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K-Pop Crossover: J-Rock Horror Band VAMPS Scare Up Hallyu Love For Halloween [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | October 02, 2015 05:31 PM EDT

Halloween is around the corner for most people, but VAMPS don't have it on their calendar. The Japanese horror rock band, whose latest release is called "Bloodsuckers," celebrates "Sex, Blood and Rock and Roll" all year.

VAMPS were formed in 2008 by two Japanese rock veterans. Hideto "HYDE" Takarai is the singer of the band L'Arc-en-Ciel, the first Japanese act to headline at Madison Square Garden.

Kazuhito "K.A.Z" Iwaike was the guitarist of Oblivion Dust, which was so taken with the American Grunge scene they sang in English. He formed Spin Aqua with pop idol Anna Tsuchiya. K.A.Z also worked with South Korean singer "the President of culture" Seo Taiji and composed for movies like "Detroit Metal City."

The pair started collaborating in 2003 when K.A.Z helped produce and write some of HYDE's solo works, including the single "Season's Call." VAMPS released their debut single "Love Addict" on July 2, 2008 and it flew like a bat out of hell to number 2.

VAMPS's single, "Vampire's Love," was the theme song to the Japanese release of 2014 Hollywood horror hit "Dracula Untold."

VAMPS finished touring Latin America and are on a short vacation before dates in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City this October. HYDE and K.A.Z came out of their coffins to speak exclusively to KpopStarz about Halloween and Hallyu.

VAMPS are about to hit the major cities on each coast, but they might make some surprising gothic stops while in the area.

"I want to go to a vampire club-crawl," HYDE said. "Goth people in the club all look like real. I love them."

"I want to go there. I have never been those clubs," K.A.Z added.

The musicians said dark sounds and visuals have always been interrelated, but they only fully appreciated horror after coming into music.

"Rock and horror are friends," HYDE said. 

"So, I started to be interested in horror at the same time I started enjoying rock music."

"When I was a young boy I only watched 'Dracula' or 'Frankenstein,'" K.A.Z admitted.

The two musicians said horror rock was greatly helped by the influx of vampire entertainment and they were not immune to their allure.

"You couldn't ignore the books by Anne Rice, after all," HYDE said.

But both musicians are fully aware of earlier artists who plumbed dark images like Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson.

"Those are some of the band I admire," HYDE said. "I have not tried to put on makeup like them, but I like all horror bands."

"I prefer Nine Inch Nails style, which has an air of the decadent," K.A.Z said.

Marilyn Manson co-wrote and recorded the theme for the horror TV series "Salem." Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails scored music for several films. The musicians in VAMPs also wrote for film.

The rockers explained how composing for movies was different from writing songs.

"I change my point of view into movie producer who tries to exalt the story," HYDE said.

"I prefer this way (to make music), because I can concentrate more."

"I think sense of scale, or magnificent is more important to create music for movie," K.A.Z said.

Looking back over the history of great horror, they contemplated which classic films they might want to put their musical stamp on.

"I'd say, 'Nosferatu,'" said HYDE.

Going back as far as Michael Jackson's "Thriller," many pop artists have dabbled in darker themes.

"They may be influenced by rock music at the same time too since I darkness and rock music have something in common," K.A.Z said.

We asked the vocalist what he thought of pop artists who borrowed scary themes for their music videos.

"Not that much," HYDE answered, completely deadpan, or is that undeadpan?

"I do not know those artists very well."

To bring VAMPS up to speed, we shared the song "Full Moon" by the K-pop artist Sunmi, which has been described as a vampire song, to get their reactions.

"Cool song," HYDE said enthusiastically. "I want to be involved."

"This is great, I think this is new approach for the music industry," K.A.Z said.

The horror rockers also got to sample "Wolf," by EXO.

"This is very sophisticated, great song," HYDE said. He mused that "if we would have same style of looks, music and performance wise, we could have more girl fans."

While neither member of the band is a regularly follower of K-pop, they are intimate with some of the players.

"JANG KEUN-SUK and JaeJoong are friend of mine," HYDE said. "Dong Bang Shin Ki is cool."

The guitarist enjoyed a more professional relationship.

"I worked for a couple of songs for the album of the Seo Taiji, called '7th Issue,' K.A.Z said.

"He is great, and a very cool artist." 

But when they were asked which K-pop favorite artists were their favorites, both musicians admitted they didn't follow the Hallyu scene very closely.

"I'm not so keen in this arena, but I'd say Girls Generation," K.A.Z said.

We asked what K-pop music videos got their blood boiling.

"The sexy video by Stellar, "Marionette," said HYDE.

The band got more serious when the discussed the similarities between their style and K-pop.

"We both love Korean food," said HYDE.

"Both of us are from Asia," K.A.Z said.

But the horror rockers had a good idea how they might hook K-pop fans.

"Go to one of our Korean shows and watch play live," K.A.Z said.

VAMPS have a reputation as an exciting live act. You can see the tour announcement, HERE:

Tagged :  VAMPS, horror rock

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