Sometimes you don't get back email interviews, sometimes it takes quite long, but Takara mastermind Neal Grusky sent back the interview within no time! Let's see what he has to tell!
With Invitation To Forever you have a new album out after many years. I think, the fans are curious to hear what caused this big gap between the albums! Please enlighten us!
Initially, I intended to take some time off, and write for the next album. I also realized that during this time I didn't need to rush to get a new album out since the music scene was still in a rather good sized transition period that was not to supportive to bands such as Takara. As I proceeded to work on the follow up album, I experienced the passing of my father, and one of my best friends, as well as some major personnel life transitions. Due to these circumstances, this is what delayed the release of the new Takara album Invitation To Forever. With all the time off it was important for me to make sure that our new album was a really great Takara album.
At Invitation To Forever you have a new singer. How did you find Gus Monsanto?
I found Gus Monsanto through an online news release that I posted. I started the search for a singer a few years ago. Gus and I hit it off right away. Though we are far apart, we both share many common visions, and goals. It is a real please to work with him.
Some songs been a team effort. How do you work in that cases?
I usually work on songs on my own. Then sometimes I have them 100% done. Other times I might need to small section of the song to finish it. In this case, a member will suggest an idea for it. That's pretty much how it will work. It is pretty simple for me. I am lucky to work with guys that share the same vision as I. It makes things much easier.
Btw, you produced the album on your own... Why this time?
Well, I had a vision on how I wanted the album to sound. I preferred to do it myself. After 6 albums I felt it was the time for me to take the reins. I would love to have someone like Mutt Lange produce, then for sure I'd give up the reins, who wouldn't? But for this album I preferred to do it myself. Don't get me wrong, I don't have unlimited monetary resources, I have to budget just like anyone else who undertake endeavors like to in recording an album.
Most of the lyrics been written by Gus, but you also co-wrote some and did one on your own... It seems to me that This Photograph has a very personal story, is that right?
Yes, this song was written for my Father. Sadly he passed away just before the production of this album started. He was always a big fan of my music. He liked my ballads a lot. He would have really enjoyed this too. I knew his tastes in my music well.
So this song was dedicated to him. He was a really great guy. Loved and respected by many that knew him.
Why did you redo Spotlight? And will you redo other tunes in future?
It was the 20 year anniversary of the original recording of this song. I also know that many of our young fans are not familiar with this song. We rehearsed this song and it just sounded so great to me. I know many have wondered why we did this, but It was just one of things that felt right to us. I think its better to redo your own song, than someone elses. As far as redoing another older Takara song goes, I do not envision that happening again at this point in time.
On the first albums Jeff Scott Soto was Takara's singer - and he still helps out. It seems that you are long-time friends... How did you initially get hooked up?
I met Jeff in 1984 through a really good friend. Jeff has just joined Yngwie's band.
We have remained close friends ever since. He is a living legend, and the type of singer that happens only once in a lifetime I believe.
Coming back after a longer break indicates, in my opinion, a kind of re-start... And that suggests that there will soon be more of Takara, right?
Yes, for sure. I am currently working on new songs for the next album. We are currently planning shows. Also, planning release of some extremely rare and unreleased Takara material that very few people have ever heard or know about. Our fans are in a for a big and fun surprise.
Are you going to hit the road? Can we expect to see Takara live?
We currently are in the middle of plans for shows in Europe, U.S. and Brazil. Please keep posted to the Takara websites for details as they emerge. www.takararocks.com or www.myspace.com/takararocks
If you would get the offer - and schedules / money wouldn't be a problem - would you like to go on tour as special guest of Jeff Scott Soto? I guess, the fans would love the package...
In a second! Nothing to think about. I wish that was an offer right now. Anyone out there that would like to do this, in case you were wondering what my answer is lol YES!
Now as the album is out for quite awhile, are you satisfied with the feedback you got?
I think the fans have been pleased judging from their response to me, and the band.
The journalists on the other hand are another story. Some said this album should be album of the year, and others didn't agree at all. It was really quite all over the place.
I am ok with this. The next album I think will blow them all away.
With the internet its easier to stay in touch. Is the feedback from fans encouraging you to work 'faster'? I don't mean to rush things, just fueling motivation...
Yes, the internet creates an insatiable appetite more than ever before from the fans. We appreciate their appetite, desire for new music. Who wouldn't?
On the other hand it inspires me a lot. It is very rewarding for me personally to know
People out there are eager to have something new to listen to. Also, it great to contact on an individual basis with each fan that contacts us. It has been the base of some long lasting friendship for me. Some that go back to release of the first album in '92.
So what's on your schedule for the next couple of months?
I will be writing songs for the next Takara studio album. I will be promoting still for this one. We will be kicking off a rather large campaign for the U.S. radio. This is something we have not ever done yet. We also will be scheduling shows in support of this album. Along with this I will be working on putting together a package of rare and unreleased material for release sometime soon. Along with that I have some other side projects that have asked me to participate on soon. So it will be very busy for me.
Seems that soon there will be more about Takara... Hopefully some shows... a tour... At least a new album is on the way and so the chances for a tour are getting better. And perhaps there is a chance for Takara to tour with Jeff Scott Soto... would be awesome!