Sometime early this year when I was back-reading a number of L’Arc~en~Ciel-related posts on Tumblr, I came across posts complaining about L’Arc~en~Ciel’s hiatus. And curiously, the people were blaming it on Hyde and VAMPS. In all honesty, I was surprised with all the extreme emotions from the complaints. There was even a post that said something like Hyde should just quit L’Arc~en~Ciel and go on with VAMPS because L’Arc can survive without Hyde, but Hyde cannot survive without L’Arc. I. Was. Bemused.
So here’s what I have to say about the members’ solos/side projects:
Personally, I used to dislike it. Well, VAMPS, at least. But take note of USED to. I was a big fan of Hyde’s solo career, and I enjoyed KAZ’s contributions in Hyde’s solo albums. Season’s Call, anyone? That is why I expected to hear the same musical style with VAMPS. However when LOVE ADDICT came out, I was like, “WHAT IS THIS?” It was totally far from what I expected. What happened to Hyde’s alternative rock? Their follow-up single I Gotta Kick Start Now still didn’t do it for me. Still, I stuck with VAMPS because I was given hope when EVANESCENT was released, which was somehow reminiscent of the style of Horizon.
Going back, yes, I used to dislike VAMPS, at first, because of their different music style and that it’s actually one of the easons for L’Arc’s hiatus. But after giving it much thought and when I’ve had read interviews and watched shows, in which the L’Arc members talked about their opinion on 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 whether the other fans agree or not, the fact is that their solo activities actually have a positive effect on the band itself.
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 with L’Arc, 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 L’Arc again, they get to share their new ideas and “experiments.”
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 L’Arc. And that’s a good thing.
Bottom line: L’Arc’s hiatus and their solo activities give the boys the chance to grow not just 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 tired 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? I realized that when I read an interview way back 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 the way I saw it, it wasn’t the year when L’Arc was in pretty good shape (at least from what I saw). And having a break from each other was what they needed.
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 remember Relational Dialectics’ concept of closeness-separateness here. Being always together/physically close can be good for relationships, 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 (compared to seeing L’Arc news), but you have to understand that this break is good for the boys. This is for their 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 create a new 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 both themselves and for all of us fans, as well.