The Tao of Drum

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They exploded onto the international scene with sold-out shows at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Since then, Japanese drum troupe Drum Tao has been wowing audiences worldwide with some 200 adrenaline-filled shows annually. EVA WONG catches up with its lead drummer Taro Harasaki (left).

1. The taiko drum measures 1.7m in circumference and weighs 400kg each. Any funny or interesting stories to share about travelling with such huge instruments?

No matter where we go, anyone who sees one of our huge drums always asks: “How heavy is it?”, “What is this drum made from?”, and particularly, “How much is it?”. I always answer the last question like this: “You can buy a house for the price of this big drum.” They’ll stop touching the drum instantly and take a few steps away from it.

2. To prepare for a show, the 25 members of Drum Tao go through an extremely punishing training regimen every day, including a daily 20km run. Any tips for fitness junkies on how to maintain their exercise regimes while travelling?

The most important thing is to keep training every day, even if you have to shorten your workout time. If you can’t spare even 20 to 30 minutes at a time, then do just 50 push-ups or sit-ups, and do it a few times a day.

3. With so many of you in the troupe, what are the secrets to travelling happily together in such a large group?

The secret is to think about others, not only yourself. We work as a team, so we can’t afford to be selfish and think about our own needs all the time.

4. You are on tour more than six months every year. What are your top five tricks to ensure a pleasant plane ride?

Bringing my own music, listening to it on my own headset, putting on a sleep mask so that I can snooze in peace, using my own comfy travel pillow and taking off my shoes.

5. With your base in the Kyushu countryside of southern Japan, where would you recommend as the best sights and dining places in Kyushu?

The best place to visit is our hometown Kuju. You’ll find magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and the great nature there. I also recommend Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city, for delicious food that’s available at reasonable prices. It is well known for its Tonkotsu Ramen, which refers to noodles cooked in a soup made with pork bones. There are thousands of ramen restaurants in Fukuoka but Ippudo is my favourite. (The group collaborated with Ippudo to open Ippudo Tao in Singapore’s UE Square.)

6. In which city does the troupe wish it could perform?

Definitely in New York’s Broadway and in Las Vegas. These places are undoubtedly the world’s centres of entertainment. We also wish to have our own theatre in these places in the near future.

Catch Drum Tao – Art of Drum at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre from September 1-3. Tickets from S$48 at sistic.com.sg.


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