Japanese pop culture has made its presence felt over time and now the musical side is slowly attracting fans across the globe. For the rock outfit known as VAMPS, they have quickly built a loyal following within their home country while also attracting curious fans internationally as well.
They released their third album (and their first release via Spinefarm Records) in 2014 titled Bloodsuckers, and supported SIXX: AM on a US tour, which included an appearance at Rock On The Range in Columbus, OH. They had previously headlined US tours in 2009 and 2010, and invited SIXX: AM to perform on their Vamp Park Fest in Tokyo in February 2015. The band will be doing their first ever live dates in South America, as well as shows in Los Angeles, CA at the Roxy (October 5th) and in San Francisco, CA at Slims (October 7th), and supporting Apocalyptica’s UK tour in November.
Vocalist and guitarist Hyde talked about sharing a stage with an iconic figure such as Nikki Sixx and how much of an inspiration he was on him as a musician.
“It was really hard to believe that we are on the same stage as Nikki Sixx. The reason why is because that was the first opportunity for me to pick up the guitar because of Motley Crue and that was the biggest surprise. I was so excited.”
So how different is it to support a band like SIXX:AM versus previous headlining runs? “The biggest difference is it’s not our own show. This is SIXX AM’s shows and of course SIXX AM is the main act and we get pressure for that too. At the same time, we get a great chance to expose ourselves to different fans,” Hyde said.
Unlike past releases, Bloodsuckers was released simultaneously across the globe, and followed by live dates supporting the album. Hyde explained that the way they had promoted their past records in Japan was taken into consideration when they were making this one.
“What the biggest difference is this time we released the album and did the live show at the same time internationally. In Japan, we have been doing the record release and the follow up tour is a normal thing, but this is the first try for international releases and the tour together.”
The band worked with producer Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Hatebreed) on Bloodsuckers, and while they had previously recorded their previous albums in English, lead guitarist K-A-Z said it helped push the band’s overall performance.
“Every time we do a recording, we always try to bring us up to a higher level. This time is no different. This time we tried to achieve some quality of the sound and the music. We always try to step up to the next level.”
The challenge of recording songs in English despite it not being their native language is often a challenge, but Hyde admitted that the recording process was not as strenuous as in the past.
“Yes it is all the time. But time wise, we would be spending the time to record one song sometimes the whole day in the past. It got shorter and shorter,” he said.
Hyde explained the back story around Bloodsuckers and how the title pays homage to their diehard fanbase who have supported the band over the years. He explained how the name came together.
“Actually when we call the fans in Japan, we call them by the area or the city, like ‘Hello Osaka’ or ‘Hello Nagoya,’ but sometimes I made a mistake about the location and also it’s not that cool. Then I was thinking what is a nicer way to call the fans. I’ve been looking in the dictionary what the meaning of vampires and I found a really cool nickname ‘Bloodsuckers.’ So that’s where it comes from.”
The album opens with a melodic yet anthemic tune titled “Zero,” which took them into creating a sound somewhat different than their previous material. Both Hyde and K-A-Z both explained how this song came together and what it means overall to VAMPS.
“Lyric wise, zero means start and also means the end. Also lyric wise, this is yourself. I like to express and also describe a little sexier music wise,” said Hyde.
“Music wise I tried what we’ve never tried as VAMPS before. Also this is the song that’s catchy and even hearing it for the first time you can really understand it easily. That’s kind of a new thing,” added K-A-Z.
Lastly, VAMPS is often mentioned as part of the J-Rock movement, a subgenre tagged onto artists from Japan and fans have often been attracted to. K-A-Z was unsure how to explain this phenomenon they were lumped into, but still shared his thoughts on the matter.
“We don’t even know what J-Rock is! It’s very hard to describe what J-Rock is because even when it’s called J-Rock, there are so many different elements of the music and again the styles of the band. Some bands are very heavy and some bands are poppy and some bands are very visual oriented. Even if we’re here, whatever you call it, we still don’t know and it’s hard to express or explain what J-Rock is. It’s probably what the international people put that on J-Rock. It’s easier for them to describe.”