yoshiki 09

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH YOSHIKI [2010]
  • Interviewer: You were commissioned to compose and perform a piano concerto for the Emperor of Japan. How do I get a gig like that?
  • Yoshiki: That was really memorable; I mean my band had broken up a few years prior to that, after Hide [guitarist Matsumoto Hideto] died. So I was very depressed, I wanted to quit being an artist. I made a few appearances, but when the government approached me about composing a piece for the Emperor, I actually asked my mother, and she said, of course, it’s a great honor. So I did it. Honestly, I don’t know why they asked me to do it.
  • I: So, you are the de facto leader of X Japan — songwriter, lyricist, etc. Do you find it difficult to lead from the drum stool?
  • Y: I don’t know. Look at Metallica. Lars is kinda like the main guy. I think it may be easier. I also do conducting, I conducted the orchestra for the 2005 World Expo that was held in Japan. I love conducting, and drumming might be the closest thing to that.
  • I: I’m going to name some records. I want you to give me your first reaction. Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.
  • Y: Classic. I mean that’s the blueprint for heavy metal.
  • I: Led Zeppelin IV.
  • Y: We wouldn’t be talking now if not for that record.
  • I: Queen – Night At The Opera.
  • Y: A lot of people compare us to Queen because of our use of harmony and choruses. It’s a real honor. I’ve worked with Roger [Taylor, Queen’s drummer]. They’re great.
  • I: KISS – Dressed to Kill.
  • Y: My first concert was KISS. I was eleven, and I had to ask my mother to take me.
  • I: Cheap Trick – Live at Budokan.
  • Y: I like Cheap Trick, but I wasn’t at that show. I was more in KISS and AC/DC and bands like that.
  • I: Slayer – Reign In Blood.
  • Y: [laughs] Slayer. They are maybe the main reason we started to play fast. I love them, and I love that they’re still doing it, which is very inspirational.
  • I: Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction.
  • Y: Hmmm. They made hard rock mainstream. Very important record.
  • I: Tool – Aenema.
  • Y: Wow. Tool is one of my favorite bands at this time. Great record. I love Maynard’s voice and how they use different time signatures. I love that.
  • I: Any newer bands you like?
  • Y: I like Muse. I love Tool. Tool is just amazing. I also like The Deftones a lot.
  • I: So X Japan is credited with inventing the visual kei style, and now you’ve abandoned it completely. We’ve seen this before. KISS got unmasked. Freddy Mercury cut his hair and stopped wearing nail polish. How did your fans react to this change?
  • Y: I still consider us visual kei. We’ve moved away from the flashier side, but I think it’s part of our evolution. We just keep changing. We still use makeup. Sometimes heavy, sometimes less.
  • I: Do you think you would approach the U.S. differently if you were still heavily visual kei?
  • Y: I don’t know. The visual kei is not really a style, it’s more of a freedom in describing yourself. You can be anything. That’s my definition of visual kei.