Osaka born guitarist Toru Yamashita or simply Toru, as he’s better known is the leader of Japanese rock band ONE OK ROCK. Traditionally stylized in all caps, the band’s name originates from the time that they used to practice in their early days, one o’clock (in the morning). Toru co-founded the Tokyo based group in 2005 and they have since gone on to produce nine studio albums together. The band have achieved record sales in excess of three million units worldwide and have recently hit a career milestone of ONE BILLION streams on Spotify.
ONE OK ROCK has also branched out into other areas of show business with the band appearing on numerous soundtracks and Toru himself having some television acting to his credit. Currently you can hear their song "Broken Heart of Gold" serving as the theme for the Netflix movie The Beginning.
Initially ONE OK ROCK began attracting serious attention outside their native Japan on the strength of their 2013 record Jinsei×Boku= (Life Times Me Equals). Their subsequent albums have all gone on to international acclaim, charting in both Europe and the U.S. Their widespread appeal has no doubt been aided by ONE OK ROCK’s practice of releasing two versions of every album, one with Japanese and English lyrics and one entirely in English. Toru’s playing and songwriting has been heavily influenced by American rock from the 90s and early 2000s.
PRS: Who were the artists that initially exposed you to the PRS brand while growing up in Japan?
TY: I’ve been interested in PRS since I was a student and in my 20’s I got hold of a second-hand McCarty. From there I bought a few guitars and by chance I was able to meet with Dan Estrin, the guitarist from Hoobastank, and we were able to really connect over our mutual love of music and PRS guitars. He was able to further introduce the brand to me and that led to an even deeper connection with PRS.
PRS: How many PRS guitars do you currently own, and which ones see the most action on stage and in the studio?
TY: Currently I have around 15 guitars. On stage and in the studio, I often use my private stock single cutaway and the custom 22 or 24. For ballads my go to is a SCJ or an acoustic guitar.
PRS: What does the future hold for ONE OK ROCK? We’ve heard rumors of a forthcoming tenth studio album.
TY: We are now writing the next album (hush hush). We are looking to pursue a different direction that the previous album but at the same time have that signature ONE OK ROCK sound.
PRS: What is the current touring situation in Japan? Can we expect to see the band here in the states again anytime soon?
TY: We actually did a few performances recently over the course of several days but that was the first time in almost…. 2 years. I feel like it’s going to take some time to get back to that feeling of truly performing live. After releasing our next album, I really hope we can go on tour again.
PRS: If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice back when you were first picking up the guitar, what would it be?
TY: I think I would go back and tell myself to be more relaxed when performing.