June 25, 2016. “It was a really pleasant live,” Kamijo, the vocalist of Versailles, said of the date. The simple statement undersold its importance. That day represented the impossible: the official return of Versailles.
Versailles was formed in 2007 by Kamijo and guitarist Hizaki. The band’s visual sensibilities, unique symphonic metal sounds, and commanding stage presence quickly made it a prominent member of Japan’s Visual Kei scene. International success followed the band’s initial domestic fame. Concerts across the world, including the US and Europe, showed that the band had broad appeal that couldn’t be contained.
Externally, it seemed like things were going great for Versailles, but in private, the band struggled to find itself. 5 years into the band’s activities, Versailles couldn’t figure out where to take itself musically. By the end of 2012, the band had broken up. 4 out of 5 of its members – Hizaki, Teru, Yuki and Masashi – recruited the vocalist Zin to form Jupiter, while Kamijo focused on his solo career.
With most members already working together as part of Jupiter, no one thought Versailles would ever get back together. This made the band’s announcement at the end of 2015 to return all the more surprising. On the band’s 9th anniversary, Versailles held its comeback performance at Zepp DiverCity.
“It was a live which I wanted to enjoy with the fans. We added many old songs to our set list,” Hizaki said.
“There was a sense of excitement playing together again and making a new history,” Yuki said. Teru echoed this sentiment. “The feeling I had was full enjoyment of Versailles. The sound of performing with the members made me feel so good,” he said.
Although the day’s significance seemed apparent, the band played it off. “It was a coincidence, but inevitable somehow,” Masashi said.
It was strange that the band didn’t place much importance on that concert. For most, an anniversary concert combined with a comeback concert would be a big deal. However, for Versailles, the real beginning of its return was yet to come.
“[June 25] was specifically for the pre-celebration of our rebirth. For me, the real rebirth came on August 4th when we played our new song,” Kamijo said.
On August 14, 10 days after debuting that song, Versailles released the best-of album “The Greatest Hits 2007-2016”. 2 brand new songs, “Melodic Thorn ~Bi no Bouryoku~” and “Chandelier”, were included on the album, marking the band’s first release of new music in years. The band’s rebirth was finally happening, and a transformation was taking place.
“We will keep the love in our music, but we will also keep evolving ourselves so that our music will be better,” Yuki said. “What we’ll do will be new things,” Masashi said. “For example, singing [a song] in Spanish,” Kamijo added.
On February 14, 2017, the band will be performing at the prestigious Nippon Budokan, a venue known for its importance in the trajectory of an artist’s career. It’s fitting then that the band will be releasing a new album titled “Lineage ~Bara no Matsuei~” at this concert. A taste of the band’s new direction was given through the release of its 2 new songs; this will be the entire feast.
“We are putting together all the song so we can say ‘this is really Versailles’,” Hizaki said of the album. Its music will serve as the guide for where the band is headed. “It contains the core songs of Versailles’ future,” Kamijo said.
Versailles’ new self will be on full display during the band’s upcoming European tour. Starting on January 26, the band will be performing 7 concerts each in a different city across Europe. It will be the band’s most active period since making its return. While most Japanese bands would save this honor for domestic activities, Versailles feels just as at home abroad.
“I don’t really think it’s that different [performing in different countries]. Each person enjoys [the show] in their own way. It’s the same as everywhere else,” Yuki said.
Yuki’s attitude strikes at the core of what Versailles wants to do as a band: bring enjoyment to everyone who will listen. Irrespective of geography, Versailles presents the best version of itself. This dedication to excellence is what has given the band its ability to retain fans through its hiatus.
“The most important thing for us is to make our dreams come true together with our fans,” Teru said. His bandmates echoed the importance of their fans in the work they do. “I want to make it like roses are blooming in our fans’ life,” Kajimo said.
Between 2007 and 2012, Versailles made many roses bloom. Today, the band has the opportunity to breathe new life into the garden it once nourished.
VERSAILLES EUROPE TOUR 2017 "RENAISSANCE"
January 26 - Moscow, Russia @ Teatr Club
January 27 - Helsinki, Finland @ Gloria
January 29 - London, United Kingdom @ Islington Academy
February 1 - Bochum, Germany @ Zeche
February 2 - Warsaw, Poland @ Hybrydy
Febraury 4 - Barcelona, Spain @ Salamandra
February 5 - Paris, France @ La Machine