Q: X Japan last played in New York in 2010 as part of a short US tour and later followed it up with a world tour in 2011. And this October X Japan will be playing at Madison Square Garden in NYC and later at Yokohama Area in Japan in November. Will another world tour be able to follow these two shows in the next year or sometime in the foreseeable future?

Yokishi: Actually Yokohama Arena we will be performing on September 30th and October 1st; almost 10 days before Madison Square Garden. We’re going to be announcing future shows at Madison Square Garder, but at this moment we’re just concentrating on Madison Square Garden.” adding laughter “MSG, MSG, MSG. But there’s a possibility, maybe.”

Q: Are these shows to promote your album or are these just great opportunities for X Japan

Yoshiki: Well, we haven’t really toured in a long time, but we released several best feature albums; a new one a few months ago. About 22 years ago we had a press conference in New York, at Rockefeller Center. We signed with Atlantic Record. It was supposed to be a big deal we were supposed to release a new album, but other things happened. So then, 22 years later, we’ve come back to New York and are playing a show.  I can’t really tell you why we’re doing this at Madison Square Garden, but you’re going to know soon. There is something going on.

Q: Yoshiki, you’ve been involved with charity projects like raising money for Red Cross and for the tsunami relief. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve taken away from those experiences and whether you have any projects like that planned for the future?

Yoshiki: When I was 10 years old, I lost my father, he committed suicide, so I had a pretty depressed childhood. I kind of understand the pain some children have, so several years ago I tried to create my own charity foundation, trying to support children who have that kind of pain. Unfortunately right after started my foundation, the big earthquake happened in Japan. That moment, I concentrated and focused on supporting victims of the earthquake and tsunami. When you save people, I also feel saved for some reason. I want to keep on doing this for the rest of my life.

Q: Yoshiki, you’ve recently been touring Yoshishi Classical and Pata, I know you recently played in Texas with Ra:IN. I was just wondering how preparing for these different performances and groups differ for your preparation in performing for X Japan?

Pata: Maybe the same thing… I just play guitar. (laugh)

Yoshiki: Pretty much, X Japan is my life. Everything else is like… I wouldn’t say side project but, even my classical tour when I went to many countries and places, I said ‘X Japan is my life’. It’s not like wer’re doing projects and coming back to this. We’ve been doing X Japan, it’s not like we’re going back to just play. It’s [X Japan is] in my blood. X Japan is more than a project, it’s our lives.

Q: This is for Yoshiki, how did you first find out about Otakon and made you come back again to Otakon? Also, what are your thoughts on Baltimore a city a whole?

Yoshiki: Because you guys are so cool! (laugh) Yes, I first came to Otakon in 2007? Or 2008? 2006! Wow, that’s like 8 years ago! (laugh) So that means Otakon is my first convention experience, that’s right! At that time, I was not even doing X Japan then; I wasn’t even talking to Toshi. Since then lots of things happened. The first time I came here in 2006, I did not know that we had that many fans in the US or even outside of Japan. We started finding out that people throughout the world are listening to our music. It was so cool to be surrounded by these people. Since then, it is my third time here. I came with Sugizo in 2010 when I played at Lollapalozza in 2010. So 2006, 2010, 2014… so I’m going to be here in 2018 then. (laughs) Every four years, just like the Olympics. (laughs)

Q: Since you brought up ‘blood’ a minute ago, all your fans call you ‘vampire’ and you should play Lestat in the movie. But what your fans want to know, is when are you going to do a vampire themed rock opera?

Yoshiki: Huh, good idea! I think I have a split personality disorder or something because sometimes I’m called vampire, sometimes Yoshiki… sometimes I don’t know. I also have a character called ‘Blood Red Dragon’, created by Stan Lee. Sometimes I call myself… I don’t know. I just traveled for Yoshiki Classical world tour in 10 countries, where I am, I stay up all night. It’s not jetlag or being vampirish. Is that even a word? Now it is a word. (laughs) I’m half joking and half serious; like sometimes I say ‘I’m half Japanese and half vampire.’ I like the image of being an vampire. (laugh) It’s a great idea to create a vampire rock opera. It would be cool.

Q: You’re not just a musical icon, but a fashion leader. So how do music and fashion relate to you? Was it something that just came out when you’re doing X Japan or something that was just separate from it?

Yoshiki: Before my father died, my parents owned a kimono shop, a traditional clothing show. I grew up in that kind of environment so I was always surrounded by kimono. When we started X, we had alot of interesting clothing, dyed our hair red and purple. Fashion and music are almost inseparable, at least to us; fashion is music and music is fashion. It’s really very natural to have both. So now I have YoshiKimono, the clothing line. Actually, I will be debuting YoshiKimono 2015 Tokyo Collection.

Q: Speaking of, you’ve been involved with a lot of different collaborations; credit cards, comics, wines to name a few. What other collaborations would you want to do in the future?

Yoshiki: I want to do something a little bit more musical as well. Actually, there are a few more projects coming that are very, very musical; like ‘Yoshi-something’ but a musical thing.  Again, my main focus is music, everything else is like a hobby. Something interesting is coming. I plan to do several press conference so you see I can’t talk about it yet. (laugh)

Q: Heath, we saw a video once in the past. It was Phantom of the Opera style, you were in a cage coming down and you had some people doing robot dances around you. It was an incredible bass solo, where it was joined by instruments. Will you do something similar to that again, especially in a venue like the Madison Square Garden?

Heath: I think that rock needs something shocking both musically and visually. Both the sight and sound to be shocking, that is rock; that is X Japan. Madison Square Garden has a shock to it that is not like something before so I want to do a new kind of shock in Madison Square Garden in the near future. So please look forward to it.

Q: Have any of you had any particularly memorable experiences, good or bad, when interacting with your fans?

Pata: Being able to meet up with the fans is always a great thing.

Yoshiki: We’ve been around for a long time, seen alot of bands come and go. When you’re on top of the world, sometimes you don’t realize… some bands think that they’re the best, but we exist because of fans. We can’t exist without fans. There are no ‘bad fans or good fans’; we really care about our fans. Because of our fans, X Japan reunited. Without fans, we couldn’t have reunited after all those tragedies happened to our band. We actually like to thank every single fan. Of course sometimes, we bump into crazy fans too. (laugh)

Q: Some songs on Yoshiki Classical were previouslt released with vocals. For example, ‘Amethyst’ was originally written for VioletUK and is now on Yoshiki Classical as an instrumental as well as a lot of X Japan songs. How are you able to convey the messages of the original vocal version of the songs in the instrumental version?

Yoshiki: ‘Amethyst’ was a classical from the get-go, so I didn’t really write lyrics, I actually wrote the lyrics later. What happened was, we had some event in Tokyo at an amusement park, an X Japan event. Some particular attraction had my classical music was playing. The members were there and hide said, “What is this song?” “It is one of my compositions.” “We should use this for Tokyo Dome for X Japan’s opening.” Really? I didn’t even think about that. Then, we started using ‘Amethyst’ for the Tokyo Dome show or X Japan’s show. As long as there’s a great melody, we can always put nice lyrics on top of it. X Japan songs can be instrumentals, with or without lyrics. I think of the melody first.

 

Transcript written by Christopher Brown and Alicia R. Thomas. Many thanks to YOSHIKI, PATA, HEATH, management and Otakon for having us.