Nomura has been a key part of several successful bands throughout his career. He is the bassist for the progressive rock/fusion trio Mammoth, as well as the Indie Rock/Alternative band Smokey Lenses. He is the guitarist for the extreme Chinese folk metal band Voodoo Kung Fu, and is a solo artist as well. He crosses over instruments and genres in various projects seamlessly. However, with the band Squanky Kong, he would have to do this in between sets, showing how versatile of a musician he really is.
“It was very interesting being a part of Squanky Kong. I have never been in a band like this that switches instruments in between the set. I don't think there are many bands like this so I feel very lucky to be a part of this project,” said Nomura.
James House, a vocalist, guitarist, and bassist, was seeking band members that can play more than two instruments with the goal of forming a band that can switch around the instruments between the members depending on what song they were going to play. Nomura liked the idea, and found that it was not only cool and very interesting, but he also thought he would suit the project as he plays both guitar and bass. He sent House tapes of him performing, and was instantly selected to play both guitar and bass.
“Yasutaka is both a pleasure and inspiration to work with, having come a long way in a short time with his musical career. He has a dedication to his craft, working to push his own limits while exploring new boundaries in music,” said House.
House recorded all the guitar and bass parts on the album. At first, Nomura learned the parts note to note, and then arranged them in his own way. He could have played the same exact way as House had played on the recordings, but he decided to play with his own musical personality both on guitar and bass, adding to each performance. He thought that they would be more interesting as a band that way, and it would make more sense to switch the instruments in between. He thought if everyone played the same exact parts, there would not be much meaning of switching the instruments. He instincts proved correct, and once the rest of the band started adopting this mentality, their popularity took off.
“It was very difficult to arrange the songs in my own way but still leaving the original arrangements, but it was such a great experience to have,” Nomura described. “Everyone in the band was very professional and easy to work with. Everyone in the band is working musicians with great talent, skills and open mind. I got a lot of inspiration from them. I look forward to working with them all very soon.”
The band eventually became so popular that they had a live showcase in Hollywood. Many attended, including several high-profile individuals in the music industry. The feedback the band received was remarkable, with everyone in the audiences extremely impressed by the talent it took each member to flawlessly transition between instruments. Nomura especially not only could play guitar and bass, but he also played the seven-string guitar (the norm is six string) and the six-string bass (the norm is four), making him an essential part of the band.
“I really liked the idea of switching the instruments between the band members. James and I have a lot of things in common, favorite genres, bands, artists and the way of thinking about music, even the instruments we play are the same, like guitar and six-string bass. We shared a lot of information like ideas, musical approach, practice methods, and more. I have definitely enjoyed myself as a guitar and bass player by working in this project,” said Nomura.
A popular song, and a hit for the band, was the song Water Torture, Nomura’s favorite to play. He played guitar for the track, starting with funky guitar strumming that is not really common in Rock and Metal music, but he makes it fit quite well with the song. It also has some creative bass slap parts.
“The guitar strumming and the bass slap are often used in Funk and R&B music, but the sounds of Rock, Metal, Funk, and R&B are well mixed and it makes the song very interesting and original. I really like the melody and lyrics of this song and also, it's one of the most fun songs to play from Squanky Kong,” he said.
To hear what Nomura is describing, listen to Water Torture here, and check out the rest of Squanky Kongs unique sound. You can also listen to more of Nomura's music on his YouTube, Instagram, and Soundcloud.