Which guitar do you regret the most?

LOUDNESS - »The guitar is my weapon

Akira Takasaki is without a doubt Japan's most famous guitarist and also plays in the top league internationally. With his band LOUDNESS he has released well over 20 studio albums, a handful of which are considered classics. Akira's guitar playing is unmistakable, even if it has changed over the years. The now 55-year-old has only lived for music since his early youth.

Akira, when you started playing guitar in the seventies, Japan was pretty conservative and traditional. This decision was certainly a shock for your parents, the school and your environment, wasn't it?

“I was eleven when I found an acoustic guitar in my brother's room. My siblings listened to a lot of music and played instruments very often back then. My parents supported me in my decision to play the guitar. Only in school there were problems. They wanted to force me to stop because I would have a bad influence on the others. Incidentally, I never had guitar lessons, I taught myself everything through books. "

Lazy were your first band. How should one imagine the Japanese scene in the mid-seventies? How did you find like-minded people in such a traditionally oriented society?

“I was 13 when I started Lazy in junior high school with others. It was the golden years for the Japanese music scene, not least because of Enka and Kayoukyoku - that was or is traditional Japanese pop music. At the same time, international bands such as Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Deep Purple and Grand Funk Railroad appeared in Japan, and people really liked them. By the way, the Japanese call this music Yougaku. In 1977 we released our debut album Lazy and added four more albums by 1980. Lazy were very popular. Our records were chart albums, we had TV appearances, we were in pin-up magazines, etc. We were pop stars. But that quickly became much too soft for me, I wanted to play heavier music. The drummer Munetaka Higuchi, with whom I founded LOUDNESS after leaving Lazy, was also part of Lazy back then. «

LOUDNESS quickly established itself with the albums "The Birthday Eve" (1981), "Devil Soldier" (1982), "The Law Of Devil's Land" (1983) and "Disillusion" (1984), also internationally. On these discs you found your style and became a highly respected guitarist. How would you characterize your playing style on these records?

»My technique became more sophisticated from album to album. The many shows were definitely beneficial and made me even more confident. My goal was clearly defined: I wanted to play anywhere in the world! My style wasn't heavy metal, I played rock, and I still do that today. The guitar is my weapon to express myself. "

How has your guitar playing changed since then? It feels like I'm saying that you have moved away from your classic roots.

“Nothing has changed, I play better, my dexterity has become more precise. The biggest difference is certainly that nowadays I can let my mood, my soul, also called ki, flow directly into my instrument. On my solo album "Ki" from 1994, my playing sounds most like the real me for me. «

Are there guitarists who have influenced you significantly?

"In the early years I was heavily inspired by Ritchie Blackmore, later, at 30, by Jimi Hendrix."

Together with George Azuma you founded the Killer Guitars Company. How did that happen?

"I needed a company that could quickly implement my ideas when it came to guitars, so my own company was the best solution."

Killer Guitar is a very small company, not well known overseas, but with an excellent reputation. What is the difference between a killer guitar and another?

“It's more expensive, but extremely reliable both on stage and in the studio. My own killer guitars are not specially modified for me. They are the same models that every guitarist can buy from us. That should say enough about the quality of the brand. "

Are you still involved in the design, technical configuration and production?

"For sure. A musician knows better where the flaws lie in a guitar than a designer. In general, it is difficult to implement musicians' ideas, but we are constantly working on optimizing the models. "

Which is the best-selling killer guitar model?

"The Prime Akira Takasaki Signature."

And which is your preferred model from the killer production?

“Mainly the Killer Prime Signature. As I said, my guitars are the same as those in normal sales, so no special models. You can also find what I play in our shop. "

What does your perfect stage setup look like?

"My own equipment: my effects board, Marshall JMP-1 / pre-amp, Roger Mayer 6550 power amp, Marshall boxes from the early seventies."

Do you use a different setup in Japan than in Europe?

»I am currently using Friedman BE 100 amps in Japan. In Europe I prefer original British Marshall amps with 230 volts. "

What was the worst thing that ever happened to you on stage?

“In the early days of wireless systems, I had noise etc. too often at shows because my guitar tech couldn't handle the technology. There was a lot of trouble there. A bad time. "

What does an Akira Takasaki do when he is not on tour, producing or writing music? Do you have hobbies?

»My life is entirely focused on music. I really enjoy playing drums and bass, and singing karaoke. I have a small studio at home where I spend a lot of time. I can't live without music. If the weather permits, I am often on the beach and surfing. "

Have you ever had a job other than a musician?

"No. When I was in high school, I had a short weekend job at a game center playing guitar. Otherwise I was a musician all my life. "

Have you ever considered moving away from Japan because of the music, e.g. to the USA?

“Around the year 2000, I was looking for a house for my family in L.A. But then that broke up. I live in Osaka again, a great city. And now I like Germany a lot. Great beer, tasty food. That's why I would like to stay longer with you. "

In the mid-eighties, LOUDNESS were excellently positioned internationally: US label, US management and major tours. Looking back, what are your best memories of that time?

“We were on tour with Mötley Crüe for almost two months. Last year we found a tour documentary on video, which we then released on the 30th Anniversary Edition of "Thunder In The East". We watched Mötley Crüe's show every night, every time I got 'Home Sweet Home' Homesickness. We were on tour with AC / DC for two weeks after we signed the deal with Atco. Touring with these bands is not something you can do without walking. "

Is there anything in the LOUDNESS career that you regret these days?

"No. Good and bad, both made us what we are today. For me music is the most important thing, I try to treat everyone fairly. Personally, the early death of our drummer Munetaka Higuchi burdens me very much (Higuchi died of liver cancer in 2008 - jt). We have been friends since we were young. In the end he only wished for one thing: that we carry on. "

The English language has always been a noticeable problem for you. Is this shortcoming partly responsible for the fact that you never got off to a really good start outside of Japan?

"Yes, perhaps. On the other hand, music knows no boundaries. Even if the two of us couldn't understand each other, the music would connect us in a way. But in the end I agree with you, our extremely poor knowledge of English prevented a lot. "


Jürgen Tschamler