SUGIZO on LUNA SEA
Recently, LUNA SEA announced their revival for a world tour and guitarist SUGIZO gives his view on the band's current activities.
LUNA SEA will be reviving in November for a world tour. What brought about this reunion?
SUGIZO: These past few years, the band’s relationship has been very good. Of course almost ten years ago, LUNA SEA’s mood was very bad and making music was difficult. Even though we stopped making music, we didn’t break up. Three years ago, we reunited for just one day and the feeling was really good. LUNA SEA’s music itself was really good and I think the music and songs guided us.
What made LUNA SEA decide on a world tour?
SUGIZO: That one concert about three years ago made us want more. I think performing at many important areas will be good for us. Although this will be the first time for us and we were nervous at first, a lot of American and European fans gave us a lot of courage and encouragement.
Why were these specific locations chosen? Do you think one location in Europe and the US is enough for the fans?
SUGIZO: This tour is just a first time for us—but it won’t be the last time! We didn’t want to do too much for this tour. A single show's meaning, just like that one show three years ago at Tokyo Dome, is extremely important. Los Angeles is the center of world music and entertainment. As for Germany, Germans really love Japanese music and really want to have it. So these single shows in each area are extremely important.
As you said, Los Angeles is the center of world music and you have been to Los Angeles for quite a number of times now.
SUGIZO: Yes! So many times!
What about the other LUNA SEA members? Is there anything you would like to show them or any activities you’d recommend them to do while you are there?
SUGIZO: I think our bassist, J, really likes Los Angeles a lot. For example, I moved to London a long time ago—maybe thirteen or fourteen years ago when we all started our own solo work and I really loved London and England’s indie music culture scene. But J really wanted to come here to Los Angeles. His music style is really American. I think he still loves Los Angeles’s music and culture. But as for the other members, I’m not too sure. Ryuichi probably just likes Japan.
What do you enjoy about Los Angeles in particular?
SUGIZO: I really love the beach areas. Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice are my favorite places. They're very beautiful and free. I have a lot of good memories with my daughter at those places. When my daughter was little, we’d go there to play and roller-blade a lot. But now that she’s getting bigger, she doesn’t want to go with me any more!
Do you think the memories and music culture of the area around your upcoming performances will influence LUNA SEA in any way?
SUGIZO: We just play our own style, but I hope our audience will love our style. I have played in the US and Europe many times, but this will be LUNA SEA’s first time and it's very important. But I love the audience’s mood in these places.
What do you hope the fans reaction will be for LUNA SEA?
SUGIZO: I think I just really want an American style reaction. They’re Americans and they like Japanese music—it’s fantastic! I had the X JAPAN show last night and their feelings were great! Of course the reaction was very different from Japanese fans. They did their best at the show and they really want to follow us. This feeling is so beautiful and I really love it. I would also love for LUNA SEA to have this sort of feeling.
In the last three years, you’ve performed twice as LUNA SEA. What was it like to be on stage with the other members after a long time?
SUGIZO: Playing with LUNA SEA is very natural to me. It was just very natural and it felt like the last time we played together.
So your feelings never changed over time?
SUGIZO: Our feelings never changed but our skill level has. It has gotten really good. For the past seven years, we all have had so many shows and made so much music that our skill has been raised to a much higher level. It is really nice and comfortable now. Music skill level is so important for playing and sending our message.
Do you think that these experiences as a solo artist and with your other bands such as X JAPAN change the way you see or perform LUNA SEA songs in any way?
SUGIZO: Yes of course. My style is just my own style, but my playing style is different. I usually really enjoy different styles and I think I have the capacity for different styles of music. Of course, both my solo work and LUNA SEA’s music come naturally for me. X JAPAN, for example, is really different from my natural playing style. Their style is basically rooted in heavy metal and I haven’t played the heavy metal type of music for a long time. But back then, when I was a high school student, I really loved that style of music, practised a lot and really learned that sort of style. So I already had that type of skill. It's a very good skill to have for the different sides of my guitar playing.
So you learn diverse guitar skills?
SUGIZO: Yes! I can learn any type of guitar skills. This is a very special thing. I am not a beginner now; I have been playing guitar for 25 years, but I still have so many challenges and difficulties. I am a very lucky guy, but I think I should learn more. I am still a student!
Are you still learning the violin?
SUGIZO: Yes of course. I have been doing shows where I have played just the violin for the past few years and I think my skills have been getting better recently. When I played with LUNA SEA during the 1990’s, my violin part was very little. I didn’t need any practice. Recently, however, I needed to play the violin more and more! It's very good for my violin skills. I play it better in certain aspects. For example, in improvisation, playing the violin is better for me. I don’t know why, but the melodies are freer for me. When just playing, or when I need something more rhythmic, the guitar is better. It is very different. I should play the violin more, especially in X JAPAN. All of a sudden, I must play more and play new songs I have never played before. And suddenly, I must learn. Anything in X JAPAN’s schedule can suddenly be changed!
Does learning ever get easier as time goes on?
SUGIZO: No, not easier. Learning is very important. But I must think positively.
Which songs do you look forward to playing again as LUNA SEA?
SUGIZO: Which songs?! That is so difficult! There are so many songs I want to play again as LUNA SEA. It’s not a popular song, but a very deep and huge-scale song titled Virgin Mary. It's a song from our last album and is about 10 minutes long. I would really like to play this song.
Did LUNA SEA play it often while touring?
SUGIZO: Not so much, it’s a difficult song. But with the growth of all of the members, we can play it a lot better now.
Do you think there’s a chance of new LUNA SEA songs in the near future?
SUGIZO: Yes of course! We are writing new songs right now.
Is it easier writing new songs with more experience?
SUGIZO: I think it depends on our feelings at that time. As our feelings right now are good, the music writing is not too difficult. But when we have an ego, making music becomes difficult. We don’t need any ego in our music and we should play and make music just for our self expression. It is not for our negative self expression and egos. We don’t need those feelings because we fight when we have them. When we have those feelings, we can’t write music any more.
Lately, you have been working on X JAPAN’s activities, LUNA SEA’s upcoming tour and your solo project. Where do you find the time for all of this work?
SUGIZO: I don’t have the time. It’s actually a very big problem. But it’s really simple—I can forgo my sleep. It’s not too hard for me. I just love music.
Many visual kei bands active today see LUNA SEA as a big influence. What are your thoughts on this scene today as a major influencer of these bands? Do you feel any pressure?
SUGIZO: I’m sorry I don’t pay attention to many bands or visual kei bands nowadays. I have some friends such as Dir en grey and oh, I don’t have many friends. Miyavi is my friend too. I’m sorry I don’t know any bands nowadays. I don’t feel any pressure. The Japanese music scene has a lot of visual kei bands, but their music is not very interesting to me. They cannot make good sounds and music is more like a hobby for them. I cannot feel their soul in the music, but a few artists are great! I want to make friends with them as musicians.
Lastly, please leave a message for your fans.
SUGIZO: I always say “simple things.” Music has no borders, we have no borders. It’s very important. I really want to join you and create a sense of unity with you. I think just we can do that—any musicians, any rock music, any art and even any entertainment—we can do that. Japanese and Chinese politicians have been fighting recently. That is just the problem of the politicians. Right-wing people and any politicians want problems at any time. I don’t agree with that. Only musicians and fans can get unity. We should send a message to politicians that we don’t want any fighting. I believe in the power of music and our beautiful relationship. It is very important for our world. I really want to meet more audiences. I want to touch their heart and feelings and it is really important for our growth.
JaME would like to thank SUGIZO, LUNA SEA, Maru Music and Yaz Noya for the opportunity to hold this interview. JaME also thanks Zhang Jingna photography.