An Interview with Taka from ONE OK ROCK

interview - 02.24.2010 19:01

Taka took some time out from his busy recording schedule to chat a bit with JaME about the band, the changes they have undergone recently and their future.

Popular rock band, ONE OK ROCK have bounced back after a somewhat tumultuous summer with a new lineup, a fantastic ZEPP tour last November and a new single, Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer released on February 3rd. JaME caught up with vocalist, TAKA over the Christmas period to talk about the changes and the new ONE OK ROCK.

Could you introduce yourself, please?

Taka: I’m Taka, the vocalist of ONE OK ROCK.

Has your sound been affected now that you're a four-member band?

Taka: Yes! (laughs)

Going from having two guitarists to just having one in Toru is quite a big change it seems. How did you manage it?

Taka: Of course, we put more guitar into our songs when we made our recordings, but the songs were originally composed to fit two guitars. So when it came to this tour, in order to overcome any incongruity as we only had one guitar now, we cut sounds where we could cut sounds. I think the album which we are making now is totally different. As we reduced to one guitar, the bass also decreased, so our sounds have become simpler, our melodies stand out more, and our music has become more rock and simple.

You didn’t use the same arrangements in your lives?

Taka: We used it only for one song, Never stop dreaming.

Except for that song, did Toru arrange all of the songs to be for one guitar?

Taka: Yes. We increased the bass where we could, and I played guitar for about two songs.

You've recently returned from a break with a quite extensive nationwide tour. Was it any different than before?

Taka: Our music became simpler. I think each of our motivations increased; each of us have responsibilities, and all of us have the same vision as each other. We used to be like a pentagon, which was hard to balance. As we became four members and came to be like a square, the distance between each other has become equal and we can go forwards to whatever we face, so I think our efficiency has become better actually.

I felt that your presence, each as individual members, increased.

Taka: I think so. When we were five members, each of us went ahead with our own ways and thought about our situations and positions while assuming the other members were on the same level. However, when we became four members, we became more equal, and began thinking the same things in terms of making songs and doing lives.

You all got older by one year and now you all seem tougher.

Taka: Thank you very much! (laughs)

Your vocals have become more powerful, Taka.

Taka: I think so. I can sing much louder than before, and our music is going to get simpler and more rock, too.

You have a new single called Dreamer (完全感覚Dreamer) coming out in February. Can you tell us anything about it? In the title song Dreamer, English lyrics and Japanese lyrics mix well, which is just wonderful. What did you feel when you wrote the lyrics?

Taka: I wrote them very straightforwardly. Before, I wrote complicated lyrics as I compared my writing to various things, but this time, if I express the Japanese song title Kanzen kankaku Dreamer only in English, the title would simply be "Dreamer" ('Kanzen kankaku’ means perfect sense). It’s a song expressing how we’ll fuse our feelings to chase our dreams, and we will use our power to get something and we’ll go ahead, so this song is really rock.

It’s a lively rock track with a lot of momentum and an explosion of main melodies. Why did you choose the coupling song Lonlina?

Taka: This song was planned to be the coupling song of an earlier single. While we are making many songs now and recording them, this song expresses our change from before the most. So we thought we should release it sooner rather than later, as we have many songs.

Did you re-record it?

Taka: No, it’s almost as it was. We re-recorded only the first part.

About the lyrics of this song, I think you see reality for what it is. Do you usually see things so objectively?

Taka: Maybe so. I try to see as objectively as possible and not project myself…….but it’s quite hard. (laughs)

In Ring Wanderung, I feel a message of "don’t miss the moment, live now with all your might.”

Taka: Yes. I wrote the lyrics around the same time as Dreamer. The meaning of ‘Ring Wanderung’ is that “if we look down always, we can’t reach our goal.” It means we should see things objectively. Of course, the 'now' is important, but it is not only that; I wanted to say “we’ll draw the line from us to our goal, and just run forward to there. We are always looking at things in front of us, we can’t know what will be in future, and nobody knows what we’ll be in future, so we just look at the goals that we decided and run forward to there.”

The jacket of this single contains a design of the Ouroboros, a snake that eats his tail. Do you compare it to the word of Ring Wanderung?

Taka: No, we consulted with the designer when we finished all of our songs. This symbol means ‘infinity,’ and we made this jacket as it expresses our future possibility and our present motivation here.

In a previous interview, you mentioned that you were influenced by the western emo scene at that time. Has this changed? Have you got any new influences?

Taka: We haven’t changed especially. The reason why we made the band is not that “we like the same music so let’s make a band,” but we started as “we want to do music and a band.” So, as we have learned more, our favorite music has changed with us. Through them, our theme was ‘emotional,’ but even we don’t know well whether it was really ‘emotional’ if we think about it objectively. However, we are approaching that closely. I don’t think we could reach the ‘emotional’ which we aim for at all, and I think other people would think the same, but what we need to do now is doing what we can do with all our might, so we want to do so more stoically.

Do you see your goals and ideals set in stone, and you are going there now?

Taka: I think so. Firstly we are managing the various things in front of us, and our plans are coming together, so we’ll do them one by one.

Did you get any new influence?

Taka: Umm, not especially. When we started making music, a mixture was already popular, and it was hard for us to listen to the simple rock which was popular before. But I think music is circling according to the stream of the time, so such a genre might come out next. Perhaps the genre we like and work on now might be popular in ten years time. I don’t know about it, but we are going by trial and error, listening to various musicians and absorbing them all the time.

Is there anything new you'd like to try with future new releases? What about things you'd like to introduce in your music?

Taka: Well~ it’s very difficult, but we want to make singles and albums which we think are cool. We always think so, but we can think "we want to do this next," we want to find the next step with the albums we want to make. I think it’s fun for us if we can feel “We want to do something like this next” when we just finish our work, rather than “we have done it.” I think it’s the most important thing.

So it's not a feeling of wanting to take on different aspects?

Taka: No. We don’t understand musical theory at all, and I think it’s deeper than we imagine. So we haven’t gotten to a place we can think “this is it!” yet. It’s most important that we make albums and do recordings as we investigate and awaken that.

Any CDs, recent or not, you'd like to recommend to our readers?

Taka: Ummm, it’s hard to say as there are various ones. It’s quite hard to say to people who already listen to our music now and those who are just interested in us a little bit. Regarding what we would like them to listen to.... Now we have become four and you can find a new direction in us, so I think we would like you to listen to anything that you think is interesting. Anything is OK. (laughs)

In your concert, an unpublished song was played before the band had to pause activities. Is it included in the new single? If not, do you have any plans to release it?

Taka: That release was canceled once. I think we’ll release it some day in the future in a new shape, but we don’t have a plan for the time being.

A Zepp tour has been booked for the middle of 2010. What do you have planned for it?

Taka: There were a lot of things we received from the fans this tour, so I want to give back to them steadily. As the venues get bigger, what we have to send and the performance that we aim for will be harder. But we want to release everything during the Zepp tour as we concentrate on making ourselves more composed.

What did you get from this tour? Were you able to see different things as you performed close to the audience?

Taka: We should have more composure as we four members should be the real four members. I just want to say we have to have the attitude to devote ourselves to music more, to think about what we need. I think concerts are my reason for living, and if I couldn’t express myself well on stage, I can’t help feeling that there isn't much point in continuing. So I’ll work hard to be able to express such things more straightforwardly.

I think you could feel that the audience has been waiting for you. Once your tour was canceled, they had been waiting for you and they supported you continuously, so you could feel their expectations of “we can finally see you.”

Taka: Yes. I felt like we were knocked out by their enormous spirit, which was far more than what we had. It might be something that only we who stood on the stage could actually feel, but I felt we got so many things, actually.

Do you think you’ll do a special live such as an acoustic live for fans?

Taka: Yes. It’s cool if we could do it someday. Basically, we compose from melodies, not from riffs, so some songs would be better if we played an acoustic version. I think we could do such a live in the future.

In your former interview, you said that “I feel like I’m trying to stand firm." Have you calmed down more?

Taka: I think it hasn’t changed so much, and I feel like "security is the greatest enemy." (laughs) Even if I could get used to big waves, it’s no use if I can't ride on them. What’s more, we have to give our performances there. If I can’t learn how to perform, we can't fight well enough. If I compare it to surfing, it would be so. I say it’s meaningless just to ride on.

In your lives, you played a guitar while singing in several songs. Can we expect such songs would increase?

Taka: Ummm, I don’t think I’ll play a guitar too much. (laughs) To be the person that I should be, it’s more important for me as a performer to have a microphone, to run from corner to corner, and send my lyrics, thoughts and melodies well, not to have to play a guitar. So I try not to think about that and compose songs.

Were you able to manage your physical condition well this tour?

Taka: One of our members got influenza and we canceled one live, but I could overcome it….even I couldn’t get a grade of 100 percent. (laughs)

Please leave a message for our readers.

Taka: We’ll continue to release music and do live tours, so please listen to our music if you have a chance!
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