The world hasn’t been an easy place as of lately, with contributing factors such as a pandemic and war outbreaks, leaving people feeling anxious and helpless. From all of these recent events, TAKURO, the guitarist and leader of GLAY, was influenced to compose the healing album The Sound Of Life, in order to restore people’s mental balance.
The album The Sound Of Life was composed by TAKURO as a solo artist using only the piano. Thanks to the peaceful state of mind he experienced during the composition stage, it only took four days to compose. It was later recorded and arranged with the help of the Grammy award-winning keyboardist, Jon Gilutin.
Join us as we dive deeper to learn more about the purpose of the album, and TAKURO as a solo-artist composer, and as a band composer for the legendary rock band GLAY.
Your latest album “The Sound Of Life” was created to provide a healing effect to those who are feeling down, affected by things such as the Coronavirus and war. On a personal note, what were the emotions and events that propelled you to compose such a tender album?
Helplessness. The war in Ukraine. The Coronavirus pandemic. I think a lot of people were feeling helpless. I wanted to do something, but I felt like there was nothing I could do. That inspired me to write the songs on this album.
While you’re the guitarist of GLAY, we understand that the album was fully composed using the piano?
I find the piano a very healing instrument. When I hear a beautiful piano song, I always feel comfort and safety. Although I don’t consider myself a good piano player, I am very attracted to the instrument. Many of the ideas for my songs with GLAY come from the piano.
Interesting… On the contrary, even though you didn’t intend to include guitars on the album, Jon Gilutin—who you worked with on this album—persuaded you to put in nylon guitars. What was the impact of that?
Jon Gilutin did such a wonderful job on the album. I’ve always been impressed with the combination of piano and nylon guitars, so it was a brilliant suggestion. For me, it creates the impression of being carried along in the current of a big river, and that fits in with the themes of the album.
Why didn’t you consider including guitars in the first place?
From the start, the priority was always songwriting. I feel much more confident as a songwriter than I do as a guitar player, so I wanted to make songwriting the focus of the album.
That’s a great cue to talk about the songs on the album. If we take a listen to “In the Twilight of Life (feat. Donna De Lory)”, it is the only track on the album that has vocals. What’s the story behind it?
That song is about loss. Loss is something we all experience in life. Of course, war and natural disasters bring loss on such a great scale. I think it’s a powerful lyric, and Donna De Lory does a wonderful job in delivering it.
We truly agree, her voice is rather enchanting. We also noticed that the melodies she sings appears in the song “Pray for Ukraine” too.
Yes, that was a conscious decision. I meant to use the melody to draw that connection. Essentially, both songs express the same feeling of loss.
So how about the lead track “Red Sky”, what feeling did you want to express here? This piece is rather different from the rest, as it stirs up a distressful sensation.
Isolation. That was a big problem during the pandemic. People tend to feel more isolated when they are in a large crowd than when they are alone, especially in a big city like Tokyo or Los Angeles. It leads to destructive, often self-destructive, attitudes and behavior. I wanted that song to offer a way out of that way of thinking.
Considering all the different feelings the album is able to make one experience, was there an intention behind the order of the songs?
I thought that a lot of people would listen to this album before going to bed at night, and I tried to organize the track listing to kind of help people on that journey to a good night’s sleep.
That makes sense, seeing how relaxing and heartwarming it is. Although, on the opposite end, we find the cover artwork rather cold, where it showcases a wintry scene. Why is that?
The illustration was done by my closest childhood friend and GLAY singer, Teru. So, obviously, it evokes strong personal emotions for me. Of course, we grew up in Hokkaido, in that cold, wintry environment.
We’re sure that the album will help mend hearts, but how has the process of creating the album affected you? Were you personally healed yourself?
Creating music always allows an artist to get away from troubles and worries, so that was happening. At the same time, from a human level, pain and suffering are never far away, and we can never run away from them. Healing is always an ongoing process. We all have to keep up the struggle, but I believe that in the end, we can make it!
How has your experience of working on such a profound album altered you as a composer?
As I mentioned before, my focus this time was on songwriting, so I enjoyed the opportunity to compose the songs entirely on piano. There are always new directions an artist can take, and I hope I can continue to open new doors, not only as a composer but as a person.
Does that mean we will see these influences in GLAY?
Yes, of course. It can’t help but influence the songs I write for GLAY, but I’m just one voice out of four when we work together as a band. The other members have been really supportive of my solo career, and I think we’re all excited about the direction of our music together in the future.
Lastly, please share a message to the overseas readers out there.
First of all, I’m deeply grateful for the support we get from our fans overseas. We’ve all been through such a hard time these last three years of the pandemic, but I think we find ourselves at a very unique moment in time, where we can start moving forward and developing deeper ties between family, friends, and even across borders. It’s a great opportunity for us all to orient our lives towards unity and peace.
We at JROCK NEWS are happy to been able to take part in sharing TAKURO’s profound album, The Sound Of Life, and all the intricate bits around it. We hope this gave you a little more insight into why the album is so much more than meets the ears.