BABYMETAL Kami Band God Of Guitar Takayoshi Ohmura was interviewed on MeMeOn Music regarding his visit to Taiwan for ESP Guitar Seminar and performances! He talks about his career and experiences performing solo and supporting bands including the Taiwanese artist A-mei. Read the full interview translated below!
Kami Band Takayoshi Ohmura interviewed on MeMeOn Music
Takayoshi Ohmura is a shredder and a member of rock bands like C4, Cross Hard, dCprG, UROBOROS, as well as a support guitarist for acts such as Marty Friedman, LIV MOON, a famous idol group and so on.
He held a special seminar in Taiwan in May. Before the seminar, we interviewed him and got various stories such as tips on music activities.
- You do various support works. I think there may be quite a difference between support works and what you want to express. How do you balance them?
Takayoshi: "When it's my band or solo, I just express what I want to express. When it's support, there are people and teams who I discuss with and I express what they want, so I do not think so much of balance itself.
We express what they want me to do. It is not so difficult."
- Not only you have worked with Japanese artists but also, for example, played with Taiwanese diva A-mei on her Asian tour. Do you think there is something different between Taiwanese and Japanese ways of making live music?
Takayoshi: "First of all, I learn culture of the country and earn knowledge to understand what kind of expression will suit the people. When it's Japan, I know feelings, music, national character and culture and so on.
When it's a different country. if you do not study, you don't see who they are. I studied, actually met people, talked about various things, took a balance, got along and then we talked about the way they wanted me to play.
Making live music might be quite difficult if you don't get along."
- How did you end up playing with her?
Takayoshi: "A-mei's company's employee or her acquaintance was in Japan and I got an offer."
- I see. You also do world tours as a support member of an idol group. When a Japanese act goes international, is there any hardship or difficulty to be accepted as a Japanese?
Takayoshi: "It might be easier for audiences if you don't care about it. I act as a Japanese and show them Japanese culture. So, it's not like fitting to them, not giving things that are easy to accept, but it's like we are artists and this is our entertainment and then it's easier for them to freely accept and for us to express freely, so I do it without getting too strained."
- Is there anything that still impresses you about playing with A-mei?
Takayoshi: "She was gentle to everyone. Not only to band members but to the staff. She was gentle even to temporary staff, people who work at venues, people who cook and people who do catering.
Other band members were too, but she's a boss. It was very important for her to show how to care so everyone can learn from her, and I learned the way people at their top work, the way she cares. That is the best memory."
- Aside from A-mei, are you interested in Taiwanese artists?
Takayoshi: "When I think of listening to Taiwanese songs, I always come back to A-mei. Since I played really a lot A-mei's songs, more than 30 songs, I have memories of each song.
Whenever I searched for Taiwanese artists I hit A-mei. I remembered all A-mei's songs in English titles. I don't remember song titles in kanji, so I thought what it was, I listened to it, "Ah! That song!" and listned to it again.
In the end I listen to only A-mei."
- Is there an artist who you want to play with?
Takayoshi: "I'm a little afraid if it's my idol. Of course I want to do it, but I may end up knowing too many things like personality. He or she might not be a nice person. You know your idols just through music itself, but I am very afraid because the impression can be totally different when you actually meet,
so, at this moment, honestly I want to play with my best friends or artists who I know, whether it is as a solo or as a band. There are so many people who I want to do sessions or works rather than getting along, since there are lots of people who I adore."
- Are they mainly Japanese or Westerners?
Takayoshi: "Some are Japanese, but there may be more from the rest of the world. When it comes to heavy metal, I grew up listening to only American/international albums and artists."
-By the way, You really like Yutaka Ozaki.
(note: Ozaki was a highly charismatic and influential rock singer who died in 1992 at 26)
Takayoshi: "Yes, I really like him."
- For you, what is the attraction of Ozaki's songs?
Takayoshi: "In the past I liked his lyrics, really liked them. As I get older, I watch more of his live shows and videos. It's very hot. His soul is hot, his expression is amazing, and the ways he expressed himself and presented his live shows are rarely seen in today's rock or metal scene which deeply attaract me. I can feel his full energy that's what I like the most about him."
- Last year you appeared as a guest of Fujioka's band at the ShowBoat's 23th anniversary event, but you didn't play any musical instrument and sang Ozaki's song.
Takayoshi: "Yes! It was a copy band! (Laughs)"
- Did you just sing?
Takayoshi: "Yes. I just did singing."
- How did you choose the song?
Takayoshi: "Band members are friends who I always play with and I chose the best known song which is most popular with audiences. I was really nervous. I felt overwhelmed to play a song by the musician who I likes the most, I remember I was nervous. I was much more nervous than I had thought!"
- Did you made a rock arrangement?
Takayoshi: "There was a live version that Ozaki actually played and I did talks, MC, and expressions entirely based on that live version."
- You released a new album in January. There are METALLICA and Dokken covers that influenced you when you were a child. How did you choose these songs?
Takayoshi: "I chose songs with the leader of our band, but I thought about covering bands that I liked and famous mega hit songs, I wanted to cover Metallica's famous but difficult song rather than obscure songs."
- Was there anything difficult when you cover them?
Takayoshi: "What I was most concerned about was singing after all, so it was very hard to find vocalists. TOKI is the leader of my band and he wanted to sing METALLICA. Atsushi is a vocalist of my solo band. I play with Aya Kamiki who sang Evanescence in Uroboros and I thought she was the best fit as she is a female singer. Hazuki of lynch who sang Arch Enemy was a acquaintance of TOKI and I played with him in C4 so I knew him. I knew Ikepy who sang MEGADETH at Hedoban magazine's event and I thought he would be the best match."
-So, after choosing songs first...
Takayoshi: "That's right! I worried a lot!"
- Was there any story when you actually recorded?
Takayoshi: "I think Dream Theater was the hardest.
Kuze usually sings heavy metal, but Dream Theater is a bit different, there are different expressions, there are lots of irregular beats, high-pitched whisper voices, and so many, many ways of expression. Me not being tired of recording one song for six hours, like "it's slightly different" or "please do it this way next time" was a wonder. That was the hardest. I guess it was easy to do other songs because they are pretty familiar songs with me or songs of artists I respect."
- Can you tell me why your new album is not an original album but covers?
Takayoshi: "Well, mostly because I wanted to do it. I wanted to try Dokken as well.
I am now in the 13th year as a musician and was looking forward to seeing what would happen if I do what I liked at my current peak in more than 10 years that was fun. That's why I did it."
- You heard, for example, Metallica and Dokken's CDs for the first time 4 years before you made a debut. I think it was amazing to debut only four years later (2004). What do you think about it when you look back to that period?
Takayoshi: "I'm lucky to be with great people and I think I'm endowed with environment where there are people who like metal, people who trust and help me, people who are kind. I can't make it by myself.
So, it's rather people helping me stepping up steadily than technique. I could hardly imagine being with such good people when I was at high school. Moreover, I couldn't imagine I would be doing it for more than 10 years."
- Have you ever once thought that you want to quit?
Takayoshi: "Maybe no. Of course I hate it when it's tough, but I can't do other things. Because I can't think of me doing other job, there is a part of me that thinks there is only a guitar, so I don't want to quit."
- Did you aim at becoming a professional at high school?
Takayoshi: "Well. I first joined music school (note: after graduation from high school) and then I switched my mind and aimed at becoming a professional. I paid such expensive entrance fee, so I needed reward."
- I've heard there are many students who give up halfway at music school.
Takayoshi: "It's not just technique, absolutely not..."
- You need both technique and effort...
Takayoshi: "Yes, you need , and it is also very important to connect with people."
- You had a goal that you wanted to be a solo guitarist when you were looking into becoming a professional since you were very young.
Takayoshi: "Initially I liked bands, liked J-Rcok, songs of Glay and I wanted to be in a band, but unexpectedly I started to listen to metal and hard rock and I wanted to be a guitarist."
- Is there anything you want to do especially in Taiwan?
Takayoshi: "Today all what I do is to enjoy, so next time I want to play gigs! As a band! It's very nice place here, so I want to talk with people and arrange a tour as a band."
Interview by: Me Meon
Translation by: Kenji Sekino.