X Japan Rocks New York's Madison Square Garden
Japan’s Greatest Rock Band Takes a Bite out of the Big Apple
Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie
On October 11, 2014, X Japan did what most Japanese bands and performers have only dreamt of doing for decades. They played the most revered concert venue in the United States–Madison Square Garden–on the stage that has been graced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, The Who, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Michael Jackson. X Japan is one of the most successful Japanese rock bands in history with more than 30 million albums, songs and videos sold. They sold out the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome 18 times, and in fall of 2014, just prior to their historic Madison Square Garden concert, the band returned to their old stomping grounds for a two-night stint at Yokohama Arena. X Japan pioneered an entire musical genre known as visual kei, fusing glam rock, punk rock and heavy metal with wild hair, androgynous makeup and flamboyant costumes. Formed in 1982, X Japan was one of the first Japanese bands to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label. In their three-decade career, they have released five studio albums, six live albums, eleven compilation albums and numerous videos. They’ve had their share of drama with the tragic deaths of their beloved guitarist HIDE and bassist TAIJI. At HIDE’s funeral in 1997, more than 50,000 fans came out to mourn his passing. At the same time, lead singer Toshi was struggling with the beginning of a horrific 12-year experience of being abused and taken advantage of by his wife and her co-conspirator as described in his alltelling autobiographical book Brainwashed. After X Japan’s breakup in 1997 and reunion in 2007, fans around the world have been eagerly awaiting a new album and another world tour. What’s in store for X Japan? The following is a series of interviews carried out by Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie with X Japan, including a pre-Madison Square Garden New York interview with the entire band and pre- and post-MSG interviews with the individual band members. These interviews with bandleader Yoshiki (drums and piano), Toshi (vocals), PATA (guitar), HEATH (bass), and SUGIZO (guitar and violin) took place while the band members were in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo.