LOUDNESS Frontman MINORU NIIHARA On Band's Longevity - "If You Don’t Respect Your Partners, Nothing Works"
March 5, 2018, 5 years ago
In a new feature by music writer Joel Gausten, Loudness singer Minoru Niihara discusses the band's recent released 28th album, Rise To Glory, and what has enabled the band to keep going after 37 years. An excerpt from the story appear below:
One thing sure to amaze longtime Loudness fans who give Rise To Glory a listen is how powerful the band still are after nearly 40 years. While more than a few veteran metal bands have mellowed with each passing decade, Loudness have retained their intensity to produce one the heaviest albums they’ve ever released.
“We all love Metal,” Niihara says. “If you lose your edge, you’re not metal anymore. Well, we’re physically rounder now, though!”
While Niihara is quick with the puns, Rise To Glory is no laughing matter. The record’s sharp sonic attack is helped along by the fantastic playing of drummer Masayuki Suzuki, who stepped in following the 2008 passing of the great Munetaka Higuchi. Nearly a decade later, Suzuki is an indispensable part of the Loudness experience.
“He was not perfect when he joined the band,” Niihara admits. “As his style, timing and groove were completely different from Munetaka’s, it took some time until we got used to his drumming. As he gained experience with us, his style started fitting us more and more. It took three years until his drumming finally fit us, whether be it live or writing new songs. His effort is worth praise.”
After Loudness scored stateside attention with 1985's Thunder In The East, 1986’s Lightning Strikes and 1987’s Hurricane Eyes, a personnel shakeup led to Niihara being replaced by American singer Michael Vescera (Obsession/Yngwie Malmsteen) for 1989’s Soldier Of Fortune and 1991’s On The Prowl. The reminder of the ’90s saw guitarist Akira Takasaki lead a fluctuating lineup for a series of dark, experimental releases that often strayed far away from the band’s original musical formula. The band’s more classic sound returned when the first incarnation reformed in 2000. Eighteen years later, the three surviving original members are tighter (both musically and personally) than ever before.
“In our twenties, we were probably more egoistic and had a lot to say,” says Niihara of the band’s internal issues in the late ’80s. “Now, we are grown up and mature enough to respect and listen to each other. If you don’t respect your partners, nothing works.”
The complete feature is available at this location.
According to a message on the official Loudness Facebook page, "drummer Masayuki 'Ampan' Suzuki has suffered a stroke and is recovering in hospital. He is doing well under the circumstances. Loudness will do their announced March tour with Ryuichi Nishida as a fill-in. Nishida has performed with Marty Friedman and Gackt in the past."
Suzuki replaced original Loudness drummer Munetaka Higuchi following his passing in November 2008 due to liver cancer, making his recording debut with Loudness on the band's King Of Pain album. Frontman Minoru Niihara commented on Suzuki joining the band in a conversation with BraveWords scribe Carl Begai:
“Masayuki was discovered by Akira (Takasaki / guitars). I didn’t know anything about him until we met at the rehearsal studio. There was a festival a month after Munetaka’s passing, the gig had been booked one year prior. We had an option to cancel the gig but we decided we’ll play because we knew Munetaka would be disappointed if we cancelled. So, we urgently needed a drummer to fill in and that’s when Akira brought Masayuki to the band. He’s very different from Munetaka in terms of his style of drumming but superb in both technique and power. On top of that, we love his sincere and passionate attitude towards rock music.”
“He’s a dedicated drummer who practices with enthusiasm, a world-class drummer who has brass balls. We toured with him several times and came to the conclusion that he’s the guy. After Munetaka’s passing, we feel blessed to have met such an amazing drummer. His drum sound injected new life into Loudness. There wasn’t much difficulty in recording or in live shows. Seemingly, our fans like him as well. It sure does make me feel weird without Munetaka, though.”
Go to this location for the complete story. Loudness' live itinerary can be found here.
Loudness recently released Rise To Glory, the band's first album in four years and first since 2014's The Sun Will Rise Again, via earMUSIC. The new album is packed with aggression, melody and positive vibes. Vocalist Minoru Niihara says: “The album cheers you up, makes you feel fresh.”
"Soul On Fire"
"I'm Still Alive"
"Go For Broke"
"Until I See the Light"
"Rise To Glory"
"Why And For Whom"
"Let's All Rock" (Bonus Track)
"Soul On Fire" video:
"I'm Still Alive":
With the album and the ensuing major scale world tour, Loudness will embark on the biggest global conquest since the 1980s. This indeed is the beginning of their Rise To Glory.
The European and US versions of the album are accompanied by Samsara Flight, a collection of 13 of the band's early classics re-recorded; it was originally released in Japan in 2016, including “Loudness”, “In The Mirror”, etc.
Akira Takasaki - Guitar
Minoru Niihara - Vocals
Masayoshi Yamashita - Bass
Masayuki Suzuki - Drums