Straight out of Tokyo, with their ‘Sexy, Bad and Heavy’ concept, LOKA are an alternative hard rock group that is restless in their approach to music, by using styles as diverse as digital hardcore, EDM, House music and Hip Hop.
The group originally came into existence during early June of 2012, with the sole official members being Kihiro on lead vocals and Ken’ichi on drums. In August of the same year, the band released their debut EP ‘01’, before building upon its immediate popularity by embarking on a national tour with 40 shows, during which they released their first full-length album, ‘Enflame’ on November 7th.
In April of 2013, the group expanded with bassist Katsumi joining their ranks, before the proceeding to perform in Taiwan and Indonesia. By the end of the year, they hit the road again, only this time travelling through Europe during November, playing at two Japanese Expos in Belgium and France, before taking centre stage at their own shows in Germany and Austria.
Then, in 2014, the group made the next step up by going on their ‘Echoez’ world tour, with sixteen shows across ten countries starting in June. Having already released a mix album entitled ‘Criss X Cross’ in July, the ‘Echoez’ tour was a major showcase for their second album ‘Quattro’, which saw its release in September. Since then, the band has returned to the national circuit in order to play 45 dates to promote the album, as it continues to sell at an impressive rate.
On lead vocals is Kihiro, a former member of the band Supe who garnered a huge following on the American circuit, having formed in Long Beach, California during 2003. Supe would go on to make four albums over the course of six years, during which time they toured the States extensively, including one major slot on the 2008 Vans Warped Tour. Kihiro also sang for undivide in 2012, a project band lead by LEDA, ex. Deluhi, releasing two albums, while bringing his Americanised style of singing to LOKA who debuted in 2012.
Ken’ichi, the band’s drummer and part of the original official line-up, prior to LOKA performed in a later incarnation of the group Sex Macnhineguns from 2007 until 2012. During his period in this group, he saw much success on the Japanese billboard charts with the three albums that they released, while also performing 60 to 100 shows each year. He works regularly as a studio and session musician for various groups.
Katsumi first debuted as a member of Clayfish in 2004, performing bass with them until they dissolved in 2006. After this, he worked with such groups as Rize, Deftech and 10-Feet, until he joined LOKA in April of 2013.
Sin first came to prominence in 2010 as a studio musician, before joining the visual kei band, Wizard Spring in 2012, who released three albums before disbanding. After this, he began working with bands such as Diaura and DewelJewel. Soon thereafter, he joined LOKA as a support musician during April of 2013 and became an official member in August of the same year.
It has been just over two years since LOKA have formed already in this time they have displayed immense creativity in how they approach the genre of hard rock. By merging a heavy metal base with several electronic styles, they have successfully managed to show how such a genre is still a ripe group for experimentation, without needing to become inaccessible in pushing the envelope. This appeal is something that is hard to come by, wherein a group can be both exciting and fun, whilst still being extremely forward thinking. So while still in their early days, seeing what LOKA have produced so far, it is safe to say that they are nowhere near staying put with a singular sound anytime soon.
Michael Lanigan – December 2014