Luna Sea in 2013: J, Inoran, Ryuichi, Shinya, Sugizo
|Also known as||Lunacy|
|Genres||Progressive rock, alternative rock, hard rock, punk rock|
|Years active||1986–2000, 2007 and 2008 (reunion shows), 2010–present|
|Labels||Extasy, MCA Victor, Universal, HPQ|
|Associated acts||Tourbillon, Fake?, X Japan, S.K.I.N.|
Luna Sea (stylized as LUNA SEA) is a Japanese rock band formed in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1986. Due to the use of make-up and costumes early in their career and their widespread popularity, they are considered one of the most successful and influential bands in the visual kei movement. Throughout the mid-1990s they used significantly less make-up, and after a one-year break in 1998, came back with a more mainstream alternative rock style and toned down their on-stage attire. When they disbanded in 2000, they left a big mark on the Japanese rock scene. In 2003, HMV Japan ranked Luna Sea at number 90 on their list of the 100 most important Japanese pop acts.
Founded in 1986, by bassist J and rhythm guitarist Inoran while in high school, the band was originally called Lunacy. In 1989 they recruited lead guitarist Sugizo, drummer Shinya and vocalist Ryuichi, a lineup that has remained the same. They released a few demo tapes prior to renaming themselves Luna Sea in 1991 and releasing their self-titled debut album. The band achieved their breakthrough success with a sold-out tour in 1991, which helped them get a contract with MCA Victor, and with the release of their second album Image (1992), which reached number nine on the Oricon music chart. Following the critically acclaimed albums Eden (1993), Mother (1994) and Style (1996), the band switched to Universal in 1998 and released their best-selling studio album, Shine. In late 2000, after their seventh studio album Lunacy, Luna Sea disbanded. In 2007, Luna Sea reunited for a one-off reunion concert at the Tokyo Dome, and again in 2008 for the hide memorial summit. In 2010 the group officially reunited and held a world tour, and three years later they released their first new album in thirteen years, A Will.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1986–1991: Formation and debut album
- 1.2 1992–1994: Breakthrough success; Eden and Mother
- 1.3 1995–1996: First live at the Tokyo Dome, Style
- 1.4 1997–2000: Commercial peak; Shine, Lunacy, disbandment
- 1.5 2007–2011: Reunion concerts and World Tour Reboot
- 1.6 2012–present: The End of the Dream and A Will
- 2 Musical style and influence
- 3 Members
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
1986–1991: Formation and debut album
High school friends Jun "J" Onose and Kiyonobu "Inoran" Inoue founded a band called Lunacy in 1986. They recruited Yasuhiro "Sugizo" Sugihara and Shinya Yamada from the band Pinoccio three years later on January 16, 1989. As J was already the bass player and Inoran preferred to play rhythm guitar, Sugizo switched from bass guitar to lead guitarist. Vocalist Ryuichi Kawamura (then called "Rayla") from the band Slaughter joined on May 6, finalizing the group's lineup. Lunacy debuted on stage at the 100-seat capacity Play House in Machida, Tokyo on May 29, 1989. They released their first demo tape, "Lunacy", on August 9, with all one hundred copies sold out. In October, they transferred their activities to Meguro, where they performed at the local venue Rock-May-Kan. In December, the band's second demo "Shade" was released, with all one thousand copies sold out, and on December 17 the band sold all 150 tickets for their first official one-man live concert at Machida.
In 1990, Lunacy continued to play at small venue concerts, like their first anniversary concert, Kurofuku Gentei Gig (黒服限定GIG, "dress code black gig") at Machida Play House on June 10, where they distributed the free demo "Lastly". They also performed for the first time outside Tokyo, in Osaka. In early 1991, they were discovered by hide (then guitarist of X Japan), and were signed by X Japan co-founder Yoshiki to his independent label Extasy Records. The band changed their name from Lunacy to Luna Sea and took part in the label's Nuclear Fusion Tour in March with Gilles de Rais and Sighs of Love Potion. On the tour, a 3-track sample CD including a song from each band was freely distributed, to which they contributed a short sample of "Precious". Their first album, the self-titled Luna Sea, was released the following month. They held larger live performances throughout the year with their first national tour titled Under the New Moon, which was separated into three legs or "Episodes", with 45 performances, of which the final concerts attracted an audience of over one thousand. The tour gathered seventeen thousand people in total. On October 29, they performed at that year's Extasy Summit concert, at the sold out Nippon Budokan.
1992–1994: Breakthrough success; Eden and Mother
In January 1992, the band's official fanclub Slave was launched. In March they held a small fanclub tour and on May 20 performed their last indie concert, the third kurofuku gentei gig at Machida Play House. On May 21, Luna Sea released their first major studio album, Image, on MCA Victor. The album peaked at number 9, spending 14 weeks on the Oricon charts. It was followed by the band's debut tour Image or Real in May, and corresponding with their increasing popularity, continued with After the Image tour in September. There were 25 concerts with an audience of more than twenty-eight thousand people. On October 31, performed at another Extasy Summit concert at the Nippon Budokan.
Luna Sea's first single, "Believe", was released in February. The single peaked at number 11, spending 7 weeks on the charts. The band started working on their second album and began touring throughout the country for it on April 16, with the Search for My Eden tour. The tour included 14 concerts in the same number of locations, and mobilized an audience of around twenty-six thousand people. The album Eden was released on April 21, and peaked at number 5, spending 19 weeks on the charts. It was certified gold, for shipment of over two hundred thousand copies, by the RIAJ. In July they released their second single "In My Dream (With Shiver)", which peaked at number 9 and spent 4 weeks on the charts. In August, the four concert Search for My Eden Encore tour was held, of which the latter two shows on August 26 and 27 were planned for the Nippon Budokan. However, the last concert was postponed until August 30 because of the Category 4 Super Typhoon Yancy. In December the Sin After Sin video compilation was released, which included performances from smaller venues during the year, and the band started the The Garden of Sinners 93-94 tour, with 20 concerts that mobilized forty thousand people. At the end of the year, the band received the "Grand Prix New Artist of the Year" award at the 7th Japan Gold Disc Awards.
A 30-second sample of "Face to Face", a heavy rock song originally from Mother. Here is the live recording from December 27, 1994 at the Nippon Budokan, included on the album Never Sold Out.
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On February 12, 1994, the band performed the tour's final concert at the sold-out 17,000 seat Yokohama Arena. On July 21, their third single "Rosier" was released. It peaked at number 3, spent 25 weeks on the charts, which is the band's record, and was certified gold by the RIAJ. In December, the single's promotional video was awarded the Best Promotional Video at the 36th Japan Record Awards. From August 18 to 20, the band went on a sold-out five-stop tour with Buck-Tick and Soft Ballet. On September 21, they released their fourth single "True Blue", which topped the charts, spending 17 weeks on them, and was certified platinum, for shipment of over four hundred thousand copies, by the RIAJ. Responding to the popularity, Luna Sea released their third album Mother on October 26. It peaked at number 2, spent 30 weeks on the charts, and eventually sold more than half a million copies. In December they performed at the Osaka-jō Hall, and three times, of which two were consecutive, at the Nippon Budokan.
1995–1996: First live at the Tokyo Dome, Style
In January, the band members went to Ireland to film the promotional video for their fifth single, "Mother". The single was released the following month, peaked at number 5, spending 8 weeks on the charts, and was certified gold by the RIAJ. Throughout March and May, the band held the Mother of Love, Mother of Hate tour, which included 31 concert in twenty-seven locations and an audience of sixty-three thousand people. On May 24, Luna Sea released their first promotional video collection, Eclipse I. On November 13, the band's sixth single "Desire" was released. It topped the charts, spending 14 weeks on them, and sold more than half a million copies, being certified platinum by the RIAJ. By now, the band's popularity had reached the point to which they would headline Japan's largest indoor live venue, the Tokyo Dome. On December 23, they held a concert titled Lunatic Tokyo there, tickets sold out the same day they went on sale, which was filmed for a home video release the following year.
In March 1996, "End of Sorrow", their seventh single, topped the charts, spent 8 weeks on them, and was certified platinum by the RIAJ. It was followed on April 22, by the band's fourth album Style. It was the band's first album to top the charts, spending 21 weeks on them, sold more than half a million records by the end of the year, being certified platinum, and was the thirtieth best-selling album of 1996. In July, the single "In Silence" was released and peaked at number 2, spending 9 weeks on the charts, and was certified gold. Also in July, the band went on the sold-out Un Ending Style tour, which opened with two consecutive concerts at Yokohama Arena and continued for 16 concerts in nine locations, and mobilized an audience of over one hundred thousand people. It was continued in October with the Encore - To Rise tour, 28 concerts in smaller venues, and ended with a Christmas concert on December 23, titled Christmas Stadium ~Mafuyu no Yagai~ (Christmas STADIUM 〜真冬の野外〜), at the outdoor Yokohama Stadium. During the concert it was announced that the band would have a temporary year break in 1997 for each member to pursue solo careers.
1997–2000: Commercial peak; Shine, Lunacy, disbandment
In 1997, Luna Sea switched record companies, as MCA Records was renamed to Universal. The band's first compilation album, Singles was released on December 17. The album topped the charts, sold over a million copies in the first three weeks, spent 27 weeks on the charts, and was the twentieth best-selling album of 1998. It was also one of the albums to receive the "Best Rock Album of the Year" award at the 12th Japan Gold Disc Awards. On the same day, the band resumed their activities with a concert at Akasaka Blitz and unveiled a toned-down visual image.
A 27-second sample of the slow pop rock ballad "I for You", which was the third single from Shine.
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In April 1998, the band's ninth and best-selling single, "Storm", was released. It topped the charts with sales of over three hundred thousand copies, becoming the band's second single to sell more than half a million units, and spent 10 weeks on the charts. It was the twenty-ninth best-selling single of 1998, and was certified platinum by the RIAJ. In June and July, two more singles followed, "Shine", which topped the charts, and "I for You", which peaked at number 2 and spent 16 weeks on the charts. Both singles were certified platinum. "I for You" was the theme song of the very popular Japanese drama God, Please Give Me More Time (神様 もう少しだけ Kamisama mō Sukoshi dake ). On July 23, Shine, the band's sixth and best-selling studio album, was released. It topped the charts, spent 13 weeks on them, and was certified million the following year. It, like Singles, was awarded "Best Rock Album" at the 13th Japan Gold Disc Awards. The song "Breathe" from this album was also used in the Japanese release of Walt Disney's animated movie Mulan. In August, the band held two consecutive concerts at Yokohama Stadium, titled Revive ~Manatsu no Yagai~ (REVIVE 〜真夏の野外〜), followed in September by, at the time, the band's longest tour, Shining Brightly, which included 33 concerts in twenty-six locations and mobilized one hundred and fifty thousand people. Two consecutive sold out concerts, titled End of Period, were held at the Tokyo Dome on December 23 and 24.
In 1999, as Luna Sea's popularity had reached overseas to neighboring countries in Asia, they went on their first Asian tour in January, visiting Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the band, their first live compilation album Never Sold Out was released in May, which peaked at number 5, and was certified gold. They then planned an ambitious open-air concert in Tokyo, with a stage costing 10 million dollars US. However, on May 27, two days before the planned concert, a typhoon storm destroyed the elaborate set. However, at the suggestion of Sugizo, the debris was used as a backdrop. The 10th Anniversary Gig [Never Sold] Out Capacity ∞ was held on May 30, began with the members arriving in a helicopter, and was attended by approximately 100,000 people, an attendance record in Japan at the time. On December 23, a sold-out joint live by Luna Sea and Glay, titled The Millennium Eve, was held at the Tokyo Dome.
On January 29, 2000, the band's song "Sweetest Coma Again" was included in the Japanese release of the original soundtrack to, the James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough. Their first release in almost two years, the single "Gravity" was released in March and topped the charts, being certified gold. In June the single "Tonight" was released, peaked at number 4, and was also certified gold. Following the singles, on June 23 the concert titled Premiere of Lunacy 2000 was held at the Nippon Budokan to promote the band's upcoming album. At the show they only played songs from their upcoming sixth studio album. The album, Lunacy, was released on July 12, and while it wasn't as successful as their previous efforts, spending only 6 weeks on the charts, it peaked at number 3 and was certified gold by the RIAJ. It was supported by two sold out nationwide tours in July and October, titled Brand New Chaos, with 32 concerts in sixteen locations and an extended two shows in Hong Kong and Taipei. On November 8, they released their fourteenth and last single, "Love Song", which peaked at number 4. That same day the band held an emergency press conference in Hong Kong, where they announced they would "drop the curtain" after two shows at the Tokyo Dome. The compilation album Period -the Best Selection-, which topped the charts and was certified platinum by the RIAJ, was released on December 23. On December 26 and 27, Luna Sea performed their two consecutive sold out farewell concerts, The Final Act, at the Tokyo Dome. Speaking of the last years of the band, Sugizo stated that the relationships and communication between the members was strained due to egos.
2007–2011: Reunion concerts and World Tour Reboot
Nearly seven years after disbanding, Luna Sea reunited for the God Bless You ~One Night Dejavu~ concert on December 24, 2007. Tickets for the show sold out within five minutes, and the concert was broadcast live on Japan's NHK BS Hi-vision Satellite channel. Luna Sea reunited again to perform at the hide memorial summit on May 4, 2008. On May 29, 2009, the band's music catalog was released on iTunes.
On August 25, it was announced that the band would hold an urgent press conference on August 31 in Hong Kong, where they previously announced the end of their activities. At the press conference the band officially announced their reunion. Their first concert tour in ten years, the world tour named 20th Anniversary World Tour Reboot -to the New Moon-, was confirmed and the band also said they were in the process of writing new songs. The tour began on November 27 in Germany and continued on to the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and was planned to end with two shows in Japan on the 23 and 24 of December at the Tokyo Dome. A third show, a free concert titled Lunacy Kurofuku Gentei Gig ~the Holy Night~ (LUNACY 黒服限定GIG 〜the Holy Night〜), which referred to the three previous kurofuku gentei gigs held in their indie days, was held on December 15 with all songs performed being from pre-1995. The tour finished with two additional concerts at the World Memorial Hall in Kobe on December 30 and 31. Before the last shows, in December, they transferred to Japan's leading record company, Avex Group.
In response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11 in Japan, the band released the digital single "Promise" on April 9. It was their first new song in 10 years and was released exclusively on Amazon websites, with all proceeds donated to the Japanese Red Cross to aid the victims. A month previously, on March 16, a new re-recording of their debut album, Luna Sea, was released as a self-cover. A live album and video of their US concert, both titled Luna Sea 3D in Los Angeles, was released in June, with the film being shown in Japanese theaters nationwide. On October 22, they held a charity concert titled A Promise to the Brave at Saitama Super Arena, and all proceeds from the event went to the Japanese Red Cross. Tickets for the show went on sale on August 14 and sold out in five minutes.
2012–present: The End of the Dream and A Will
The band's first physical single in over eleven years, "The One -Crash to Create-", was released in March 2012. It contains only the title track, which is over twenty-two minutes long, peaked at number 5 and spent 7 weeks on the charts. It is also the band's last release with Avex, as they returned to Universal Music in October. On Universal, Luna Sea released their sixteenth, and first double A-side, single "The End of the Dream/Rouge" on December 12.
In May 2012, a concert series titled Luna Sea Live 2012-2013 The End of the Dream was announced, with shows at Osaka-jō Hall on December 23 and the other six nights at the Nippon Budokan on January 11–13 and 18-20. It was their first concerts at both venues in 13 years. After the concerts sold out in one day, the Zepp Tour 2012 "Kourin" (降臨) was announced to take place before them, with all performances being at Zepp live houses. It started on November 16 in Osaka and went to Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and ended in Tokyo on December 16, with each venue being played two to three consecutive nights each. The Zepp tour was also sold out. Additionally, in a sequel to the previous year's charity performance at Saitama Super Arena, the band performed another at Sendai Sun Plaza on December 24.
Following the performances at the Budokan, another Asian tour started on January 26, 2013 with two shows in Taiwan, then moved to Hong Kong, Bangkok and ended on February 8 in Singapore. After the tour, Luna Sea also held an exclusive live performance for their official fan club members on February 17. Originally, NHK Hall was selected to hold the event, however, the band decided to change the location to Ryōgoku Kokugikan to serve excessive demands. The single "Thoughts" was released on August 28 in celebration of the band's 24th anniversary, and is featured in a TV commercial for the online video game Master of Chaos. Just prior to the group's next single "Ran" (乱, alternately "Run"), released on November 13 and used as the theme song to the television drama Toshi Densetsu no Onna 2, they announced the tracklist and release details for their album. Luna Sea performed at Fuji TV's 2013 FNS Kayōsai festival, which was broadcast live on December 4. A Will, the group's first new studio album in 13 years, became available on December 11, 2013.
Musical style and influence
A 30-second sample of "Hurt", from Style (1996). This hard rock song is comparable to what would become typical of rock music in the 2000s.
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Luna Sea formed at the end of the 1980s, when American and British glam rock/metal were gradually losing popularity to alternative rock and grunge at the beginning of the 1990s. However, Japan's original rock groups were late following the Western trend, and as such Luna Sea formed when bands of the visual kei movement, Japan's answer to glam, were finally being recognized and achieving mainstream success. In the early 1990s, while still an indie band, the group's musical style was punk rock with gothic rock and even some hardcore punk tendencies. According to Alexey Eremenko of Allmusic, Luna Sea's sound is "firmly based in '80s hard rock, with a versatile progressive approach to songwriting, and its softer side, displayed later on in the group's career, proved equally strong." The members' individual music backgrounds also influenced the band's style; as children, Sugizo and Shinya mastered the violin and the traditional taiko drums respectively. They also preferred different genres of music, as Ryuichi and Shinya had a tendency for pop, while Inoran, J and Sugizo loved heavier rock. Sugizo liked England's indie music culture, while J prefers the American rock scene. As for native Japanese bands, Dead End had particular influence on the group in the beginning, with Ryuichi being vocally and visually inspired by their frontman Morrie. Luna Sea and X Japan, despite their different musical styles, had a close professional and personal relationship since the early 1990s.
Luna Sea's musical catalog encompasses songs in a diverse range of musical styles, including punk and post-punk (e.g. "Precious...", "Déjàvu", "Jesus"), gothic rock (e.g. "Moon", "Lastly"), hard rock (e.g. "Storm", "Hurt"), alternative rock (e.g. "True Blue", "Gravity"), progressive rock (e.g. "Genesis of Mind ~Yume no Kanata e~", "1999") and ballads (e.g. "Breathe", "Love Song"). Some of the band's songs also feature the violin, played by Sugizo (e.g. "Providence", "Mother"). They also wrote longer tracks, such as the nine and ten-minute long ballads "Forever & Ever" and "Virgin Mary", and the twenty-three minute "The One -Crash to Create-". The majority of the band's lyrics are in Japanese, but usually all songs include some English words or lines. While all lyrics and songwriting has been credited to Luna Sea as a whole since 1993, over the years the member who originally composed specific songs have been revealed by the band or otherwise learned. Lyrics are almost exclusively written by Ryuichi, whose music contributions are limited to "Until the Day I Die" and "Lost World". The majority of songs are originally composed by J, Inoran or Sugizo, with Shinya's only compositions being "Inside You", "Echo", and "Millennium", the last written with Sugizo. When asked if there was a message in their songs, Sugizo stated that there is no reason for Luna Sea to give a political message, only to create music that will stimulate the imagination and act as "a catalyst for realistic feedback."
Many newer bands and artists, most being visual kei acts, have been influenced by Luna Sea. Musicians that cite them as influences or look up to them include Miyavi, members of Alice Nine, Tōru Kawauchi of 12012, Kei and Denka from Dio – Distraught Overlord, Kazuno, Touya and Ruka of Charlotte, Silver Ash leader Ling, Hazuki of Lynch. and Deathgaze, Dazzle Vision's Takuro, several members of Nightmare, Akiya from Kagrra, and all five members of The Gazette. Kra drummer Yasuno has said that he started playing drums because of Shinya, and their former guitarist Mai is also a fan of both Sugizo and Inoran. Leda of Galneryus and Deluhi claims he was not interested in music until a friend played him Luna Sea and X Japan. DuelJewel members Hayato and Yuya cite Luna Sea as the reason they entered the visual kei scene.
- J – bass, backing vocals
- Inoran – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Sugizo – lead guitar, violin, backing vocals
- Shinya (真矢) – drums, percussion
- Ryuichi – lead vocals
- Studio albums
- Luna Sea (1991)
- Image (1992)
- Eden (1993)
- Mother (1994)
- Style (1996)
- Shine (1998)
- Lunacy (2000)
- A Will (2013)
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