A few hours before their comeback in Paris, RockUrLife had the chance to meet Taka, One Ok Rock’s lead singer, for an interview focused on the concept of sharing!
Hi, how are you a few hours before the show? How do you feel?
Taka (vocals): I’m good, I feel really excited about this.
It’s almost one year after your last gig in Paris.
How do you think it will be different from that last one? What has changed for you in a year?
T: Last year, we were three bands: Mallory Knox, Tonight Alive, and then obviously One Ok Rock. Today, there will be only two: We Came As Romans, and us. Plus, this time the venue is sold out, which is really cool. I am really excited about this tour. Of course, we’ll be able to experiment our new songs in front of the audience, as well. More different songs to play. We released an album, and experimented new things this year, that we’ll try tonight.
How does it feel to come back here after the recent events which happened, including Bataclan? How do you want to react to this?
T: Oh yes, of course. I saw the news when I was in Japan, I was really shocked and felt really sorry about what happened. That is awful. But we came back here after all, for this city, for the people, we had to. We have to believe in pop music, in rock, and that’s why we’re here and we’re not afraid. We have to share music, to reach people with it, to make noise, and I want to say to the audience to never give up, to stand up, keep it going! That’s how I want to react to these events.
Your new album is called “35XXXV”. What’s the story behind this title?
T: When we went to the United States in order to record the album, this one appeared to be like a lucky number. We often met this number, in different situations, and we ended up choosing it as our title so that it could bring us luck on that released. That’s not a big deal, but that’s how it happened.
Could you please tell us a bit more about this album? Is there a general message in it?
T: Yes, so we started recording it last year in Los Angeles, United States, it’s our seventh album, and it was released on February 11th this year. Actually, the message is the same as usual. It’s all the time the same thing: never give up, keep on following your dream, that kind of things. These themes are important, that’s why we keep on sharing ths kind of messages.
Your last songs are way more pop than you used to be (for example on “Et Cetera”, or “Keep it Real”), and more american, with lyrics in english. Why such a choice?
T: We had to reach the american audience, and other countries too, that’s why our music turned out to be more american I think.
But don’t you think it’s also important to show your japanese roots through your music?
T: Yeah, we’re obviously japanese people, and it’s important. But there’s a time when you have to move on, and try english, singing in english too. That’s what I want to do now. Less singing in japanese, more in english, and opening worldwide.
And what do you think about the expansion of japanese music overseas? Of the japanese music industry nowadays?
T: I think japanese music scene is almost dead. Because there’s too music gimmick music, there is no true music I think. Not saying there’s no good musician. There is some of them who are great and talented, but I think it’s too protected. They’re saving themselves, protecting themselves and don’t let their inner self expressing through their music. That’s why I say it’s not “true music”. Also, there’s the problem that when you ask questions to american people or from other countries like “what do you think of Japan?”, they often think directly of sushi, magazines, but not music. And that’s a problem. That’s why I’d like to travelling the world, touring, and we have to reach people with true japanese music, even if we have to sing in english for that.
But as you said, there’s some talented musicians among japanese artists. Is there any bands you are listening to despite your critics on the japanese music scene?
T: Yes of course! Do you know Maximum The Hormone?
Yes, of course.
T: Also, there’s Crossfaith, Coldrain, and I like J-pop, Idols, too sometimes, but not everything or everytime, just a little bit sometimes.
Talking about Coldrain, Crossfaith, but also Sim, you’re really close to them and seem to have developped a true friendship with them.
T: Yes, these guys are true friends for me, it’s a real friendship. During last tour in Japan, we toured together, with Sim, obviously Coldrain, also with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and a lot of bands like this who were with us on this tour. That was a lot of fun!
Aside from the human aspect, do you help each other in music? Like bringing ideas, advices?
T: Yes of course! It often happens that we help each other.
And what kind of advices? What are the particularities they can bring to you? How are they different from other bands?
T: I guess it’s because they’re completely focused on american and european music, I think. I don’t know for Sim. But Coldrain and Crossfaith are totally focused on american and european music, they’re not playing things such as japanese pop, or japanese music, and I think that’s the different. And we are playing kind of J-pop, but in a kind of american and european style, with a lot of jam, and I think that’s the same.
When you’re saying it’s the same, are you talking about the american influence or are you saying Coldrain are also playing kind of J-pop?
T: Do you think Coldrain is pop?
Definitely not, that’s why I asked you again.
T: (laughs) No you’re right, they’re not playing pop music, they’re definitely hotter! Their music is stronger.
Talking about other artists. You recently collaborated with musicians such as Chrissy Costanza, Kellin Queen, Taylor Carter etc. What did these collaborations bring to you? Did it influenced you in any way?
T: Yes, they are really good persons, and singer too. Like Chrissy when I heard her first, and when she sang Dreaming Alone, I thought “wow! This song is really nice!”, so I wanted to sing with her, so we started working together, and we helped each other. I love her work, and I love singing together, with other singer. It’s always rewarding.
Is there any other artists you’d like to work with?
T: Maybe for the next album, I’d try to work with more japanese bands, like coldrain, Crossfaith, Sim. We’ll figure it out, but for now it’s not decided yet.
Your song “Heartache” was used to be past of the movie “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends”, and you previously did a song for “Captain Harlock”.
T: I think, yes. Actually, I don’t really remember. (laughs) But I think yes, we probably did something like that!
Is it a wish for you to do more opening and ending songs?
T: Yes, yes! But in fact, it doesn’t really matter actually. If they like us, they can totally use our songs! It’s cool, it’s a great thing. But it doesn’t matter if they don’t. The most important thing for us is to be able to tour, to perform in concerts in front of our audience. We don’t really care about anything else. If someone wants to work with our songs, because they find one of our tracks, love it, and want to use it, it makes me happy, but we don’t focus on that, so it doesn’t really matter in the end.
Talking about goals, you’ve played for the first time at Yokohama Stadium last year for “Mighty Long Fall Live”, what are your new goals now?
T: I don’t know, but I want to try more tours in the world, to reach people with One Ok Rock’s music, to have a larger audience also, I guess.
As your success is growing up, how do you look at your carrier back? And what advices would you give at someone who would like to start music and expand, like to your little brother who’s also doing music?
T: Things have changed and might be hard sometime, but the advice I would like to give is just to do it, and keep it. That’s simple but it’s a really important thing I think. That’s what I always did, and it seems to work.
What are your projects for the future? Any directions you’d like to take?
T: Making a new album obviously! For february maybe.
Good luck, then!
Now that it’s almost time to relax before the show, there’s two funnier questions left. First, what is the last song you added to your iPod?
T: That’s a hard question. If I well remember I think it must be Bring Me The Horizon!
Which one ?
T: “Throne”, I guess!
Last one: Our media is called “RockUrLife”, so what rocks your life?
T: That’s really hard. But I guess what’s making me happy and rocks my life is being busy, being on tour!