|TAKARA was originally formed in August of 1987 by guitarist Neal Grusky. In 1990, Takara with Jeff Scott Soto producing and singing, entered into the studio to record new songs what would become their debut CD. In 1992 Takara added new members, Robert Duda/Drums and Gary Schutt/Bass who would become a part of the Takara debut CD. Zero Corporation (Japan) and Now and Then records (Europe) offered Takara a record deal and "Eternal Faith" was released in December 1993. This CD entered the Burrn Charts at number 16, and European charts at number 8. Things were beginning to happen for this young rock band.
After a short break the band began pre-production for their 2nd CD. Neal, Jeff, Robert and new bassist Carl Demarco, set out to pick up where Eternal Faith left off. In late 1994 the band entered the studio with fresh music and an exciting outlook. The band had some very special surprises in store for their fans as they enlisted Bob Daisley on bass, from Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow, etc to guest perform on 2 tracks. "Taste of Heaven" was released in May of 1995 and with this new CD who could deny this was a band to be reckoned with. Taste Of Heaven had broken into the Billboard charts for Japan at number 96! Quite an accomplishment for a American band.
A new U.S. record label, Saraya recordings, asked to release Eternal Faith and Taste of Heaven as its first releases and in 1996, now for the first time Takara had a U.S. label and the momentum was starting to build. Because of this, the band wasted no time in going back to work for it’s next release.
In 1998 Takara released it’s third CD "Blind in Paradise" through Zero corp(Japan), Point Music (Europe), and Saraya recordings(US). . Shortly after the release of Blind in Paradise all of Takara's record labels celebrated their short but very successful career by releasing "Eternity-Best Of 1993-98”. This CD was celebrated by press and radio alike to glowing reviews. The sale of the Eternity was nothing short of excellent.
As 1999 emerged, the Takara line-up went through an enormous change. Two thirds of the members had exited the band for various reasons. After the smoke cleared all that was left were Neal and Carl as the search was on for new band mates. Enter newcomer , Portland native vocalist extraordinaire Michael James Flatters and keyboardist Brook Hansen. Brook and Neal had known each other for years and always shared similar ideas on music. With the band complete, Takara entered the studio in February of 2000 to record their 4th CD. "Perception of Reality" was released on November 21, 2001 on Avalon Marquee entertainment (Japan) and Lion Music (Europe). Soaring sales in Japan & Europe once again proved that Takara has what it takes to be a permanent staple in the world of hard Rock.
Since the release of Perception Of Reality, Lion Music has reissued all previous Takara releases. The band also contributed the Rainbow classic 'Can't Let You Go' to 'Blackmore's Castle volume 2'. Shortly after this, the band took a long hiatus for professional and personal reasons. During this time Michael, Carl, Brook had left the band, which once again had Neal scratching his head in wonder. Bjorn Englen and amazing player & person was recruited on bass and has been working & with Neal ever since.
Now in 2008, Takara is returning with once again new band members and new attitude. Fans who have stuck by the band through all the changes and years of waiting will be pleased with what’s in store. The band is reemerging with several albums coming out at consecutively. First with the new studio album, "INVITATION TO FOREVER" on November 18th and then a live/best of DVD/CD. To follow will be the unreleased demo's with JSS from 1988'. In '09 Takara will follow up with it's next studio album already in progress. Takara have added Brazilian vocal sensation Gustavo Monsanto to the band, as well as Yngwie Malmsteen drummer and bassist Patrick Johannson and Bjorn Englen, as well as long time Takara keyboardist Brook Hansen. This next Takara album will be one of it's finest work to date! Be sure to check out the new album for yourself when it's released soon. Watch out also for Takara shows too!!!
I hope you all enjoy this new updated website. Along with this new updated web site, my personal bio page gets it's turn at a well needed update too.
My personal history is very simple. I was born and raised in the Sacramento/Modesto area of California. I come from a family of five with 2 older sisters. My first recollections of music came from my sisters classical piano lessons. I was always very intrigued with these weekly lessons. As I grew older I became very interested in playing an instrument. When I was about 12 I received my first guitar. Classical guitar lessons were my first introduction to music. After 2 years of lessons I bought an electric guitar and starting emulating many hard rock players such as Schenker, Uli Roth, Van Halen, Rhoads, and later Yngwie, and Lynch. All the while I still continued my admiration of classical music, which to this day has not changed.
In 1982 I moved to Los Angeles, and thus began my sojourn down the road of my career. My journey carried me through several projects in the mid-80's. By 1987 I finally decided to start my own band. Through years of working with other projects I had met several key people that would play a role in the first version of Takara.
After years of giging and recording Takara signed our first record deal in 1993. It was such an incredible reward for me to finally have arrived at that point. I always knew that If I worked at this it would pay off. Just to finally make music, and release it was just beyond anything I ever imagined. I was very pleased, as I still continue to be!
Neal Takara over the years has seen several changes in line-ups. While I am not a big supporter of constant lineup changes, I understand the nature of the music business, and all that comes with it. I will say that I am very grateful to previous members for their work while they were in the band. I would like add Jeff Scott Soto was a very big help in the early days of Takara as most people know. Bob Duda was also great pleasure to have worked with in the early days as well as a big help too.
My philosophy on songs has always been about crafting a great song that really endures time, and just presents an infectious vibe that draws people into it. My lead solo philosophy is mainly centered on complementing the song it is placed within. I really hope when someone listens to a Takara song they take something away from that song with them.
When it comes to gear that I use, I normally use my Fender Stratocastor guitars. I have 2 white ones from 1978/1979. These two guitars I owned since the early 80's.They both have been altered. One has a Ducan Distortion pickup and the other has Dimarzio HS3 pickups in it. My amps are all Marshall Plexi's. I have several 1968/1969 JMP 50 watt amps. I also have several 1967 and 1968 JMP 100 watt amps. I also own several Marshall basketweave speaker cabinets from this same period. All have either 25 or 30 watt pre-rola speakers in them. As far as pedals go, I use a boss super overdrive and digital delay. This is it for live gear. I prefer to keep it very simple. Sometime this year I will add a new amp specifically for clean tones from my electric guitar. Also, I am currently looking for a nice acoustic/electric guitar to use for recording.
As far as my private life is concerned, I have many interests. I really like to travel and go to new places. I love to learn about new and different things whenever I can. When IM home, I enjoy watching things on TV such as the "The learning channel," "History channel," "Discovery," National Geographic," etc., you get the picture lol ! I also enjoy sports such as Basketball and Baseball.
Some of my other interests include going to the beach in what ever form it takes. From biking, swimming, hanging out, etc. I also love to snow ski and jet ski. I really enjoy the outdoors whenever or wherever.