Published on March 1st, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Loudness Guitarist Akira Takasaki On “Rise To Glory,” Touring The States, & Killer Guitars’ Future
When you think of Japanese hard rock bands, odds are that Loudness is the first band that you think of. The first Japanese artist to play Madison Square Garden, Loudness did some high-profile U.S. touring in the 1980s alongside AC/DC, Motley Crue, TNT and Stryper. While the classic Loudness lineup of vocalist Minoru Niihara, guitarist Akira Takasaki, bassist Masayoshi Yamashita and drummer Munetaka Higuchi remained in tact until 1988, Takasaki has never stopped recording or touring with Loudness. The aforementioned classic lineup regrouped 2001 and stayed together until Higuchi’s passing in 2008; drummer Masayuki Suzuki joined the band in 2009 and has remained ever since.
2018 has already brought Rise To Glory, the first new Loudness studio album in four years. Released in late January via the earMUSIC record label, Rise To Glory is a guitar-centric return to form for the quartet. The European and U.S. editions of Rise To Glory also include Samara Flight, a collection of 13 of the band’s early classics re-recorded, as originally released in Japan in 2016.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Takasaki – co-founder of Killer Guitars beyond his Loudness duties – via e-mail. More on Loudness can be found online at www.loudnessjp.com.
Akira Takasaki: It took about half a year.
Do you have a favorite song on Rise To Glory?
Akira Takasaki: All of them.
What was the first song you wrote for Rise To Glory? Did the music come to you first?
Akira Takasaki: I wrote “Massive Tornado” first. I wrote the riffs first then the vocal melodies followed very spontaneously.
Will Loudness be touring the U.S. in support of Rise To Glory?
Akira Takasaki: So far nothing definite has been confirmed yet, but we are planning on it!
Loudness has been very prolific over the years, and you yourself have been active with a lot of solo albums. Do you write even when you are not making a new album?
Akira Takasaki: I am trying to write songs always, regardless of whether or not we are recording.
Akira Takasaki: Sometimes I write songs on bass guitar. And yes, there are also songs written on an acoustic guitar.
Do you ever compose on bass or piano?
Akira Takasaki: Sometimes I do.
Can you give an example of a song you wrote on bass or piano?
Akira Takasaki: None of the songs on this album were written on piano. I might be able to say that “Until I See the Light” and “Rain” were more or less written based on the bass line I came up with.
In the early days of Loudness, your guitar playing was very riff-based, whereas on recent albums it seems more about tone. Does tone play a big role in your composing? Or the tone come usually together in the studio?
Akira Takasaki: Guitar riffs are always very important, even now. Moreover, I still try to keep improving my tone.
Is there an amp setup you usually use when writing songs?
Akira Takasaki: I don’t try to write music. I usually play the guitar as I like and if I come up with some riffs, I will write them down. That is my style. So an amp setup and the guitar I use depend on the situation.
Akira Takasaki: Vintage Style Prime is going to be coming out. Please keep an eye out for it!
Do you and George Azuma from Killer Guitars ever play music together?
Akira Takasaki: I have jammed with George and also participated in his band 5X’s album.
What sort of warm-ups do you do before going on-stage?
Akira Takasaki: I stretch my whole body a bit and drink Jack Soda. It’s important for me to let my blood and qi — a vital force — flow before going on-stage.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Akira Takasaki: Basically, I soak myself with music everyday. If I am not on tour or recording, I play drums or bass guitar and sing.
What was your favorite album of 2017?
Akira Takasaki: Deep Purple’s inFinite.
Finally, Akira, any last words for the kids?
Akira Takasaki: Follow your heart and rock on!