Night after Night by Anthem.
There are few Metal bands in Japan with the history, importance and sheer quality consistency than Anthem. Starting in the early 80s and continuing to this very day, Anthem is a band that has always delivered classic Heavy Metal of the highest quality and drummer Takamasa “MAD” Ohuchi was one of the key members to make that happen.
He left the band in the early 2000s on good terms and he has consistently performed with the band during anniversary tours, which is really good. And I had the opportunity to talk with him about Anthem, his playing style and a lot of different things. I hope you enjoy it.
First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to do this, Takamasa. How are things going for you during this pandemic?
I was doing live performances with a limited number of people, recording work, producing work, and composing. In my regular life, I was able to work out constantly and lose weight.
What have you been working on recently?
I’m always working on something to keep my tension, but lately I’ve been working on fast tempo ska beats!
For those that might not be familiar with you and your career, what can you tell them about yourself?
A drummer who beats the rhythm of everyone’s blood!
Anthem’s 1989 album, Hunting Time.
How did you get into Metal music when you were younger?
I liked Punk Rock and felt a little unsatisfied with Hard Rock. However, the NWOBHM movement came and I fell in love with it all at once.
And how did you get into drums?
At first I was crazy about percussion such as conga and bongos, but I became a fan of KISS and moved to drums.
Who were the drummers that influenced you the most?
Cozy Powell, Alex Van Halen, Kenny Aronoff, Yukihiro Takahashi and many, many more!
Which are some of your favorite albums?
The soundtrack of American Graffiti. And a lot more!
You were obviously a founding member of Anthem. What do you remember of those early days with the band?
I was invited by a guitarist to meet Naoto and I had to walk two hours to get there at midnight!
The Metal scene in Japan was obviously quite different back in those days. How would you say is different compared to what it is nowadays?
Each has its own merits. But I seek more madness in it!
Looking back on your first albums with Anthem, how do you think your drumming has evolved compared to those days?
I just got to do what I wanted. I think the execution has improved, but it’s still under construction. Like the Sagrada Familia.
Love in Vain by Anthem.
Which is your favorite Anthem album and why?
Gypsy Ways. The singer changed and we got into a new dimension. I recorded a good snare sound by producer Chris Tsangarides. That sampling is used in the Judas Priest album Painkiller.
As a fan, I have to say my favorite album of yours is 1992’s Domestic Booty. Do you have any interesting comment on the history of that record?
An album full of fresh energy with the change of guitarists. When I think about it now, the band was exhausted, but the impression that I got was that we showed our will until the end.
After the band broke up in the early 90s, what did you do for the remainder of the decade?
I went back to basics as a drummer and challenged all the music I was interested in. It worked very well and I had a lot of great experiences because there was now an element of being percussionist, which was something new for me.
Gypsy Ways by Anthem, with vocals by Graham Bonnet
You did 2000’s Heavy Metal Anthem, which included former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet. How was the experience of playing and recording with Graham?
I didn’t have any particular memories because I recorded them separately, but I forgot to stand on the same stage live. At the after party, I was deeply moved and cried.
Why did you decide to leave Anthem?
I didn’t participate at the time of the reunion, but I didn’t leave. If you want to join the anthem, you’ll have to quit all the other bands. For me, Anthem is such a band.
You have been one of the best and most influential drummers in Japan of all time. What has been your secret to improve your drumming throughout the years?
Acoustic drums never have the same moment again. I also like the fact that I can convey the message directly. The sound keeps changing because it is linked to human growth. That’s why I can always be fresh with the drums.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Everything! However, I think Anthem was exciting because of everything I had to do while being very young.
Bound to Break by Anthem.
Well, Takamasa, this has been a great interview. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last thoughts for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media?