[J-Rock] On L’Arc’s Solo Projects

A few days ago I backread posts from the J-music confessions tumblog, and was actually a bit surprised that some people there were complaining about L’Arc~en~Ciel’s activities and were blaming it on Hyde’s side project VAMPS.

Here’s what I have to say about the members’ solos/side projects:

Personally, I used to hate it.  Well, VAMPS, at least. Take note of USED to.
Since I actually enjoyed Hyde’s solo career and his and KAZ’s contributions in Hyde’s solo albums, I expected to hear the same with musical style with VAMPS. However, when
came out. I was like, “WHAT THE FUCK.” Totally far from what I expected, and their follow-up single “I Gotta Kick Start Now” still didn’t do it for me. Still, I stuck with VAMPS, and was given hope when “EVANESCENT”was released, making him go back to his alternative rock style.
Didn’t really enjoy the debut album of VAMPS, though I have a physical copy of it. But their second album, BEAST, was enough to convince me that they were still worth my listening attention.

Going back, yes, I used  to dislike VAMPS, at first, because of their different music style and that it’s actually one of the main reasons for L’Arc’s hiatus. But after giving it much thought and when I’ve read interviews and watched shows in which the L’Arc members said their opinion of going solo, I was enlightened.

So here’s the thing. First of all, I think it’s unfair for people to blame everything on Hyde and VAMPS for L’Arc~en~Ciel’s hiatus, because, for one, Hyde is not the only one who does solo projects. And if you look back in 2001, it was Tetsu who first released a solo material. And do you really think that it was just Hyde’s prerogative for Laruku to take a break? He proposed the idea, and the others agreed. End of story. Chos.

And whether you agree or not, the fact is that their solo activities actually has a positive effect on L’Arc.

In 2007, after his “Faith” solo activities, Hyde said that he went solo because he wanted to express his own personal worldview. Because when he’s in Laruku, he can’t just write songs and go about expressing what he wants to express because he has to consider the ideas and inputs of the other members. With his solo career, you get to see more of Hyde as himself, like what he had recently said in a magazine interview. He needed that release. He needed that freedom to express himself, to enjoy releasing material he wanted to release without having the pressure of selling-well, compared to that of L’Arc’s.

And I’m sure the other members felt like that, as well. We all know that L’Arc likes to experiment on new sounds, but I think with their solos, the members get to do that more freely. And when they reunite as Laruku, they get to share their new-found ideas.

In a 2011 interview (or was it 2007 again? Can’t really recall), Tetsuya said that their solo activities made them discover, realize, new things that they get to share and contribute for Laruku. And that was a good thing.

Bottom line: Laruku’s hiatus and their solo activities give the boys the chance to grow not as individuals, but also as artists.

Think about their busy 1998-2000 era before they went on a 3-year hiatus. They released single after single, album after album, did tours after tours, do you think that, even for one moment, they didn’t get sick of it? Put yourself in their shoes. If you’ve been so busy doing a lot of work, a LOT, even if you enjoyed them, wouldn’t you still get tired of it? Wouldn’t you still have the feeling of breaking away from it? Break away from it, refresh your mind for a bit, then come back as a fully recharged person ready to continue what you’ve started again? I realized that when I read an interview in 2001. I think it was Hyde or Tetsu who said that they got tired and decided to have a break.

 In 2007, L’Arc was busy again. I was ecstatic again. Then 2008 came and to be honest, there came a point when I was watching one of their “NEXUS4” performances and said, “Oh my god, guys. Take a break. You need one right now.” I’m not gonna go over their 2008 activities because, hell, the way I saw it, it wasn’t the year when L’Arc was in pretty good shape. And keeping away from each other was what they needed.

And then they bounced right back again in 2011 for their 20th L’Anniversary (not gonna include 2010 single “BLESS”). And it was the year when the boys were indeed in a pretty good shape. It was L’Arc~en~Ciel in their fully glory in the 2000-2010’s era.

I’m a bit leaning on Relational Dialectics’ concept of closeness-separateness here. Being always together/physically close can be good for partners, but in order to keep your own individuality, and if you want self-growth, you still need to have space, to be separate sometimes from your own partner. Otherwise, none of you will grow as individuals.

So what am I saying here again? Give the guys a break. While, yes, it’s not really nice to see VAMPS news all the time, but you have to understand that this break is good for the boys. This is for their own personal growth. And music is not something you easily put out, especially for a huge band like L’Arc, wherein expectations are really high for each of their releases. Of course they need a lot of time to put out a material with really good quality.

It’s unfair to put the blame on VAMPS. It’s unfair to blame anyone at all. The members are doing solo activities for THEMSELVES, and for all of us fans, as well.

One thought on “[J-Rock] On L’Arc’s Solo Projects

  1. I think I saw that tumblog as well. And heck yeah, most of them blame the hiatus to hyde and his solo career. I even quoted: “The members thought… Because hyde is in solo, the rest of the members would go and make their own names too”. Which made me think that, though that person did not say the exact words, it meant “hyde being unfair to the other members”. Well I could not blame them for thinking that way, but at least they could have understand more the facts of these hiatus and solo projects. I think hyde is even more hyde when he’s in solo, and as well as the rest of them.

    And darn it, with all of these hiatus and solo stuffs, at the end of the day they strongly bond together as L’Arc-en-ciel for 21 years now and counting. And I don’t see the hiatus making a line in between- separating them. I think this hiatus is to give them a vacation for a while… but the vacation still meant for the fans- which are their solo projects. I hope we all have the same mind-set.. because L’Arc is not L’Arc without hyde- or tetsu- or ken – or yuki.


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