“Well actually I have got very good reactions!” enthused guitarist Nozomu Wakai, better known for his band moniker Destinia, speaking about his third album ‘Metal Souls’. “It’s the first time that I can finally bring my music to metalheads all around the world, and I am way beyond happy!”
Wakai’s name and talent are held in high regard throughout Japan, where he is close to metal royalty and known for his contribution to countless compositions and productions for Japan’s leading musicians and anime. With ‘Metal Souls’ he is looking branch out to the rest of the world while redefining his love for the heavy genre.
“I truly love HR/HM music history,” he gushed, “so my goal is to leave my name impressed in its history. That’s why I say that I am still far away from my goal. I think that I still have a lot of experience and a challenge to face up to. With my music, I wish to reach all the HR/HM fans all over the world and create an album that can be called a ‘Masterpiece’ from here to eternity.”
While this may seem a lofty goal, Wakai has assembled an impressive line-up of musicians to help in his quest. Featuring Ronnie Romero (Rainbow) on vocals, Marco Mendoza (The Dead Daisies, Thin Lizzy) on bass, and Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne) on drums, Destinia not only has an international flavour but also a combination of respected, talented musicians. It is a virtual supergroup aside from Wakai, whose ability far exceeds his notoriety outside of Japan.
“After releasing my first two albums in Japan my wish was to debut on a worldwide scale so I decided to go on to a new way,” he explained. “That’s why I thought to change everything in Destinia. At first, when I was thinking for a vocalist I found Ronnie at Rainbow’s reunion live. I felt he had an amazing voice so I thought I really wanted to write songs with him. When he came to Japan as Lords Of Black, I contacted him. Then I made the demos and sent it to him and accepted my offer right away! Next, I started to write the songs for ‘Metal Souls’. It was during that process that I came up with the new Destinia concept, ‘Classic Modern’. It combines classic metal styles in 80’s-90’s which influenced me with modern styles. It’s as if the Rock Star of that time has been revived from the past! I thought that if there were two people that better would fit this concept and rhythm section, with no doubt they were Tommy and Marco. They are legendary musicians who have seen the great music scene since the 80’s. A perfect match for someone like me, reviving from the 80’s huh? (laughs) I thought they would hardly accept my proposal, but I didn’t want to regret it later, so I made them an offer. In the beginning I thought they could participate only on a few songs, but after listening to my demos they offered to play all the tracks and not only that, they also praised my music! I am so honored that I could create ‘Metal Souls’ with these members!”
As a whole, the band members create Destinia, but Wakai admits each of them held their own attraction when considering the bands’ composition.
“Ronnie’s voice is quite fascinating,” he said. “I love to compose songs and also have special skills for this, but his voice gave me a new imagination. I could say that the musicality of this new Destinia has been decided by Ronnie’s voice. As for Marco, of course, he is a great bassist and was very friendly with me. The recording went very smoothly, and as he has also a good voice, his bass sounds are like actually singing a song. Even before completing the album, we talked about a lot of things including a show. Tommy absolutely played at his best!! He included many ideas so the songs turned out very well, and even for the mixing, he gave me some advice. It’s thanks to Tommy and Marco that I could reinforce the concept of ‘Classic Modern’! I could feel so especially when the album was finished.”
Despite having such talent at his disposal, Wakai remains the primary songwriter and conductor of the band’s music, although he did allow the others to flesh out his ideas.
“What I did first for this album is everything!” he laughed. “I don’t use the guitar when I compose. I only think about the vocalist and what I want to convey with my music. The rest easily comes out in my everyday life, then songs start to play in my head like a radio, almost in a complete state. After I have an idea, I create demos based on that. The first time I play my guitar is when I have to put the guitar parts on the demo. When we were recording, I made sure that everyone was following the demos, but then I let them play freely, so did I. In doing like this, I can expect a work that exceeds my first expectations.”
Despite playing guitar for more than twenty years, Wakai maintains that regardless of how much music you create, the inherent magic that is involved with the instrument is something that continues to drive his passion.
“The most important thing is what I want to express and tell people through my music,” he mused ”It’s similar to communicating something with a picture. As long as there is something that I wish to tell, I will always have ideas. Practice is also important, but it’s more important what’s inside me. For example, if you play a single note like A note, a sound would differ by techniques and emotions. I am also a graphic designer and I’ve designed Michael Schenker’s merchandise. So when I saw his playing, it seems like his guitar is alive. Life and guitar playing are two sides of the same coin. That’s why I think that I still have to experience and challenge many things, and not forget what I learned in my life. Doing it that way, my HR/HM world will last forever.”
Wakai has been hailed globally as the guitarist to bring forward authentic and melodic metal into the 21st Century, a compliment that he seemingly takes in his stride.
“I am so grateful to hear that!” he exclaimed. “Again I am honored of your praising! Perhaps I think that I’ve accepted from the fact that I try to establish myself in the history of HR/HM. I’ve learned a lot of HR/HM history, listened to a lot of music, respected my guitar heroes, and these experiences made myself. My music is basically a modern-day metal cyborg made up of a combination of 80’s-90’s metal elements. You could even say that I have no other musical influences. I think that the metal music that I want to listen and compose is what metalheads in the world demand.”
While expressing his desire to take Destinia to a worldwide audience, Wakai admits that personal schedules make the process of executing such a thing difficult.
“I am still talking with an agent for the world tour,” he revealed, “but at the moment we can just confirm the first Japan show on 21st January 2019 in Tokyo with the ‘Metal Souls’ line up of course! As I said before, everyone has different hectic schedules so it may be difficult to perform other shows all together, but I would love to do a show in Australia so if any concert organizer is reading this interview, please make your offer! (laughs) If it happened, I definitely want everyone to come to see the show!! I look forward to meeting all the Australian metalheads! Keep it Metal!”
‘Metal Souls’ is out now !
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