VAMPS, the visually arresting rock band featuring HYDE (L’Arc-en-Ciel) and K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust), are one of the most popular bands in Japanese music.
Since forming in 2008, they have released three studio albums and four live DVDs, all of them showcasing the band’s signature approach to their craft: grand-scale theatrics and drama married to expert playing and song-writing – a potent combination that has led to them playing hundreds of shows at in their home country, taking over Japanese arenas for multiple nights in a row, a series of annual Vamps-curated festivals (including their legendary Halloween event and late summer Beast Party) and growing a global fan-base dedicated to both the band’s music and message.
“I want our audiences to feel the wild and immoral side of rock culture. And, as we are vampires, our show will obviously be different from that of any other rock band!!” laughs HYDE.
In the wake of two international album releases, ‘SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL’ in 2013 and ‘BLOODSUCKERS’ in 2015, the VAMPS name is being talked about beyond their native land – continuing down a path started in 2010 when the band recorded a live DVD in Chile (‘VAMPS LIVE 2010 WORLD TOUR CHILE’), a title which hit the #1 spot on the Japanese DVD chart; in addition, their album of the time, ‘BEAST’, was a Top 5 entry on the South American chart, the first time a Japanese artist achieved such a feat.
In support of ‘SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL’, VAMPS teamed up with Live Nation in 2014 for a tour across Europe, including a performance at Download Festival in the UK.
2015 saw the global release of ‘BLOODSUCKERS’, a Top 5 Japanese album including the singles ‘WORLD’S END’ (featured in Sony’s Xperia mobile campaign), ‘VAMPIRE’S LOVE’, a Top 3 single launching Hollywood blockbuster, ‘Dracula Untold’ in Japan; ‘REPLAY’, the theme song for ‘Dark Labyrinth’, a world famous smartphone app from ‘Dark Summoner’, downloaded over six million times; and ‘THE JOLLY ROGER’, featured in the TV commercial for Nissan’s X-Trail SUV.
“The ‘BLOODSUCKERS’ release was a significant moment for us,” reflects HYDE, “as it’s always been our ambition to be in the same position as artists from the UK or the US, artists I listened to when I was a kid. It was actually this desire to be successful around the world that drove me to create VAMPS and to get the whole project moving forward…
“Our goal is to get our music played on the radio right after the songs from other bands I admire, to perform on the main-stage at rock festivals, to enter the US Billboard chart… all of the things that most acts want to achieve in their career.”
“Music shouldn’t really have any boundaries,” sums up K.A.Z, “everything should be possible.”
VAMPS’ 2015 world tour kicked off in Jakarta, before the band headed out on a US run with Sixx:A.M. – the band they had invited to play at their own festival, ‘VAMPARK FEST’, earlier in the year (Gerard Way, Nothing More and Buckcherry were amongst the other names on the bill), and Apocalyptica. Vamps also headlined shows in New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Taiwan, San Francisco in 2015, as well as a sold-out show at the world renowned Roxy in Los Angeles and performed at some of the biggest US Spring festivals including Rock On The Range, Welcome To Rockville and Fort Rock. They concluded the year with an extensive South America tour (hitting Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico) before returning to UK soil as Special Guest on the Apocalyptica UK tour in late November – a darky thrilling on-the-road package supported by the collaborative single of the two bands, ‘SIN IN JUSTICE’.
“We decided to think differently,” says HYDE, “to take a whole new approach. By bringing overseas artists to Japan to play on our shows, we feel we can start to work more organically with them, to create a certain bond…”
“The ‘exchange tour’ concept is a great way for our fans to hear the music of other bands,” nods K.A.Z, “and of course it can work the other way too, creating opportunities for us to perform outside of Japan and to collaborate on fresh musical projects. It’s a wide world, and it’s always exciting to have the chance to try something new.”
In early 2016, the band went into the studio in Los Angeles with Grammy nominated producer Howard Benson (Papa Roach, Three Days Grace) to work on new music for a Fall 2016 EP to be released via Spinefarm Records, who have been working with VAMPS internationally since ‘SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ ROLL’.
The first double single, "Inside Of Me/Rise Or Die" will be released on September 16th, with the former song featuring guest artist Chris Motionless from Motionless In White, and the latter being co-written by VAMPS and Richard Z. Kruspe from Emigrate/Rammstein.
VAMPS will be playing six Tokyo shows in September (with In This Moment and Apocalyptica supporting) before heading back to the US for headline dates this November.