HOLEYBALONEY

L’arc-en-ciel: My 1.5 Decade Fandom

They say the music you listen to in your teens, will stay with you for life. When it comes to L’arc-en-ciel, I don’t think I can agree more.

  • 2000, first discovery when my classmates jammed to Driver’s High
  • 2004, SMILE was the first album I went searching around Singapore for
  • 2005 Asia Tour in Shanghai was the first time I flew to watch a concert
  • 2006, I shut myself in my room for almost 3 hours, spazzing over their 15 Anniversary concert
  • 2012, traveled again for their concert, this time to Taipei in 2012
  • 2012 in Singapore was a dream come true
  • 2014, live screening of documentary “Over the L’arc-en-ciel” in Singapore announced
  • 2015, I’m still waiting for the next World Tour

15 years later, my love for them still runs strong, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to ever stop. It may not run as deep and intense as that for X, laruku still counts as one of the bands that I truly truly love.

Seeing as how accomplished and well loved hyde is as a vocalist, it would probably surprise many people that he really didn’t want to be one when they first started the band. He didn’t think being the vocalist was cool, and wanted to be the lead guitarist. (REALLY? hyde. Really.) He is also one of those few that readily admit that he is a bit sick of playing and performing with the same band, at their first big concert in Madison Square Garden in NYC! I’ve always loved how brutally honest he was, very much unlike the celebrities now, all smiles and laughter, but full of scorn and arrogance the minute the cameras are turned off. I also really enjoy the fact that he doesn’t really care about what everyone thinks, because he went and got married in 2000, at the peak of their success. Not because of any baby in the wife’s tummy, but truly because he wanted to marry her, his idol. And the whole band went on hiatus almost immediately after that, in 2001! Imagine the shock of the fans! First their idol gets married, and then the band rests indefinitely!? I swear I could hear hearts breaking. And the intensity of his protectiveness towards his family is inspiring. He knows he gets crazy fans everywhere he goes, but his family has hardly (if ever) been photographed or harassed. Maybe because he got married at a time and age where the internet was only dial-up and there wasn’t the ease of information sharing available now, and the media was a lot more respectful.

And then, how can you not talk about a rock band without mentioning their mad skills. Rather, the mad skills of tetsuya, the bassist. Generally, for most rock band, the guitar is the shining star of the instruments. But no. Not for laruku. tetsuya’s bass lines are just pure magic. The bass line he creates, takes on a life of its own, with the additional ommph it brings to the song. Just listen to “Blurry Eyes”, “Honey”, “Stay Away” and you will hear what I mean. Bass guitars often take a back seat, playing the supporting role in the band, but laruku’s bass plays an equally (if not more) important role in the songs. And check out “Neo Universe”. He plays a 6-string.

Plus, they are in their mid-40s, yet are just as sexy as they were in their 30s. Japanese rockers. How the hell do they do it?

Oh, and did I mention that the Stay Away MV has the 4 members dancing in synchronicity, like boy bands? :p

L’arc-en-ciel – Stay Away

Therefore, in February, the month they started to get together, I remember why I love them so much!

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X: Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock

I’ve been counting anniversaries a lot this year. 2014 is the 15th year since I’ve fallen in love with the band that changed my perspective, X-JAPAN.

Thinking back, there are many firsts that I can count that are related to X.

  • ‘Forever Love’ was the first song I downloaded from mIRC
  • First MV I searched for to watch was ‘Endless Rain’
  • First time I went to watch a movie (Windstruck) solely because of the ending song ‘Tears’
  • First celebrity that I researched online to find out about their history
  • First time I wrote to the radio station’s Japanese music program to request for a X special, and sending them all my research (I almost went on air as a guest, but I chickened out)
  • ‘Forever Love’ was the first song I tried to memorise the lyrics for by searching for the romanisation
  • Their ‘Perfect Best’ CD box set was also the first, and only, box set I have.

When I bought the ‘Perfect Best’ box set, I played it so often that I could memorise the order of the song, and I could recognize the song just from the opening few lines of music. The 2 CDs, together with Luna Sea’s compilation album, were always in my CD booklet that I carried around. I was always plugged into my Walkman and secretly hated meeting a classmate on the way to & from school, because I had to pause the music and socialize.

I’ve talked about X before, and even till now, I’m still impressed at the amount of strength & determination that is inside someone so seemingly vulnerable as yoshiki. Someone who is soft spoken, loves to giggle, and is so polite that he finds it hard to reject if you ask him more than once. Even when he gets mad, he’s adorable. But when it comes to music, the focus and the perfectionism shines through the roof. It was the most obvious when they were in the midst of their fifth, and what turned out to be the final, album “Dahlia”. The album took 3 years to write, record and produce, because yoshiki was tweaking it so much.

Enough about yoshiki. Even though yoshiki is definitely the soul of X, I love the band, not just him. Their creativity and songwriting skills were impressive, as well as their arrangement capabilities. I was 16 when I first listened to ‘Forever Love’ and toshi’s voice is nasal yet not annoyingly so, and the music was just enchanting. I was totally caught up in the melody, picturing it with the manga I was reading. X-1999 by CLAMP was what introduced me to X, if anyone really wants to know. It was the first time I realised how powerful music really is, the ability to pull you into a scenario and fire your imagination and emotions. It also struck me how important the vocalist / the voice really is. I didn’t understand the lyrics, didn’t know what it meant, but toshi’s voice matched the music so well, it’s like an instrument in itself, part of the entire arrangement. It was the first time that I realised that lyrics is not everything. You do not need lyrics to feel the emotions and message of a song, if it’s well written. This also set the foundation of my music taste till now.

The variety of music that they write is also another defining factor. Their styles range from various styles of metal, to classical, to acoustic, collaborations with philharmonic orchestras, purely piano ballads; it’s just simply amazing the range that they display. The tempo changes drastically mid-song in ‘Silent Jealousy’ and ‘Kurenai’; including even a short excerpt of ‘Swan Lake’ in ‘Silent Jealousy’.. They released a 30 min long single with one song, ‘Art of Life’, a song which brings you through various emotions

But what I really truly love about them, is that they are rebels. True rebels through and through. Why else would you persist in this pioneering road of visual kei in conservative Japan? KISS is acceptable, but only because they are gaijin, or foreigners. X is not. They are true blue Japanese. All that dressing up as Victorian chicks with long wavy hair and copious amounts of make-up was simply unfathomable to the Japanese, especially the media. But still, they sold albums. Amid all the hate, they sold tens of millions of albums, leaving those Japanese press with no choice but to grant them interviews. No major label wanted them, so they released their albums as an independent label. And they still sold albums. They write songs about sex and death and other taboo / unorthodox topics that were touchy in Japan. Yet they still sold albums.

I’m still waiting for the day I get to see them in Singapore. L’arc-en-ciel has been here. Luna Sea has been here. When will it be X? Every time I remember the Taiwan concert I went to, the emotions I felt when I was shouting WE ARE X!… I just wish I get to see them again, soon!

p/s. This post is posted today, because it is hide’s death anniversary today.

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First JRock band vs future JRock music

I have a ‘conclusion’. That the first JRock band that one listens to, or discovers, has the greatest impact on their future JRock music likes.

For example, I started with X Japan, forefathers of Visual Kei, easily the most important figures of the JRock scene, especially the VK circle. And I realise now, that it’s a tad more difficult for me to really understand and like the newer “Visual Kei” bands or JRock bands in general. Take alice nine. for example. I wouldn’t say they make bad music. But I’ll not consider myself a fan in any way. I won’t buy their albums, nor will I find out everything about them, like I did for X Japan. It could be due to age but they’ve just not got the inspirational quality to them at all.

I went on to L’Arc-en-ciel, which was mostly happy music for me. Their music I love, their members I adore & spaz over but X is still my life & soul.

None has ever surpassed the punch and the awesomeness that is X.

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JRR Forums

JRock Revolutions forum open on Monday… I need all my sleep tonight & tomorrow.. To prepare to work through the night on Sunday.

How I wish the entire world is in the same time zone.

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XJapan

前幾天﹐我jc一個也是很喜歡搖滾的同學突然在msn問我﹐記不記得為什麼會喜歡上Xjapan。他突如其來的問題﹐我一時之間都不知道怎麼回答。

嚴格來說﹐應該是因為中三時迷上clamp的漫畫吧。X-1999﹐動畫的主題歌是Xjapan唱的。Forever Love。那時候只知道這首歌超好聽。雖然完全聽不懂主唱到底在唱些什麼﹐可是那首歌德魅力就在於他的感染力﹐讓我在根本聽不懂的情況下﹐愛上它。

到了JC﹐才知道是誰唱的。我依稀記得﹐我第一次聽到搖滾專輯是Xjapan 的Ballad Collection。第一次看到他們的Clips﹐嚇得我(當然還有我媽)半死。靠﹗﹗那是什麼裝扮啊﹗﹖﹗﹖這些人到底是男的還是女的﹖﹖那妝到底有幾層啊﹖可是最後他們的音樂(當然還有yoshiki那非人的打鼓速度)征服了我。於是便去搜尋更多他們的資料。

越是收集﹐越愛他們。yoshiki的執著﹑熱情﹐對自己要走的道路完全沒有懷疑。記得他們剛出道時﹐根本沒有唱片公司要簽他們。結果yoshiki便自己設立一間唱片製作公司﹐自己發行他們的單曲。結果大賣﹐引起各大唱片行的注意﹐才紛紛向他們招手。

xjapan的歌最大的特點就是它特別富有感情。尤其是他們的rock ballads。樂手的演奏也完全融合成一體﹐互相配合﹐相互扶持﹐製造出最完美的音樂。

可到最後我朋友又問我。

喜歡他們需要這麼多原因嗎﹖

仔細想想﹐也許﹐真的不須要。雖然老掉牙﹐可是喜歡就是喜歡嘛﹗=P

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