Kerrang! (UK) - - Stars Of 2017 -

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.

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