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Yeah, I feel a little bit out my depth.
It's not every day you get to meet a rockstar who sold 40 million records and is treated like a god in Japan.
I don't think it will stop feeling like a dream until I touch him.
... It sounds a little bit creepy, but then this isn't a normal situation.
Say the name Hyde to any Japanese person and you'll have a hard time finding someone in this country who doesn't know who he is.
♪Fake Divine - Hyde♪
♪Who's Gonna Save Us - Hyde♪
♪Mad Qualia - Hyde♪
Some rockstars have a hit track and then fade away into obscurity.
Others continuously reinvent themselves and stick around long enough to become a legend.
"Are you fucking ready Tokyo!?"
Hyde rose to prominence as the frontman of one of Japan's biggest bands L'Arc-en-Ciel
and followed it up as a successful solo artist with a career spanning almost three decades.
With 62 songs in Japan's top 10 charts, 16 sellout shows at the 55,000 capacity Tokyo Dome,
the first Japanese act to headline Madison Square Garden,
and even a sellout show on the deck of the USS Missouri in Hawaii,
Hyde has lived a rock star lifestyle most musicians around the world can only dream of.
And yet outside of Japan, you may never have even heard his name.
I've been invited to spend a week with Hyde to get to know the man behind the literal mask.
To hear his story to try to understand what life is like as a mega celebrity in Japan,
where idol culture and obsession often take things to the extreme.
In what was easily one of the most surreal weeks of my life, this was my week with a Japanese rockstar.
*Phone ringing*
Oh God, here we go...
I've made the error - the spectacular error - of telling my good friend Natsuki who I was meeting this week.
Given that he is not only a big fan of Hyde, but also a wannabe rockstar himself, as you can imagine he's been pestering me all week long.
[Natsuki over the phone]: Hello Chris!
Hello Natsuki!
Yeah ok- Bye Natsuki. Bye. Yep. -- Bye bye!
Unbelievable... Unbelievable.
So we're currently driving out to Tokyo Bay to Odaiba - to the venue where Hyde is performing all week long,
where we're going to be spending most of our time with him.
I've not actually met Hyde yet so I don't know what to expect
I've watched some of his music videos in preparation and he seems a little bit scary to be honest.
But I mean, what do you expect from somebody who's called Hyde?
I just hope that there's a Dr. Jekyll behind that sort of intimidating onstage persona.
I guess we're gonna find out very shortly.
Arriving at the venue over three hours before the gig starts,
there's already a massive crowd out front buying up every manner of Hyde merchandise imaginable,
hardly surprising given Japanese fans' loyalty is often beyond question.
And as I fight my way to the entrance, I find myself drawn to one of the more unconventional items on display for the most devout fans.
So this - this is the Hyde credit card - the Hyde MasterCard. A real credit card with Hyde's face on it.
I've never seen anything like this anywhere else in the world.
We've been standing here the last 5 or 10 minutes watching the queue of people coming up to buy these.
But yeah. It's pretty... pretty crazy.
Having fought my way inside through the crowds,
I sneak backstage to come face to face with the man himself and needless to say my nerves have got the better of me.
Hi. -- Hey!
Good to meet you. Nice to meet you man. How you doing?
Thank you so much.
No, no. No problem, mate.
I've never met a real-life rock star before.
I've always had one question: if I was going on stage for two hours in front of thousands of people,
I would need a lot of ice coffee and a lot of karaage fried chicken.
Is there some kind of routine - some sort of ritual you have before you go on stage? Something you do in preparation.
So this week, you are at the Zepp Tokyo.
Six days? Six nights?
Yep.
Why not, again if I was a rock star, I would just do one venue, one day like Tokyo Dome, right?
You've got a big audience. You can just do one day. Why do six days in a row at Zepp Tokyo?
Well, I am really looking forward to seeing you in action tonight.
I'm really looking forward to it. Thank you Hyde.
Looking forward to it!
Thank you very much.
It's kind of scary. It's kind of intimidating...
I've never been in that kind of situation.
He seemed like an amazing guy. A really nice guy. I'm looking forward to getting to know him throughout the week.
Seeing what he can do on stage. Let's go and find out.
Standing amongst the crowd, I was about to learn you don't simply watch a Hyde concert so much as become a participant in the madness.
And what essentially felt like a 4D experience, in the space of two hours I witnessed him throw water off the speakers,
stage dive and surf the crowd,
Hell, at one point, he even went up into the second-story, stood amongst the crowd, and baseball batted water bottles out across the room.
There was scarcely a single minute that half-a-dozen fans weren't crowd surfing their way towards the stage to reach him.
Finally, he got the audience to take out their phones and create a sea of thousands of lights, stretching out into the darkness.
The laid-back guy I'd met backstage earlier on was a world away from the unstoppable force
who dominated a room full of thousands of people.
Watching Hyde effortlessly manage the crowd and performed with seemingly limitless energy,
it was easy to see how he'd earned his status as one of Japan's top artists
The only disappointment for me was that I wasn't able to get one of the roses he tossed out into the audience.
Watching you on stage as Hyde, and sitting with you now like Dr. Jekyll, it seems to be quite a big difference in character.
Do you feel like you become someone else when you're up there on stage performing?
So I was once an English teacher in Yamagata prefecture for three years. I worked at a high school.
One of my favorite things was asking students what they wanted to do after they graduated - what they wanted to become.
And you often find when you talk to a child or a teenager, there's a moment that defines their career and what they want to do in life.
You know, for me,
I wanted to become a filmmaker because when I was 10 years old my granddad gave me a Panasonic video camera -
it all kind of started from there.
Is there a specific event or person in your life when you were growing up as a child/as a teenager that led you to become a rockstar?
A specific moment going back.
Becoming one of the most famous faces in a country of 126 million people is not a situation to be taken lightly.
Once you reach that point of fame, it's not something you can simply switch off if you feel like it,
with his face plastered on billboards and thousands of people across the country singing his songs at karaoke on a daily basis.
I asked Hyde how he quantifies the benefits and downsides of achieving that level of fame.
Are you able to sometimes just go off and stroll around Tokyo?
Forget strolling through Tokyo. I wondered what the response would be if Hyde walked out the front of the building.
Surprisingly it wasn't just enthusiastic Japanese fans either.
Some had traveled as far as the US and Spain to attend the show.
His English albums are just as good as his Japanese albums.
He's just... different - like he's weird, but in a good way, you know?
He's, like, a little crazy and a little manic and his music is very, very different from, like, the typical Japanese sound. At least I think so.
I think he's a very unique artist because of Western influences and also Japanese influences.
But, he always keeps his own personal style.
I don't think I've ever seen so much merchandise for one artist.
They say that 90% of people coming to a gig in Japan actually buy the merchandise.
In Japan, merchandise is a really big deal.
You can see that by the sheer variety of things they've got here.
We've got the Hyde tote bag, the Hyde cap, the Hyde mini wallet,
the Hyde smartphone case,
Hyde wristband,
Hyde necklace.
They actually open the merchandise store five hours before a gig and it's not just a few people -
they've got a massive team of 20 staff here to serve the throngs of customers that come here to buy Hyde merchandise before the show begins.
*Phone rings*
Hello, Natsuki.
[Natsuki over the phone]: Hi, Chris!
Oh really. What a coincidence.
No. Not a chance. Have yourself a great time in Tokyo, Natsuki. I'll see you around.
Yeah, bye bye.
Unbelievable...
Really?
The next day, Hyde and I arranged to meet up for an interview at Universal Music in Harajuku.
I want to understand why he's attempting to break out of Japan and focus overseas.
But not before I first give him a ground-breakingly lucrative idea to turn one of his favorite catch phrases
into a brand new range of merchandise.
So yesterday, I was looking at your merchandise. --Yeah.
And I noticed there wasn't a shirt saying "Are you fucking ready".
I was surprised. I think that'd do really well.
What do you think?
--Yeah! I'd buy it.
"Are you fucking ready, Tokyo!!?"
Yesterday, I talked to you about your past and how you considered at one point being an artist.
I was wondering today if you could draw me something.
Something to kind of motivate me and encourage me to keep fit.
Something I could put above my desk and I can look at and go 'Yeah... Hyde's motivated me to do this.'
It's very important.
Every day, I'll look at this.
I can't see it so... it's quite scary. It's gonna be a real masterpiece this is.
"Do your best"
Aw, that's beautiful.
And you got the beard - you got the beard as well. Nice!
Thank you, Hyde. Beautiful!
Listening to the songs on Hyde's new album 'Anti' with themes covering topics such as faith and identity,
the darker tones embedded within the lyrics feel at-odds from the upbeat feel-good tracks that he's usually known for as a Japanese pop rock artist.
In solo form, Hyde's more crazy, unpredictable persona will certainly appeal more to an international audience.
But historically, Japanese artists have struggled to break into the overseas market.
Outside of the numerous cultural and language barriers, there's also a lack of incentive.
After all, Japan already has the second biggest music market in the world after the US,
with sales of 2.6 billion dollars in 2018 alone.
With all that in mind, I wanted to know why Hyde was taking what many would consider to be a difficult path
in attempting to break out of Japan.
So we've had some serious questions, and now it's time for the quick question quick fire-outs
I could probably phrase that less awkwardly...
Hopefully we can get picture of your thinking.
Question number 1: Coffee or tea?
Coffee.
Sushi or ramen?
Umm... Ramen.
Cat or dog?
Dog.
Playstation or Xbox?
Playstation.
Playstation or Nintendo?
Nintendo!? Ah...
Uhh, Playstation.
Day or night?
Umm, night.
Car or motorcycle?
Umm... Car.
Money or fame?
Mmmmm... M-Money.
Salty or sweet?
Uhh... Salty.
Comedy or horror?
Horror.
LA or New York?
LA.
Tokyo or Osaka?
Oh...
Tokyo.
Tokyo?
Bath or shower?
Uhh... Shower.
Vodka or wine?
Ahh, Vodka!
Good! Good. Well done. There were some good answers there.
*Phone rings*
Sorry Hyde...
*Mutters* Oh, for fuck's sake...
My friend, Natsuki...
All week he's been asking me if he could meet you - if he could come to the concert and I've just been saying 'No, no, go away'...
Absolute nightmare.
Is there any way we can get him to come to the concert? Would it be alright?
Yeah.
Really?
Of course. Sure. --You sure?
Yeah.
... I don't know if it's a good idea, but alright.
We'll see what we can do. Thanks, though. Thanks.
Well, we were reluctantly able to get Natsuki tickets. I don't know if it's a good idea or not, but speak of the devil here he is!
Hello, Natsuki!
Hello!
How are you doing?
Oh my god, you've come fully kitted out.
You have got a lot of Hyde goods on. Hyde T-shirt?
T-shirt.
Hyde...
whatever that is. --Wristband.
Hyde hat!
Nice!
What do you mean?
Put them away!
Good idea!-
It's not a good idea!
You're not gonna talk to Hyde, don't touch Hyde - just looking.
Just look at Hyde, right?
Don't give it- put it away! Put the bloody goods away!
Why?
Unbelievable, init? Unbelievable...
Come on...
Whoa!!
Cool!
It's cool.
Whoaaa...!!
After pestering me all week long, Natsuki proved that being persistent ultimately pays off.
Watching Natsuki immersed in the chaos of the crowd, I was glad I'd been able to get him to come to the concert.
His crazed and overexcited expression said more than me describing a concept with words ever could.
With Natsuki having had probably the best workout he's had in years, as the concert ends
we arranged to take him backstage to secretly surprise him with an encounter with Hyde.
And right up until the final moment, he has no idea it's about to happen.
Wow!!
Hyde-san!!
Wow!!
Uwow!!
And from there, Natsuki's evening was about to get a whole lot better.
How do you feel?
Ah...
That was a surprise.
Thank you!
What's my present? What are you gonna give me? For this incredible favor?
A coffee?
L size. Oh.... Oh.
A potato. Wow.
It feels like I went to a lot of effort for not a great... not a great deal of reward.
It's been an extraordinary journey to spend a week with Hyde and gain an insight into life as a Japanese rock star.
And before we finally part ways, I sit down with him one last time to give him the ultimate parting gift.
Yesterday, when I introduced you to Natsuki, after you signed his shirt for half an hour because he asked so much,
we went outside and the first thing he said was 'he's definitely going to be successful in America' and I believe it too.
I think you can do it. You can definitely do it.
I think you can do it.
Recently, in the UK everybody's drinking gin - everybody's been drinking gin so much. Oh, I'm no exception.
So I got you some British gin in there.
Of course.
Good smell. Nice. Thank you.
And while you're drinking the gin
Yeah?
Why not study? Why not do a bit of studying?
It's an amazing book.
Thank you!
It actually has some useful phrases in it for once.
Amazing - "fuckface".
"In-fucking-credible."
In-fucking-credible?
Yeah, like 'mecha'.
In-fucking-credible!
So now, in the evening, you can drink some gin and learn some incredible useful English words.
So that's my present to you.
But seriously, thanks Hyde. Thank you for this week. Thank you for everything. It's been an incredible week.
Thank you so much.
As I watched one last time as Hyde leaves the venue to an ecstatic crowd cheering fans surrounded by his entourage of staff,
I'm reminded of how lucky I've been to spend a week with such a legendary figure
who inhabits a lifestyle in the world that's difficult to comprehend or appreciate.
And whatever happens in the next chapter of his career, his legacy within Japan is forever assured.
There he goes. Japan's biggest rock star. What an awesome guy.
In conclusion then, I wish I was a rockstar instead of a Youtuber!
Got to, uh...
Gotta get the last train now.
Still, I did get this rather cool photo of Natsuki and Hyde
and I suspect I might be able to sell that to Natsuki for a few hundred dollars.
He'll pay.
... He'll pay.
♪Fake Divine - Hyde♪