X Japan Ready to Tackle North American Music Market via EMI Deal

The Japanese hard rock band, which has sold over 30 million albums in its home country, will debut a stateside English-language album this summer.

The band that takes "big in Japan" to a whole new level is ready to tackle the American record market.

X Japan, a hard rock outfit that has been filling arenas in its homeland for two decades and has sold more than 30 million albums there, has signed a three-year manufacturing and distribution deal with EMI Music to handle the band's releases in North America. The quintet's untitled stateside debut is pegged for late summer, with the lead track "Jade," due March 15.

"Some of the songs on this new album were originally written with Japanese lyrics, so translating them into English has been challenging," says guitarist Yoshiki, who founded X Japan (originally called Dynamite) with singer Toshi when both were 13. "For some reason, English needs more words, so I ended up rewriting many of the lyrics but kept the same message."

The power metal act made its U.S. debut at Lollapalooza last year and followed with a seven-date American tour of theaters. But none of its records has been distributed here. The forthcoming album will be the band's first studio set since 1996 and fifth overall.

"X Japan's music is everything from fast, super-heavy rock to ballads with classical piano," Yoshiki says. "We don't play just one kind of music. We want to take people on a journey."

Distribution deals outside of North America, including Japan, are forthcoming.