L'Arc-en-Ciel (ラルク アン シエル, raruku an shieru?, "the arc in the sky" or "the rainbow" in French) is a popular Japanese rock band, formed in 1991. The group has sold over 15 million albums, 30 million singles, and millions of other units, such as videos. They were ranked at number 58, in a list of Japan's top 100 musicians, provided by HMV.
In February of 1991, bassist Tetsuya Ogawa (Tetsu), later band leader, recruited vocalist Hyde along with guitarist Hiro and drummer Pero, and formed a band under the name of L'Arc-en-Ciel. After a year of gaining notoriety in their hometown of Osaka, Hiro left the band on June 12, 1992. Pero soon followed on December 30 of the same year, supposedly to join up with his friend Hiro again. To replace the two, Tetsu convinced his friend Ken Kitamura to quit his university studies (he was an architecture major at The Nagoya Institute of Technology) and join the band as the guitarist. Later, a new drummer, Yasunori Sakurazawa, was recruited after Tetsu saw him perform in a few shows.
Debut album and subsequent albums
On April 1, 1993, the band released their debut album Dune under the indie label Danger Crue. The album was a success and rose to number one on the Oricon indies charts, catching the attention of some major labels. In 1994, L'Arc-en-Ciel signed on with Sony's Ki/oon division, releasing their second album, Tierra that same year. Heavenly followed in 1995, and True, their first million seller,was released in 1996.
In February 1997, drummer Sakura was arrested for illegal drug possession, and officially quit the band on October 4, 1997. This proved to be the lowest point in the band's history. When news of Sakura's arrest became public, there was an immediate official response. CDs were removed from the shelves and any of their songs that were used as theme songs were quickly replaced, such as "The Fourth Avenue Cafe" for Rurouni Kenshin which was immediately replaced with former theme "Heart of the Sword" after only six episodes of running time. Although L'Arc-en-Ciel's latest album True remained on the charts for two years, their next single "The Fourth Avenue Cafe" was postponed. It was eventually released in 2006.
Break and comeback
Over the next few months the group continued to be featured in magazines, but only as a trio. They created their own cover band, The Zombies, and poked fun at their own songs. They also covered artists such as Marilyn Manson and Nirvana. The return from the break was marked by the appropriately named Reincarnation 97 Live in Tokyo Dome, with their new drummer, Yukihiro (former drummer with Zi:Kill and Die in Cries). The first concert had an attendance of 56,000, which sold out in a still-standing Tokyo Dome record of four minutes.
In 1997, "Niji", the first single after Sakura's departure, was released with Yukihiro listed as a supporting member. Not long after the release of the single, Yukihiro was signed on as the official drummer for L'Arc-en-Ciel. In 1998, L'Arc-en-Ciel released the album Heart.
L'Arc-en-Ciel released three more albums of new material during the next few years. Ark and Ray were released simultaneously on July 1, 1999, and became the first Japanese albums to be released simultaneously in many other Asian countries. Both topped the Oricon music charts, with Ark occupying number one and Ray at number two. The release of ark and ray marked the high point of the band's career, with each selling over two million copies. Real followed in 2000, which was the last CD of new material for some time, although many more compilation and remix albums would follow.
"Stay Away" from the album Real was featured in Drummania 4th Mix, making the song playable on the machine.
L'Arc-en-Ciel's last new song before their hiatus, "Spirit Dreams Inside", was the closing theme song to the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
After "Spirit Dreams Inside", the band went on a hiatus as the members began working on various solo projects. Hyde released two solo albums (Roentgen and 666) and starred in the movie Moon Child with the popular Japanese soloist Gackt. Hyde also played the part of Adam in the movie Kagen no Tsuki, based on the manga by the same title. Ken founded Sons of All Pussys with L'Arc-en-Ciel's former drummer Sakura. Tetsu started Tetsu69 and Yukihiro sang with Acid Android. The compilation Clicked Singles Best 13 was released in 2001, with twelve songs chosen by fans online and an additional thirteenth song, "Anemone", the band's only new material during this span of years.
In June 2003, L'Arc-en-Ciel performed a series of seven concerts in Tokyo called the Shibuya Seven Days, during which they announced a new album for release the following year. The band released "Ready Steady Go" in February 2004, its first single in more than three years. It topped Oricon charts and was used as an opening for a popular anime series, Fullmetal Alchemist. The single was followed by "Hitomi no Juunin", in early March. The album, Smile, was released on March 31. Shortly afterwards, on June 2, 2004, the single "Jiyuu e no Shoutai" introduced P'unk-en-Ciel, a partial change, for the first time on CD with "Milky Way". In the past, the band also played a punk version of "Round and Round" live called Round and Round 2005.
U.S. concert debut
On July 31, 2004, L'Arc-en-Ciel made their North American concert debut at the anime convention Otakon, held annually in Baltimore, Maryland. Approximately 12.000 people attended the concert, which was held at an outside venue for the first time in Otakon's musical guest history, at 1st Mariner Arena located near the Baltimore Convention Center where the convention is held. They were also the first Japanese act (and to date, the only) to perform at the Arena. On May 31, 2005, Tofu Records, Sony Music Japan's U.S. label, released the much-anticipated DVD of the Otakon 2004 concert Live in U.S.A. On June 25, 2007, L'Arc-en-Ciel signed a deal with HMV America.
In 2005, the band released various singles, including "Killing Me", "New World", and "Jojoushi". These were later featured on their latest album, Awake, which was released on June 22 with twelve tracks, including "Lost Heaven", the closing theme of the Fullmetal Alchemist movie. The band's single, "Link", released on July 20, 2005, was also featured in the movie as the opening theme, it wasn't until recently the song appeared in the album Kiss.
In August of 2005, the band went on their Awake tour, which was limited to Japan. The tour featured displays of anti-war sentiment, reflecting similar lyrics of the songs of the album. A particularly memorable moment was the unfurling of a giant white flag during "Neo Universe". The flag was decorated with the universal symbol for peace. Other memorable moments included a suspended woman and acrobatics during the performance of "Ophelia".
Hyde's costuming for the concerts raised controversy among fans, and proved to be much removed from L'Arc-en-Ciel's earlier days. The Nazi uniform and the papal robes during the performance of "Revelation" were blatant social commentaries not seen before in the band's concerts.
The Japanese Awake tour was followed by the Asia Live 2005 tour, with performances in Seoul and Shanghai, closing with concerts in Japan. Japan's two concerts took place at the Tokyo Dome.
Following the Awake and Asia Live tours, L'Arc-en-Ciel's members turned their attention back to their solo projects. Tetsu began recording with a new band called Creature Creature. Yukihiro rejoined Acid Android, which released its newest single, "Let's Dance", on April 5, 2006. Acid Android joined Mucc, another Japanese rock band, to perform two concerts in Shanghai, China in April of 2006.
Hyde composed "Glamorous Sky", the theme song to the film adaption of the manga Nana starring pop singer Mika Nakashima. It was the first time Hyde composed music for another vocalist. Hyde's most recent solo singles are "Countdown", the ending song for the Japanese release of the American movie Stealth (released on October 5, 2005), and "Season's Call", the opening song of the anime Blood+ (released February 22, 2006). Both singles topped the Oricon charts. Hyde's latest solo album, Faith, was released in Japan on April 26, 2006, accompanied by a five month tour throughout Japan between April and August of 2006. After signing on with Tofu Records, four small concerts were scheduled in San Francisco and Anaheim, California in the United States. Hyde made his U.S. debut in July of 2006, the first of L'Arc-en-Ciel's solo projects to extend internationally. On August 23, Ken released a solo single entitled "Speed".
On November 25th and 26th, 2006, L'Arc-en-Ciel played two shows at the Tokyo Dome to celebrate their 15th anniversary, entitled L'Anniversary. A poll was created on the official website during the weeks before the concert which allowed fans to pick which songs they would like to hear at the event. The concert was later shown on the WOWOW channel on December 23, 2006. It was also broadcast on February 8, 2007 on Korea MTV.
L'Arc-en-Ciel later recorded the song "Shine" to be used as the opening song for the NHK-BS Anime, Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, however it has yet to be released in either single form or on the Kiss album. They have kicked-off their Mata Heart Ni Hi Wo Tsukero 2007 tour in Japan. L'Arc-en-Ciel released their first single "Seventh Heaven" on May 30, 2007, which topped the Oricon charts for 2 consecutive weeks. The song "My Heart Draws a Dream", used in a recent Subaru commercial, was released as a single on August 29, 2007 and it made the #1 spot in the Oricon Weekly charts. The track "Daybreak's Bell" was used as the first opening for the anime Mobile Suit Gundam 00, and it was released on October 10th, topping the Oricon weekly charts as well. From November 14 to December 25 there was a limited edition single titled "Hurry Xmas", along with two new DVDs coming out in September and December, titled L'Anniversary Live and Chronicle 3 respectively. The single Drink It Down, which was released on April 2, 2008, topped the oricon charts and was recorded for use in the PS3/Xbox360 game Devil May Cry 4.
Following the release of the album Kiss on November 21, L'Arc-en-Ciel announced a tour called Theater of Kiss, which was held from December 22, 2007 to February 17. Currently there are also plans for an Asia Tour and side trip to Paris, France starting in Late Spring-Early Summer 2008. They also recorded a new song, Nexus 4, which is used for Subaru's Legacy TV advertisement. They will be releasing this song along with SHINE in the end of summer.
Official Web Site --> http://www.larc-en-ciel.com/jp/larc-main.html