The Japanese musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and accomplished actor who is known as Hyde is in the United States on a national tour and promoting his new solo album, ‘Anti.’ Although he is best known as lead vocalist for the rock bands L’arc-en-Ciel and the Vamps, he also has a successful solo career. L’arc-en-Ciel was the first Japanese band to headline Madison Square Garden in 2012. The prolific musician has released eight solo singles and five albums including his newest one. Hyde took the time to chat recently in Hollywood about his music and current tour in the United States.
LP: You first started playing music in 1988, can you talk about how you started and who were your early influences?
Hyde: When I first started playing music, Los Angeles metal bands were the big thing even in Japan. So I listened to bands like Motley Crue and Metallica. So I would try and copy their guitar, and we were mostly a copy (cover) band at the beginning. Then we started creating our own songs that were a little more on the dark side. But soon after that, I started the band L’Arc-en-Ciel which was more like J Pop rock and that band became very popular. The group became so popular we did a world tour and were the first Japanese band to headline Madison Square Garden in New York.
LP: My French is not very good, what does L’arc-en-Ciel mean in English?
LP: In 2008 you started another band with KAZ with whom you had worked with earlier. How does that project differ from your work in L” Arc-en-Ciel?
Hyde: I started Vamps with KAZ who I had worked with earlier because I wanted to experiment with returning to a harder rock sound like in the ’80s and 90’s metal music to get away from the more pop-rock sound of L’arc-en-Ciel.
LP: You have also released four solo albums over the years and a bunch of singles including a collaboration with X Japan musician Yoshiki on the single titled “Red Swan.” How did that collaboration come about? Yoshiki lives part-time in Hollywood now and played the Coachella festival last year.
Hyde: I was doing a residency in Los Angeles, and I met Yoshiki, who was also staying here, and we became friends. We talked about doing a song together, and that is how Red Swan came about. Yoshiki also played piano on one of my solo singles. I watched Yoshiki perform on the live feed from Coachella last year on the internet.
LP: You mentioned your new single “Zipang” which was recently released, featuring Yoshiki on piano and including a cover of Duran Duran’s song “Ordinary World.” Is it hard to sing in English, and how did you pick Duran Duran to cover?
Hyde: When doing a cover song, I wanted to pick a song that a lot of people are going to know when I do a live concert. I tried to pick a well-known ballad song that I could turn into a hard rock song. Ordinary World was already one of my favorite songs, so it was a natural choice. Yes, it is really hard to sing in English for me (Laughter).
LP: You are a singer-songwriter but you also play multiple instruments on your albums and on tour is that correct?
Hyde: In past tours, I have played guitar and saxophone, but on this tour, I am focusing on singing.
LP: Most Americans probably don’t know that you have a successful acting career. Can you talk about that? Are you working on anything new?
Hyde: I don’t like acting too much. (More Laughter) I prefer music. I have done some voices for Japanese Anime.
LP: Will your upcoming tour feature songs from your different bands or focus on your solo work?
Hyde: I want to focus on my solo work, but I like the freedom to feel out the crowd and play what I think they might want to hear, so I haven’t decided my final set list.
LP: Are you familiar with the American band you are touring with In This Moment? They are very theatrical.
Hyde: Yes (More Laughter), I invited them to come to Japan to tour with me, and I was responsible for helping them with all their equipment, and they had a lot of gear to bring with them. I know the band well we have performed together many times.
LP: Thank you, and I hope to see your show in Los Angeles on May 26.
HYDE LIVE 2019
May 17-Middle East Downstairs (Cambridge, MA)
May 19-Reggie’s Rock Club (Chicago, IL)
May 21-*Verizon Grand Hall (Mankato, MN)
May 22-*The District (Sioux Falls, SD)
May 24-*Arvest Theatre-The Midland (Kansas City, MO)
May 26-1720 (Los Angeles, CA)
*Indicates opening for In This Moment.