Hanna Tsepesh: Hello Kate and Yoichiro! Thanks so much for accepting this interview and welcome to THE GATES OF METAL! First of all: how are you?
Kate: Hello Hanna and readers of THE GATES OF METAL. We are fine!
Yoichiro: Hello, thanks for your interest in us!
Hanna Tsepesh: for those who do not know the band, could tell us a little how it all started?
Yoichiro: AREA51 started out in the year 2003. In the beginning, it was just the first singer and myself, making demos together. I gathered members and we started playing as a band, but it was not easy finding the right singer. Kate joined, finally making it possible to realize the sound I was pursuing, which led to the first album Ankh, which was released in 2005.
Kate: My first encounter with AREA51 was on the web, the band was looking for a singer. Back then I was seriously looking for an opportunity in a band with capable musicians and well established material. AREA51 definitely had everything I was looking for, which is why I went to audition. I wasn’t sure if they would accept me, but to my pleasant surprise, I was given the offer right after I finished singing. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize AREA51 was a metal band until after I joined.
Hanna Tsepesh: What inspired you the most to create the lyrics and what process the band use to create the riffs, melody to comply with the lyrics?
Yoichiro: We usually start out with me composing. Most of our songs develop from a certain riff or a sequence phrase. During this demo phase, I actually work on most of the arrangements, and hand it over to Kate after I have a good idea of the song’s direction. She then listens to the music and start writing lyrics.
Kate: I am always writing lyrics. Sometimes a complete story, sometimes only fragments, the inspiration comes in many different forms, and I choose stories that fit the image of the music. Then I fill in the missing spots, and complete the lyrics of the song.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands? You have any musician that you admire the most?
Kate: I was very much into Madonna and Michael Jackson as a child, which came naturally because I was cheerleading and taking dance lessons. I also love the rhythm and groove of R&B and pops. I listen to most everything except for HIP HOP in the Japanese music scene.
Yoichiro: Yngwie was my very first encounter with Metal. Everything about him had a very strong impact on me, so there was a definite influence for sure. Also, IMPELLITTERI and STRATOVARIUS have both influenced me, as much as Yngwie did. IMPELLITTERI really inspired me in how to structure guitar solos, harmonies, rhythm guitar, etc., so I think I learned more as a guitar player. STRATOVARIUS, on the other hand, influenced me more on the song writing side, and how a band should sound. There are many other influences, but I’d also like to mention Symphony X / Rhapsody of Fire / Royal Hunt / Vitalij Kuprij, just to name a few.
Hanna Tsepesh: I would like to know if you had or have any singing lessons or any other preparation? You have an amazing voice, congratulation for your work in Area51!
Kate: Thank you very much. I didn’t have much training as a child, other than singing in the school chorus. However, I did spend hours in my room, singing songs of artists that I loved. If the singer could hit very high notes, I would keep singing until I could, too. Perhaps my training method was to imitate every expression possible.
Hanna Tsepesh: When you start to play guitar? It was difficult to learn? What brand guitar you prefer? Your riffs are very cool! You are a fantastic musician!
Yoichiro: Many thanks. I started playing guitar when I was sixteen years old. I was a fast learner, since I did play the violin as a child, and took many music lessons as I was growing up. It wasn’t easy, but I never thought of it as a burden, either, since I was completely immersed in practicing. Of course it was always a continuous trial and error session, lots of studies and research. My main guitars are ESPs. I also have Fender Stratocasters, but I need Floyd Rose bridges and 24 frets, so I my main guitars are the ESPs.
Hanna Tsepesh: What was the highest and lowest point of your career as a musician?
Yoichiro: The lowest point was probably before I started AREA51. In the early days, before the band was really rolling, finding members with good motivation was not easy. I have fond memories of those days, too, but overall not being able to create music the way I wanted to was a purely frustrating experience. I always strive for the highest level possible, so I’m never really satisfied. At the same time, when I look back I realize I was actually able to work with Rob Rock and Jens Bogren, which was a truly inspiring experience. In retrospect, those moments were in fact highest possible points. Nevertheless, I believe there is always more to be achieved.
Kate: I don’t really think in those terms, so I don’t have an answer to that. I am always grateful to have opportunities where I can sing.
Hanna Tsepesh: Let’s talk about the “Goddess” album. For people who don’t listen yet can you tell to our readers what they can expect from this new album and what are the differences between this album and the previous one?
Yoichiro: The biggest differences between the previous albums are the fact that we’ve really enhanced the quality in all aspects, and that we did our best to musically create wider and deeper variation. The first album was really a struggling effort, we didn’t know many things we needed to. A lot of work was put into it for sure. Our fans really love it, since it’s full of a special kind of energy. When we got to the second album, though, we were really able to sit down and go through the process with less stress. As a result, we were able to create a wider variety of songs, and with Rob Rock on board, were able to gain a little more international recognition. For the third and latest album, we really wanted to create an album with which we can approach the world. To further enhance the quality in every direction, we needed the help of Jens, who is globally recognized engineer with true skills.
Kate: With every album we make, there is an increasing degree of freedom. At the same time, the real core of our music remains the same. I think we were able to achieve this balance with our latest album.
Hanna Tsepesh: at recording studio, you guys faced with difficulties? If yes, tell which was and how as the whole process? How as to work with Jens Bogren?
Yoichiro: When I finish creating demos, most of the arrangements are usually done. I first give these demos to our drummer You, who then joins me in the recording studio. When he shows up, he is typically 99% prepared and perfect. The remaining 1% needs to be discussed on the spot with him. Then, everything works out great. He does such a great job, it’s really stress free. After that, I fill in the guitar and keyboard parts. I have a simple studio, so there’s lots of freedom in recording vocals and guitars. Other than a few songs which require pre-production, there’s actually no solid plan prior to the actual recording itself. That goes for both rhythm and lead guitar. I try to come up with cool ideas that work, as the recorder is in action. I am not a big fan of pre-production, to be honest. You lost that fresh sense if everything is worked out beforehand, and only focus on technically playing it well. After that, I send the data to Makoto, who records the bass. We rely on data transmission here, and don’t always get together, since he’s always busy with multiple albums for other musicians, too. There’s no issue with the way things work out, and he always manages to provide much more than expected. Finally, we record the vocal tracks, which I think Kate should explain. I tend to be rather stoic and am not easily satisfied, so the recording could turn into a very tough challenge, but I am fortunate to be surrounded by trustworthy musicians.
Kate: I usually decide on the approach or feeling of how I should sing, before actually going to the recording studio. Whatever I have in mind is proposed prior to the recording, and in most cases we end up deciding how I should sing based on the first impression. From time to time Yoichiro and I have to talk about points where we don’t agree, but it’s really not a stressful experience, it’s very much constructive and productive.
Hanna Tsepesh: One little curiosity: In your previous album “Daemonicus” your vocal guest was Rob Rock, so I want to ask the same thing…How was to work with him?
Yoichiro: This was such an exciting event for me! I’ve been an Impellitteri fan ever since I started playing the guitar. Especially albums like “Answer to the Master”, “Victim of the System”, “Screaming Symphony” are like text books to me. Ever since I started thinking about a 16 minute long song, I always wanted to have a male guest singer. With no expectations of his agreeing, I approached Rob, who appreciated our music, and agreed to sing for us. He was extremely professional, with tons of great ideas regarding the lyrics and melodies. He understood how to bring the overall song as close to perfection as possible, without us having to explain things in detail. We recorded Kate’s vocals afterwards, but since Rob’s recording perfectly captured our intentions, the rest of the recording went smoothly like magic. Among all the musicians who must want Rob to sing for them, I am so grateful and happy that we actually made it happen. I cannot thank him enough for what he’s done for us, and I am extremely proud of the outcome.
Kate: Due to schedule conflicts, I only had three days to come up with the chorus arrangements for Rob’s main lines, memorize Rob’s lyrics, and actually record everything. Doesn’t that seem rather risky? The end results was definitely something to be proud of, but I wish I had more time to work on the English. Either way, it was a great privilege to be able to work with such a legend. I can’t be more thankful.
Hanna Tsepesh: back to this album (laughs): How has the response been to the album by the fans and media?
Kate: People seem to be very into the album. It’s like bubble gum that doesn’t lose flavor.
Yoichiro: I get great vibes here in Japan, and hear people say it’s AREA51s best album to date. I’ve only started approaching overseas media, but the reaction has been very positive so far.
Hanna Tsepesh: If one of our readers wants to buy your album, what they can do?
Yoichiro: First, our album is available on CD Baby, at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/AREA512 The next option is iTunes. If your country has iTunes, our album is available. Finally, you can also purchase our album on our online store. Please check our Myspace page for that.
Hanna Tsepesh: what is your favorite music in this album and why?
Kate: That would be VANITAS for me. Second place for me is Begins of Dissolution. I absolutely love the feeling, worldview and melody.
Yoichiro: I’ve struggled with this question for every album, which is natural since I love all the songs. Nightmare, Sincerity and UTAKATA are very AREA51-ish songs which is great. Begins of Dissolution and VANATIS have broadened our style, offering a new taste, and were wonderful challenges. The ballad Miss You is great, too. I guess all of them are!
Hanna Tsepesh: What is your opinion about the metal in your country (Japan)? It is easy to get some support?
Kate: I don’t think metal bands can receive sufficient support from a business viewpoint in Japan today. We do have a lot of fans, though, who are into Visual Kei music, so our music is not necessarily limited to metal fans. We may have it better compared to other metal bands nowadays.
Yoichiro: The Japanese metal scene is quite unique. I think it’s a great place for foreign metal bands. Good CD sales, tour after tour. However, for domestic metal bands, it’s very tough.
Hanna Tsepesh: In our country (Portugal) we don’t know Metal bands from there; can you guys name some Japanese metal bands for us? What we can expect Area51 on stage? You guys want to play in here some day? I really hope to get a chance to see the band on stage…I think will be very cool show!
Yoichiro: Anthem and Loudness are more famous and popular Japanese metals bands with long careers. Onmyo-za and Galneryus have been around for some time, too. Of course we as a band would love to play in Portugal some day, and potentially tour Europe! Again the market here in Japan isn’t that happening, so we don’t do much touring, we only do shows from time to time. We are much more interested in playing overseas if possible.
Hanna Tsepesh: You guys know anything about Portugal and some Metal bands from here?
Yoichiro: Actually, I didn’t know much, but the band Waterland that you suggested was very cool!
Hanna Tsepesh: Great to know that! What is your big advice for a young musician?
Kate: I don’t consider myself an accomplished musician yet, but I also think that feeling that way is important. Also, trying to consider something is done, or being too conscious of deadlines only lead to monotonous results. It’s always important not to fear change, whatever people might say about it.
Yoichiro: Believe in yourself! Performing music and playing in bands will always have difficult challenges, but you have to believe that things will work out. Also, becoming an accomplished musician takes lots of self discipline, and you should try to enjoy being that way.
Hanna Tsepesh: Do you want to send any message for the people who going to read this interview?
Kate: Metal is a truly wonderful style of music. There are lots of fans in Japan, but there is much room for improvement in terms of recognition of metal bands. There are less and less opportunities like this interview, which proactively show our existence to the world. I feel very fortunate that people who are reading this will have exposure to many different metal bands.
Yoichiro: Thanks for reading to the end. I really hope you have the chance to listen to our latest album. I also wish we can see you over there some day!
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks o much for your answers and time. THE GATES OF METAL wishes the entire band a big success! Hope to see you guys very soon in here…
Kate: Thank you so much. I also thank god for giving us this opportunity.
Yoichiro: Your very welcome. Thanks for giving us this opportunity.
Hanna Tsepesh: You guys are very welcome! All the best and thank you!
By: Hanna Tsepesh
To listen to some AREA51 music’s and for future information’s go at:
Yoichiro Ishino MySpace:
Kate Cain MySpace: