Motley Crue, Linkin Park, Judas Priest, Nine Inch Nails, Madonna and … Babymetal. Given the chance to organize a music festival this summer these are the acts Vamps duo Hideto “Hyde” Takarai and Kazuhito “K.A.Z” Iwaike would select to perform. An eclectic mix, there are some choices you’d have expected from a visual-kei band, a couple of them, however, came as a bit of a surprise.
“I haven’t actually heard Babymetal’s music, but I think it could be quite interesting,” a smiling K.A.Z tells us from Universal Music Japan’s offices. “Madonna would bring the glamor, everything she does is so big and incredible. Nine Inch Nails is a band I have always wanted to tour alongside and the same goes with Judas Priest.”
“Linkin Park would be the first name on my list,” continues Hyde. “It’s a band, like us, that incorporates a lot of programming into its music so I think we’d complement each other well. Another one I’d like there is Motley Crue. The first song I ever played on guitar was ‘Looks that Kill.’ It’d be amazing to be on the same set, but it looks like we’ve missed our chance.”
Hyde is referring to the fact that Motley Crue won’t be touring live anymore after this year.
Fortunately, he and K.A.Z managed to do the next best thing this past spring when they opened for Nikki Sixx’s other band Sixx:A.M. during the group’s headline American tour (Sixx was returning a favor after Vamps had invited his band to play at the Vampark Fest in Tokyo, which also featured former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way). It gave the Japanese duo an opportunity to promote the international version of the album “Bloodsuckers,” but more excitingly it meant working closely with a man they had idolized growing up.
“It’s quite scary meeting your hero, especially when he happens to have a reputation as a bad boy rocker,” Hyde says. “We needn’t have worried, though, because Nikki Sixx was so nice. This man on our posters and album sleeves was all of a sudden showing K.A.Z where the bathroom was. It was surreal. We didn’t hang out much, just sharing the odd joke, but we’ve become close over email where we can speak more deeply about each other’s music.”
Sixx has praised Vamps on numerous occasions this year stating that he couldn’t wait for “American fans to witness the spectacular Vamps,” while also describing the group as “a must-see for Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue and Sixx:A.M. followers.” Naturally the Japanese pair were delighted to hear such complimentary comments, however, Hyde admits that it also upped the pressure.
“We have to do our best to live up to those expectations otherwise we’ll make him look like a liar and we don’t want that,” he says laughing. “We must step up our game. Playing in front of Sixx:A.M. fans was a great test. You have an audience that isn’t interested in you and probably doesn’t even know who you are. Getting them on side — or even away from the bar — to come and listen to you is a challenge, yet rather than worrying about that, it actually spurred us on. It gave us that extra desire to succeed, the kind of feeling we can’t get in Japan.”
The next live international shows for Vamps will be in England this November as the support act for classical-metal Finnish band, Apocalyptica. Prior to that there is a Vamps Live Beast Party at Makuhari Kaihin Park in Chiba — right on the beach. Dressed in dark clothes and with slick makeup, Vamps is not a group you’d typically associate with sun, sand and sangria. So will there be any summer jams on the playlist?
“I think ‘Angel Trip’ has a summer feel to it,” Hyde says. “There is nothing in the lyrics about the weather, beaches or anything like that, I just believe it has that kind of vibe.”
Let’s hope the bar is well-stocked with cool drinks, though. Hyde isn’t a huge fan of the heat.
“To be honest with you I hate this season in Japan,” he says. “Unless you’ve got the air conditioner on — it’s unbearable.”
Vamps Live 2015 Beast Party takes place Aug. 22 and 23 at Makuhari Kaihin Park’s Beach Stage in Chiba (5:30 p.m. start; ¥9,200 in adv.; 050-5533-0888). For details, visit beastparty2015.vampsxxx.com