Archive for the ‘Boris’ Category

Interview: MONO

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

MONO are about extremes. Loud and quiet, comforting and crushing, uplifting and heartwrenching — the Japanese quartet have built a career on polarities. On their most recent releases — the companion albums The Last Down and Rays of Darkness — MONO fully realize the duality of their sound, from gentle piano melodies of “Kanata” to the post-hardcore flurry of “The Hand that Holds the Truth”. Before their upcoming Australian & New Zealand tour, MONO guitarist Taka discusses the band’s orchestral roots, their sonic polarities and channelling the sound of Japan.

You released Last Days / Rays of Darkness over year ago now. After playing that material for the last 12 months, how has your relationship with the songs changed?

It worked a lot, especially “Recoil, Ignite”, “Where We Begin”, “Kanata” etc. They made wider worlds and also made our new visions.

Those two records are companion albums – The Last Dawn is more akin to your uplifting orchestral work, and Rays of Darkness explores dark and somber territory. MONO’s music has always been about contrast. What draws you to that idea of duality in music?

The main human emotions are divided into positivity and negativity, and let’s say that they’re both 50/50 to begin with. If we have even 1% more positive emotions, everything will start to lead towards the light. To simply put, for The Last Dawn, in a minimalist approach, I wanted to express that regardless of your current situations or emotions, if you accept everything as it is and find more positivity, you will eventually be able to overcome all the negativity.

On the other hand for Rays of Darkness, I wanted to express that if you have even 1% more negative emotions or thoughts, the chaos will eventually spread and drag you down to darkness without you noticing about it. I just started to think that even everything is in disorder; there is something that’s always in order. I really wanted to express that to the world as art.

The two albums ended up representing the counter points in life. Light and darkness, hope and hopelessness, love and loss, the emotions which can’t be expressed, pain which you can’t put into words, happiness which you can’t simply measure. We also at the same time felt and hoped that they could be something to exceed the darkness.

Unlike your previous work, Rays of Darkness featured no orchestral compositions. What inspired that decision? Was it a challenge to yourself to see how you could write with just guitars, bass and drums?

I originally wanted to create something original, symphonic and spiritual like Beethoven but with electric guitars. So far, we managed to experience so many things, more than any indie band can ask for, like playing with full orchestras in New York, London, Australia and Tokyo. From these experiences, we tried something more complex and classical for our previous album, For My Parents, but at the same time, we started to raise some concerns. During the album’s American tour, we started to feel as though our sounds were like a spineless dinosaur comparing to our old sounds. Sure, symphonic music is loud, epic and dreamy, but there is something lacking compare to rock music, like the pressure and destruction they can bring.

We originally started off as a four-piece, and even though our concerns started to rise much earlier, we just took them as a required risk to challenge something new. But as we toured more, we started to know for certain that our feelings were right.

Going back to the original root was an easy thing to do, but also, we all didn’t want to do what we have already done. I really thought about this a lot. I needed to find a new method that could show my current emotions, and I truly believed that will allow us to see a new world.

Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy provides vocals on “The Hand that Holds the Truth” on Rays of Darkness. How did your relationship with him come about, and what led to that collaboration?

Personally for a long time, I always wanted to collaborate with Tetsu. He’s been a good of friend of ours for so long so I’m really glad it became a reality. Even during the time I was writing the song, I could clearly hear how his vocals would fit in together. When we actually collaborated, I didn’t really give him any instructions but he already knew what I was hoping to achieve. The song turned out to be such an incredible piece and we’re all very proud of it.

A lot of the Japanese musicians who gain attention around the rest of the world work with extremes – Merzbow with noise, Boris with their mix of sludge/slude/doom/noise/metal, MONO with cinematic and emotional post-rock. Why do you think those sensibilities resonate so strongly with audiences all over the world? What draws you to personally to that type of music?

I don’t know about other bands (we have good relationship with Boris though) but Japanese music scene is very conservative, and it won’t be changed forever, it makes us feel very uncomfortable. We have to trust own music and own art, probably this mind is making much stronger music.

I really love the dramatic, spiritual, cinematic and emotional music like Beethoven and Ennio Morricone especially. If I were to borrow Beethoven’s words, I think music is something that ignites fire in men’s heart and bring tears to women’s eyes. (And of course, vice versa). Every individual reflects their own life through music like spiritual travels, like every cell in your body getting triggered unconsciously. After experiencing fantastic movies, books or art, there is a power that allows you to see and feel new values of your life which you didn’t really notice. We really hope we can create the same kind of experience to people.

Those bands talk a lot about the influence Japan’s cityscapes and environment of Japan on their music. For Boris, their music channels a way of channeling the chaos of Tokyo and its surrounds, but MONO have never been about chaos. How have those surrounds inspired MONO’s song writing process?

We were seeking a sound that’s original and unique, not something that has already been done or try to copy them for that matter. We felt that we should create something that’s like a language globally accepted over countries, history and cultures. I think music is a very special gift given to us to tell a story or show something that you can’t simply describe with words. Sure, it might sound arrogant but as a composer, I write music that would save me, and also allows me to think and look for the meaning of life. And from that, I also hope to give the strength to continue and live to other people in the world.

You’re more than 15 years and 8 studio albums into your life as a band. What’s next for MONO?

We have a plan to record and release new album on next year.

MONO play Australia & New Zealand on the following dates:

Perth — Rosemount Hotel — December 4
Melbourne — Corner Hotel — December 5
Sydney — Newtown Social Club — December 6
Sydney — Newtown Social Club — December 7
Brisbane — Woolly Mammoth — December 8
Auckland — Kings Arms — December 10 — Presented with Under The Radar

Tickets on sale now from, Oztix, (NZ only) and venue outlets.

Interview: Boris

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

There’s no one else like Boris.

The Japanese noise icons last visited Australia in 2012, where they their third record, the droning opus that is 2000’s Flood, in full. But such is the prolific nature of Boris recording career that they’ve released three new records since then, starting with their 18th record, Präparat, in 2013, followed by their latest record, Noise, in June of 2014, as well as the fourth and final instalment in The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked cycle.

Though Boris have built much of their legacy on an aesthetic rooted in noise rock, the trio have a Bowie-like tendency for reinvention, flirting with doom, shoegaze, sludge metal and drone in their near-two decade career. Yet Noise might be their most diverse — and, perhaps surprisingly, accessible — release to date. In spite of what the record’s title may suggest, Noise shows Boris at their most melodic, embracing the harmonious along with the dissonance that runs throughout their discography. More than anything, Boris are about adaptation, change and progress.

Here, guitarist and vocalist Takeshi discusses over email the creative process, the live show and the future of Boris.

You’ve been releasing records through Sargent House since 2011 – how has your experience with them as a label compared to your time with Southern Lord?

Takeshi: Whenever Boris work on new music we have always been conscious of its freshness. Since the day one we worked with Sargent House we could find another output, direction, connection with new people as well as unknown music. It has been great and healthy to be working with them.

Last time you played Australia, you were playing one of your most well-regarded albums, Flood, in full – are there any plans to revisit Pink as it turns 10 this year, or are you purely focused on new Boris music?

10 years have passed since the Pink release? I totally forgot about that. Well it may be hard for us to play an old album in its entirety for the show unless we have particular reason or concept to do. Nothing is more than great to play new songs and sound which is being updated day by day, and we’d prefer that.

The compelling thing about Boris is the diversity in your body of work, from the Earth-inspired doom of your early work to your fascinations with sludge, psych, shoegaze and doom to Noise, probably your most melodic and varied work to date. What is it that drives that evolution of sound from album to album?

Simply we have just enjoyed our music. ‘Good music is good’ and as far as it still means ‘heavy’ for us it doesn’t really a matter whatever genre or category has. We have our own signature sound that only three of us can make and it will never end.

You’ve collaborated with some highly influential artists in the world of drone, noise and rock – from Sunn O)) to Ian Astbury to Merzbow and Keiji Haino. Who are some other dream collaborators you’d like to work with?

Collaboration will not happen unless there is significance or necessity. It all depends on an encounter or certain opportunity, if there is no mutual communication each other on musical lever then that is going to be one-way and ‘everyone is acceptable’ for us, which doesn’t mean fruitful. Luckily enough Boris have met lots of great artists like a destiny, we have respected collaborators each other before we worked together. Our latest collaboration is with ENDON, who is one of the most updated extreme bands in Tokyo. If there is significance and necessity then that will lead us to another opportunity for collaboration.

In an interview with The Quietus last year, you talked about the Tokyo soundscape and the vitality of noise as a part of the Japanese psyche, saying that “noise is Japanese blues.” Was that something you realized when Boris was forming, or did it become apparent later on?

That was recognized me when Boris toured outside Japan for the first time. The more I encounter other cultures and customs and with seeing Japanese culture objectively from outside of Japan, the more I realize that is crucial. Of course it is so loud in downtown of every city, though so many massive noise and unnecessary voice information are flooded everywhere in Japan and no one says it is noisy and makes any complaint against it. On the other hand authorities are very strict with low frequencies inside of clubs or db-limit at open-air show here. It seems to be more comfortable for me when I have been in western countries, cities have more quiet spot everywhere. In general it tends to be considered that Japan or Japanese people respect and prefer silence or calm but I think they are just patient, or try to be, with whatever it sounds so loud or noisily.

With such a vast discography, how will you approach your live show on this tour in terms of designing a setlist and ensuring there’s a satisfactory representation of new and old material?

Basically Boris play the latest songs for the show though it is pretty hard to decide setlist, in order to have both new and long-term fans enjoy shows at once. For our own headline show we can play longer set with various sides of our musical aspect and direction, and for residency show like 2 days in each city which is enabling us to show totally different set both days. Boris have always tried to play enjoyable set not only for our audience but also for us.

Noise will be almost a year old by the time you come to Australia, and you have a reputation as a highly prolific band when it comes to recording – is there another Boris album coming soon?

Yes, we are currently focusing on recording and studio work. During the Live Noise Alive world tour to support Noise, we have found new and particular vision and concept for the next album. It is pretty exciting to devote ourselves to working on it. I hope this one is worth for you to wait for.

Boris “Live Noise Alive” Australia Tour

Brisbane — Crowbar — Wednesday May 27

Sydney — Newtown Social — Thursday May 28

Sydney — Newtown Social — Friday May 29

Melbourne — Corner Hotel — Saturday May 30

Adelaide — Fowler’s Live — Sunday May 31 (all ages and licensed)

Perth — Rosemount Hotel — Monday June 1

Tickets from Oztix and the venues.