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[Interview] K.A.Z from VAMPS Talks about 'SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ROLL' and the World (Part 1)

With the best album and also VAMPS' world debut album, "SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ROLL" under their belt, VAMPS has gone on a European tour and is preparing for their US tour at the end of the year. For VAMPS, who have begun to advance onto the world stage, "SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ROLL" is their first big step. Since the album was intended for worldwide release, all the songs were re-recorded entirely in English, some parts of the music were newly recorded, and the songs were mixed so that they have the best possible sound quality. This interview was conducted in September at "VAMPS LIVE 2013" at ZEPP FUKUOKA as VAMPS was putting the finishing touches on their album. K.A.Z talks about VAMPS' continuously evolving sound.

- VAMPS image

■The point of view of the song is a unique one that Westerners can't mimic.
■Maybe when people hear it, they'll think, "Where is this band from?"

──When thinking about "SEX BLOOD ROCK N' ROLL," do you think of it more as a best album or your first album geared toward other countries?

K.A.Z: I really think of it as both. But in the sense that we haven't yet formally put out a CD directed toward the rest of the world, of course it's a first album. We first started VAMPS with the idea that we also wanted to do things overseas, so conversely it feels like we're finally doing that.

──I think I understand that feeling.

K.A.Z: I always had this feeling of impatience that we weren't able to do something that seemed so simple. In the field of music, I think that Japan is a little behind in terms of distribution. I always wondered why, even though Japan has various types of music, Japan doesn't seek to distribute more music outside the country. Japan does this with sports and movies, but I think that music is really far behind in that effort. If we don't do this well, won't both the music itself and the music business fail to advance? Domestically, maybe there is a certain amount of business that can be done, but it would be even better for record companies to shift their focus outward, and from the point of view of bands, I think that seems more promising.

──In a way, this album can be viewed as something that will raise questions about the current situation in the Japanese music industry.

K.A.Z: I think so. It's actually simple, but in the Japanese music scene, I don't think that allowing people overseas to listen to our music is a very prominent idea.

──What are your feelings about putting out a best album?

K.A.Z: I was like, "We've only put out two original albums, so is this okay?" (laughs)
──But those two albums were made over five years, and VAMPS has been doing concerts that whole time. So in that way, all twenty-six songs can be thought of as VAMPS' famous songs. That makes me wonder if choosing songs for the best album was difficult for you.

K.A.Z: Strangely, it wasn't really like that. Because the songs that are on the album are also the main songs we play at concerts. But in a way, choosing songs is always difficult.

──HYDE said that he selected the songs and asked for your opinion, and you bounced ideas off of each other to come to a final decision.

K.A.Z: First, HYDE showed me a general list of the songs he'd selected, and we compared it to the songs I'd been thinking about. For example, I thought that songs like "MY FIRST LAST," and the fact that they had been played by Asian musicians, would be very powerful when listened to overseas.

──HYDE also said that you'd really recommended including that song.

K.A.Z: We re-recorded all the songs for this, and HYDE was very careful about his pronunciation, but there are a huge number of rock bands overseas. And on top of that, the majority of people overseas don't know the name VAMPS. But I think that the point of view of "MY FIRST LAST" is a unique one that Americans and Europeans can't mimic. So maybe when people hear it, they'll think, "Where is this band from?" and we'll catch their interest.

──They would think there's an originality to the fact that you're Japanese.

K.A.Z: I don't necessarily need them to think, "They're Japanese," but I'd be happy if they can experience the way that we've taken British and American rock and re-interpreted it in our own Japanese, or Asian, style.

──Thinking about the way it will be heard overseas seems like it will be effective.

K.A.Z: Songs like "Life on Mars?" were the same. When people overseas listen to this song, maybe they'll say, "Huh? This is a David Bowie song, but the arrangement is totally different, and that's interesting." I thought that we should include things that would somehow capture people's attention overseas. I thought that songs like "MY FIRST LAST" and "Life on Mars?" would serve as a hook, a chance to make people listen - or rather, to make our music linger in their memory.

──At first, I thought the track listing was a little unexpected. Best albums have an image of always being pop and catchy, but the fact that you included more complex, personal songs is interesting. You really considered it carefully.

K.A.Z: As to why we did a cover, there is of course the fact that we think that it's a cool song, but doing a cover also has that sort of nuance. Otherwise, I think we should just play all our own songs. But, for instance, if you go somewhere where no one knows about you, even if you give another person your business card out of nowhere, they still won't know who you are. So I thought we should include some songs that would become sort of a motive for people to start listening to us - songs that were something people could talk about.

──And when it comes to covers, it's all about whose songs, and what kind of songs, you do. So I think that "Life on Mars?" is actually the perfect selection.

K.A.Z: Right? Maybe young people won't know the song, but I think it will leave an impression on the generation of people who who listen to music the most.

──Were there any other songs you thought you definitely wanted to include?

K.A.Z: I didn't "absolutely" want to include it, but I'm glad we included "THE PAST." It's the type of song that you can spontaneously dance to for no special reason. It's not a obviously cheerful song, but it's an interesting song you can casually dance to.

◆Continued in [Interview] K.A.Z from VAMPS Talks about "SEX BLOOD ROCK N’ROLL" and the World (Part 2)

Interview/text: Yuko Honma

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