L'Arc en Ciel: yukihiro, tetsuya, hyde and ken (l-r)
With tickets for L’Arc en Ciel‘s first London show going on sale from 9am today (click here to purchase yours), we were lucky enough to get some time with the group’s iconic vocalist hyde, as well as its leader and bass-player tetsuya (both names intentionally stylised in lowercase), for a chat about their 20 years in rock, their upcoming world tour, and good old England ahead of their first ever UK performance, taking place at indig02 on 11 April 2012.
This interview has since been translated by fans into Japanese and can be read here. （←日本語）
Thank you for including England on this tour! Do you still get nervous when you play in a new country?
“The shows are really exciting when it’s our first time playing there, so I’m looking forward to it. England is especially one of the roots of our sound, so I can’t wait to play there.”
“More than ‘nervous’.
I’d say I’m really excited to be able to see our fans.”
Our readers will kill us if we don’t ask this question: Have you visited England before? Will you get any time off to sightsee and be a tourist? Where would you like to go, see or experience in London?
“All of my solo album ROENTGEN was recorded there so I stay there often. I went to Stonehenge and Brighton beach. At the time go-karts were really in so I did that a lot, and I went to Chinatown often and got to know the restaurant workers pretty well. The towns are beautiful so I want to take walks through them again.”
“I’ve been to London three times, but the last time was over ten years ago, so I want to see how it’s changed.”
We understand you’ll be the first Japanese artist to perform at Madison Square Gardens – congratulations! When you first started, did you ever imagine you’d play such a prestigious American venue?
“If we hadn’t been successful in Japan first, this would have been unimaginable. If L’Arc en Ciel is going to play overseas, we want to play in as larger venue as possible.”
“Well I guess we are the first Japanese only in terms of a ‘solo’ show. I remember how excited I was when Loudness opened for Motley Crue at MSG, when I was in middle school. It’s a real honor to be able to get up there on the same stage.”
Where would you like to be the first Japanese artist to perform in London? On top of Buckingham Palace? On the Abbey Road zebra crossing? A guerrilla live in Camden Town?
“Those all sound great. :)
Okay, how about the London Dungeon?”
You recently celebrated your 20th anniversary – that’s older than a large proportion of our readers! What’s your secret to such a long and respectable career?
“A generous heart.
“A little bit of talent.
And hard work and luck.”
You have a number of side projects, some involving exactly the same members of L’Arc en Ciel – do you feel that being able to express different sides of your personalities in such a way has helped you remain as a unit for so long? And which side do you think represents you best?
“For me it’s fun because I get discover all kinds of new perspectives that I wouldn’t have noticed on my own. Also there’s a world view I can only express through my solo work as TETSUYA, and I want to spread that message.”
Despite there being many L’Arc en Ciel fans in the UK, your band is still very underground – even amongst rock fans. So, how would you introduce L’Arc en Ciel to people who haven’t heard of you before? How would you describe L’Arc en Ciel’s style?
“We are a band that is ‘too’ free.
We use all kinds of genres without being bound to one.”
“Japanese Rock Band”
If you could sum up the last 20 years of your career with a single word (English or Japanese), which word would you use? And please could you explain why this word is appropriate?
The reason is just what it sounds like!”
Which songs did you especially request to be included and why?
“It’s not decided yet.
What songs would the fans from England like to hear?”
When planning the world tour, what were some of the ideas and thoughts that went through your mind? What was crucial to be included?
“I wanted to make it the biggest world tour ever put on by a Japanese group.”
“I’d be happy if we can recreate as best as possible the shows that we usually put on in Japan.”
Your single X X X is released now in the UK. What’s the most X X X thing you’ve ever done? Is L’Arc en Ciel a typical X X X style rock band?
“Really? It’s been released?
I never knew!”
Your 20th L’Anniversary Concert was simply awe-inspiring, and we understand all proceeds were given to charity too. Amazing. Can you please tell us in your own words how it felt to (a) be celebrating your 20th anniversary in such a way and (b) to help your country in the process?
“I think one good thing about Japanese people is that they care for their neighbours. It looks like L’Arc en Ciel has a conscience after all!”
“I felt like…
we were being tested.”
Do you have (a) any words of advice to musicians who aspire to be as big as L’Arc en Ciel? And (b) and final comments you’d like to leave with our readers in the UK?
“To continue is a powerful thing. If we had split up we would never have been able to come to England. We want to put on a show that will be remembered. I’m already looking forward to it!”
And so are we, hyde. So are we!
L’Arc en Ciel’s 20th L’Anniversary Screening