activities for a long time. He used a fund established in 2010 to help victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

“I’ve yet to recover from the mental damage of losing former band members Hide and Taiji [who died two years ago]. I do charity activities to support other people, which could lead to my own mental recovery. I hope the way I overcome difficulties will help save other people,” he added.