Just before their New York show, VKH had the pleasure of sitting down with vocalist Taka of ONE OK ROCK at Playstation Theater (formerly known as Best Buy Theater). In this casual one-on-one conversation, Taka talks about ONE OK ROCK's goals, the reason behind the aliens in their "Last Dance" music video, and more!
*Note: The venue had changed its name from "Best Buy Theater" to "Playstation Theater" on October 1st.
*Note: The venue had changed its name from "Best Buy Theater" to "Playstation Theater" on October 1st.
VKH: First, we would like to congratulate you guys on your 10th Anniversary as ONE OK ROCK! How do you feel about the band’s accomplishments so far, especially with signing to Warner Bros.?
Taka: This is like a dream finally coming true. When I started this band in Japan, we were aiming to be more international, to have fans everywhere. I'm really happy and super excited for next year. For this album's success, and everything.
VKH: Did the success of your previous album 人生ｘ僕＝ (Jinsei Kakete Boku Wa) in Japan influence your decision to release 35xxxv in English or was it something else?
Taka: I wanted it released worldwide because it was what I wanted to do. It's not because of the previous record, we always wanted to release an album in English. It was part of the plan to become more globally popular. At first, the original was more focused on Japan, then the deluxe version was more for our global audience.
VKH: After your headline shows, you’ll be joining All Time Low and Sleeping With Sirens on their tour. Is this part of your plan for conquering the U.S. since your album was already #1 in Japan and on Billboard World Music?
Taka: Yeah! Maybe. (laughs)
VKH: Since you’re not as well-known in the U.S. as you are back in Japan, it’s almost like you get the chance to start over. What has this experience been like so far?
Taka: Right now we have a small crowd, and are slowly gathering more and more people, but in the future I want our music to reach a bigger audience with my emotions and heart. I try to do that, at least.
VKH: You're doing well at it!
Taka: Yeah, and the concerts are already bigger here, you know. We're already getting up there.
VKH: Right, and you've sold out this venue twice now, so you're gaining more and more fans in the U.S. too.
Taka: Yes! We're getting bigger.
VKH: Since your album’s reached the #1 ranking, what’s next? Are you preparing yourselves for some kind of world domination, to make everyone a ONE OK ROCKer?
Taka: Yeah! Yeah, I hope so, I'm trying to do that!
VKH: "Take Me to the Top" almost sounds more like a self-motivator, then. (laughs)
Taka: Haha, yeah! When I first write the lyrics for songs, they're in Japanese actually, then we translate them to English. I can express myself better in Japanese, but we're trying to reach more people with the English lyrics.
VKH: Since we’re on the topic of songs, “Heartache” and “Good Goodbye” are so beautiful and relatable. Did you write them as a personal catharsis, or were they written with the purpose of being able to connect with the audience?
Taka: Thank you! Umm, I think I did it for both.
VKH: With these two songs, as well as others such as "Memories," your album seems to deal with the many different emotions that come with being in a relationship, and with when that relationship comes to an end. Was this an intentional theme?
Taka: No, not really. It kind of just happened.
VKH: You generally have two types of songs in your album; songs that are more personal and are about relationships, and then songs that are full of energy and just make you feel good. How do these songs relate to each other?
Taka: Well, I like variety a lot, so they're there for us to have a mixture of things. Pop songs, serious songs, sad songs, ballads, etc. All of those styles are there to add variety.
VKH: Why is the number 35 so important?
Taka: Actually, it's not such a big deal. When we recorded in the United States, I saw the number a lot all over the place. It's like a metaphor for our U.S. debut. Since this is the first time we're working with an American producer, and we've been spending a lot of time in the U.S., the number became our destiny. It's a major number that just happened to be everywhere.
VKH: Yeah, and I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but since you said that, the cover art for your album has a kind of hidden message. You have two ways of showing the number 35: the vertical and horizontal slashes, and the "XXXV" behind that, almost like it's breaking through the artwork. Is that like you're breaking into America?
Taka: Yes, exactly.
VKH: Why is there an alien invasion in the music video for "Last Dance?"
Taka: I don't know, actually, (laughs). I have no idea. It was the director's idea.
VKH: The director thought it would look cool?
Taka: Yeah. The director came to my house, and everyone sat down like we're sitting now; we were sitting here and the director was sitting there. As we talked to each other, the video was explained to us. It's actually a sad song about a boy and a girl, but the director wanted to include something else. He wanted to include the aliens.
VKH: What do the aliens represent?
Taka: (Laughs) I don't know. It may have been the director's artistic licensing. This is our first time shooting in the U.S., and our first time working with an American director, so we went with it.
VKH: You had an American director?
Taka: Yes, but this doesn't reflect on America at all, it was just us going along with the director. There are a lot of alien movies here, right? This was all the director's idea, so maybe they wanted to do Independence Day 3 or something, I don't know, but there's no special message from ONE OK ROCK about aliens. There are just aliens there. (laughs) It's an artistic video.
VKH: So, the music video is basically a love song with aliens just... there? (laughs)
Taka: Yeah, and it's really funny!
VKH: We found it interesting! It was a really good, enjoyable music video. The song is also really good, too.
VKH: What was the plot of the music video for "Last Dance," if there was one?
Taka: Plot? I don't think there was one.
VKH: Well there's some kind of story where you have a couple who's fighting, they're about to break up, and the guy goes outside, and then there are aliens.
Taka: Haha, yeah, that's it!
VKH: That's it? (laughs) There was no backstory?
Taka: Yeah, there is no real story in the music video, but in the song the lyrics are totally different.
VKH: What is the story in the lyrics, since the music video is completely different?
Taka: It's actually about a guy and a girl during their prom. Prom is part of American culture, right? We don't have anything like prom in Japan, but I think it's such a beautiful thing.
VKH: Are you trying to appeal to the American audience by putting that message in there, and making that cultural reference?
VKH: That's actually really interesting.
Taka: Yeah, it's focusing on the young love in American culture.
VKH: Yeah, just listening to it, people probably wouldn't get all of that because when we heard it we only heard a melancholy love song. Two people considering breaking up, but they don't really want to break up, and they're denying that there isn't anything left to do. Is that also part of it?
VKH: That's really cool, too.
VKH: Out of all of the music videos you have released and re-released leading up to 35xxxv and its deluxe U.S. edition, which ones are your favorite?
Taka: My favorites are "Mighty Long Fall" and "The Way Back (Japanese vers.)," which is coming out soon.
VKH: There is a music video coming out for "The Way Back?"
Taka: Yeah, there was a really good shooting for it in Japan. It's such a good video, I think.
VKH: Alright, we can't wait to see it!
VKH: Even though you just released an album, do you have any other future plans you would like to share?
Taka: Actually, we haven't decided yet, but I want to try touring more in the U.S. with a friend's band, or other bands in general.
VKH: We're sure fans would like that, too!
VKH: Thank you very much for your time! Would you please send a message to your fans and our readers at VKH Press?
Taka: Thank you for supporting us every day! We love you so much. Thank you for listening to our music.
Special thanks to Warner Bros. Records, A-Sketch, AEG Live, and AXS for making this interview possible! Check ut our review of ONE OK ROCK's 35xxxv Deluxe Edition via this link: REVIEW: ONE OK ROCK - 35xxxv Deluxe/U.S. Edition
ONE OK ROCK are still on tour in the U.S., and are about to join All Time Low and Sleeping With Sirens for the rest of their shows. Afterward, they will also be heading to Europe and Asia! Check out the tour dates below to see if they'll be performing near you. Ticketing information can be found on their OHP and their Bandsintown!
Back to the Future Hearts Tour
- 10/09 - Orlando, FL at CFE Arena
- 10/10 - Alpharetta, 7GA at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park
- 10/11 - Charlotte, NC at The Uptown Amphitheater at The Music Factory
- 10/13 - Nashville, TN at Ascend Amphiteatre
- 10/15 - Tulsa, OK at Brady Theater
- 10/16 - Houston, TX at Bayou Music Center
- 10/17 - Dallas, TX at South Side Ballroom
- 10/18 - San Antonio, TX at Sunken Gardens Amphiteatre
- 10/20 - Tempe, AZ at Mesa Amphitheatre
- 10/23 - Los Angeles, CA at Shrine Expo Hall
- 10/24 - Las Vegas, NV at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
- 10/25 - Sacramento, CA at Aftershock Festival
- 10/26 - San Jose, CA at City National Civic
- 10/28 - Kent, WA at ShoWare Arena
- 10/30 - Portland, OR at Roseland Theatre
- 10/31 - Boise, ID at Revolution Event Center
- 11/01 - Magna, UT at The Great Salt Air
- 11/02 - Broomfield, CO at 1st Bank Center
- 11/04 - Clive, IA at 7 Flags Event
- 11/05 - Hoffman Estates, IL at Sears Center
- 11/06 - Ypsilanti, MI at Eastern Michigan Convocation Center
- 11/07 - Milwaukee, WI at The Rave (NOT WITH ALL-TIME LOW)
- 11/09 - Minneapolis, MN at Skywater Theater
- 11/10 - Indianapolis, IN at Indiana Farms Coliseum
- 11/11 - St. Louis, MO at Chaifetz Arena
- 11/13 - Grand Rapids, MI at Deltaplex Entertainment & Expo Center
ONE OK ROCK "35xxxv" 2015 EU Tour
- 12/02 - Tele Club (Yekaterinburg, Russia)
- 12/03 - Glavclub (St. Petersburg, Russia)
- 12/04 - Yotaspace (Moscow, Russia)
- 12/06 - Academy (Dublin, Ireland)
- 12/07 - Academy2 (Manchester, England)
- 12/08 - Garage/ABC (Glasgow, Scotland)
- 12/10 - Shepherds Bush Empire (London, England)
- 12/11 - Trix (Antwerp, Belgium)
- 12/12 - Live Music Hall (Cologne, Germany)
- 12/13 - Schlachthof (Wiesbaden, Germany)
- 12/15 - Docks (Hamburg, Germany)
- 12/16 - Postbahnhof (Belin, Germany)
- 12/17 - Theaterfabrik (Munich, Germany)
- 12/19 - Alcartraz (Milan, Italy)
- 12/20 - X-TRA (Zurich, Switzerland)
- 12/21 - Olympia (Paris, France)
- 12/22 - Paradiso (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
ONE OK ROCK 2016 "35xxxv" Asia Tour
- 01/14/2016 - HONG KONG – AsiaWorld-Expo
- 01/16/2016 - TAIWAN – TAIPEI ARENA
- 01/19/2016 - PHILIPPINES – MALL OF ASIA ARENA
- 01/21/2016 - THAILAND – THUNDER DOME
- 01/23/2016 - SINGAPORE – FORT CANNING PARK
Also purchase their album 35xxxv on iTunes and CDJapan!