VAMPS (not to be confused with British pop boy-band, The Vamps) are no strangers to J-music lovers around the globe. The Japanese rock duo combines the talents of HYDE, lead vocalist of L’arc-en-Ciel, and K.A.Z, the guitarist and composer for Oblivion Dust. VAMPS came together back in 2008 and have since released three studio albums, along with a succession of live DVDs– each showcasing the band’s signature approach to their craft. The music veterans have rightfully enjoyed much success at home in Japan. And, of course, with success comes a natural tendency to want more. Seeing other Asian musicians taking the opportunity to tour outside of their home country, HYDE and K.A.Z wanted in on the action. Blending grand-scale theatrics with captivating songwriting skills, these vampire rockers with a devilish charm are now making their way to the states and entrancing audiences far beyond their native land.
HYDE and K.A.Z. recently interviewed with Screamer Magazine and talked about their inspirations, their spring tour and their upcoming album Underworld, set to release April 26 via Virgin Music. Their story first began in 2003 when HYDE and K.A.Z. began working together on Hyde’s solo work, outside of Japanese rock band L’arc-en-Ciel. After years of collaboration, the two finally decided to form their own band and agreed that there was no better way to announce their new-found band than getting out in front of the fans right away. Their first single was Love Addict, released in July 2008.
Since that release, the band has made a name for themselves. Their 2015 album, BLOODSUCKERS, saw a global release and quickly rose to the top-five of Japanese music charts.
According to HYDE and K.A.Z., they have always been influenced by a wide range of artists—influences which have helped to create the particular fusion of sounds found in their music today.
“I grew up listening to both British and American music and still do to this day,” said HYDE. “I’ve always liked bands like Mötley Crüe, Metallica, and Depeche Mode. Recently, I’ve been really into In This Moment and Bring Me the Horizon.”
K.A.Z. adds, “Growing up I was influenced by all kinds of music, not just rock but other genres as well, like EDM and pop. Each era offers different vibes and I feel honored to get up on stage and perform them all at the same time.”
In Japan, VAMPS has become one of the most recognizable names in Japanese music. Often taking over large Japanese venues for multiple nights at a time, the band has grown a massive fan-base for themselves. But the duo is not ready to rest on their laurels just yet. “We’ve grown and changed with each tour but as more opportunities to tour North America came our way, we decided to take initiative and choose our own direction when it came to creating this album. So, if we do get a negative response, I guess we’ll just have go back home,” HYDE said with a laugh.
“As a guitarist, songwriter, and producer, I’ve learned a lot through our tours and the process of creating albums,” K.A.Z. says. “Now that we’re playing international markets a lot more, I feel like I’m getting even closer to the dream I’ve had for a long time.”
Recently, VAMPS has started branching out into the U.S. market and has shared the stage with indisputably talented rock bands like Apocalyptica and Sixx:A.M. And, according to HYDE and K.A.Z., there’s more where that came from. “Now that I think about it, we weren’t able to show what VAMPS were all about just yet. We kind of experimented as we went along, but all of those experiences got us to where we are right now. We’re ready to blow you all away with our new album,” exclaims HYDE.
“In these past two years we were finally able to get to the start line, with the stepping-stone being VAMPARK FEST in 2015,” K.A.Z said. “Then with the help of our international management, 10th Street Entertainment, we were able to grow overseas.”
Over the past few years, VAMPS have been infecting music markets outside of Japan. In the fall of 2015, VAMPS even sold out a headlining show at The Roxy in Los Angeles, Calif. The band’s third studio album Underworld is likely to serve as a testament to how much VAMPS has been sharing their talent far and wide, as of late. The album has an 11 song track-list, including; VAMPS’ recent collaborative single releases with Apocalyptica, Chris Motionless of Motionless in White, and Richard Z. Kruspe of Rammstein.
“We’ve always aimed to create heavy and loud songs that would excite crowds at festivals, so I think that this attempt [to] go for something new is the right way to go,” said HYDE. “No matter what song you listen to, that impression will always be there. VAMPS have always had a rich variation in music styles thus far, so the impression this time might be a bit different than what you’re used to.”
“We have definitely evolved on this album and it’s more worldly than ever,” K.A.Z. added.
Even more recently, VAMPS released their single Calling from Underworld, which was also posted to YouTube. According to K.A.Z, the recording of the track was the first time VAMPS ventured to use outside producers. “We had Howard Benson for the single Inside Of Me and Kane Churko for our newest single Calling. Aside from them both being extremely talented, top-notch producers, they were really inspirational and enjoyable to work with… Before we even flew to Las Vegas to record the songs, we sent three song demos to Kane and he chose Calling to be the first song to start recording with. After taking everyone’s input into consideration we finally finished this production with Kane. This was the very first song that we worked on with Kane and yeah, we were hyped!” said K.A.Z.
“I think Calling is a well-balanced song, even when compared to the other tracks on our new album,” said HYDE. “It’s loud and heavy but catchy all at the same time, so it gets stuck in your head pretty fast.”
Once Underworld hits the music market in April, HYDE and K.A.Z. each had their own ideas on which songs their fans should check out first. “I’ve wanted to show off the title track, Underworld, for a while now because to me, it represents the new face of VAMPS and I love it,” said Hyde. “The dark side of rock feels great, right!?”
For K.A.Z, picking just one track was a little harder, at first. “To be honest, the whole album has this unique individuality and rock-feel to it that I really like, so to me all the tracks are amazing. One track in particular though, Bleed For Me, has this unique darkness, that I think can be internationally comprehended, that’s why it’s my favorite,” said K.A.Z.
The band will be promoting their upcoming album, Underworld, during a spring tour of the U.S. VAMPS will also be touring with American metalcore band I Prevail, acting as one of the supporting acts for nine of I Prevail’s American Lifeline Tour dates in May. “Of course, we’re looking forward to how fans react to the new album, but also to our own performance since we’ve grown a lot since the last time we’ve been on stage. Oh, and I’m also excited to see all the crazy fans out there!” said HYDE. K.A.Z. added, “I’m looking forward to playing all of [the] songs from the new album at our U.S. shows in May.”
Though VAMPS has made huge strides throughout their careers in music, both members agree they have no intention of stopping until they reach the top. “We haven’t tasted everything yet, so we’ll continue our siege until we do,” said HYDE. “It feels like we’ve just started but I want to head towards the goal that I’ve always imagined in my mind, which is to play with VAMPS everywhere,” K.A.Z. said.
For their parting words to their fans, HYDE and K.A.Z had this to say:
“I’m excited to have another tour in the U.S. and I hope that you all enjoy our shows,” said K.A.Z. “In my opinion, this is one of the best albums that we’ve ever created, so I hope that you guys enjoy it too. Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has supported us along the way. We’ll see you in May!”
“B.Y.O.B… Bring your own blood!” HYDE added.