Interview with RYUICHI, J and SUGIZO

interview - 11.27.2010 17:45

JaME met up with three members of LUNA SEA before their first world tour concert in Germany.

On Friday afternoon, the day before the first concert of their world tour, JaME met up with RYUICHI, J and SUGIZO in Germany for an interview. All three men appeared relaxed and comfortable as they answered our questions about the show in Bochum, the history of LUNA SEA, their solo activities and more.

Seeing as most people are already familiar with the members of LUNA SEA, we would like to ask you to introduce yourselves in a different way. Please introduce the band member next to you, and tell us something interesting about him that many fans might not know.

RYUICHI: This is our guitarist, SUGIZO.

SUGIZO: Nice to meet you (laughs). This is J, bassist.

J: RYUICHI, our vocalist

And how about something interesting about each of you?

SUGIZO: J sometimes puts his sunglasses on top of his head, and then he forgets and searches for them because he can’t find them. (laughs)

Tomorrow you will play your first ever show in Europe. How do you feel about this? Had you ever thought you'd be performing here?

RYUICHI: When we first started out as an indies band, we didn’t think about it, that we would be playing outside of Japan and going worldwide. We were really surprised and excited that our music spread so much all over the world in the last ten years. It got spread through the internet, and it really spread by itself. So we were really surprised and really excited about it. It’s a really good surprise for us; we’re really happy about it. It shows us that we didn’t do anything wrong, that we did the right thing. When we listen to the old songs, they don’t sound old to us. It’s also good for us, for our self esteem, that we are told that we did things right and the music was good, because when we started out no one told us such a thing. So now it’s proof to us that we were right.

How have you prepared for this tour?

RYUICHI: We rehearsed for about a whole month.

SUGIZO: It was a really Spartan, hard rehearsal for us.

How did you decide on the set list?

J: It’s going to be 100% LUNA SEA, the songs that we think that will leave the biggest impression on people and will express the opinion of LUNA SEA most.

In a previous interview it was mentioned that you are working on new songs. Will you be playing any new songs tomorrow night?

SUGIZO: Not yet, but we’re working on it.

Why was Bochum chosen as the only European concert location of your tour? Why not Berlin, for example?

RYUICHI: We had many offers from other countries, but we noticed that this promoter was working really hard on it. We thought they did the best job and had the right vision, so we thought it would be the best idea to do it here in Germany. And why not Berlin…we just noticed that the people here and the networks here work so closely together, so we had a good feeling about it. So we didn’t think “Why Bochum, I don’t want to go there,” we never thought anything like that.

SUGIZO: It is also very LUNA SEA-like to only do one gig in Europe, and one show in the United States.

It’s been several years since you have performed on stage together, and in these years you have all grown and changed a lot. How has the chemistry on stage between you changed, and what has stayed the same?

J: This is the next step for us. It’s not like we’re fooling around, we know what we’re doing and we know what we want. We’re bringing it to a higher level to perform together. Ten years ago, and also the ten years before that was very different. Each member has a new perspective, has experienced new things in life, and this all brought together made us grow up. Before there were different reasons, but the most important part now is that everybody knows what they’re doing; we have a new perspective.

The first ten years of LUNA SEA was a very impressive time. How did this period change you as a person?

SUGIZO: It’s not like going to the office to work every day, it’s a very deep experience and there are many memories. Those years went by very fast, it was through our 20s and 30s, which is the period when people grow up, when you find yourself, so that was really intense. So through the music, we grew up and became adults.

RYUICHI: As an office worker, there are many things you are told to do. But when you’re a musician, you have to be creative every day, and find new things to do. You have to be more independent compared to the usual worker.

You are one of the pioneers of visual kei. Since your start, the style has changed a lot. Do you still keep up with the recent developments in the visual kei area, and what do you think about them?

RYUICHI: There are many bands that say they want to be like LUNA SEA, and that makes us very proud. We know it’s different now and there are different styles and they should just keep doing what they want to do. We really enjoy that they want to be like LUNA SEA, we really hope that they will be successful. So we respect them.

During your career you have tried many different fashion styles, with a very extreme look in the first few years. How do you feel when you see photos of yourself from that period?

J: Everybody is a little ashamed when they look back at old photos, for example from high school or an earlier period, like “what look did I have back then?!” Of course we think like that too when we’re looking at old pictures. But also, it was really original, we were really unique. We were told by other people that we were crazy, and “why would you wear stuff like that?” Maybe it’s mean to say, but nowadays there are a lot bands trying to be original, but it doesn’t really work out and there are a lot of copies. Back then, our look was original and really something new.

RYUICHI, you have performed in some musicals, such as the Broadway musical Chicago. How was it, incorporating acting while you sang? Was it difficult to get used to?

RYUICHI: Acting is very different from singing because you have to represent or interpret someone else, not yourself, so it’s a different role. I had to put myself into this role as a lawyer, and so it was very challenging for me.

RYUICHI, you mentioned in one of the promotional videos for this tour that you are interested in German towns. What interests you about them?

RYUICHI: I really like cars and watches, and here in Germany you have brands like Mercedes Benz, so I’m very interested about that. Also, the towns here are very clean and there’s no trash on the streets, so it feels similar to some parts of Japan.

This question is for J. You have produced several bands, how do you decide which artists you want to produce?

J: I think there’s a chance for everyone in music, so for me the band doesn’t need to be talented; you don’t need to have great instrumental skills. When I choose a band, I go and watch the band live, and when I see the power and feel the hunger in them, that’s when I make my decision. It’s not their technical ability, it’s the feeling I get when they play their music.

Can you please tell us something about your newest project, Dessert Flame Frequency?

J: I like hard music, heavy music, and this type of music is very translatable, people can instantly interpret it. I feel that music isn’t just for listening to, it’s all about the passion. So I decided I’m going to get rid of my amps, the electric stuff, and I went to experiment with an acoustic sound. And even with the acoustic instruments, I feel that I’m still able to produce hard music. I found it interesting that I could find this new way of conveying my music, in a non-stereotypical way.

Will there be any CD releases?

J: I don’t have any CD releases planned, but I do have a DVD coming out soon. However, it’s only available for my own fan club, but it is something I’m working on.

SUGIZO, you play a lot of instruments, but you also compose music and produce music. Out of everything you’ve done, what do you like best?

SUGIZO: That’s very difficult…it’s impossible for me to pick a single thing, to pick a favorite, because everything that I do in the end comes back into the flow of LUNA SEA. Whatever we do separately in the end still connects back to LUNA SEA. I can’t really pick one thing, but whatever I’m doing at the moment, that’s the most important thing to me. It goes both ways: whatever I do by myself, it goes back to LUNA SEA, but also the other way around - whatever I am experiencing right now with LUNA SEA, it goes back into my solo projects. Whatever you do, whatever you’re facing in life, the new experiences and everything we learn, they are all very important. From everything you do, you learn something new, so that’s very important as well.

Christmas is just around the corner. How do you usually celebrate it, and are there any Christmas celebrations you like in particular?

SUGIZO: I like going to the church on Christmas day, I like to go to mass. I’m not a Christian or Catholic, but I like the celebration. It’s like a big Jesus birthday party, it’s a very important day.

In a previous interview, SUGIZO mentioned that you are working on new material for LUNA SEA. Can you tell us some more about this? What are your plans?

RYUICHI: We’re working very hard on it at this moment.

J: We have very big news for everyone coming up soon, but right now it’s all still secret. So please look forward to more news coming from LUNA SEA next week.

Lastly, please give a message to your international fans.

SUGIZO: It is a great honor for us to be here in Europe, playing a show with LUNA SEA. For me this feels like the first step, but I hope that there will be a second time to come back to see everyone. So if everything goes well with the concert tomorrow, I’m looking forward to coming back again.

J: First of all, so much time has passed. We’re sitting here now, and it’s already strange to me that the three of us together are doing this interview. And this is already a sign to me that so much time has passed. The show is coming up tomorrow, I’m really excited about it. People from Germany and all over Europe are coming, and then we’ll be expanding it by going to Los Angeles and going across the world. Our music has spread across the world to so many people and I’m looking forward to coming back again and meeting new people across the world.

RYUICHI: Many people have never seen us live in person, but I’m very thankful that all these people are buying our DVDs and CDs without having had the chance to watch us live. Because it’s going to be the first time for so many people, we have to bring a show that will exceed everyone’s expectations, everybody’s imaginations of what LUNA SEA is about. Because of this I want to work really hard on this concert.

Thank you very much for the interview and good luck with your show tomorrow.

JaME would like to thank LUNA SEA, Takeshi Asai, Paul Chu and the translators for making this interview happen. Also, many thanks to Cynthia.
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