Minoru Niihara

Back in 1999 I was fortunate enough to interview Loudness vocalist, Minoru Niihara for my Loudness fan website–the first of its kind, before the band had an official website. I asked him a few questions about his career and he was very gracious to answer them.  At the time he was not in Loudness, and had left the band to pursue a solo career. It went something like this:

twocargar (TCG): Who were your early influences in music?

Minoru Niihara: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, a Japanese soul singer named Masaki Ueda, to name a few. I was influenced by early ’70’s British rock artists.

TCG: How did you meet Munetaka (Higuchi), Masayoshi (Yamashita), and Akira (Takasaki) to start Loudness?

Minoru Niihara fronting Loudness in the 1980’s.

MN: I received a phone call from an A&R guy who was looking for a singer for Akira’s
solo project in February, 1980. After a few months, I met Akira in personal for the first time. I had an
audition for his project and was selected. We started his solo project which turned into the band Loudness. Munetaka was a drummer for Akira’s previous band Lazy. Akira had already decided on Munetaka as the drummer. I met him when I had an audition in Osaka in 1980. Masayoshi.. Actually he grew up with Akira in Osaka. When we started Loudness, we did not have a permanent bass player. Masayoshi was also selected through the audition about a month after my audition. That is when I met him for the first time.

TCG: I own a copy of your album called “One.” It is a great album and features some excellent western musicians. How did you come to collaborate with them for this project?

MN: I was so lucky then! Anyway, actually my record company booked the whole recording session for me. They are all my favorite players. One of my big dreams came true. When I was college student, I was a singer in a soul band which played Tower Of Power numbers a lot. When they showed up in the studio and I was too excited to sing. I’ll never forget the moment with those guys! The Tower Of Power Horn Section is the greatest! I also always enjoyed Journey’s stuff. I thought Journey’s rhythm section was just great. Also, I wanted to play with some great rock guitar player besides Akira. I offered a few guitar players such as Eddie Van Halen the session. Unfortunately, he couldn’t play for me. I knew it. (Laughs) They asked George Lynch but we could not afford his an excessive, unreasonable demand.

TCG: What do you think of today’s music coming out of Japan, America, and the rest of the world? Has anything impressed you lately?

MN: I enjoy Rage Against The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and so on. Some of the stuff out now is great and some of them suck. It’s just like chaos everywhere. However, Chaos is not bad though. It’s very hard to survive in music and show biz for a heavy metal rock band in Japan. That’s for sure. I don’t think there are any really good hard rock bands anymore in Japan.

TCG: What is your favorite Loudness album or song and why?

MN: My favorite one is Disillusion. The album has very very very Loudness sound. My favorite song is Crazy Doctor. It’s fun to sing and very heavy.

TCG: Are you currently working on any musical projects right now?

MN: My new band is called “XYZ to A” which is very hard rock band. The debut album which is called Asian Typhoon will be coming out sometime in the end of November or early December on XYZ records in Japan. It’s distributed by King records. We’re touring in Japan and the Southeast Asia area until the end of January 2000. Now we’re trying to get deals with record companies in other countries. Hope you like it.

TCG: I’m sure we will! Thank you, once again, for taking time out for this interview. Your music has meant a great deal to me and I look forward to speaking with you in the future.

MN: Anytime!

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