HEDOBAN Magazine interviewed the Kami Band member Takayoshi Ohmura as part of their interview series were also was interviewed the bassist Boh (read here the translation). Ohmura talked about his beginnings as guitar player and how he met Mikio Fujioka (read here about him) another Kami Band member. Ohmura also talked about Babymetal, the easiest and the hardest songs to play and more, read the full interview translated courtesy of Reddit member Dokoiko.
HEDOBAN Magazine talks with Kami Band member, Takayoshi Ohmura
"Extreme Technic Meister" series episode #2 : Takayoshi Ohmura, an ultimate shredding guitar entertainer - shredding is just one of basics. His unbelievable shredding and body actions grab all five senses of audiences!
Q : Ohmura-San has been familiar with music instruments from three years old or so?
Tak : "Yes. I learned the piano from three."
Q : Is your family a music family?
Tak : "No, it isn't. My parents wanted to be a musician but didn't, so their expectations came to me. I had learnt the piano till my debut. But at first I just played the folk guitar by my father's influence."
Q : Which genre with rock-like taste was your first encounter?
Tak : "It was J-Rock to be honest... I liked bands like Glay and listened to that kind. I kept learning the piano in parallel. There were folk guitars and electric guitars of my father in my house. I just played main melody of songs, different from shredding I do now. I played metal from 17 years old, a middle in a high school."
Q : In my image you were the one who listened to and played metal from grade-schooler days.
Tak: "Really? Do I look like a metal guitarist from my childhood?"
Q : I have that image. (laugh) You were a high school student not so much different from others.
Tak : "I might be able to say I was rather a late comer. There was an used book shop in my town. It looked like it gonna collapse soon. (laugh) It used to begin 80% discount sale from 8 pm, even for a 300 yen CD. One day I dared to choose and bought an album with a bad taste jacket from hard rock or metal. (laugh) And it's Dokken."
Q : An used album you bought almost for free was Dokken! (laugh) For my knowledge, which one was it?
Tak : "It's Under Lock And Key."
Q : Chosen by a bad taste jacket was Dokken of their best days! (laugh) Funny! (laugh)
Tak : "(Laugh) Its cover was almost occupied by flame and mist and I thought it couldn't be. (laugh) I listened to it and was easily hooked. I had never heard such a sound that featured the guitars so much in front."
Q : Your encounter with metal was so unexpected. You looked for a terrible cover and found Dokken... Maybe no one finds Dokken like that.
Tak : "And Dokken sound is commercial, not only about the guitars but also about songs."
Q : It's basically catchy, isn't it?
Tak : "Yes, it is. So it's easy to listen and I liked it ASAP."
Q : You awoke to go to metal road as such, or to George Lynch road.
Tak : "Yes, indeed! After that I used to wait till 8 p.m. at the used book shop and devoted to searching. (laugh)"
Q : (Laugh)
Tak : "Because how many disks I bought, my pocket money didn't seem to empty out."
Q : Bought disks after disks! (laugh) When was it?
Tak : "I was 17 at the time so... 13 years ago?"
Q : 2000 or so?
Tak : "It largely was."
Q : I think Ohmura-San is something by mutation in some ways. (laugh)
Tak : "And the next bingo from these 300 yen albums was the black album of Metallica. I didn't know it, too. So I just thought "It is somewhat black." (laugh)"
Q : Somewhat black. (laugh)
Tak : "(Laugh) The shop also had band scores."
Q : Of the black album?
Tak : "Yes. I felt like buying because it's scores of the album. And I tried to play. Above all, the shop was so great. It has band scores also very old videos, too. There were a lot of "Hard 'N Heavy" video series on a shelf."
Q : The series that featured metal bands from latter 80's to former 90's! But it means a metalhead in your neighborhood sold all of these metal items? (laugh)
Tak : "(Laugh) Ah, there were a lot of metal magazines, too."
Q : It is obvious that the metalhead sold them all at once. (laugh) Was the black album your first copying of metal bands seriously?
Tak : "It might have been so. I had never played a song with a score before. And the black album was my first experience of metal."
Q : You knew metal with the black album. Were you fascinated by riffs rather than strokes?
Tak : "Riffs came to me first. Then I wanted to try another and Impellitteri was my second. It was just the time when an album Crunch was released. One day I try it at Tower Record store and it brew my mind from "What the hell is this?" to "Damn fast!""
Q : See. Impellitteri was your initiation into shredding. Did you devote to shredding in your high school days since then?
Tak : "Like hell. I sang and played Yngwie at a school festival in my senior year. (laugh)"
Q : Really?! (laugh) What was your motivation to learn shredding to that level in a short period?
Tak : "I'm not sure what it was... I think Young Guitar magazine affected much on me. I bought it and studied how they played and so on."
Q : How many hours did you practiced the guitar a day?
Tak : "I did till I went to sleep, really. I fell asleep with holding my guitar. (laugh)"
Q : How about club activities?
Tak : "There's something like a folk song club in my high. I wasn't a member but I was a de facto president. I sang Angra and played Yngwie at school festivals. Yes, people around me took a distance from me. (laugh)"
Q : (Laugh) Was there no metalhead around?
Tak : "There were a few. But my favorites were very much biased."
Q : When did Ohmura-San decide to be a pro?
Tak : "It's after I graduated from high school and entered to MI Japan (a music school). I played it for fun before."
Q : Did you have moments to be talked about in your town these days?
Tak : "It had never happened. I played almost in my house and didn't join in any band."
Q : You didn't?
Tak : "No. So my debut as a pro was very difficult. I knew nothing about band activities and I didn't have much equipment. I once connected between input connectors and complained, "Hey, any sound didn't come at all." (laugh)"
Q : I don't have a proper word, you were a kind of shredding geek? (laugh) Like you hide yourself to shred.
Tak : "Did I hide myself? It's something like I just wanted practice and found myself hidden from others. I was often invited to bands, but I once joined one of them as a keyboardist, played too much and got fired in a short period."
Q : (Lol)
Tak : "I was invited, played too much and got fired. (laugh)"
Q : Hilarious! (laugh) Ohmura-San at the time didn't want to be recognized but to play as much as you could.
Tak : "That's all I wanted to do!"
Q : Who was your guitar hero in your teenage years?
Tak : "George Lynch is the one and only guitar hero for me. He's like a core of my motivation."
Q : "Among your generation, few picked up him as a guitar hero, right?"
Tak : "Yes, very few. Many say that his play is beyond their understanding."
Q : What in George Lynch made you inspired so much?
Tak : "I myself wonder what it is... But he's still my hero!"
Q : When did you make up your mind to go to MI Japan?
Tak : "I had been thinking of going to guitar school and learning it seriously. I choose MI Japan because it just opened a class specialized to shredding."
Q : A shredding class!
Tak : "I was one of first gen students of the class."
Q : A first gen student of shredding class...!
Tak : "Yes I was. Back then a school president said "We have a class like that," so I played my demo tape and he said "I recommend this class." No other schools had a class like that. That was the critical reason."
Q : And Mikio Fujioka-San was there.
Tak : "Yes. He taught me in my first year. But it was a brand-new class with no teaching system implemented at all."
Q : In the school?
Tak : "Yes. In the school. I wonder if it can be published or not... I thought at the time, "How (censored) is.""
Q : No no no, we can't. (laugh)
Tak : "But because no one was faster than me."
Q : It's surprising. (laugh) Is there anyone being famous among your peers in the class?
Tak: "Well... We have more lecturers than any other generations, including other classes."
Q : No one in your peers became a pro?
Tak : "No, I think. It is much difficult to become a pro as a solo guitarist. How can he sell what... like that. The same for makers. So, I got one who was ex-Loudness producer for my debut album production. And Yamaha-San (a music company) got interested in it. Yamaha-San had released Richie Kotzen, Mark Boals and more."
Q : It lead these gorgeous vocalists to your first album, didn't it?
Tak : "Yes it did. Everything was Yamaha-related. So collaboration are realized with those who I listened a lot in my teenage years."
Q : So, you succeeded in making the debut straight from just being one of the students in MI Japan?
Tak : "Nothing special happened till the debut. A trigger was an audition. There was Hard Rock Summit Audition. A president of MI Japan told me, "You, make your application to it," and I hanged up like, "Hmmmm." (laugh) Finally I took it and passed. And I played at some places like Nanba Hatch and Kawasaki Club Citta, then my debut was determined. That's how it went."
Q : Did you have confidence that you were the fastest in Japan?
Tak : "No, I didn't. It's like I just did what I was told to. I had completely no idea how to do what."
Q : At any rate, it's something like "Ride the wave just now!"
Tak : "Yes, it's me at the time. I made songs when they told me to."
Q : Did you make songs back then?
Tak : "Yes. That was massive pressure. Especially when we invited guest players."
Q : Those like Mark Boals and Doogie White from the very beginning.
Tak : "They were also those who I listened to so much times."
Q : Did you meet with them?
Tak : "I did. Mark Boals and Doogie White came to play as a guest at my very first debut live. I played with Richie Kotzen at an another event."
Q : How old were you at the time?
Tak : "20. My hair fallen off by the pressure."
Q : A spot bold?
Tak : "Yes."
Q : I think you have a lot of balls but not actually?
Tak : "I don't think so. Everything was new to me. So was a recording in a studio."
Q : How about taking advices... You can ask other members if it's a band.
Tak : "It didn't happen. I talked with a producer and that's all. I remembered little about things at the time. It's such a hard time. (laugh)"
Q : One thing I think about greatness of Ohmura-San is that you played with Babymetal, Marty Friedman-San, DCPRG of Naruyoshi Kikuchi-San and more... Do you have a mind to challenge to genres that aren't your turf?
Tak : "I make up my mind after I meet with players. I want collaboration only when they interest me. Benefit or money don't matter much to me. I'm happy if it gives me some fun. And it's also important whether they want my guitar or not."
Q : DCPRG is polyrhythm and Afrobeat, isn't it?
Tak : "Playing with them is so exciting... hyping in other word. Every lives are different and not fixed."
Q : Are there tons of improvisation at lives with them?
Tak : "Almost all is improvisation! I am even said, "Play it now with cutting." (laugh) "Key is to be determined," and I think, "I see!" Like that."
Q : Do you put your eyes on any Japanese guitarist?
Tak : "I can't imagine anyone but George Lynch. (laugh) Who I really love is George Lynch... And Marty Friedman. That's all."
Q : What in Marty Friedman fascinates you?
Tak : "He can move me only with his guitar... There are very few people who fascinates me on a same stage with me though many people give me fun and joy with them. Marty-San is the only one who moves me by hearing his sound. I think greatness of Marty-San is unrealistic. He's so perfectionist. In a live two days ago, Marty-San played my guitar in first three songs. Because he liked a sound from my guitar. I wanted to say, "Is your endorsement okay?" (laugh) After that an exchange happened and he returned my guitar to me, which we rehearsed five times. That was one of his perfectionism. And we had only five minutes rest in five hours rehearsal. So hard. But it makes us a feel of a band in years."
Q : Marty-San also loves an idol and J-Pop, doesn't he? His wide range and feeling in music are like you.
Tak : "Ah... It might be. I'm a kind of person who jump in what I like and get interested."
Q : I don't feel any calculation in your activities. Ohmura-San's love to Babymetal shows your pureness well. (laugh)
Tak : "(Laugh) It might do."
Q : Do you have many invitations for an audition lately?
Tak : "It's not my case. I have many offers of "Could you take a consideration for playing with us because we really want your sound?" That's the case now. I had a connection with C4 which plays as Visual-Kei originally, they were looking for a guitarist and in a pinch. Then a query came to me and I replied, "I will make my call after I meet you." I had some research about them and found a bassist and guitarist coming from Laputa. I love Laputa so much. So much hyped. (laugh) First I met with an ex-bassist of Laputa as an interview... or something like his confession for help. Finally I met a leader and all of them. The leader was very interesting person so "I will play with you!""
Q : Well, it seems you basically began things by others' personalities which moved you.
Tak : "Toki-San of C4 is very interesting person who I haven't seen before. He's rare with funny character. It seems I sensed something in him.."
Q : You had been to Europe for a tour of Marty-San. Was it your first tour abroad?
Tak : "Twice by the Europians tour."
Q : Do you feel any hesitation in a situation that you're the only Japanese?
Tak : "I don't specifically. Rather I get hyped about it. (laugh) I can learn cultures and lifestyles completely new to me. And the fact was that all the members were from different countries. The bassist from Israel, the drummer from Belgium. Gus G played with us last time and he's from Greece. Tech also from Greece and a tour manager from the UK. So no difficulty was there about being Japanese. All of us were from other countries."
Q : How about reactions over there?
Tak : "Many people acknowledged me through Marty-San, so... Babymetal is the other trigger. But Babymetal was getting popular at the time. When I got interviewed... Whenever we got interviewed at every stage or via Skype, Babymetal always popped up."
Q : Now Babymetal was just mentioned, so I go with it. I think Omura-San is the person who we feel a love to Babymetal most in Kami Band members.
Tak : "As for this... (With showing his Kitsune sign) Hmm... I come to get confused which is which. (laugh)"
Q : Kitsune and Horns!? (laugh)
Tak : "Really. Even I feel it (with Kitsune sign) was the original. (laugh) Babymetal is difficult... to tell about its appeal. Because its existence is an appeal to me. It's just natural for me to love. I love too much to analyze the reason... I naturally love its songs and how the girls do their best in performance. As if I would forget about an appeal which I was originally fascinated by. I might get fascinated to that extent."
Q : You care about your outfit in Kami Band, too. Put hair extensions and so on.
Tak : "Yeah, I do as much as I can once I decide to. Even for selfies, I do my best for effects. I don't like... to look lazy by uploading pics with no retouching. I want fans to remember how cool our moments at live were with a hype after the performance. So I make my pics look horrible sometimes."
Q : Did you imagine Babymetal become like that?
Tak : "This is beyond my imagination, really... though I had a conviction that Babymetal was going to be something big."
Q : When did you have it?
Tak : "Well... Most of what I got interested in became something. It's difficult for me to evaluate from outside whether it's interesting or not. But once I became an insider, most of things interesting me finally became something. One more reason is... a feel of their no care about their own lives always lit me up on fire. It made me fearless to death."
Q : You get super-inflamed by the trio, don't you?
Tak : "I got super-inflamed! There are lives that we have to play to fall over. Such as Summer Sonic, aren't they? Few girls but them can perform to that extent, I think. I could see them sacrifice their own lives. I felt it and it stroke me hard. I have no problem even if my head would roll (by headbanging). It's good for me to fly away from the world (laugh). It's no problem to die as an interpretation. (laugh)"
Q : Which live you played with impressed most?
Tak : "Last year's Summer Sonic in the heat. It did so much."
Q : At Osaka, isn't it?
Tak : "Yes. And... it's so hard. It's just something like, "It's so hyping... How it goes if I would fall off just now..." I can't forget it".
Q : It's the US and Canada lives that you played in Babymetal World Tour?
Tak : "Yes. That's when Babymetal played at Lady Gaga tour."
Q : How about their reactions, as a member of Kami Band?
Tak : "Reactions? They were hyped. I think Babymetal has been accepted in the US somewhat. Their reactions were changing stage by stage. I remembered Gaga-San tweeted (about Babymetal), after that they went hyped more and more."
Q : She was headbanging in a front row, wasn't she?
Tak : "I didn't think it could happen at all? (laugh)"
Q : When I saw Babymetal stages or Martin's solo stages, Ohmura-San did stage actions lively... rather overacting. Do you intend to do so?
Tak : "I think I would rather die if I don't do move lively at a metal live. And they have a song like Headbangya! which epitomizes an action in metal. I say what the heck do we do but headbang? Also I always care about whether fans like my performance or not. I care about their eyes. I look at them when they look at me, as such. So I did some studies about idols from Johnny's (management office) like SMAP-San. They do look at every eyes of their audience even if there are tens of thousands. Also they react to signals and poses that audience show to them. And an audience feels good, doesn't it? I do my performances with wishing it might be able to contribute to an audience having a good time, and reminding it later their home."
Q : Few shredding guitarists have an entertaining mind to that extent, I think.
Tak : "It's just a minimum requirement for players to play the guitar. It's also a minimum expectation of an audience to enjoy sound at live. But I think it is rare experience that actions of back band make you enjoy."
Q : That's right. I come to think that your entertaining mind is the reason why you take advantage from other guitarists. I am a bit surprised SMAP was mentioned. By the way, which Babymetal song is best for beginners... I mean rather easier to play?
Tak : "Well... Onedari Daisakusen? Or Doki Doki Morning, I think."
Q : I see. Which is most difficult otherwise?
Tak : "It is... I wonder which is most... I play with my seven strings though composers must have made songs with their six strings. The difference might become a huge difficulty. I don't think I can play these songs with six strings. The reason why I don't take six strings is that tuning have to be dropped significantly, and it makes my mind confused about the difference between pitches and frets on my mind. My mind refuses to play as soon as the difference crosses my threshold. I can feel which notes reside on which positions with seven strings."
Q : And, which song has most difficult guitar solo?
Tak : "I think it's Babymetal Death. I can't believe it's an opening song at all. (laugh)"
Q : You rather feel like asking another songs for an opener. (laugh) At the Budokan live Kami Band solos were longer than usual, weren't they? I think that's very impressive moment when Kami Band got featured in front.
Tak : "That's the first time when Kami Band solo time appeared in a set list."
Q : A back band can't be generally allowed to move around at a stage.
Tak : "Support players rather hesitate to do so as, "Wha... Do we really do it?" (laugh)"
Q : But a god of guitar and bass were moving around on the stage at Budokan live. Did you have fun from it?
Tak : "It's fun. I kept hyped all the way. We can see faces of an audience so well at Budokan."
Q : As for shredding, I'm an amateur and I can't dig it deep, is there any tip for shredding in a word?
Tak: "At the end of the day, I think it's about an ear. There are those who are shredding but we can't have any idea what they are playing, aren't they? To avoid the case, an ear is needed to play fast with holding some precision musically. A tip might be to play with listening to your sound carefully, confirming every single pics gets a clear tone. Shredding is nothing if your sound isn't clear."
Q : Have you ever gotten a feeling that you just broke a limit in a middle of playing? Like, "Now I'm getting into next level!"
Tak : "I don't remember any of it at all. It must have happened before. We can't get confident if we don't have these moments. It's like one day I found myself able to play naturally. Am I just accustomed to it...? Like we don't remember the moment when we learned running."
Q : Ah, like the moment when we leaned riding a bicycle.
Tak : "It's just the same, I think."
Q : But I think it's the difference between those who can shred and others can't. And for the last word of this interview, give your advice to guitarists trying to be a soloist, and those who think, "I will make my living only with my guitar, not only as a band member but also as a soloist!", please?
Tak : "Now is the time when we have very close relationship with fans, I think. We have the Internet. Also Twitter, Facebook and Nico Nico Douga, there are many places. So we better try to get more fans in there places. We can't make it happen alone. Guitar technique don't matter for me. It just comes with a practice. But giving fans some fun and these things never come along with a practice. Character matters in these areas. So we can survive if we understand that and grow up as a human."
Q : Character matters a lot for making a living as a freelance.
Tak : "Yeah..."
Q : Do you have any credo about that?
Tak : "It would be not a credo but... We better look at those who are liked for, I say, mimicking them... or listen to words they use. Like how Marty-San and TOKI-San communicates with others. I learned these things from them. I learned and could communicate easier."
Q : It matters a lot whether we can have a good communication or not.
Tak : "I think so, too. It comes first to everything. Just playing good is nothing. Even we playing as a band, bad character will be widely spread with a rumor. I think the answer is to try to entertain people at any given time. I say, now I try my best for you thinking this interview is fun. Because I would be dead right after this interview today, only God knows. (laugh) It not gonna happen, but I try to be a kind of person whom those who talk with think, "I had a good time today.""