Asterism’s HAL-CA talks about Buckethead, Bootsy, Ozzy & more (Natternet Interview)
Good evening everybody, today we’ll be talking to rock guitarist Hal-ca from Japanese band Asterism. Last year Asterism released their debut album ‘Ignition’ which featured guest appearances by guitar hero Buckethead and funk legend Bootsy Collins.
HAL-CA-san, how are you doing?
Hi! This is HAL-CA!
Where are you right now?
Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan. Just got back home from school.
So what age did you start to play guitar?
10. I got a guitar as a present on my 10th birthday.
Why did you start playing guitar?
I’ve liked music since I was a child. I started to learn drums around 2nd grade of elementary school.
After that I went to live shows like Dream Theater and Judas Priest and so on.
I saw Loudness live. When I saw the guitarist Akira Takasaki from Loudness, I was so amazed. Since then I wish could play guitar like him.
Who were you influenced by growing up?
First of all, Akira Takasaki from Loudness, because of him I start playing a guitar. When I was in elementary school, every morning before leaving for school, I always listened to Loudness songs from ‘SINGLE COLLECTION’. Every day I listened to the CD and tried to copy songs like Crazy Doctor or In the Mirror.
And then Victor Smolski.
I really love his guitar playing in the band RAGE. I Still listen to ‘Sound Chaser’ and ‘Unity’ often. Especially ‘Unity’, I get a lot of influence from that.
So, most popular Japanese bands are Idol groups, what do you think about Idol groups like AKB48 etc?
Yeah, um….no thoughts really.
Good answer. Now, there’s loads of videos of you online playing guitar at home, what do your neighbours think of you guitar playing?
When I shoot a video, I play loud. I suppose it reaches the neighbors, though everyone knows I play guitar, so I think they support me.
And how supportive have your family been?
Very much, yes.
When I go home late from the studio, they come to pick me up at the station. And they are supportive of me practicing at home.
You met your future bandmates at a music event in 2014. How did you meet them?
I entered the event alone as a guitarist. MIO & MIYU also entered as a unit at a different meeting place. Then the event staff thought it would be exciting to match us together, so we met.
After 3 months, we started ASTERISM first live.
What are the advantages of not having a singer in the band?
No lyrics means no language barrier. So no matter where audiences are, we can deliver ASTERISM’s music to them.
Your debut album features funk legend Bootsy Collins and guitar hero Buckethead, how did you come to collaborate with them?
Bootsy discovered our live video and shared it (on his Facebook page). Then we asked him to join us on our debut album, and he offered to produce!!!!
After that, it was Bootsy’s idea to invite Buckethead. That’s how we made the guitar battle with Buckethead happen!
What was it like to have a hall of fame musician like Bootsy share your music and introduce it to a western audience?
We were all so surprised and very happy that Bootsy shared our video. It’s was an honor!
And you recently met Bootsy at his studio, what was your memories of first meeting Bootsy?
I was surprised, Bootsy was just as he was in photos, exactly the same.
He is so gentle and a great person. We played two new songs and ‘BLAZE’, which Bootsy produced on our album. He gave us a lot of advice, it really was invaluable. We were all so excited to play for him!
How much has his support helped you to get discovered by a western audience?
How can I say….. Many people got to know ASTERISM because Bootsy produced our album.
Have you had the chance to meet Buckethead yet or see him live?
No, not yet. I do listen to his music and watch videos of him on YouTube though. But I have never been to see Buckethead live. In the future, I want to go and I want to meet him!!!
And I want to be on the same stage as him and have a guitar battle!
Do you have a favourite Buckethead song?
‘Jump Man’, ‘Stick Pit’ and I especially like ‘Soothsayer’.
I love ‘Monsters and Robots’, listen to it a lot, every single song expresses Buckethead’s world. It’s very addictive.
What do you think of Buckethead’s guitar playing?
He’s like a robot that nobody can imitate. I really like his crazy onstage behavior.
Yeah, he likes to do robot dancing and nunchucks on stage, Will we ever see you robot dancing or swinging nunchucks?
I know, I know!
It would be interesting If I could do the robot dance.
ASTERISM might think about adopting some kind of dance into our performances!
You and Buckethead have a guitar battle on the song ‘Blaze’, any plans yet to have a guitar battle on stage?
I want to make it happen!!!!!
I hope so. Buckethead is a big fan of horror movies, do you like horror? If so, which horror movie would you recommend for Buckethead?
I love horror movies but I get scared, so I only watch DVD at home!
Someday, I hope to watch horror movies at the cinema.
My recommendation? It’s not a movie, it’s a folklore tale called ‘Three Paper Amulets/ three magic charms’. I strongly recommend it!
When I was 3 or 4 years old I was into it, I really want Buckethead to see it!!!
If you could play onstage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I cannot tell how much he influenced me!!! Even before I started playing guitar, I always listened to his music in the car on the way to preschool and back. Since Ozzy Osbourne is my idol, it’ll be awesome if one day I could play on stage with him!
I’d love to see it. How proud are you of your debut album Ignition?
It’s our 1st full album, should be commemorated because Bootsy and Buckethead joined. We all put our souls into each song very much, we believe it’s great.
I’m proud of ‘IGNITION’!
Do you have a favourite song from the album?
DAWN. For ASTERISM it’s the first time creating such a long song, it’s almost 10 minutes. Honestly none of us could imagine how this song would turn out. I listened to it on CD and thought we did good job of expressing our story. Dawn made me feel we’re going to the next step of our playing.
It’s one of my favourites.
Which song is the most challenging to play live?
God Speed you!
The tempo is fast and the shredding solo kills my both hands!
Your live shows are really energetic, what do you do before shows to get prepared?
Bang my head!
Without warming up I think it’ll hurt my neck. So I think it’s important to bang your head in advance!
Even after warming up, does your neck still hurt afterwards?
Yes! My neck hurts!
Especially on the 2nd day of touring, it’s awful!
Yeah, I bet. What do you do after shows to chill out and relax?
Well, I think about what to eat, then check the audience’s posts and reviews on social media, and then feel relieved about the good responses.
You often do live streams on Facebook, do you get nervous knowing that there’s loads of people from all around the world watching you?
It’s live steaming, which means if I make a mistake, it’s delivered to the world. So yes, I get nervous, but audiences are getting bigger and many people give us words of encouragement. So I feel happy much more than feeling nervous!!!
So, you recently toured in America, how was it?
Up until then, we were streaming live to the world, but this was the first time playing in front of an American fans. So we were a bit worried about how they would react to us. But once the performance started they were into it and made a lot of noise. It was so exciting! I felt our music overcome the language barrier and it helped me to be more confident.
What are the main differences between Japanese audiences and western audiences?
Straight forward reaction!
Awesome vibe, real response, it’s really fun to play for American audiences!
I would love to play every day in the U.S. if possible.
With Asterism becoming more and more popular every day, how long will it be until Asterism conquer the world?
Well, it’ll take a bit more time but ASTERISM will conquer the world!
I think so too. Are you ready to become the queen of rock?
Ok, well, HAL-CA san, thank you so much for talking with us today. It’s been a pleasure. I can’t wait for the next live stream and next album.
Thank you so much!!!