Significant Point - Interview
Japanese Significant Point released their superb debut album "Into The Storm" via the German label Dying Victims Productions (review here) recently. It's an album that puts you in a good mood while listening to it and also makes you want more. Buuuut... it took those guys ten years to release it. That's already two reasons to ask the band more about it and also to be a little critical. The two guitarists of the band, Gou Takeuchi and Kazuki Kuwagaki have taken the time to answer my questions in detail. Many thanks for that gentlemen! Enjoy the interview.
Hey, how are you guys doing? Thanks for taking the time for the interview!
Gou and Kazuki: Hello! We are doing very well, thank you for giving us the interview!
In my opinion with "Into The Storm" you have released a super cool album that makes you feel good. What is the feedback you get about the album?
Kazuki: We have got a number of reviews and interviews. We are just feeling happy that people in overseas countries are listening to our album and giving us great responses. We have taken 10 years until we release our first album, but I'm very happy that we could make it this far. We'd like to say thank you to all the people who supported us thus far.
Gou: Thank you very much. I am very satisfied with the album's quality. It's been 10 years since we formed the band, and the album contains the entire history of the band so far. The theme of this album was to create an album with a perfect mix of fast songs, melodious songs, and many other variations, like a storybook. It was a very challenging experience for me, but I'm glad I was able to make it work. I am happy that we were able to release the album. We would like to thank all the people who supported and helped us to get to this point.
When I listen to the CD, I have a feeling of hearing Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Blind Guardian on speed. Am I right or are there other influences that have crept onto the album?
Gou: All those bands you mentioned are ones I like! Let me tell you about my musical influences. I am strongly influenced by hard rock as well as heavy metal, so I think my melodic side from the hard rock influence comes into my songs naturally. The guitarist I admire the most is Michael Schenker. I grew up listening to his guitar solos on 'Rock Bottom', 'Love To Love', 'Looking For Love', etc. I love his emotional guitar sound. When I was a teenager, I used to listen to his guitar and analyze it every day. In terms of guitar orchestration, I'm also influenced by Brian May. As for bands, I was greatly inspired by Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Savage Grace, Metal Church, Cloven Hoof, Shok Paris, Liege Lord, Sinner, Agent Steel, Sortilege, Omen, Grim Reaper, Rainbow, Scorpions, UFO, MSG. etc. In terms of Japanese bands, Loudness, Wolf, Aion, Anthem, Dementia, Crowley, X, Prowler, Hurry Scuary, Vow Wow, Mari Hamada, Kuni, Flatbacker, Earthshaker and Salem have a large influence on me.
What are your lyrics about? From reading the titles I'd say they absolutely fit into the traditional heavy metal mould.
Kazuki: I basically make the lyrics in English. Sometimes I create the content from the beginning, and sometimes I base it on images that Gou created in Japanese. There is not one particular theme, but I think I am influenced by Japanese manga and Hollywood movies. For instance, in 'Riders Under The Sun', I was inspired by the Japanese manga Initial D and Beck, and the Hollywood movie "The Fast And The Furious". Also, in all the lyrics, I tried to give them a cool sound. I am not a native speaker, so there were some aspects that were difficult, but I was able to make something that I was satisfied with.
I find the cover of the CD mega cool, this was also my first reason to listen to the CD. Is that to be understood as a kind of homage to old Japanese monster movies?
Gou: Thank you very much. As for the concept of cover art, the monster is the band's mascot character and has appeared on the previous 7" EP. We may have been potentially influenced by Godzilla. Since the previous 7” EP portrayed monsters attacking people, I wanted to see the opposite this time: people standing up to the monsters. I also thought it would be cool to express the fierceness of heavy metal with intense lightning and raging seas. I had already decided to include the sound of thunder in the beginning of the title track, 'Into The Storm', and I knew that it would be an important part of the album. So, I wanted to reflect the image of this song in the cover art. We asked Mario E Lopez M to draw the cover art for this album. We gave him a brief sketch and image, and he drew a cover art that fits our musical style perfectly. We feel very happy to have worked with him.
You have two of the three songs on the album that have already been released on your 2014 demo and as a single in 2018 and now released again on the album. Do you have a lack of ideas in terms of songwriting?
Gou: The reason why I put 'Attacker' and 'Danger Zone' on the album is because they are very important songs for the band. I wrote these two songs 10 years ago when I was 18 or 19 years old, and they were the first songs that I could feel confident in. These songs are very special to me, and we always play them at our live shows, and they are one of the most exciting songs. These two songs have given us many things. That's why I had decided to include these two songs in the full album since a long time ago. As for 'Attacker', the arrangement of the guitar solo has changed dramatically since the demo. The previous 7" EP also contains a version of the song after the arrangement, but now we can play it more quickly and aggressively, so I wanted to record it again with our best performance ever.
I have lots of ideas for songs. I'm constantly working on new songs. But I try to provide the band with only the good ones that meet my own standards. I myself am very excited to see what kind of songs we will be able to create in the future.
How did it happen that you have only released one studio album all this time?
Kazuki: Heavy metal is a minor genre in Japan, especially old school metal, and there are very few young people who play this music. Therefore, when a member leaves the band, it takes a long time, sometimes several years, to find the next member. In our band, after the initial members left, the remaining members, Gou and I, continued to search for members for a long time. During the time we also went to a studio and played, and, I don't know why, but we went around to secondhand stores to look at used guitars. I think we might have wanted to do something for the band. From this kind of circumstance, it took 10 years for us to release our first album, but the quality of this album is very satisfying, and we are very happy to have made it this far.
Some of your current and former members are also active in Evil. That's a pretty different kind of metal. How does it come about?
Gou: As you know, the drummer also plays in Evil. I also played guitar in Evil for a while. Our musical styles are very different, but it's very exciting to be exposed to different kinds of music. I've also learned a lot of approaches to guitar playing that I've never tried before. I was like, "Wow! I didn't know there was such an approach!" It was so fun and a great experience that helped me grow. So, playing with Evil was a great experience. I also think that even though they and we have different musical styles, we have something in common in terms of our essence. It's hard to put into words what it is, but anyway I think they play exciting and great music.
Why did you have to resort to guest vocalist George Itoh, who also sings with Risingfall and Military Shadow? Doesn't anyone want to have the position as a permanent singer?
Kazuki: Since Significant Point does not have an official vocalist at the moment, we asked George to record vocals for the album. Risingfall, Military Shadow and Significant Point are close friends, and George is also a friend of the band members, so we asked him. We can trust his abilities and personality. Even though he did not have enough time to prepare and practice, he did that amazing job with great quality. I also learned a lot from how he sang the lyrics I wrote. It was a real pleasure to work with him. As mentioned above, it takes time to find members for a metal band in Japan. We are still in the process of looking for a new vocalist.
One of the things that really impresses me about the album is the guitars. Was it planned from the beginning that you put guitar solos so much in the foreground?
Gou: That's right. I think the emphasis on guitar playing is one of the major strengths of Significant Point, this approach came naturally. I write guitar solos with the mindset that they are "another song within a song". As for my approach to playing guitar solos, I think that technique and theory are very important, but I believe that the most important priority is the quality of the melody. Technique is just a way to assist in playing the melody, and I play the guitar with two things in mind: feeling of the moment and playing a good melody. In the world of music, each person has a different feeling, and the right answer is different for each person. For this reason, I believe that making music is a way of confronting oneself. I try to create songs and guitar solos with a clear standard for myself in order to have consistency in my music.
Significant Point as well as Evil are both signed to the German label Dying Victims Productions. How satisfied are you with the label, which is known for its pretty cool bands?
Gou: We are honored to release our album on Dying Victims Productions. We were thinking of starting work on the album in 2019 and Dying Victims Productions offered us the opportunity to release the album at that time. They have always kindly supported us, and we are very happy to be able to work with them. Japan is a country where there are very few old school heavy metal bands. But in Europe, I think there are a lot of bands. So, I have always been longing for the European scene. I was very happy when I got the offer.
Which bands from Japan can you recommend to us?
Kazuki: For example, for younger bands, I would recommend Risingfall, Military Shadow, and Hell Freezes Over. Of course, there are many more great bands out the in Japan, heavy metal is a minor genre and the underground scene is very small. So, I was very happy and grateful that the overseas scene paid attention to us with this release. I hope that the Japanese scene will become more active in the future, and that Japanese metal scene will attract more attention not only from Japan, but also from the overseas scenes. To that end, I hope our activities will contribute to the revitalization of the Japanese scene.
Gou: There are many great bands in Japan, such as Risingfall, Military Shadow, Hell Freezes Over, Evil, Bafomet, The Blue Scream, Chase The Top, and many more. I recommend these bands. If you are interested, listen to them! Of course, there are many more great bands in Japan.
Last but not least, the last words belong to you!!!
Gou and Kazuki: We hope that many people will listen to our album. This album is the culmination of everything we've done so far and contains 10 of the best songs in the 10 years since the band formed. All the members have given it everything. We believe that this album is filled with intense speed metal, melodic songs, splendid twin leads, and a lot of attractiveness. We hope you will check out the album Into the Storm!
Thank you very much for the interview!
Gou and Kazuki: Thank you very much too! Take care of your health!
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