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X-Japan embarks on first ever American tour
August 17, 2010 4:35 PM   Subscribe

X-Japan, arguably Japan's most famous rock band ever, is touring America for the very first time. The founders of the musical movement known as Visual Kai, X-Japan are virtually unknown outside of the kotaku and metalheads with a penchant for the dramatic. But their distinctly Japanese fashion and dramatic, theatrical speed metal music proved to make them enormously popular in Japan during their hayday. Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi even is an admitted fan of the band. Over the course of 6 studio albums the band presented everything from raw speed metal to 30 plus minute epics. And now, for the first time ever, be touring North America after a featured spot on Lollapalooza's main stage this summer.
posted by mediocre (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Japan8ese!
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:38 PM on August 17, 2010


This could actually work; I've been noticing a lot of 90s babies seem to have a sincere interest in 80s metal these days. I was surprised to see so many teens and early 20-somethings in Iron Maiden shirts when that band rolled through town recently. That said, X-Japan is no Guitar Wolf and I'll skip this one, thanks.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:47 PM on August 17, 2010


Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Everybody I can think is, like, Boris and Merzbow and such.
posted by box at 4:56 PM on August 17, 2010


Ain't it called "Visual Kei?

I've never really paid attention to this, so it's a cool post. My first real introduction last week was at a local coffee shop. A red-headed, superhawt barista had " 雅 " tattoed on her arm, and I was curious as to why. It reads "miyabi" in Japanese, but is also read as "masa" (used sometimes in male names) or "kei". She explained that she had the tattoo on her arms because of Visual Kei, and that's why she has 雅/ikei on her arm.

Although I probably won't check out Visual Kei, it was a great chance to chat her up!
posted by KokuRyu at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2010


Visual kei, you mean?
posted by jiawen at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2010


Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Loudness. My wife has all of the their albums.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:59 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Don't know if they're popular in Japan or not, but Shonen Knife is awesome and I just got tickets for their show in Vancouver.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:01 PM on August 17, 2010


I can't help but notice lately how insular cultural phenomena can be. Dr. Who is practically a way of life to British fans but most Americans haven't ever heard of it. (regionally) Huge artists like Utada Hikaru and X-Japan here could walk the American streets wearing what they do on the album covers and go wholly unrecognized.

In a way, it's depressing. For all the internet has brought us, it has yet to bring thriving intercultural communication to the average person. Too much is still dictated by region and language. I think we'd all be much more well-rounded if there was more cultural dialog, and appreciation for things that are household names halfway around the world.
posted by Phyltre at 5:04 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember Loudness but I thought Melt Banana was the most famous.
posted by Max Power at 5:05 PM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow. I've known of the band for some while (being a self-described otaku, not Kotaku), but didn't realize they had never toured in the US.

I wonder what the validity is of this statement from the first link: ""Visual-Kei," the Japanese music movement that helped spark the current world-wide Anime craze -- as an anime fan, I figured more people knew of anime first, then Visual-Kei.

Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Within or outside of Japan? Checking the various bands listed under the wiki category of Visual kei artists, I came across Aion, who are listed as "one of the 5 bands to start the Japanese Visual Kei movement in the mid 80s." Outside of Japan, Puffy AmiYumi had a TV show on Cartoon Network in 2004-2006.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:06 PM on August 17, 2010


X Japan is not X Japan without hide, who played with the band for 10 years before his death in 1997. This gives me the same kind of squidgy feeling in my stomach that you'd get if they tried to reform Nirvana without Kurt Cobain.
posted by Jeanne at 5:07 PM on August 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Loudness. My wife has all of the their albums."


Loudness. Oh, hell yeah. They were even big in Utah.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:24 PM on August 17, 2010


O......M........G....what. Oh, my fucking God, WHAT?

.....FUCK $51 for a ticket???

Oh God, now I'm gonna go watch this and cry like a baby while I debate this. "Foreeeeeeeeever loooooooooooove~..."
posted by kkokkodalk at 5:25 PM on August 17, 2010


I would go see them purely on account of having seen their guitarist Sugizo when he played with Juno Reactor. He was amazing.
Alas, no European tour dates as far as I can tell.

On preview: he's the stand-in for Hide, according to Wikipedia)
posted by _Lasar at 5:28 PM on August 17, 2010


When I went to art school in Chicago in the early 90s, there was this rad Japanese kid (from Japan even) who was way in to all of the metal acts that we ran out of this country on a rail post-Nevermind.

I loved looking through his Japanese music mags because the design and typography seemed so exotic and cool.

What I learned:

• Enuff Z'Nuff were revered as heroes over there.

• Warrior Soul were revered as heroes over there.

• Bullet Boys were revered as heroes over there.

and so forth.

What was truly bizarre is that they seemed to love our mid-level successful metal acts (Junkyard, Sleez Beez) more than our huge ones (Metallica, Megadeth)

This band seems to prove that that whole scene is very much alive and well over there, which is cool as hell even though it is terrifically "uncool" in so many ways.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:53 PM on August 17, 2010


One of the standard pranks in high school, among my peers, would be to IM photos of visual kei artists to one another, asking "she's hot, isn't she?" and revealing the truth after getting an affirmative response.
posted by griphus at 6:01 PM on August 17, 2010


My housemate says Tigers was pretty big too (even getting a Rolling Stone cover in the 60s).
posted by Karmakaze at 6:06 PM on August 17, 2010


"I remember Loudness but I thought Melt Banana was the most famous."

I once played a show with Melt Banana at a tiny art gallery in Ann Arbor to a crowd of about 50 people (which was probably a few short years after Loudness was touring with Van Halen).

My only thoughts about X-Japan since living in Japan: it seems that they're the one of only a few visual-kei bands who have enough mainstream recognition that people can like them without being labeled a goth/cosplayer. But then again, as a teacher around teenage kids who just listen to Arashi, my observations could be a bit skewed.
posted by p3t3 at 6:30 PM on August 17, 2010


Yeah the neo-thrash thing ala Municipal Waste is totally played at this point, don't know how much more retro speed metal I need. Plus, Yellow Machinegun did it 10 years ago, with bonus points for an all woman line up.
posted by The Straightener at 6:38 PM on August 17, 2010


I was considering checking out X Japan at Lollapalooza, and was especially encouraged by my more "Japanfan" oriented friends. I ended up not seeing them, but I heard they were one of the best non-headliner shows of the entire festival, drawing a very sizeable crowd. I can see the appeal.
posted by Askiba at 6:39 PM on August 17, 2010


Perhaps Japan's most famous band is Pink Lady?

(HAMBURGER in case anyone is worried.)
posted by wittgenstein at 6:51 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sounds like Japanese Iron Maiden w/ a Poison/David Bowie visual aesthetic.

So, pretty cool.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:28 PM on August 17, 2010


I don't know if they are famous, but for straight ahead Japanese rock (sorry, not that into metal) I would pick High Rise.

Turn You Cry

Disallow
posted by puny human at 7:36 PM on August 17, 2010


and also, the hard to categorize Tokyo Kid Brothers.

The I Kind of Hate My Father Rock

I LOVE YOU KINO SAN
posted by puny human at 7:52 PM on August 17, 2010


The biggest selling band in Japan (and I believe in the entire world) is B'z:

B'z has released 43 consecutive #1 singles, 23 #1 albums, and sold more than 78 million records in Japan alone.[1] Under the recommendation of Steve Vai, B'z became the first band from Asia to have their handprints and signatures put up in the Hollywood's RockWalk.[2]

Once again, my wife has all of their records, and we named our son after Inaba Koshi, the (extremely sexy) lead singer.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:13 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, maybe not the entire world.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:14 PM on August 17, 2010


My favorite Japanese rock band is L'arc-en-C'iel, but they aren't really hair metal. There lead singer is a very pretty dude, though.
posted by chunking express at 8:38 PM on August 17, 2010


Since we're having a link party, Guitar Wolf and Shonen Knife
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:43 PM on August 17, 2010


"Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Loudness. My wife has all of the their albums."


"LIKE! HELL! I'm gonna do it...LIKE! HELL!"

They were pretty famous, but were they Intestine Baalism famous?

OK, I guess having to play in some store after dark eliminates a band from contention. Bathtub Shitter can take their spot.
posted by ignignokt at 10:42 PM on August 17, 2010


Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?

Surely Chage and Aska - those guys are huge.

But anyway Thee Michelle Gun Elephant leave all Japanese guitar bands for dead.
posted by awfurby at 10:44 PM on August 17, 2010


This Thee Michelle Gun Elephant video is great.
posted by awfurby at 10:49 PM on August 17, 2010


Ooh, ooh, Japanese band link party?

Polysics, who I love forever and ever, like the secret 12-year-old fangirl that I am.

Electric Eel Shock, who are metal as all hell.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:51 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a way, it's depressing. For all the internet has brought us, it has yet to bring thriving intercultural communication to the average person.

In a way, it's not, though. We get to not be a homogenous lump, visiting other countries gets to be more entertaining, and artists get to have places where they won't be mobbed/hassled when they walk down the street.
posted by kersplunk at 11:25 PM on August 17, 2010


And snobs get to say "I can't believed you've not heard of [insert foreign band here]".
posted by kersplunk at 11:26 PM on August 17, 2010


Ooh, ooh, Japanese band link party?

I'll contribute, haven't really been keeping up with Japanese music lately, though I've really liked the last couple of Chatmonchy albums.

What was truly bizarre is that they seemed to love our mid-level successful metal acts (Junkyard, Sleez Beez) more than our huge ones (Metallica, Megadeth)

And I'd guess Merzbow and Shonen Knife are better known than B'z outside Japan, yeah it is kinda odd. (And I'd never heard of Junkyard till now, God they're awful sounding, I can't believe one of their members has been in both Minor Threat and Bad Religion yet did that awful 80s metal thing in between).
posted by bobo123 at 12:03 AM on August 18, 2010


There's also Malice Mizer.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:04 AM on August 18, 2010


"Who are the other contenders for 'Japan's most famous rock band ever'?
BOREDOMS!
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:31 AM on August 18, 2010


Not a guitar band, but the the band probably most beloved by 30- and 40-somethings in Japan would have to be Mr. Children.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:18 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, only one of my 4 links worked somehow. Ugh, it's too hot today.

Anyways, here's one of the Guitar Wolf links I tried last night from their awesome movie Wild Zero. The DVD special features include a drinking game!
posted by Kirk Grim at 8:47 AM on August 18, 2010


In a way, it's depressing. For all the internet has brought us, it has yet to bring thriving intercultural communication to the average person.

It takes time; cultural osmosis is slow. Without the internet i would never have become a big fan of Tokyo Jihen and I'm a white 45 year old.
posted by ambulocetus at 6:46 PM on August 18, 2010


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