Check out more photos in Christopher Victorio's gallery “Luna Sea @ The Palladium.”
Saturday night, Luna Sea played The Palladium as part of its “World Tour Reboot.” For the Japanese rock band, this was a long time coming. More than twenty years have passed since they initially formed and roughly a decade has gone by since they parted ways. The band members have gone on to other projects, both solo efforts and work with other bands (guitarist Sugizo recently toured with the also-reunited X Japan, which we covered in “X Japan Launches First North American Tour at The Wiltern”). When we met prior last weekend's gig, it seemed only obvious to ask why L.A. and why now.
“There are a lot of people waiting,” said Sugizo through an interpreter.
Luna Sea is often associated with the beginnings of visual kei, a Japanese rock movement where the common thread isn't so much the sound of the band, which can be diverse, but the look. The members of Luna Sea described their early aesthetic influences as the goth and new wave bands of the 1980s. That style–part Vivienne Westwood for Adam and the Ants, part Sisters of Mercy– has gone on to influence both a generation of bands as well as their fans. (DJ/promoter Greg Hignight, who was featured in this year's “L.A. People” issue, gives some good insight into Japanese rock bands of the 1990s and Luna Sea over at Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi.)
Luna Sea bassist J said through an interpreter that he doesn't have a “negative or positive” reaction to the band's association with visual kei. When they formed, he explained, they presented the band in a way that came “naturally” to them, despite the fact that it was a style people found “strange.” They watched the scene develop as it happened.
When bands like Luna Sea were most active in the 1990s, there wasn't a huge interest in J-rock in the States. The much-buzzed Japanese artists at the time tended to be more electronic-oriented, often associated with the Shibuya-kei scene (think Pizzicato 5, Fantastic Plastic Machine and Cornelius, whose work had been released by American indie labels). As was the case with X Japan, it wasn't until after Luna Sea split that the band's following exploded in the U.S. J credits advancements in online communication with this development, indicating that had this been the case ten years ago, the band may never have called it quits.
This brings us to the Reboot. With their current tour, Luna Sea is doing what they didn't have the chance to do ten years ago. Guitarist Inoran admitted that playing Los Angeles is what they wanted to do before they split. It's something that they can do now.
Sugizo acknowledges that, in recent years, interest in J-rock has soared in the U.S. and, while he concedes that Luna Sea is “riding that wave,” he's quick to point out that, like all trends, this could be a fleeting moment and wonders “how many bands have the potential” to become major players on the global rock scene.
For Luna Sea, the idea appears to be that the band will continue pushing forward while, at the same time, introducing their back catalog to those who may not have heard them during their first run. Amongst the band's plans, the members said, is rerecording their 1991 self-titled album in honor of its twentieth anniversary next year. In hindsight, J mentioned that the band could see the “roughness” of their earliest work and would like the opportunity to give it the polish that would come from twenty years of playing since its in initial release. Through the interpreter, Sugizo added that it could be an “epic album.”