America Gets Ready for X Day

Yoshiki in the LA Times, Taiji

With X Japan gearing up for their long-awaited U.S. concert debut, the Los Angeles Times has put its spotlight on the rock band. The cover of its Arts & Books supplement on Sunday featured the headline, “America, Meet Yoshiki” and a photo of the band leader and drummer. The article – the kind of exposure the band needs if it is to have a chance of breaking into the U.S. market – gave a potted history of the band and compared their January rooftop video shoot in downtown Hollywood to similar stunts by The Beatles and U2. It included several quotes that confirmed Yoshiki’s ambitions for overseas success (“People say, ‘You cannot get to the moon.’ I want to get to the moon! The moon being the American market.”), but also others that revealed his band mates may not quite share that level of enthusiasm.

And the reason for the sudden attention to a band that formed in 1982? X Japan are scheduled to become the first ever Japanese artists to perform at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago on August 8, and then they kick off their North America tour on October 1 in support of their first original album in 14 years. For the J-rock and visual-kei pioneers, it really is a make or break opportunity in the U.S.

In related news that is hugely meaningful to die-hard fans of the band, it was revealed yesterday that the two shows at Yokohama Nissan Stadium on August 14/15 may well have a very special guest. Bassist and original member Taiji is said to be enthusiastic about the idea of performing on stage with his old friends for the first time in 18 years. He posted on his blog about meeting them for drinks recently and sharing stories about the old days, back when the band was known simply as X. The news of a possible reunion will make a quick sellout of the 150,000 tickets all the more likely. Tickets go on sale July 31.