Posted September, 2012
Tak Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba are B'Z
It’s a commonly known fact that, while America is a major consumer of high quality products from Japan, the Japanese people are avid lovers of American pop culture. Whether is fashion, vintage guitars or music, the Japanese people are enthusiastic consumers.
What isn’t commonly known is that nation of Japan has produced a highly successful rock band in its own right and is exporting it to the U.S. and the world and they are gaining increasing popularity around the world. The band is B’z and was formed in 1988 by guitarist Tak Matsumoto and vocalist, Koshi Inaba. In the band’s twenty-four year life, B’z have released 18 albums, and 50 singles, with 46 of those singles consecutively debuting #1 on Japan’s Oricon Single Chart. The band has also sold over 80 million CDs in Japan alone, making them the best-selling artist in Japan’s history.
Earlier this summer, B’z announced their release of a 5-song album in English exclusively through iTunes. The self-titled album includes the newly released single, Into Free-Dangan- featured in the video game, Dragon’s Dogma and has sold over a million units worldwide. The opening track of the album, Love Bomb was originally titled Ai no Bakudan and was a number one hit in Japan for B’z in 2005. All of the songs on the album have been re-produced with English lyrics to coincide with B’z upcoming North American tour, beginning at the Warfield in San Francisco on September 17th.
With the new album and supporting tour, I was given the opportunity to ask Tak Matsumoto a few questions about the album, tour and plans for the future.
With Into Free-Dangan being featured in the video game, Dragon’s Dogma I asked Mr. Matsumoto if that helped the reception and sales of the album and if this has caused B’z to want to do more of that kind of music for more video games or possibly movies or television. He responded by saying, “We've been working with many Japanese movies, TV commercials and dramas for 24 years. We love to work with any kind of film. We'd love to create music for a Hollywood movie in the near future.”
We briefly discussed the current B’z tour. During that discussion, I asked Mr. Matsumoto what current and new fans expect from your shows in the U.S. and if there will be anything noticeably different from the band’s previous three tours. The show will be a mix of both Japanese and English. The B'z will rock the house! I always love to play in the US. Not really a big difference, since my focus is to put out the best show each time. I’m looking forward to going to the East Coast.
With American rock and roll being an obvious and heavy influence in Tak’s playing and writing, I asked the guitar virtuoso if he’s been able to jam (on or off stage) with any of his musical idols. His answer, though characteristically brief, was surprising in its depth. “Yes, I've performed with Aerosmith, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Jack Blades, Chad Smith, Larry Carlton and so on. I also met Eddie Van Halen and Slash.”
That list of names is quite impressive, to say the least. Because of his talent and command of the guitar, Tak joined legendary guitarists Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Ace Frehley and Slash, to become the fifth guitarist in the world to have his own Gibson signature model guitar. the ‘Tak Matsumoto DC Custom Ebony” and it’s available worldwide. I asked Mr. Matsumoto what the reception of that signature line has been and what’s next in the guitar.
“I'm so pleased with this guitar. The reception is very good so far. The DC sold out immediately in Japan. The blue one was just released, but only in Japan. Unfortunately there’s no plan to release the new color in the US as of now, but the black one is available here.”
I was curious how many guitars Tak owns and what guitar does he consider to be the “holy grail” of guitars. He humbly responded, “I've never counted, but I probably have more than 150 guitars” and then excitedly added, “I would love to own the guitar Jimi Hendrix played in 1969 at Woodstock.”
As our brief chat was winding up, I asked Mr. Matsumoto what does he hope his legacy will be and how he hopes to be remembered and what the band’s goals are for the next several years. He enthusiastically replied by saying, “I hope my songs and performances will be listened to and enjoyed by many people long after I die” and, until then, “We'll keep rockin' as we've been rockin'!”
To see if you’re going to be fortunate enough to see B’z perform near your city, click here to see if Ticketmaster can help you out. Click here to read the Boomerocity review of the new B’z CD.