All legends start somewhere. In 1989, Kanagawa high schoolers Jun Onose (J) and Kiyonobu Inoue (INORAN) found themselves in the market for a drummer when the position became available. In the meantime, local rival band PINOCCIO was also losing members. Jumping on the opportunity, Shinya Yamada of PINOCCIO was asked to join LUNACY — but insisted on the inclusion of band mate Yasuhiro Sugihara (SUGIZO), a bassist. A compromise was struck: SUGIZO would be welcomed into the band if he would adopt the part of guitar. Their historic lineup was finalized four months later when another member change brought in Ryuichi Kawamura (then known as Rayla). They played their first live house concert on May 29th that year, and a whirlwind of popularity followed.
LUNACY got their foot in the door early, when bands like X and BUCK-TICK were beginning to turn heads in what would soon develop into its own wild industry. Each member brought their own influences from progressive rock to goth, and collaborated on music and planning without a leader; even one voice of dissent meant that any proposal was shot down. They earned a reputation for this fascinating structure that carried on into their career as LUNA SEA and persists today.
But that change didn’t happen until 1991, when the band was scouted and signed to Extasy Records, the label run by X’s Yoshiki. While in the indies scene, LUNACY released three limited demo tapes and was soon selling out small shows in Tokyo. Their first anniversary show required attendees to show up in black clothing (“kurofuku gentei”), a tradition which still continues in visual kei today.
The name “LUNACY” was only revived once in 2010 for a Tokyo Dome kurofuku gentei concert — and then, of course, for LUNATIC FEST.
The band entered in dress not all unfamiliar to long-time fans, but certainly a far cry from their modern stagewear of choice. While SHINYA and Ryuichi’s suits made them out to look a little tamer than goth-garbed INORAN and SUGIZO, their makeup and eyeliner took them back about a decade. J rocked a relaxed style, topped off with big shades that wouldn’t typically be seen on a visual kei stage.
The short opening set kicked off with CHESS, a song saturated with (or definitive of) what came to be recognized as kote kei in the early ’90s. Even live, performed by now-seasoned musicians, the song retained the charming, unpolished quality of indies music. MECHANICAL DANCE, a track off of LUNA SEA’s major debut album, “IMAGE,” excited fans next with its recognizable bass lines and SUGIZO’s glam-rock solo.
What really set off the crowd was the third and final track. LUNACY saved the best for last with SHADE, the only song actually released during their time as “LUNACY.” It was originally as part of the 1989 demo tape of the same name. Instrumental to the success of some of the forefathers of visual kei, SHADE took the older audience members back in time and gave the younger a five-minute crash course in industry history.
2. MECHANICAL DANCE