GLAY is one of Japan’s greatest J-rock bands, an outfit that has parlayed one trendy moment into decades of enduring relevance despite changing tastes. Formed in Hakodate, Hokkaido, in 1988, GLAY included some teen members who had known each other since elementary school. They grew up just as “visual kei”—a flamboyant underground movement that was as much an aesthetic as a musical genre—began to surface into Japan’s mainstream, and they embraced it all: the makeup, clothes, and music influenced by David Bowie, Kiss, Twister Sister, and others. Led by guitarist, composer, and lyricist Takuro Kubo and fronted by vocalist Teru, the group moved to Tokyo after graduation, acquiring bassist Jiro in 1991. Success did not immediately follow, but they signed to a label in 1993 and released their debut album, Hai To Diamond, a year later. That release, with its driving rhythms and closely controlled dual-guitar squall, set the tone for the band’s later releases: There are echoes of the driving joy of 1994’s “Two Bell Silence” even on 2017’s Summerdelics. And Takuro’s lyrics—which owe a debt to John Lennon in their forthrightness—were always given pride of place. The group ultimately moved away from visual kei but retained their unique sound, drawing massive crowds to their live shows and remaining one of Japan’s best-selling artists into the 21st century.
ORIGINHakodate, Hokkaidô, Japan