collaboration Love's Denied
The Voublys and I have now released the
follow up track
Vocals, Lyrics & Co - Production
by Clare Estelle
Guitar by Tama
Bass by Andy
Organ, Co - Production & Mastering by Diamond Lounge
Plus guest drummer
Stuart Hemphill from Actifed
Love's Denied and other Clare Estelle
available from www.merchtablepro.com
Big Thanks to Alex Alhstrand from Montana Musical Experiment
for the Cover Artwork on:
(Photo Credit Liz Stanton)
Rocks - The Voublys
The Voublys Interview 6th May 2020
by Clare Estelle
1. Tell me who are The Voublys?
Tama : Okay. I’m Tama. I’m the singer, guitarist, main composer and the band leader.
Mana : I’m Mana, I play the drums.
Andy : I’m Andy, the bass player and also the youngest member in the band.
2. How did you guys meet and when did the band first start?
Tama : I found them through a web page for band members wanted. First, Mana contacted with me on the phone. I can remember that he said, “I’m a bad drummer, though I’ve been playing the drums since the age of 11.” I thought, What!? Since 11 years old!? But a bad drummer!? That can’t be true!! He must be no ordinary man!!
Mana : Yeah, Tama. I remember I introduced myself to you. Perhaps...I’m John Bonham without the beard... But actually there was a gap where I didn't play for a long while. So I told you “I’m a bad drummer.”
Tama : Alright, Mana. Well... To tell you the truth, I had a vocalist and a bassist already before I met Mana, though I didn’t still jam with them. We decided to play together at a rehearsal straight away but our jam session was really horrible. The bassist couldn’t play properly and the vocalist didn’t memorize the lyrics at all but Mana was the real deal! After this session, Mana called me and said, “Hey Tama, we don’t need them. They’re fired. We’d better find another good bass player and you can sing. I mean, sing while playing the guitar. You may not know it but I realized that you’re a good singer, when I heard your demos.”
So I said, “Hey, come on!! I’ve never done it!! I’m a guitarist!!” But Mana said, “No...Give it a try!! You can do it!!” So I became the singer too.
Andy : And I applied to Tama’s band as a bass player. Tama sent me some of his songs on an e-mail. When I heard them for the first time, I thought frankly, “Wow!! Pretty cool!! I wanna play in that band!!” So I practiced his song very hard and I had an audition as their bassist. I got really nervous at the time... After finishing the audition they were smiling at each other and said to me, “Decided!!” Tama : Yeah, that was a really good performance, Andy.”
Mana : I agree,
Tama : So The Voublys were born in 2010.
3. What were your backgrounds in music before you all formed a band together?
Tama : I began to play the guitar, when I was a junior high school student. I was 14. My friends around me began to play the guitar, the bass or the drums or had formed a band already. I’d been thinking that they were cool and I was very jealous about that. My ma and pa knew it. However, my dad was totally against giving me an electric guitar. He was very stern. He didn’t want to make me a bad boy but one day, my mum bought a very cheap electric guitar for me, a secret from my dad. Yeah, I was on cloud nine!! Then after school, I twanged my guitar however I didn’t even know how to play it and I hid it under the bed when my dad came back from work. I learned how to play the guitar in earnest, when I entered high school. I was 16 and my best friend taught me it. He was playing the bass guitar but could play guitar also. Also, he taught me about many types of music. Television, The Who, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Weather Report, etc...
He was my first music teacher but then I realized, I could play the guitar far better than him. He must regret teaching me how to play the guitar. After entering university, I joined his band called “Monkey Business” as a guitarist. Our band became famous before a year had past in our city. First, we was playing 60’s R&R, R&B and Blues. I mean, the early Rolling Stones, Them, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles and such kinds of bands. After that, we began to write original songs but one day, we caused big trouble on stage. We sprayed a fire extinguisher at the audience. Of course they got into a fury and a confused fight began. After that, we were regarded as the black sheep from every live house, because of this incident and we broke up the band. After graduating from university, I started working as a public officer and I’d been absent from my music activities until I formed The Voublys. I practiced the guitar and wrote a lot of songs. Oh, sorry for my long story, guys.
Mana : As for me, I have been playing the drums since I was 11 years old. My parents were jazz musicians. My father was a jazz guitarist and my mother was a jazz singer. So I would say that I come from a musical family. I became a professional drummer, when I was 13 years old. I was playing in the cabarets and night clubs in my town. I got the best drummer awards 36 times in amateur music contests. I went to Tokyo and belonged to a big music studio. I was playing as a professional drummer there for a long time. I worked hard in Tokyo but my studio didn’t pay me enough money. I meant to say, that wasn’t labor that is suitable for money. So I was sick and tired of the world of showbiz in Tokyo and returned to Sapporo. I don’t wanna talk about that too much and don’t wanna remember... Sorry. Then I quit my music activities. I had been a job-hopper. Oh, I almost forgot!! I worked for YAMAHA music school as a drum instructor once!! However, it seems that I’m still loving music, you know now, I’m with Tama and Andy.
Andy : My music career began from starting to learn the guitar. Not the bass. Perhaps, I remember... When I was about 16 or 17 years old... ? I worked part-time to buy an electric guitar and I bought a cheap one, you know. I liked hard rock, heavy metal and J-rock. In particular, I liked so called Vijualkei the most. Anyway, I studied how to play the guitar by myself and after graduating
from high school, I joined a hard rock and heavy metal cover band but as there wasn’t a bass player in the band the other band mates said to me, “Hey, won’t you try to play the bass guitar? You’re tall. So we bet you’ll look good with the bass guitar!!” After this, I decided to play the bass guitar and bought a Gibson Thunderbird Bass with my small salary and savings. I was playing in cover bands only.
4. How did you chose your stage and band names and why?
Tama : Tama was my nick name when I was in junior high and high school. When I jumped over the bar in the high jump during P.E. class, my classmates laughed at me. I didn’t know why? They said that my jumping was very funny and just like a cat and one of them started to call me Tama. Tama is a very popular name for cats in Japan. I was awkward. However, I thought “not bad”. So I picked this name.
Hey, Mana!! Why did you choose Mana? I’ve never heard the reason why.
Mana: You, guys. It’s a secret. I’ve been called Mana by everyone all the time. So I’m Mana.
Andy : Oh, I don’t know your real name, Mana!! Hm... Alright... In my case, when I joined The Voublys, Tama said to me, “What should we call you? I’m Tama. He is Mana. And you? It seems like you need a stage name or a nick name? What do you want to be called? Think of something cool.” I thought “What should I do!?” at the time but my last name is Andou. So I decided my nick name is Andy. ‘Cause both of them look alike? So I said, “Call me Andy.” Yeah... It doesn’t have a deep meaning.
Tama : Many people ask me, “The Voublys? What does your band name mean? How do I pronounce it?” To tell you the truth, it’s a coined word which I made up. My grandpa was Ukrainian. I forgot his first name but I remember his last name. It’s Bobrikov. I punned on his name. Anyway, I didn’t make our band name an ordinary one. Just like The Fireballs. The Street Rockers, etc... I thought that it’s not cool to.
5. Tell me your combined influences for your music?
Tama : Basically, we all love Rock’n Roll!! We love music that is raw, edgy and filled with energy that every one can go crazy to. Doesn’t matter, even if it’s punk rock, grunge rock, hard rock or heavy metal.
Mana : Exactly!! I really love Tama’s compositions. They’re catchy, but also having a real good essence of rock. Tama writes a song, we three play it and a kind of magic happens there. That’s all.
Andy : You’re quite right, Mana.
Tama : What kind of rock, are you inspired by the most, guys?
Mana : 70’s hard rock. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, White Snake...
Andy : Me? I like Motley Crew and The Rats...and other similar kinds of rock bands.
Tama : I love 60’s British beat bands. The Stones, The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces and also I am crazy ‘bout 70’s punk rock. I love NY punk rock and London Punk Rock. In particular, Television and Richard Hell are my favorites. Plus I’m have respect for Ray Davies as he is a great songwriter. Even now, he taught me how to write songs. He is too underestimated.
6. If you could each invite one musician living or dead to work with the Voublys who would it be and why?
Tama : Jim Morrison without hesitating!! He was a really charismatic rock vocalist. He had his own unique atmosphere. Black leather jacket, leather pants and his stage performance... He was a symbol of Rock ’n Roll for me. I would just play the guitar, I could jam with him all day long. But if he entered the studio, what should I say? Hi, Jim? Mr? Sir? Just thinking about it makes me very upset and clam up!! Hahaha!!
Mana : Tommy Bolin. Ex Deep Purple. He was a really great guitarist. Speaking of Deep Purple, most people would be reminded of Ritchie Blackmore. But I’m not. His guitar playing always comes to my heart... I truly wanted to play with him...
Andy : Hm.... I’m drawing a blank... Lady Gaga!!
Mana : Are you serious!?
Tama : Are you kidding me?
Andy : No kidding. I originally liked female singers. She has an attractive aura and she can sing very well and her voice is very powerful.
7. Is Clare Estelle the best musician you have ever worked with? (wink!)
Tama : Yeah, I can say that Clare Estelle is the best musician whom we’ve ever worked with!! Her work was perfect on Love’s Denied in every way. Concerning that song, after having recorded the backing tracks, we intended to record and add my vocals to it but I couldn’t think of anything. Not for the lyrics on it or the melody lines. I was trying... but I couldn’t... So we decided to leave it for later. We loved that one but it couldn’t be finished. So we left it alone for a long time and I got to know Clare. Me and Clare were planning to collaborate and make a song together. Clare said me, “Shall I sing for your band?” So I gave her the backing track. I was thinking that it would take a long time to receive her vocal tracks cause I couldn’t find good vocal lines and write lyrics which suits the backing track well. But she sent me her lead vocal and backing parts back quickly, including a rough mix demo on which her vocals and backing were on and I was totally blown away, when I heard her sound source for the first time!! I thought, “Wow, cool... Great vibration... Yes!! Yes!! Yes!! This is it!!” She was a real great rock singer. She never shouted. But I realized that she injected new blood into our song and there was perfect chemistry between our performance and her vocal. First, we were planning to release “Rock N Roll Shaman” as our single. But I thought that we should release this energetic number as well at that time. Yeah, she is a genius!!
Mana : Yes!! Clare Estelle is the best, surely!! But honestly speaking, I was afraid that this collaboration might not go well at first. ‘Cause I thought that her music style was far different from ours, when I heard her songs. So I didn’t expect much. But when I heard her demo for the first time, I got a big surprise!! Yeah, not bad!! Clare knows how to sing a rock tune!! The melody is so catchy and the lyrics are edgy enough. There is nothing to be desired. So now I think that “Love’s Denied” is our masterpiece. Besides, I wanted Clare to join our band. So Tama can concentrate on playing the guitar and we can have two good songwriters. Awesome, anyway!!
Andy : I think that Clare is the best collaborator for us!! Amazing!! She gave new life to our song!! I was thinking that song was shelved... But I can’t believe... Clare Estelle made it a super cool one!! I agree with Mana. I want to accept her as a member of The Voublys gladly. Also, her looks is perfect as a rock singer.
Clare : Aw thanks guys! Big hugs!!!
8. What fan base do you attract in Japan how often do you gig together?
Tama : Hmmm... It’s a tough question for us... That’s why the Japanese music scene now has its own musical styles. So called J-Rock and J-Pop. From 60s to 80s, It was under the influence of western music. I mean, the music from England and America. But it’s different now. I have to say that our music is very different from typical J-Rock or J-Pop... So I think that the young people in Japan regard our music as strange music which came from space. I don’t know about the older people in Japan... So we don’t expect the fan base to be in Japan. As for gigs, we’d been stuck in the studio for one year or more. We couldn’t play in front of an audience at all. Before that, we were playing gigs two or three times in a month.
Mana : Exactly, Tama. Western music isn’t popular in Japan today. If you ask the young people about Billy Irish, they would say, “Billy Irish? Who?” But I love to play gigs. Our new album has now been completed. So let’s put our effort into gigs from now on!!
Andy : Hey, remember, guys!! We took the 1st place on Japan’s music site!! Oh... I forgot the name of the site... And many musicians and bands in Japan respect us!! Don’t forget it!!
9. Can you tell me about your new album release and what the inspiration was behind the songs on it?
Tama : I wanted to define “Rock Music” in our own way and musical style on this album. Me, Mana and Andy... We’ve heard many many rock songs from the 60s ones to the present ones and took them in to our interpretations and outputted them as the songs on this album. Regarding “The Cuckoo’s Nest”, I was inspired by “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” the movie. It’s a very old movie but I think the main theme of it is current to the present day.
Mana : Yes. “Rock 'n Roll Shaman” will remind many people of The Doors music. Exactly it has The Doors flavor but it was made by passing through the filter called The Voublys. I mean, it has The Voublys flavor as well, you know.
Andy : Sorry... What you said” is difficult for me a little bit... But I can say that we have made an album which makes us satisfied. So I’m happy.
10. What are your future aspirations for The Voublys?
Tama : Well... I don’t know whether this album will beak through or not. But we’ve done all we can do. So we wanna do a lot of work on live acts for a while. We wanna play in foreign countries too, if we can and I want to keep on making historic songs, albums, whether they will be a hit or not. I think that music is art. Just like pictures. So I’m very happy, if posterity will enjoy our music and finally, we want to give Blue Pie Records our big thanks. We truly appreciate their huge support.
Mana : We want to keep on creating songs, albums which the people all over the world love and also we want to play in front of many people and in many countries.
Andy : I hope that this album will become a smash hit, anyway!!