Interview conducted June 2005
About The Interview.
Katsu Ohta is one of the star players of the blossoming Japanese neo-classical metal scene. Katsu is the guitarist and leader of Ark Storm who are becoming quite a sensation on the Japanese metal scene, to date only one of their 3 albums have been released outside their native Japan, but we manageed to track down Katsu and find out his thoughts on the band, their excellent latest album ‘The Everlasting Wheel’ and find out what else if going to happen in 2005.
The interview was the first interview done by Katsu in English and to the best of my knowledge perhaps the only one. It’s been a steady favourite over the years in terms of hits at the old site so its fitting its kept on here on the new home.
Many thanks to Nikki Matsumoto for translating Katsu’s answers and assistance with arranging the interview.
Katsu, many thanks for agreeing to this interview. First, I would like to congratulate you on “The Everlasting Wheel”; it’s a superb slice of neo-classical metal. When did you start writing for the album?
Thanks to you too. I started writing material for the album back in January of 2004. I came up with about 15 songs in the next 4 months.
What does your writing process normally involve?
It depends really. But I normally come up with a melody for a singer or start chunking a guitar riff and take it from there. One of these 2 patterns normally. And when I hand out a song to the rest of the band, it is usually near completion as far as arrangements and melody go.
How long did it take to record?
It took about 20 days for the recording, not counting the hours of pre-production rehearsals for the recording.
What did set out to achieve with this album?
I wanted to have a meaning and as the album title suggests, the meaning Of eternity was what I had in mind. I wasn’t really concerned about anything else.
I hear a slightly more streamlined and commercial album compared to “Beginning Of The New Legend“, was this an aim of the album?
No, it was not something we intended to do. But we built the whole production with mainly melodies in mind. The melody line was the key for the song writing. So I am not surprised that people feel the sense of commercialism to some degree. We just did what we wanted to do as Ark Storm on our own way. And the result just happened this way naturally. It may fit into the current trend or whatever but it wasn’t aimed anyway intentionally.
How has the reaction been to the album in Japan?
We have been getting quite pleasant reaction from the fans, it’s been really good. The fan basis is growing and getting bigger and bigger day by day as it seems. But the Japanese HM magazines don’t give us good evaluation, even though the fans are supporting us and spreading bigger.
What are your thoughts now on “Beginning Of The New Legend” and “No Boundaries”?
I feel like there had been so much left undone. I am not satisfied completely with any of those pieces. But that is how I should feel probably. I never ever get totally content with my work. If I ever did, it would be pretty much the end of my aspiration. I always find something new when I’mwriting or playing.
“Beginning Of The New Legend” was released in Europe, are there any plans to release “The Everlasting Wheel” outside Japan?
It’s all up to the record company. But I have not heard anything on that matter.
How did you hook up with the other members of Ark Storm?
I selected them on my own, one by one. I wanted real professionals, you know. Before the release of the first album, it was hard to find right musicians. I wanted the best of the Japanese when the time for the second album was approaching. So I got them now.
What made you want to play guitar?
One of my uncles gave me a real old trashy classical guitar and that was the start.
I see you use Scalloped Stratocasters, what made you start using a scalloped neck and why?
I started it because I liked Ritchie Blackmore and Uli Jon Roth when he was with the Scorpions. Now I still use scalloped neck all the time because It gives me the vibrato I want.
There’s a couple of Marshall Amps on your website, what models do you use and are there any modifications done to them?
It’s a 1978 Marshall 100w. The guitar technician of my own modifies it mainly on the tones.
What effect / overdrive pedals do you use?
It depends, case by case. But most of the times, I use a DOD or a Tube Screamer by Ibanez. Those two are my main effects.
Does the band have any plans to record a live album / DVD?
There is no plan for it as far as I’m concerned. But I do want to release DVDs.
What else does the band have planned for 2005?
We are going to start another Japanese tour in October.
Anything else you would like to tell the readers of virtuosity one?
I want you to experience Ark Storm, please get your copy anyway you can. And if that will take us there to tour in Europe, the rest will follow. I really really hope to see you at Ark Storm concert.
Katsu, many thanks for your time.
My pleasure. Thanks you all.
Official Ark Storm website – http://home.att.ne.jp/kiwi/arkstorm/