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Significant Point's Gou Takeuchi: "…we need to keep asking ourselves whether the quality of music we create achieves the level we want. The rival is not someone or other bands, but ourselves"

Interview with Gou Takeuchi from Significant Point
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 February 2021, 11:05 PM

East or West, it doesn't matter, Heavy Metal is for everyone, and being the so called minority in a scene that is somewhat different, and not giving up, is like being a kind of a champion. There have been plenty of cases where it didn't matter, it would have been best just to put an idea aside and let it fade. But, when passion kicks in, nothing can defeat it and it will triumph. The Japanese old school Metalheads, Significant Point, had their goals set in front of them, and they made their first step, signing in Europe and onwards to their debut album, "Into The Storm", where the 80s reign. Steinmetal had a chat with founder Gou Takeuchi about the new album, the European front, influences and passion for the music.

Hello Gou, it is a fine pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing?

Hi Lior, Thank you for the interview!

Even though there is a positive future ahead with the vaccinations to the Covid-19, some might say that it is a chance to fight back the mutations of the virus, there is a way to go. How are things looking up in Japan in that concept? Are you guys still restricted, or locked down, in a way?

In Japan, the number of infected people is increasing. I think now it is the worst situation. Japanese government is unable to legally impose a lockdown, and they are just asking the public to refrain from activities causing infection.

Only recently, the government declared a state of emergency. It’s a stronger message, however, this is not a lockdown, but a request for self-restraint. I’m not sure how effective it will be. The medical system is in a difficult situation; I hope that after a few weeks it will get better.

Other than the massive degradation of the worldwide economy, inside looking in, the shutdown of culture, which is the basic of our world in the music business, has been taking its toll. Many venues and clubs closed down, promoters shutting down their businesses, and the list goes on. Do you believe that there will be a local live scene to return to once this pandemic is officially off our lives?

I believe that the live scene will come back. To achieve it, we need to take the right actions to end this pandemic as soon as possible. A number of people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and the situation in Japan is still very severe. I also realized how happy and important life was before the pandemic. I think what is important is to do what we can do now little by little

If there is an enjoyment on my part it is by getting to know new acts, and I am glad that the promotional material of your band, Significant Point, met my ears. Since the band hasn’t been active for too long now, what can you tell about it without unveiling the entire story of its foundation?

Thank you.
This band was formed in March 2011. After several member changes, the current line-up is as follows.

Gt. Gou Takeuchi
Gt. Kazuki Kuwagaki
Ba. Kazuhiro Watanabe
Dr. Itormentor

The two guitarists are the original members. We had released self-demo CDs in 2012 and 2014, and a live album in 2017. In 2018, we released 7EP “ATTACKER” from Inferno Records in France. And now we will unleash the first album “Into the Storm” from Dying Victims Productions. We don’t have the official vocalist, so George Itoh (Risingfall / Military Shadow) supported us as the guest vocalist for the recording of this album. All songs are recorded by his voice.

Pushing forward into 2021, you guys are set to release your debut album, “Into The Storm”, and also signed to the German label, Dying Victims Productions. What do you make of this signing with a European label? Have you also covered grounds in Asia when it comes to the album’s release?

We are really honoured to release this album from Dying Victims Productions, we got the offer in 2019. They have always supported us; we feel very fortunate for working with them. In Japan, the number of old school heavy metal bands is very small. But in the European scene, there are a lot of bands, so I have always been longing to become part of the European scene. I was so happy when we got the offer from Dying Victims Productions.

When I tried to break down the title, which I always do, I believed that there was no room for clichés even though it is pretty much straightforward. I see it as a push towards the belly of the beast, where there is a lot of what you have been playing, and you are trying to prove yourselves. Does that saying meet you personally in any way? What is your version of explanation about the title?

As for the title song, making the song “Into the Storm” was very challenging for me. I thought it would be interesting to include a song written in my native language Japanese, and decided to create a song with a unique essence of Japan.

In Japan, there is a music genre called Enka, which uses a unique strong vibrato and singing style called Kobushi. I wanted to use this element. Personally, I feel that Enka and Hard Rock have a lot in common. I wanted to give the song a magnificent atmosphere, so for the guitar solo, I decided to include elements of classical music concerto. This was also my first challenge. Like this, this song contains many first attempts for me. I'm very satisfied with the quality of this song. And this song became the key song of the album. That's why I decided to use this song as the title.

Knowing that there is no particular concept on “Into The Storm”, what is the chief philosophical element that makes this album whole? Which theme is the guiding light of the album?

This album contains a wide range of songs from intense speed metal to melodious songs, but I think you can always feel a kind of consistency. In the world of music, everybody has a different feeling from someone. This is one of the fantastic things of music, though, we need to make a kind of clear standard by ourselves. So I had a clear standard when I made this album. I thought it is important to make consistency in the album. I think I could do it well.

I couldn’t escape the artwork of the album, as it has always been a pleasure to observe old school driven Metal album’s covers. What was the vision behind the artwork? Who made it?

We asked Mario E Lopez M to create the cover art. We sent him a simple sketch, and he created that amazing artwork. There is a thunder sound at the beginning of the title song “Into the Storm”.  So I wanted to show thunder also in the cover art. The monster on the cover is the same as the one in our previous 7' EP. In the previous 7’EP, people are escaping from the monster. So this time I wanted to make people fight against the monster. Mario's cover art is a really great piece, which perfectly matches our music style. We are very happy to have worked with him.

It became quite clear that you are largely 80s US Metal fans. While the American Metal scene lost its passion for that direction of music, leaving the old guard as sole in the eye of the storm of Modern Metal, you guys took on the challenge the revamping that golden age. How would you say that his motivation and devotion to that area developed you as a songwriter while working on “Into The Storm”?

I said we need to make a kind of clear standards in a previous question. It means we need to keep asking ourselves whether the quality of music we create achieves the level we want. The rival is not someone or other bands, but ourselves. I feel passion and motivation to overcome this pressure and create old school heavy metal music that I want to express. My music influences naturally appeared in this process. I think I was able to understand some of the essential aspects of music. This experience has made me grow a lot.

Was the pre-set goal to make an album that would stick to one’s brain or rather also signal that there is a way forward with a future direction that would be taking place in future records?

I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do before making the album. My goal was to make an old school heavy metal album with a wide variety. I like to listen to speed metal like Savage Grace, Agent Steel, Metal Church, etc. as well as hard rock such as Rainbow, MSG and UFO. The song "Run For Your Life" is much influenced by hard rock. In this album, speed metal songs like "Attacker" and "Heavy Attack" coexist with melodic songs like "Night Of The Axe" and "Run For Your Life". It was a very challenging thing to do, but I'm very satisfied with how it turned out.

When I am listening to Significant Point, though its vast 80s influences, the first band that came to my mind was rather an underground group from Mexico, Voltax. A band whose musical direction is highly similar to yours. Therefore, I ask, what do you think that Significant Point brings to the table with its music in terms of something that is outstanding?

I think Voltax is a great band. I love them too. In the Japanese scene, there are not many young old school heavy metal bands like us. When I started this band 10 years ago, there was almost no one around. Nowadays, the number of young old school heavy metal bands in Japan is gradually increasing. I think this is a very good thing. I am proud of old school heavy metal. It would be a great pleasure for us if young people in Japan who listen to this album would aspire to play in an old school heavy metal band in the future.

It is not hard to notice the vocalist on the record, George Itoh, fits the band’s image and sound like a glove. Is he now the band’s permanent voice or was a hired gun? If not, is there a plan to keep him around? I would have chained him to wall if I were you here

George is a guest vocalist only for this album. He did the amazing job with great quality. Currently, SIGNIFICANT POINT does not have a vocalist as an official member. So we had to ask for help in recording the album. George was the first person who came to mind. He is working on his main bands Risingfall and Military Shadow. In tandem with his main bands activities, he worked with his best performance. We really thank George, and also his bandmates. Please check his bands out!

Talking about the sound, how did you come to reach that old school, and underground, feel of the record?

As for the guitar sound of the album, I had a mind "simple is best". I used only three pieces of equipment: A Gibson Flying V, a Marshall amp, and a Guv'nor distortion made in England. I did a lot of overdubbing on the guitar to increase the volume of the song, but I didn't over retouch the guitar sound itself. I think this leads to its natural and smooth sound.

And here we are with the soloing, where you two twin guitar stringers went while beyond imagination. Unlike modern shredders, you made it sound classic, and heart piercing, a lot of feel poured into these hot flamers. What can you tell about the experience of writing and recording such lead guitar efforts?

Thank you. The guitarist I respect the most is Michael Schenker, I have been listening to his great guitar solos in Rock Bottom, Love To Love, Looking For Love, etc. So, I wanted to play emotional guitar sounds like him. I’m making guitar solos with the mind that a guitar solo is another song in a song. Techniques are just to assist to play melodies, the priority is to have a good melody. I play the guitar with two priorities in mind: the emotion of the moment and always playing a good melody. I also like guitar orchestrations like Brian May's. So I did a lot of overdubbing. When the recording, I repeated to listen back and adjust the balance so that all the sounds are heard as one.

“Deathrider” simply nailed it, and showed the sheer power of the 80s with its magnificent might. What is your appreciation of this track? Is this song’s direction what we are missing in our modern times?

Thank you. Deathrider is the one where my 80's speed metal influences appear well. I think it's especially influenced by Agent Steel. I really like this song myself. It's a straight speed metal, but I wanted the guitar solo to be epic. So I increased the number of overdubs as the solo progressed, and in the end it sounded like a guitar orchestra. Sometimes I feel that modern music has become a little too complicated. Of course, that's great, but I've tried to keep a simpler attitude in my compositions. I think this leads the simple and straightforward direction like Deathrider.

Somewhat stickier is “You’ve Got The Power”, which made me think of 80s movies, a power to be reckoned with I am sure. What can you tell about the creation of this track and how did it contribute to the overall process of the record?

You've Got the Power is one of the more melodic songs in the album. This song is largely influenced by hard rock. The previous song "Heavy Attack" is a speed metal song. I wanted to create a song as a melodic side, so I wrote this song. The chord progression has a lot in common with Heavy Attack. As for the guitar solo, I tried to make it sound like singing. I also love movie soundtracks. I was especially influenced by the soundtracks of Top Gun and Over the Top. They are still my favourite soundtracks.

Let’s talk about past live, did you have a chance to previously perform in Europe? If not, what can you tell about the current live scene in Japan, especially when playing a variety of 80s Metal?

I've never played a show in Europe before. I want to go there someday. Recently, the number of young Japanese old school heavy metal bands has been increasing little by little. We used to play Loudness' Soldier Of Fortune, Pretty Maids' Back To Back, Savage Grace's Bound To Be Free, Anvil's School Love, Randy's The Beast, Omen's Deathrider, etc. When I play these songs, I feel the adrenaline flowing through my body, and I realize that my most favourite music is the old school heavy metal of the 80s.

Where do you see Significant Point going forward in the next couple of years? What are your plans?

I have some new good ideas. I'll refine them to create more and more new songs. I'm very excited about this because I think it will lead to an update of the band's music.

Gou, I wish to thank you for this interview and your time, you made an exciting effort and for an 80s Metal fan, it was a total party time. Cheers mate.

Thank you so much too! This album is the synthesis of everything we have been doing all along. Please check it out! Thank you guys for reading, please stay safe and take care of your health!



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