Japanese music stars form band ‘to move the world’

TOKYO >> Four of Japan’s biggest rock stars have formed a new band, The Last Rockstars, in a race against time to preserve the spirit of rock music.

“We have come together to issue this challenge for the world outside of Japan,” X Japan’s Yoshiki told reporters on Friday.

Dressed in black, Yoshiki, Miyavi, Sugizo and Hyde announced their new group on stage in Tokyo, saying the idea developed naturally.

Sugizo, guitarist for rock band Luna Sea who also plays with X Japan, said he thinks rock music’s spirit of defiance should continue, noting that the members are getting older. Apart from Miyavi, who is 41, the others are all in their 50s.

Guitarist Miyavi appeared as an actor in Angelina Jolie’s 2014 biographical war movie, “Unbroken.”

“This may be our last chance to take on this challenge,” Sugizo said. “We want to put what’s left of our lives on the line to rock the world with our music.”

They collaborate on songwriting while continuing to work with their own bands, they said. Concerts are planned in Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles early next year. The musicians have worked together on various projects over the years, but this is the first time the four have committed to a band.

“Finally, that day has come,” said Hyde, lead singer of rock band L’Arc-en-Ciel. “I’m so excited.”

Yoshiki, who sings and plays drums and piano, is the new leader of the group. He and X Japan, which dates back to the 1980s, still attract a large loyal following, and the musicians he associates with are also popular.

Japanese media enthusiastically responded to the announcement, calling it a “dream team”, while some questioned the band’s name and why there was no bassist.

Hyde has sold out Tokyo Dome 16 times, has over 60 top 10 singles on the Japanese Oricon Music Charts, and has sold over 40 million albums. And Sugizo’s creative reach extends beyond bands into a wide range of fields, including film scores, theater and contemporary dance.

Known as the “samurai guitarist”, Miyavi is famous for his “slap style” of guitar playing which does not use a pick. He has toured the world six times, is in high demand as a model, and has created music for TV commercials for Uniqlo, Nissan and other brands.

X Japan has sold over 30 million albums and singles, and Yoshiki has performed at Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall, and composed a song for the Emperor of Japan.

Yoshiki said he had come close to death many times and felt time was running out for new opportunities. His former teammate Hide committed suicide in 1998, as did his father when Yoshiki was a child.

“It feels like the last moment,” he said of the kind of energy he and others put into the new group.

“As if,” he said.

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