Not be confused with the British band of the same name, this band have been making quite an impression internationally with their unique brand of hard rock.
I caught up with them recently and asked founding members HYDE and K.A.Z their thoughts on vampires, time travel and, erm, internet marketing.
You recently played Rock On The Range in Ohio and I understand you were received very well by an audience quite unfamiliar with you. Why do you think this was?
HYDE: The fact that we've gotten used to playing these festivals abroad certainly helped I'm sure, but that's probably not the only reason. I mean, we're proud of ourselves as a live band, so maybe people caught on to that, I'm not sure. There was a buildup, too. We were opening up for SIXX:A.M, so maybe that played a part, too.
There's so much interest in Japanese rock acts recently. What are your thoughts on this?
K.A.Z: We didn't really feel that when we toured the U.S. to be honest.
HYDE: Probably the only Japanese rock act that people are interested in is BABYMETAL, you know? (laughs)
But still, compared to a few years ago, there's more awareness of Japanese music in the western music markets. Have you felt that?
HYDE: I remember the last time we toured the U.S. we played the WARPED tour and nobody knew about us. Compared to back then, I feel that we've improved as a band and have more experience behind us, so we are able to attract a new audience even more now.
Do you think that the internet plays a big role in spreading Japanese music worldwide?
K.A.Z: Because there's so much information on the internet already, it's almost impossible for someone who isn't familiar with VAMPS to stumble on to our music via the internet. People won't listen to your music just by seeing your name on a website. You have to do something to generate interest, and I think playing shows and performing our music in front of people who may not know us is the best way to do it.
This year sees you play at Hyper Japan in London alongside Ling Tosite Sigure, [Alexandros] and Okamoto's. What are your expectations of the London audience?
HYDE: The show we're playing this time is kind of like a showcase for Japanese bands. We're used to playing our own shows, but like K.A.Z was saying, these showcase events are a great opportunity to bring awareness to Japanese music. When we go and play our own shows, we don't feel like we're representing Japan or anything. But these types of events are all about Japan, so it feels quite different. But I definitely think it's one way to get your name out there. If you're able to get a good reaction from the London crowd this time, it's something you can build up on for the future. I guess it all comes down to whether you can put on an exciting performance or not. That's the key. And I feel as VAMPS, we're sounding really tight at the moment. It should be a great show.
You seem to style yourself to some extent on mid 1980's bands like Motley Crue, Guns n Roses. Were these influences on you? What other bands have shaped your style?
HYDE: That was some of the first music I listened to growing up. Also, there was a certain toxic element you felt from those bands, which you don't see that much these days. A lot of the bands now don't even drink alcohol. People might say it has nothing to do with the music, but for me, it had a lot to do with the music. Rock n' Roll music isn't supposed to be healthy.
K.A.Z : There should be a sense of danger to it.
HYDE: Yeah. That's the whole appeal. It's like cigarettes and alcohol. As a kid you fantasize about them because you're not supposed to go near them. I don't want to be a band that forgets all that and all of a sudden puts on a clean image and sings about how everything is going to be OK tomorrow, you know (laughs)? That fundamental Rock n Roll attitude is something I never want to lose. Because I believe that is the essence of rock music.
If you could travel back in time to the mid 1980's and meet one of your favorite bands, what would you tell them and why?
HYDE: I heard Nikki Sixx used to be a jerk back then (laughs). I'd really like to meet Nikki when we was a real badass. Probably because he went through some pretty rough times and became who he is now. Some of it may have been exaggerated, but I would love to see how crazy he actually was.
If you were going to be played on US/UK radio, what songs would you like to be played before and after your song?
K.A.Z: We've never been asked that question before.
HYDE: I would like to hear them play Linkin Park and then VAMPS and then Depeche Mode.
Any particular song?
K.A.Z: Musically they are quite different from us, but maybe play AC/DC before us.
I love vampire films and my favorite is Cronos by Guillermo Del Toro What's your favorite vampire film?
HYDE: It's not a cult movie or anything but my favorite to this day is "Interview With The Vampire." I've read a lot of Anne Rice's novels and really like her depiction of vampires. They seem more real, modern and there's something sexy about them.
If real vampires could form a band, what kind of music do you think they would play?
HYDE: They would sound exactly like us. We are your living proof.
The Vamps headline Japan Night at Hyper Japan on July 10 and 11 at London's O2.
Image copyright: Takayuki Okada