On August 6, 2016, a talk event by FENDER and PARTY ZOO was held in Tokyo. This talk event was a collaboration between American instrument manufacturer FENDER and “PARTY ZOO ~Ken Entwines Naughty stars~,” a live tour led by Ken of L’Arc~en~Ciel. Joining Ken for this event were Hiroto (A9), Kei (BAROQUE), and Duran (Made in Asia), who all have a love for Fender Stratocasters. Both guitar lovers and avid music listeners in general were able to enjoy this one-hour event.
The event started off with Ken discussing how he met each of the members participating in PARTY ZOO ~Ken Entwines Naughty stars~. “I stayed at home a lot, but Hiroto kept approaching me,” he joked, bringing laughter to the audience. Apparently Kei was introduced through Hiroto as “a guitarist with good taste,” while Duran was introduced through Ken’s guitar tech. Ken aims to create an event that “shows the energy of these young musicians.”
Duran and Hiroto received a call from Ken himself, asking them to participate in this tour. A9 decided to play in more shows than initially decided to see how the band would change throughout the tour. Unlike Duran and Hiroto, Kei had been directly approaching Ken ever since he first heard of the tour.
Made in Asia’s funk-styled music and Kei’s unique way of using delays in BAROQUE caught Ken’s attention. Ken enjoyed the idea of “being able to see these awesome bands for free.”
The members then introduced each of their favorite Stratocasters, and actually played a few phrases for the audience as well. Being guitarists, the four could not hide their excitement to start playing.
Duran started off, showing his guitar that he purchased five or six years ago. Although he tried out vintage Stratocasters, this was his favorite.
Kei’s guitar, which was purchased in June, was manufactured by Jason Smith. When purchasing the guitar, Kei received many tips from Ken. Like Duran, Kei fell in love with how the guitar suited him well when trying it out.
The 1969 guitar that Hiroto plays is maple-based, with a simple look. Hiroto customized his guitar; Ken seemed interested in the kill switch. These customizations came to mind when Hiroto collaborated with DJs.
This was the first time Ken showed off his new guitar Paisley Fantasy to the public. Like his previous guitar Galaxy Red, this guitar was manufactured by Greg Fessler. On a black and red base is a beautiful paisley design in gold. The design is quite unique, having a “cosmic” feeling, but also reminiscent of a traditional Japanese design. The sound matches what Ken has been looking for, with an emphasis on expressing the pianissimo level with a soft sound. Ken would continue to play a solo arrangement of the L’Arc~en~Ciel song “Niji” for awhile.
Hiroto describes Ken as “a very passionate, yet very logical, seemingly hybrid” guitarist. Kei adds on by describing Ken’s music as one that “creates an entire landscape.” These guitarists respect Ken’s constant ambition of finding new sounds. Duran also mentions how difficult it was to copy Ken’s solos, for they were always so clean-cut.
Next, each member plays a guitar recommended by Kurosawa Gakki, the organizers of this event. Duran was recommended Dakota Red, a guitar modeled off a 1964 Stratocaster. According to Duran, the dynamics are very well emphasized.
Kei tried out Lake Placid Blue, which was manufactured by Jason Smith. A nostalgic sound was created when adding reverb. Kei mentioned how the treble is better on this guitar than on his own.
Hiroto was recommended a 1962-styled custom build. Hiroto was too into playing the guitar that Ken had to remind him to explain how the guitar is different. The recommended guitar was well-balanced, and made Hiroto want to play various styles of music.
Ken played two guitars, Fiesta Red and a Jazzmaster. Apparently, Ken used the latter when recording the hit single “HONEY” in 1998. The sustain is much shorter compared to the Stratocasters.
The talk event ended with each member discussing their ambitions for their upcoming tour.
“As you just heard, various sounds can be created through Stratocasters, and I think each band’s songs show the uniqueness of the band’s guitarist. I hope this tour will become an opportunity for listeners to hear these differences all at once, so please check it out!” Ken
“Each of us four have our unique sounds when we go on stage. We hope to create a performance that will excite not only the audience, but Ken himself.” Hiroto
“We’ve received great influence from L’Arc~en~Ciel, and this influence has morphed into our own style of music. I hope both Ken and the audience can enjoy such different styles.” Kei
“After all, rock is the best music, so I hope to have a great time playing some good rock music.” Duran
PARTY ZOO ~Ken Entwines Naughty stars~ will feature not only A9, BAROQUE, and Made in Asia, but also Aki, gibiky gibiky gibiky, GUTS AND DEATH, and MUCC. Check out the details on their official site!