From the moment I listened to the soundtrack for The Eternal Zero featuring One OK Rock’s ‘Fight the Night.” I know I heard something special, even profound. You can feel the energy of the song, the sincerity, the heart – it brought tears to my eyes. What more if it’s a concert?
… and then I go back to the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy and listen to another of their tracks, ‘The Beginning.’ The most amazing thing about the band is not their originality since their music is influenced by artists who were ahead of them, but the energy and the efforts that go into every music video, every concert performance, every interview. There is a particular One OK Rock signature in everything they do.
It’s hard to quantify – like perfume, the uniqueness, and allure of the scent is fleeting, you know what you’ve smelled, and you’ll know when you’ll smell it again. In the case of One OK Rock, their influence is not fleeting but long-lasting. You can hum to their tunes, do your best Taka imitation, smile with amusement at the way he replaces the r with the l, as some Japanese tend to do, but it makes their song ‘Wherever You Are’ more personal. You began to feel you have some proprietary rights to it, and that you’ll defend it to any basher if there are any.
James Stafford @WhyItMatters says it perfectly:
These guys were simply exciting to watch — tremendous energy and stage presence, and they play well, too. Here’s hoping that One OK Rock gets the kind of exposure that some other Japanese bands have enjoyed recently. They deserve it. [ source ]
Which brings me to the newest collaboration here at PD. I requested a friend of the community to help me discover more about One OK Rock. Ysa told me about the events that led to the band’s January 2016 concert in the Philippines and how fans were instrumental in making it possible.
ONE OK ROCK is making waves in Japan and overseas. However, It is only the beginning for ONE OK ROCK. We’re very much sure you’ve heard about one of Japan’s up and coming rock bands since they’ve been working tie-ups with films and collaborating with known J-Pop and Western artists!
Who is ONE OK ROCK?
ONE OK ROCK is a four piece band formed in 2005 from Tokyo, Japan. They are Taka (vocals), Toru (lead guitar), Ryota (bass guitar) and Tomoya (drums). The band was formed when Yamashita Toru wanted to form a rock band and requested his fellow hip-hop group member, Kohama Ryota to learn how to play the bass guitar. He later asked their upperclassman in school, Alex Onizawa to play the lead guitar and classmate Koyanagi Yu to play the drums, which are now both former members of ONE OK ROCK.
Taka was already a vocalist for a band then, however, Toru insisted that he should join ONE OK ROCK instead. Now, that the members were complete, ONE OK ROCK joined one of Japan’s leading entertainment agencies, Amuse Inc. After they had signed up with the said agency, Koyanagi Yu left the band to pursue an acting career instead. He was later replaced by Kanki Tomoya in 2006 who became an official member when ONE OK ROCK debuted in 2007.
35XXXV (read as thirty-five) is the 7th full-length studio album of ONE OK ROCK, which was just released last February 11, 2015. This is the very first album of the band that was primarily recorded in the US, and it was also co-produced by John Feldmann.
‘Fight the Night’ further intensifies the drama about a misunderstood Kamikaze pilot (Junichi Okada) who died during World War 2 and how his relatives (Haruma Miura, Kazue Fukiishi) investigate the reason for his death in the award-winning film, The Eternal Zero
Where did the name “ONE OK ROCK” come from?
ONE OK ROCK’s name came from the word “one o’clock”. It was the time they usually practice then since the use of studio for such hours were cheap. They later changed it to the Japanese variation of the word to “one o’crock” and it was later separated to “ok rock” resulting to their name now, “ONE OK ROCK”.
ONE OK ROCK Members
The frontman for ONE OK ROCK, Moriuchi Taka, was born on April 17, 1988. Before becoming a vocalist for ONE OK ROCK, he was part of a Johnny’s idol group called NEWS in 2003. He is a son of famous Japanese singers, Mori Masako and Mori Shinichi. He also has a younger brother named Hiroki who is a vocalist for a known J-rock band called “MY FIRST STORY”. When his parents divorced, he changed his surname to Morita from Moriuchi in 2005. Taka reveals that he writes for ONE OK ROCK. He also writes in English though he admits he’s not fluent in the language.
The leader of ONE OK ROCK, Yamashita Toru, born on December 7th, 1988, was also the person behind the formation of ONE OK ROCK. Did you know that Toru can dance to hip-hop other than playing the lead guitar? Before becoming the guitarist for ONE OK ROCK, he was a member of a hip-hop group called HEADS along with Kohama Ryota. HEADS participated in dance competitions. They disbanded in 2002. Aside from being a dancer, he also made an acting stint in the drama series, “Shibuya Fifteen” along with Aragaki Yui. He also appeared in Kamen Rider Hibiki as a highschool student. His acting career didn’t last long; instead, he chose to be the lead guitarist for ONE OK ROCK.
Kohama Ryota, the bassist for ONE OK ROCK, was born on September 4, 1989. Along with Yamashita Toru, Ryota was also a member of the hip-hop group called HEADS. They were active in the years 1995-1999, dancing in the streets of Osaka’s Kyoubashi and Tokyo’s Akihabara. When Toru took on an acting career, Ryota also took a minor role in Toru’s drama, “Shibuya Fifteen”. Ryota was influenced to play the bass guitar because of the band “Red Hot Chili Peppers” and their bassist, Flea.
Kanki Tomoya, who was born on June 27th, 1987, is the oldest among the group members. He plays the drums for ONE OK ROCK. Tomoya replaced Koyanagi Yu as the drummer for ONE OK ROCK in 2006 but only became an official member when they debuted in 2007.
[ From top] Takahiro Moriuchi and Toru Yamashita capture taken from siihoapph @tumblr; a capture for the song ‘Heartache’
ONE OK ROCK’s first live concert
ONE OK ROCK recalls their first live concert as a five-person band in a radio show called “NHK Soundcreator” last March 2013. They were an opening act for their first live. What’s more, the band had Alex Onizawa as the lead guitarist and Koyanagi Yu as the drummer then. According to Ryota, it was a memorable moment for them even though he was so nervous. He wasn’t moving at the stage at all. He only moved when he tuned his guitar. He was so nervous that he thought that their first live wasn’t fun at all. However, looking back, Ryota says it was a good experience. Taka and Toru recollect that they don’t even know what “setting up” in the stage means. It was their first live so they were confused as to which jack to plug into and how does tuning needs to be done. Even though they were all baffled on what needs to be done on stage, they went with the flow and they were able to have the live concert! Taka also remembers that he doesn’t know the name of the members when he was asked by the organizers. He just gave random names. It was also revealed that they booked for a live concert three months after they were formed. Taka was the one who booked it. They also remember that they performed a total of five songs for their very first live concert. Toru and Ryota’s parents came all the way from Osaka to watch their first live.
For Tomoya, his first live was when they performed at “Pink Noise” at Futako-Tamagawa, Tokyo. Tomoya recalls that his first live was overwhelming for him. He just received a mini-disk containing ten songs. He can only remember parts of the songs so he was kind of rusty then. Tomoya also recalls that in their indie song “Moshimo Taiyou ga Nakunatara”, the drums should be abruptly stopped but the drumbeats did not disappear since he did not know what was to be done next. He was saved by Taka when Taka cheered on the audience. According to Taka, the Tomoya now is very different from the Tomoya then. Everything seemed so nostalgic for them when they talked about their history in the said radio show.
ONE OK ROCK’s first music festival: Mujinto Music Festival
ONE OK ROCK also talked about their first music festival in the same radio show. Taka says the atmosphere in music festivals are different from playing in live houses. The members were all excited that Taka got caught in an accident. He was running barefooted that he ended up losing his entire nail on one of his toes. Taka was sent to the hospital just before their turn on the stage. Ryota was so nervous again that he didn’t move at the stage again at all. While for Toru, he was so excited that he was running on the stage. For Tomoya, the atmosphere in music festivals is very special but playing in live houses and in music festivals are both fun.
The soundtrack for the box office hit Rurouni Kenshin ‘The Beginning’ is credited for establishing a fanbase in the Philippines for One OK Rock. In 2013, Amuse Team PH and PH ONE OK ROCKers launched a petition to bring the band to the country. In January2016, the campaign drive and the project were realized.
In Part 2, we’re setting the records straight: Their music from the first album to the latest!