For most artists, playing your biggest-ever arena concert in Europe would be enough. And for a smaller amount artists, playing said concert and doing a meet-and-greet after the show would truly put them at their limit.
Yet here is Yoshiki of X Japan finally sitting down with Fuse at nearly 1:00am after he and his band played a three-plus-hour concert at England's famous Wembley Arena, held a meet-and-greet with a truckload of fans, sat down to speak to Japanese reporters in town, held an on-camera interview with Reuters, and is now getting a chance to relax and talk with only a crew member recording our chat with a handheld video camera.
X Japan's Wembley show was delayed by nearly a year, but once it was finished, it was clear the band's frontman and superstar drummer Yoshiki was overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness. Read on for what the 51-year-old had to say about the show, the band's upcoming comeback album, international favorites like Babymetal and Perfume, and more.
FUSE: You performed this massive show show, met with fans yesterday, met with fans tonight, held a ton of interviews. First and foremost, how are you feeling?
Yoshiki: I feel lucky. I mean, the fans are amazing. We are not in the best condition—or maybe I'm not in the best condition because I was flying, flying, flying! It was a lot. But the fans are very supportive. I feel great.
What does it mean for X Japan to finally play Wembley?
First of all, we have to thank fans. I think pretty much everyone who bought tickets for the "first" Wembley show was waiting a year, they didn't refund. It's like, "Whoa." It's amazing. This is actually our first kind of arena show in Europe. In 2011, we played O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire and we toured Europe in venues that weren't much bigger. X Japan plays these kind of show in Japan and Asia so we're really glad to be able to do so.
The We Are X documentary came out recently and it's interesting that you decided to go tell your your backstory before the comeback album?
It was actually not our band's idea. Our agent in America said, "You guys have to create a documentary because the X Japan story is crazy—almost too crazy to be true." But it was a very painful process. At the beginning, I said, "There's no way we can do this. It's too painful to go back to those memories." But people around me starting saying, "This story can help people. If someone has pain inside, or they're depressed, maybe it can support them and give them courage to move on." I thought, "Okay, that's a reason to move forward."
“This is the first album after our two members passed away. I want to spread their legacy.”
Something that stuck with me in We Are X is how hard you worked to not just get noticed on a global level but, at first, in Japan. Today, someone can get noticed from a popular YouTube video. How do you feel about that?
Ultimately, there's no shortcut for hard work. You have to put in the work. That doesn't have to just be about this industry either.
What do you think of Babymetal? They initially got a lot of attention from their videos.
Oh, I love Babymetal! Actually, I happened to be in London and I saw Babymetal at the Forum. Some of their songs are similar to X Japan. I think their producer liked us. [Laughs] I met them, first in London and they came to one of our shows in Japan. I think it's really amazing to combine those really heavy sounds with kawaii, singer-dance music. I love it!
Perfume has also spoken about having similar ambitions to X Japan, saying they want to be the first J-pop act to perform at Madison Square Garden. Are you a fan?
I met Perfume at a TV show and we took a picture together. They are very nice and very beautiful. I love that music, kind of like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's style. Their choreography is very good and they use a lot of technology and LED elements—there's something we can learn from them as well.
During the show, you said the new album is 99 percent done. Are you satisfied with it?
I think so, yes. It can be a little controversial, some people are expecting another X Japan that isn't any different. But we're always evolving. We might be experimental, but we're still edgy and heavy. It's like, mentally, when we were creating past music, we were kind of "not there" when we were recording. You have to, well, we tried as much as we could. At that time, it was almost like an obligation. This time, we really want to put this album out. We've been in the studio and working with Marilyn Manson, he's my friend.
What's your main source of inspiration for the album?
This is the first album after our two members passed away and we do kind of have a message. A message to make them proud and I want to spread their legacy. hide was an amazing guitar player and a very charismatic person. Taiji was also an amazing bass player, you know, we fought a lot, but an amazing bass player. Without them, we are not here. I want to show how great they were to the world.
Why do you think fans have stayed so loyal?
We say, "We are X!" and that "we" includes the fans, it's not just the members. I don't know, it's just, we got here together. Not only from Japanese fans, I read messages on Twitter from fans around the world, whether they're from the U.S. or Latin America, it's so amazing. I don't know how long we're going to last. [Laughs] Because we play very hard. I'd like to tell the fans that we'd like to keep on rocking as much as we can, we'd like to visit your country, we're going to rock you anywhere in the world.