AS GLOBAL DOMINATION BECKONS, TAKA SUGGESTS THE REST OF THE WORLD IS CATCHING UP WITH HIS BAND BEING “THE BEST”…
t the end of a long day’s work, shooting Stateside for an upcoming video, takahiro Moriuchi’s ONE OK ROCK bandmates sound pretty damn ecstatic as their singer and English-language spokesman translates the news that he’s been named as one of K!’s Stars Of 2017.The frontman himself, though, wants more. “what number, exactly?” he probes.
For Taka, being named amongst an elite group isn’t enough. this is a musician who demands to be number one – even when number ones aren’t the order of the day.
In their native Japan, ONE OK ROCK are already giants. Seven albums in the last decade have seen them gouge out their spot in the national consciousness. Sales have spiralled from the tens into the hundreds of thousands. their last shows at home – two Live In Nagisaen specials – saw 110,000 fans abandoning traditional Japanese reserve to lose their shit.
Still, on the brink of aptly-titled eighth offering Ambitions ,taka is quick to stress that past successes count for nothing.
“Ambition is the thing that will define ONE OK ROCK in 2017,” he enthuses. “and our determination to tour new territories.”
So do they feel they could be the biggest band in the world?
“Well, we already think we’re the best. that’s our mindset when we’re making music. But what really matters is what everyone else thinks when they listen to us. So let’s find out!”
Global success has been a long time coming. Born of a musical background, teenage Taka found his feet with brief stints amongst pop acts NEWS and Chivalry Of Music, but it wasn’t until ONE OK ROCK’S guitarist and bandleader Toru Yamashita headhunted the singer that things stepped up. “he’d heard me and sought me out,” laughs Taka. “I was working in this restaurant at the time and he kept coming to convince me to join the band. Initially, I refused, but, eventually, I agreed.” Which restaurant? “Uh, it’s got a very Japanese name. I’m not sure we could tell you…” comes the deflection, a hint of reluctance to look back to such humble beginnings leaking through.
How does it feel, then, to be breaking out internationally – signing to mega-label Fueled By Ramen and relocating much of the creative process to the U.S. – eight albums in?
“It feels a little late, to be honest,” concedes Taka, his response clipped with frustration. But, with the efforts of J-rock trailblazers like X Japan and Dir En Grey having matured into a current world-beating crop including coldrain, Crossfaith and BABYMETAL, is this the opportune time to make the break?
“In the same way as English bands do well in Japan,” Taka reasons, “japanese music definitely has the ability to do just as well in the UK. It’s exciting to have the chance as a frontrunner for that.” Still, the path to superstardom is never an easy one. “Touring, making music videos and just making music in a language that’s not our own is a huge challenge, ”taka sighs. “going overseas always takes us out of our comfort zone.” Does that sense of struggle intensify the artistic process?
“Yes, totally!” he enthuses. “one of the memories that sticks with us most was when an American fan came and got us to sign her arm,” he recalls, giddy about the unrestrained physical fandom broader horizons bring. “then she came back later with all four signatures tattooed on!”
Given that Ambitions’ supporting cast includes Avril Lavigne, alex Gaskarth and 5 Seconds Of Summer, 2017 is sure to be the year that ONE OK ROCK make their mark in a more fundamental sense.