Who are X Japan? 5 questions for Stephen Kijak
More than just a rock doc, the brilliant We Are X charts the stellar career of X Japan, chronicling the band’s exhilarating, tumultuous history over 30 years, and it opens at Bertha DocHouse this evening - Friday 10th March. We asked director Stephen Kijak 5 questions about his award-winning film and the rock gods it follows.
DocHouse: For the uninitiated, how would you sum up X Japan?
Stephen Kijack: Progressive Melodic Glam Metal - the love children of KISS and Bowie.
DH: You’re well known for making documentaries about The Rolling Stones and Backstreet Boys. Did you have to take a different tack for a band that’s less well known in the US and UK?
SK: It had to work on this other dramatic level, but also allowed for a lot more subtext: and the band itself, being so emotionally and visually explosive allowed for a quite over-the-top approach.
DH: X Japan’s leader and drummer Yoshiki is a completely captivating character – an enigmatic rock god with a life beset by tragedy. As you travelled with the band, what was your relationship with him like?
SK: Like with any subject at the heart of your story, you need time to build trust. We didn't travel around with the band - we filmed one show, shot some interviews - but with Yoshiki, it was just spending more time interviewing him than I think he was used to. He has said it felt moire like a patient/therapist relationship.
DH: We Are X got rave reviews at Sundance and South By South West. What has the response to the film been like in Japan where the band are huge?
SK: If I could read Japanese I would tell you! But one guy in the film, Naoshi Tsuda, who was their producer and A&R guy at SONY in the early days, wrote to me to say how much it touched him. He said that despite all the tragedy they experienced together, the film convinced him that their "way of life had been right."
DH: The film features X Japan staging their comeback show at the iconic Madison Square Gardens. If you could make a film about any band that had played MSG, who would it be?
SK: Queen, Freddy Mercury - if you could tell that story - and I mean REALLY tell it, I think that would be extraordinary.
We Are X plays all week at Bertha DocHouse. Read more and buy tickets HERE.