I saw real rock and roll in a grungy bar on the Sunset Strip, and now I get to talk to the lead guitarist of that band, Mayuko Okai. Hello, Mayuko. It’s great to have the opportunity to talk to you and catching up on what things you have going on. Great of you to stop by.
PM:Now, I want to talk about the new projects you have going on, but really quick, I wanted to ask about your last band, The Binges. How did you guys come together?
MO: I got a phone call from an ex-manager of the band “Squatcho”. They were looking for a lead guitar player, but he was trying to reach my ex-boyfriend, who also played guitar. I was like “let me try it, too!” but he said that they weren’t looking for a female guitar player. I encouraged him that I would be the right one, even if they were not looking for female. Eventually I jammed with them and I joined the band because I totally loved Dylan’s voice and his uniqueness.
Later on Squatcho became The Binges and I called up my old friend Travis. I told him that he should be the drummer for the band. It took me four months to persuade him. I knew he wasn’t a great drummer but I had a vision and thought he had the perfect chemistry for The Binges. Finally Tsuzumi joined The Binges and the complete line up was made.
PM : I first heard you guys at the Viper Room. A friend and I went to see a Van Halen tribute band. I remember as soon as you played that first song, I knew you guys really had a unique sound. Your riffs had a mean classic rock feel, Skanky’s drumming definitely had a punk rhythm to it, and Dylan’s vocals were just really raw and different. Tsuzumi’s bass was low guttural classic rock goodness. Did you guys have a vision for what The Binges were supposed to sound like, or did you guys come together and just go with the flow?
MO: We all had a very different influences but when we make music together we had a special chemistry. I thought that was a magic at that moment, and I still think so.
PM: What experiences did you take, good or bad, from your previous bands, and apply what you learned and apply them to your new projects like Boost?
MO: I could talk really long about this topic, but long story short: NO BULLSHIT. This will always work things out. You can feel it when you know there isn’t something right, and it’s best to always speak up, talk, and find the solution to move forward. That is the only way. If you are not 100% committed to the band and music, you should never be on stage. I sincerely respect and appreciate people that believe in us and come to our shows, and my sister and I absolutely wanna try our best no matter what.
MO: My sister and I were touring with Dizzy Reed as a cover band called Hookers and Blow a couple of years before The Binges were founded. During the tour, we met Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson in New York. We have been friends and they have been supporting us since then. Tsuzumi sent our S/T album to Don and Jim and a bit later on, they became hosts of That Metal Show on VH1. We sincerely appreciate their belief in us and for actually really digging and listening to the album!
PM: What other moments in your run with The Binges, or with your new project, Boost, were like that? Any moments where you guys met some pretty influential musical greats?
MO: We have so much to tell in regards to great moments that happened during The Binges era, but we equally had a lot of struggling moments that we had to fight through it. When the band is 100% tight, we can achieve great results but if someone start being half-assed, we can’t be a kick ass band. Basically, no pain no gain!
We did meet and jam with many great musicians that we respect on jam nights at the Cat Club on Sunset strip a while back ago, before The Binges were formed. Happenin’ Harry gave us great opportunities to jam out with amazing musicians like Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Billy Sheehan, Vinny Appice, Mike Portnoy, Steven Adler, Matt Sorum, Ray Luzier, Johnny Kelly, Brian Tichy, among others. We learned so much from them and were inspired in many various ways! Those were priceless experience. After that, I was ready to create own music by all means.
PM: Speaking of influences, who are your biggest influences? I definitely hear some heavy metal in your music, but the
riffs and licks scream classic rock to me, like AC/DC, Van Halen, and Led Zeppelin.
MO: My all time hero is Ludwig Van Beethoven. I deeply love and respect classical music. That is my foundation, and the reason I wanted to be a musician. I started playing piano at age five. I wasn’t playing piano as a hobby, I was learning three to five hours a day. But I knew it wasn’t it for me and I started composing music at age thirteen, and I switched my main instrument to guitar when I was seventeen.
My sister and I were raised by classical music and rock n roll. Our mom and dad were listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Judas Priest and ZZ top etc. So my sister and I felt really natural picking up guitar and bass to really play the hell out of it!! As soon as we picked up guitar, we started to listen and play some Cream, Metallica, Megadeth, Van Halen, AC/DC and Black Sabbath and so many of them because it was new to us.
PM: What do you think about the current music out nowadays? Anything you like? Anything you really don’t like?
Could I pass this question? If you really want me to answer, I will 🙂
PM: Haha, that bad, huh? No worries, we understand. We can pass. So, tell us about your new project, Boost. Who is in the current line-up?
MO: Seeking a singer again!! Haha!
We have met, jammed and auditioned many, many musicians. Most of them say that they are committed to the music and the band, but on a daily basis, they don’t leave their personal desire at the door, and they show up once or twice a week and think that they are committed. These situations are a joke to me. Also, the attitude is absolutely heartless and it doesn’t show respect for the music. That is less than a hobby. It is easy to say things but actually to do it is not easy. You can do it when you have the real passion. Many of them have great things in them, but if you don’t use it everyday and are fucking around, being half ass ain’t rock ‘n roll to me. We are looking for someone truly talented with real passion, hard working, and who is ready for anything.
PM: Are there any plans for a CD anytime soon?
MO: I have twenty songs almost completed and four hundred and seventy riffs on my phone! As soon as we find the singer, things will move fast!
PM: Any up coming gigs?
MO: We may start play as a three piece instrumental band till we find the right singer.
PM: Your single, “Boost” is also featured on the game Escape From Age Of Monsters. I’ve played the game, which is available for free (last time I checked) in the Apple store, and I think it’s also available on Android as well. It’s pretty fun. How did The Binges get involved in making the soundtrack for this game?
MO: Massive Joe Studio reached out to me, and said they loved my guitar riffs. One of their team member, Joseph Landon, has seen us play and he recommended us to the team. They are amazing people to work with. So positive and we had great times!
Actually, The song [Boost] will be included in a video created by Lucky Pennie, who is shooting a documentary of my sister [Tsuzumi Okai] and I.
PM: Thanks again for talking to us, Mayuko. We’re huge fans. Good luck with your future projects, and if you have anything new that you’d like to share, feel free to stop by again!
MO: Hell yeah!!! \m/
– Mayuko Okai
Buy The Binges Studio Album on iTunes
Buy The Boost Single on iTunes