I’ve never been a fan of Johnny’s Junior or any groups that came out of it. This is not to say I have a dislike for them because I do enjoy some of their songs and I honestly do find some of Arashi’s variety programs entertaining to watch.
Some time ago, I very randomly happened to catch Kanjam, a music show hosted by Kan-Johnny 8, and began to catch it on-and-off. For music fans, this is a great show to watch. And I don’t just mean for people who love to listen to music, but more specifically, for people who love instruments and the workings behind music.
The first episode I ever caught was when they invited recording studio sessionists to the set to talk about what goes on behind and got the band to randomly play some songs in different genres. That is, the musicians played the same song in a variety of styles.
Sometimes, they get creators to talk about what makes popular music popular, but this topic has been done to death so it got a little boring for me. They’ve also invited brass bands to introduce their instruments and share some not commonly known secrets. Well, not really secrets.
For example, did you know that a trumpeter can play an entire song without ever pressing any of the buttons on the trumpet? And no, it doesn’t just play one note. What changes the notes is the trumpeter’s lips. The buttons are not necessary to change the note being played.
Recently, they invited Sugizo of Luna Sea, Hisashi of Glay, and this other girl whom I don’t recognise, to the show to talk about guitar riffs. Yes, it is that specific, which is why it’s so interesting.
But riffs aside, Sugizo talked about the story to how he came to play for X Japan on the show. And at this point, you know the rest of this post will be about this, so if you’re not interested, click here to skip.
When Yoshiki first invited Sugizo to play for X some 10 years ago during the band’s comeback, Sugizo declined as he felt he couldn’t handle the pressure of taking on what Hide created. However, Yoshiki insisted and told him X’s comeback is not to recreate the past, but to create the now and the future; X is going to conquer the world.
It would be easy to use technology to produce the sound that Hide left behind but to take on the world, a live guitarist on stage is necessary.
Sugizo spent the next year thinking about it objectively. To be part of a band as large as X Japan, the new guitarist has to have lots of experience playing for a large crowd in arena-level scale; they have to have the skill and technique to handle metal music; an existing good relationship with the band is desirable; and the ideal person has to be a Japanese person. In that sense, there is no one better than Sugizo.
According to the guitarist himself, 10 years later, today, there are still people who find his presence a thorn in the eye. They just cannot accept Sugizo being part of X Japan. But as Sugizo puts it, if you want to watch X live, then you just have to live with him being a part of the band.
Being a fan of both Luna Sea and X Japan, Sugizo’s role in both bands works well for me. His skill cannot be denied and nobody uses effects the way he does. He is outstanding at playing around with the effects.
Sugizo claims that he incorporates his own style in the new songs but for all of X’s music in the 90s and earlier, he treats himself as a channeler of Hide’s music and hides his own style by replicating Hide’s. While I did notice that in the earlier days when he first joined X, during the Rusty Nail piece at Lunatic Fest 2015, however, it was quite obvious he was doing the song his own style, different from Hide’s. And I liked it.
Interestingly, while remaining largely suppressed and low profile, Sugizo remains true to himself with his performances by occasionally spinning on stage. I had thought people would’ve recognised him as part of the band by now, but looks like there will always be those who are against change. Nevertheless, it takes a strong heart to take on the role he has accepted and that alone deserves respect.
I find it impressive Kanjam is able to get people like Sugizo and Hisashi, people who hardly appear on TV nowadays, to appear on the show.
If you like music, you’ll probably like this show.