Japan’s hard rocking VAMPS are already a well-known brand in the neon, cosmopolitan streets of Tokyo. With their most recent musical offering, 2017’s Underworld, this sharp duo have spread their musical message even further, bringing their eclectic brand of Rock-n-Roll to North America yet again and recently sharing stages with the likes of I Prevail, Starset, and coming very soon, the legendary Danzig. Recently, Vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist Hyde and Lead Guitarist/Backing Vocalist K.A.Z. sat down to discuss Underworld, their Glam Rock influences, recording with members of Motionless In White and Rammstein, their most recent U.S. shows, as well as their crazy Tokyo parties in their beautiful homeland.
CrypticRock.com – VAMPS are a household name at home in Japan, but you are still growing your fan-base here in the U.S. If someone is reading this and they have not heard your music yet, what song should they acquire to get a representative taste of the band and what you are all about?
Hyde – We’ve never limited VAMPS to just one style, but if you want to get a good idea, listen to our current album Underworld. It is a very accurate representation of where we are at musically as a band, and covers various styles that are typical for VAMPS.
CrypticRock.com – Several months back, you were a part of The Blackest of the Black Festival in California where you performed alongside bands like Danzig, Ministry, and Suicidal Tendencies. How did that go?
K.A.Z. – It was actually a great time. We weren’t quite sure what to expect since a lot of the Blackest audience is maybe more into Black Metal bands, but they were actually very welcoming of VAMPS and, by the end of the show, it really felt like we had won over a lot of new fans.
Hyde – It’s cool to see people being open-minded to something that doesn’t necessarily “fit the bill.” We got to meet Glenn Danzig too and are actually playing a few U.S. West Coast shows with him coming up!
CrypticRock.com – Yes! That should be exciting. Underworld is a great album that crosses over many genres – from Hard Rock to Glam, to Industrial, but always with a dark, Gothic sense. What and/or who influences you, musically?
K.A.Z. – We’ve always listened to a lot of different bands so our influences range from bands like Nine Inch Nails and Mötley Crüe to Killing Joke and Linkin Park, but there’s also some more recent bands we like a lot like: In This Moment, Issues, or Motionless In White.
CrypticRock.com – There seems to be a large Glam element to VAMPS– musically and with your style. If you were touring in 1989, what bands could we have hoped to see you share stages with?
Hyde – Definitely Mötley Crüe! We sometimes play a cover of their song “Livewire” at our shows.
CrypticRock.com – That would be a great tour. On the first single from Underworld, “Inside Of Me,” you collaborated with Chris Motionless of Motionless In White. How did that come about? Is Chris now an honorary vamp?
K.A.Z. – We are fans of Motionless In White and were in the studio in LA to record the new album, so we just asked Chris if he’d be interested in coming down to the studio and guest on “Inside Of Me.” He was in, came to the studio and we knocked it out in a few hours. He’s a super nice guy and we had a lot of fun that day.
Hyde – We’d love to tour with them, but so far it hasn’t worked out yet logistically. He is welcome to jump up on-stage and perform “Inside Of Me” with us any day, so in that regard I guess you could say he does own an honorary Vamp spot! (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – Very cool! You also worked with Richard Z. Kruspe of Emigrate/Rammstein on “Rise Or Die.” How did that collaboration come about as well?
K.A.Z. – Richard had originally written the song as a demo for his band Emigrate. We heard it and thought that it was perfect for VAMPS so we asked him if we could use it. He agreed and that’s how “Rise or Die” was born.
Hyde – I like how energetic it is, and it’s become a live favorite. Fans all over the place, in Japan as much as the U.S., really dig it and go wild at the shows.
CrypticRock.com – Your most recent U.S. tour was with I Prevail, Starset, As Lions, and Cover Your Tracks. All really great bands! What was that like and what was the reception for VAMPS like? Any stand-out gigs that hold a special place in your memory?
Hyde – A lot of their fans weren’t familiar with VAMPS yet, so in a way it was a perfect opportunity for us to introduce ourselves and make new fans. We had to go out and earn it every night! (Laughs) Very different than in Japan where people already know VAMPS.
K.A.Z. – It keeps you on your toes when you have to fight for it every night, every inch, and we embrace that. We did make a lot of new fans, so it was a great tour. We also traveled to a lot of cities that we hadn’t been to before, and most of the shows were sold-out, so there’s lots of good memories.
CrypticRock.com – That is all very positive. VAMPS kick off a new North American tour on September 22nd and will be headlining at The Roxy out in Los Angeles on September 26th. How excited are you for this show. In addition, are there any further plans to return to North America and the U.S. to tour for Underworld? Lastly, are there any bands that you would especially love to tour with here?
Hyde – We can’t wait to come back to L.A. It almost feels like a second hometown to us and The Roxy is an iconic venue. We’ll probably tour more over here again next year. A tour with In This Moment would be cool.
K.A.Z. – Yeah, we invited them to play with us in Japan last year so we met and became friends. Another band that would be great to tour with in 2018 would be Motionless In White.
CrypticRock.com – Well, we shall see what the future holds in that regard! Now, at home in Tokyo, you guys are known for throwing some hugely massive parties for your fans. Walk us through this: What are we Americans missing out on? When is the next party?
Hyde – (Laughs) Yeah! Bloodsuckers like to party, that is true. There are several every year: Beast Party in the summer, Halloween Party in October – that one’s up next.
K.A.Z. – Everybody will go crazy dressing up, we’ll have a big stage production so it’s always a really great time. If you ever make it out to Japan, come party with us!
CrypticRock.com – Unfortunately, many Americans rarely seem to get a good glimpse into the Japanese music scene. As musicians who are well-versed in that scene, who are some of the up-and-coming bands that we uneducated Americans should watch for?
K.A.Z. – The Japanese music scene is really interesting. There are so many up-and-coming bands to check out: Story Of The Year, MUCC, and Man With A Mission are just a few.
Hyde – Man With A Mission’s Bassist, Kamikaze Boy is actually featured on “Break Free” on our current album Underworld.
CrypticRock.com – Something that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with music: Japan is a gorgeous country full of truly amazing, very friendly people. If someone reads this interview and has never been, where would you tell them to visit?
Hyde – Probably Tokyo because it’s vibrant and there’s so much to see and check out if you’ve never been to Japan. Also Kyoto, which used to be the capital back in the day, and has so much rich Japanese culture to offer. It’s very beautiful.
CrypticRock.com – Fascinating and hopefully a part of the world outsiders will learn more of. Last questions, boys. CrypticRock covers a broad range of music as well as movies, particularly Horror and Sci-Fi. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi films, what are some of your favorites?
Hyde – We’d have to go with a classic: The Shining (1980) with Jack Nicholson.
North American Tour Dates:
SEP 22 The Warfield San Francisco, CA *
SEP 23 Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas, NV *
SEP 25 The Marquee Tempe, AZ *
SEP 26 The Roxy Theatre West Hollywood, CA
SEP 28 El Corazon Seattle, WA
* w/ Danzig, Deafheaven, 3TEETH
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