Archive for the ‘Mono’ 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.

Two Minutes With Mothra

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Ahead of their opening spot for MONO at King’s Arms on December 10, we spend a couple of minutes with Mothra and find out what’s up…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Ambient, intense, sludgey, progressive, cathartic.

What’s going on in the world of Mothra?
We are releasing our debut album Decision Process in the very near future, and we’ve just released a 7? single and video from it for a track called “Splinters”. We are stoked to be opening for Mono, then it’s time to do some touring and start recording the next album. There’s so much new material we can’t keep track.

What motivates you to make music?
Life, boredom, inspiration from other artists, the need for pure expression.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Highs: opening for some of our favourite bands such as the Dillinger Escape Plan, Helmet, Russian Circles, Earth, and Jakob, and finally finishing our debut album. Lows: Almost disbanding a few years back, nothing much happened for about a year.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
Neurosis, Shellac, Slint, Dillinger, Sumac, Mono, Mamiffer, the Cinematic Orchestra, Massive Attack.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first? And why?
Reuben or Hugh, not James because he is vegan and possibly tasteless to a wild animal.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Getting repeated parking tickets outside my own house for being too close to a bus stop sign that hasn’t been in use for 10 years, and then listening to the council trying to justify it.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring New Zealand artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Re-open the Transmission Room in Auckland, on the bill we might have Straightjacket Fits, Semi Lemon Kola, Militia, the 3Ds, Nothing at All, Balance, the Gordons, Bailterspace, HDU, Lord of Tigers, New Way Home, and Shihad (if they play Churn.) Flight of the Conchords and Billy T. James could do comedy in between sets.

Noiseweek: Hüsker Dü, MONO, Space Bong, Gold Class, Porches

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Hüsker Dü might be reuniting. Then again, Hüsker Dü might not be reuniting. The long-defunct trio have opened up an official merchandise page and hired former Meat Puppets manager Dennis Pelowski to get their affairs in order. In any case, it’s the first time anyone’s talked to each other in a long while. More at The Minneapolis Star Tribune.


John Murphy passed away last week. A percussionist who began his musical career in Melbourne in the late 70s, Murphy had tenures in a number of influential post-punk, industrial and neo-folk outfits here and abroad, including SPK, Current 93, Shriekback, Whitehouse and most recently, Death in June. Photography and collaborator Zeena Schreck has written a lovely tribute to Murphy on her website.


Mega-publisher Condé Nast has acquired Pitchfork, bringing the site’s “very passionate audience of millennial males into our roster” to an editorial stable that includes Vanity Fair, Wired and The New Yorker. On another, potentially unrelated note, Pitchfork has deleted the contributions of one of its early writers (and former Senior Editor to boot), Chris Ott, who’s since become a long-time aggravator and critic of the brand. In light of the acquisition, Ott was raising questions about Pitchfork’s ownership of old published material, which reviews of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief and Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted. More on this story from Jason Sargent over at Gawker’s media news outlet, TKTK.


David Bowie is never touring again. That’s not exactly news — Bowie hasn’t been on the road since the Reality Tour in 2014, which was cut short when he underwent heart surgery in Germany in June of that year. Now, former booking agent John Giddings has confirmed that Bowie’s road days are behind him, though he’s still keeping plenty busy, writing new material for the Off Broadway musical Lazarus and penning the theme for forthcoming British crime drama The Last Panthers.