X Japan may have a sort of cult status in the US, but they are legends in their home country. Formed in 1982 and led by the enigmatic drummer/pianist/composer/producer Yoshiki, the metal outfit released five studio albums between 1988 and and 1996, going on to become the single most successful rock band in Japanese history. They split at the height of their success in 1997, but reformed in 2007, heading out for their first-ever mainstream US tour with a stop at Lollapalooza and capping off with a massive gig at New York’s Roseland Ballroom. Then in 2014, they returned to the States for a headlining concert at the famed Madison Square Garden.
This entire journey is now being told in a new documentary from filmmaker Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile). Entitled We Are X, the film was produced by John Battsek and George Chignell, the same team behind the surprise hit Searching for Sugar Man. It had its premiere the Sundance Film Festival back in January, but is now set to hit select theaters on October 21st.
Ahead of the release, and to introduce the unfamiliar with just how influential X Japan has been, check out an exclusive clip from We Are X above. In it, modern Japanese rockers talk about how they wouldn’t exist without the groundwork laid by Yoshiki and his cohorts. As one musician puts, “Because of them, rock received citizenship in Japan.”
After being delayed earlier this year, X Japan’s first album in 20 years is expected out by the end of 2016.