X Japan: How I met Yoshiki

X Japan at Lollapalooza (Fire)

The final shot of X Japan's Lollapalooza performance.

It’s confession time. Some of you may have already read the about page and, as a result, know that in addition to updating Nihongaku, I work as a (sometimes) journalist for Phoenix New Times in Phoenix, AZ. Why bring this up? First to substantiate my initial claim on the about page that I’m “a bit of a journalist.” Also, It’s imperative to understanding how I went about meeting X Japan pianist/drummer/song writer Yoshiki.

Initially, Phoenix New Times’ music editor received an e-mail from X Japan’s publicist regarding another band she also represents. As luck would have it, her e-mail ended with “also contact me about the following bands:” followed by a list of acts including Slayer, Anthrax, Rick Rubin, and you guessed it, X Japan. Despite his best efforts to get me to listen to Kanye West and The Arcade Fire, the music editor decided to indulge my love of Japanese music by forwarding me the contact information and suggesting I get in touch.

Two minutes later I fired off an e-mail to the publicist. We talked about a phone interview leading up to the band’s performance at Lollapalooza. I was absolutely stoked and, for a while, I was considering going to the show as well. I understood that this was to be the biggest show a Japanese band has played. How could I miss it?

Let’s just say there are certain financial obligations one must make to travel across the country and gain access to an event like Lollapalooza. I said I’m a journalist, not an independently wealthy journalist.

Once again the music editor came to the rescue. I don’t know what he said to X Japan’s publicist. What I do know is that I suddenly had access to the show and an in-person, actual interview with Yoshiki. I packed my bags and jumped on a plane; my ticket blessed by a bit of financial support from mi madre.

Six hours, one layover and a short cab ride from O’Hare later, I was standing on the ground floor of the Ritz Carlton, moments away from speaking to the man behind X Japan. I was desperately trying not to look disheveled in the lobby when the publicist came down to meet me. She informed me that Yoshiki was upstairs doing a phone interview with someone from ABC. We killed time talking about X Japan and how I came to know them (the subject for another blog post perhaps).

Suddenly she got “the call” and we were riding up to the top of the Ritz together. Thirty seconds after that I was standing in Yoshiki’s suite waiting to begin the interview; all of which is posted in Q&A form on the Phoenix New Times music blog.

What you won’t get by reading the Q&A is a sense of how honored I felt to speak with Yoshiki. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was prepared for the worst: a total rock ‘n’ roll diva. What I found was a passionate man who refuses to compromise his music or his standards and has somehow managed to stay humble after all of his success. He constantly played down his importance while putting his band mates and fellow musicians on pedestals. It was a great interview.

Coming up next: I’m writing an X Japan music feature for Phoenix New Times which I will link to (and possibly add commentary to) right here. Stay tuned.


~ by Jonathan McNamara on 2010/08/15.

3 Responses to “X Japan: How I met Yoshiki”

  1. I read your article in the Phoenix Times and I must say it’s written by real fan. Your passion for X-Japan’s music just leaps off every paragraph 🙂 .

    Not sure if you’ve already read it but jrocknyc made a rather amusing commentary on the interview. Here’s the link: http://jrocknyc.blogspot.com/2010/08/yoshikis-subtext.html

  2. Hello again.I’ve read your Phoenix Times too. Nice to read your confession. It was very interesting. Still for me you had met my GOD YOSHIKI. I have tried everything I could last nearly 20 years to meet my GOD, but not my dream come true yet. I’ve met X’s producer Naoshi Tsuda, YOSHIKI’s book intreviewer, X’s hair dresser, YOSHIKI’s favorite clothes shop manager and TOSHI. But not YOSHIKI. So you are very lucky in the millions to see and talk with YOSHIKI. I really envy you. I still dream about my dream will come true, one day.

  3. That was one of the most interesting Yoshiki’s interview I’ve read lately. ThanX for your work and for this post.

    And about that critical comments of jrocknyc, I’ve read them carefully and can say only one thing: if someone wants to find something negative, he’ll find it. Nothing but far-fetched conclusions.

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