As X Japan Begins Tour, Yoshiki Says 'I Can't Tell What's Real': Interview

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Courtesy of Billboard Japan

X Japan kicked off the Japan dates for their world tour Tuesday (July 11), though at one point, cancellation of the tour seemed inevitable 

In May, all concert dates were put on hold due to the band's leader, Yoshiki, undergoing cervical artificial disc replacement surgery.

Fortunately, the band has hit the road again -- this time showcasing their first-ever acoustic set. The tour was renamed We Are X Acoustic Special Miracle: Kiseki no Yoru (Miracle Night): 6 Days.

Yoshiki spoke with Billboard Japan about the upcoming acoustic "miracle night" and his views on being a business-minded musician in today’s evolving music industry.

First, your fans must be worried about your condition. Are you making a steady recovery?

I think I’m doing OK, but I’m still in pain. It doesn't feel too different from immediately after the surgery. (My left hand) feels tingly, like electricity is running through me, and I feel acute pain whenever I touch anything. It hurts no matter what I touch, even when I’m holding a cell phone.

Was playing an acoustic set something you’ve always wanted to do?

Yes, because X Japan has songs like that, too. But when we actually rehearsed, it was a lot harder than I expected. The members of X Japan will be joined by 16 string musicians. It’ll be a new challenge for us in a way, and we’ll probably play songs that we haven’t played in nearly 20 years. The band members and I decided that we might as well take advantage of this opportunity to play different songs from our usual set.

A specially edited version of the documentary We Are X will be shown at the beginning of the concert. When did you come up with this idea?

When we tried it out as an experiment at the Wembley Arena in London in March, people told us that they really enjoyed it. It’s a 60-minute version, but it wasn’t edited to simply be shorter: A lot of small changes have been made. The show will start immediately after everyone sees the movie, and it’ll be a special experience.

We Are X captured it well, but X Japan is a band that has a kind of narrative to it, and even the sequence of events leading up the upcoming shows feels dramatic in a way.

[The surgery] happened right after the movie came out, so this might sound strange but lately I’m not sure if I’m in a movie or in reality. In the movie, I said something like, "I’ll do it until my body breaks down," then this happened. I can’t tell what’s real and what’s in a dream world anymore.

You seem to be making a conscious effort to be involved in the entrepreneurial side of the music business. Working as a musician while developing other endeavors is probably the proper career move for a musician today.

Yes. I’m sure there are arguments for and against that, but I’m skeptical of being able to sustain a business that’s just about making and selling only music. Rock, for example, isn’t just about the music but it’s also about how you live, right? So in that sense I feel that as long as things fall together coherently, it’s alright. I think the way musicians make a living will change even more in the years ahead.

Recently it seems like more musicians are becoming their own brand, so to speak, and using that as the hub for other activities.

Yes. 200 years ago, musicians couldn’t make a living without sponsors. That’s how the art got started, and not even 100 years have gone by since we began this way of doing business using copyrights based on streaming and selling CDs. So it’s possible that 100 years from now the system will have changed drastically.

There’s no need for musicians to become pessimistic. I just think we’ve reached a turning point. I’m also feeling my way along, but I think it’d be great if we all branch out and try all kinds of experimental things and head towards new possibilities.



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