Gary James' Interview With Minoru Nihara Of
Go back to 1985. Japan's latest export to the United States at that time was a Heavy Metal quartet known as Loudness. Their debut album "Thunder In The East" (Atlantic Records) featured a single "Crazy Nights" that was tearing up the charts. In the album's first five weeks on Billboard's Top 200 LP chart, it catapulted 91 points to number 76 with a bullet, making "Thunder In The East" one of the fastest rising debut albums.
Loudness was formed in Tokyo in 1981 and in less than three years they released four best selling albums in Japan, plus a double 'live' collection. They also managed to conquer England and Europe. Player magazine, Japan's answer to Rolling Stone, placed Loudness the number one band across the board - Best Artist, Best Vocalist, Best Guitarist, Best Bassist, Best Drummer and Album Of The Year for two consecutive years, 1983 and 1984. Ardshock magazine, a major music production in Germany, named Loudness' guitarist Akira Takasaki, Top Guitarist, over Eddie Van Halen!
Minoru Nihara, lead singer for Loudness does the honors.
Q - When I first heard "Crazy Nights" on the radio, I thought it was an American group.
A - Oh, I'm glad to hear that.
Q - Now, how did you learn how to speak English so well in just a year?
A - Well, actually I took English lessons last year (1984) in the summer, in L.A. And I got a private teacher. I learned just how to pronounce, not grammar and conversation. When I was in Junior High School and High School we have to take English. So, now we have to speak English every day and day by day it gets better.
Q - You're doing all the interviews. Is that because you speak the best English?
A - Yes. The other guys say "Can I have something?" "Let's go to eat," and "Let's have party!" (laughs)
Q - Did you guys play clubs when you were starting out?
A - We did not play clubs. The guitarist and drummer were famous in Japan already when we formed this band. They were members of a Pop group. Our first big concert was at a big hall. About 3,500 people came down to see our show.
Q - You say that the difference between Rock concerts in Japan and America is that in America kids can get up and dance. Why don't they let you dance in Japan?
A - They do, but not like America. To me, they're really having fun at a Rock 'n' Roll concert in America. They're more quiet 'cause of the security in the concert hall, so they cannot move.
Q - Do they play a lot of Metal on the radio stations in Japan?
A - We have two FM stations in Japan, but they do not only play Rock 'n' Roll. Sometimes they play Rock 'n' Roll, sometimes they play Classical music. Sometimes Jazz. They play all kinds of music.
Q - Do you have anything like MTV in Japan?
A - Recently in Japan we have many kinds of MTV programs. You can see many videos in Japan.
Q - How many other Metal bands are there in Japan?
A - Probably five or six professional bands with recording contracts in Japan. Some of them are signed with English record companies.
Q - How many amateur bands?
A - Oh gosh, many. A lot.
Q - Why do you think your group was the first group to come to America and achieve some kind of success
A - I know many bands that tried to come out of Japan, but it didn't come true. I think Loudness makes real Rock 'n' Roll music. I think we made a good album that sold.
Q - And the album captures the spirit of what Heavy Metal is all about.
A - We did not just play Heavy Metal music. We played all kinds of music and are influenced by so many kinds of music.
Q - Do you have enough material written yet for your next album?
A - No, not yet. Sometimes we write a song, but not on tour.
Q - Your press release notes that you are using a Japanese lighting and sound equipment company. How is that different from American equipment?
A - I don't know about music systems, but it's different. I don't know how it's different. It's very expensive. Crazy money to bring the P.A. system from Japan over here. So maybe the next tour, the P.A. will be bigger.
Q - Have you seen any Rock concerts while you've been here?
A - We went to the Ratt, Ronnie Dio, Aerosmith. I had a really good time. Also, we've met many Rock stars. When we did a concert at the Palladium in L.A., many Rock stars came down to see the show.
Q - Where did your producer see your group?
A - I don't think he saw us before recording. He knows our last album. He likes our guitarist's sound.
Q - I've read stories that Japan has such dedicated "groupies" that they will rent out hotel rooms next to the rooms of visiting bands. Is that true?
A - It's true. There are crazy groupies. It's amazing. Sometimes Japanese groupies move to England and America to see Rock stars.