Rising to greater heights after gaining international acclaim, ONE OK ROCK takes Singapore by storm yet again on their Ambitions Asia tour. Boasting a slew of notable artistes like Avril Lavigne and 5 Seconds of Summer, their latest album had fans in a frenzy. We caught up with the J-rock juggernauts before their show for a short chat where they got real about international recognition, future ambitions and more.
Playing on your album name Ambitions, we want to know – what were your childhood ambitions?
Taka: Ever since I was a child, singing came naturally to me because both my parents were singers. It wasn’t exactly my “ambition” to be a singer, but I knew that I wanted to sing as well.
Toru: I’ve always wanted to perform abroad and even started a band when I was in high school. And now that I’m touring the world, I guess you could say that I’ve fulfilled my childhood ambitions!
Ryoto: My ambition has always been for the band to be successful and I’m grateful that we’ve gained global recognition. So I guess you could say that I’ve fulfilled my ambitions too.
Tomoya: My childhood ambitions have also been fulfilled. I’ve always wanted our band to be successful. I even moved to Tokyo and started getting involved in music activities to make that happen, so I’m really excited that we’re here today.
What about your ambitions as a band in the future?
Taka: We’ve been doing this for over a decade, so I feel like our first chapter has come to a close and we’re ready to take on the next chapter. In terms of our music concepts, I believe that we’re going to try something different. We don’t have a clear picture of that yet, but we’re really looking forward to it.
You’ve worked with Western artistes like Avril Lavigne and 5 Seconds of Summer. How was that like and are there any Asian acts you’d like to collaborate with?
Taka: We’ve always admired Western artistes and after collaborating with them, we’ve become more accustomed to their culture. So I think that compared to when we first started out, we’re able to stand on par with them now. We grew up listening to American music, so we don’t really know many Asian musicians. But now that we’re touring the world and performing in Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, perhaps we’ll start looking into the artistes in Asia and hopefully strike up some collaborations.
As a J-Rock band with distinct western influences, how has this opposition of J-rock norms contributed to your global success?
Taka: While our Japanese fans mean a lot to us, we’ve always wanted an international audience. Gaining success in Japan, solely, was never our ultimate goal. When we first started, we actually bought flight tickets to America without having a solid tour plan, but our manager eventually stopped us from doing that. But we’ve always hoped to expand our audience and gain worldwide success. So naturally, we took on a different style [as compared to other J-rock bands] to get to where we are now.
Do the fans in different countries respond differently to your music?
Taka: Different fans in different countries do respond differently. Our fans in Japan tend to be more quiet and really listen to us when we perform, but other fans in Asia are very different. For example, our Taiwanese fans were very energetic and sang along to our songs during our concert. The response is always different in Europe too. I feel like we’re always being tested on stage in America though, especially during our first tour there. In terms of the American market, we didn’t start from scratch or even point zero – it was below that.
We felt very out of place and sensed that they didn’t resonate with us or our music. It felt like they were thinking “Why are these Asians playing rock music?” It was as if an invisible line had been drawn between us and them. So while they [Westerners] look at us differently, we are also looking at them in the same way. I think the most important thing is to get rid of the line so that they can start resonating with our music.
Featured image credit: JulenPhoto
Watch out for our full concert review coming soon, and meanwhile hit replay on ONE OK ROCK’s Ambitions album.
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