Splicing, dividing, subtracting… then adding, multiplying and generally cooking up one big mix of sounds is what Japanese experimentalists Boris do best. A case in point being all three of the band’s brand new albums – Attention Please, Heavy Rocks and New Album – each record intertwining with one another to create one of the most interesting trilogies in music of late. Just call it “extreme pop”, suggests drummer/vocalist Atsuo.
“Attention Please and Heavy Rocks were originally born from one album,” he explains. “So we unified the two albums into one album again. I feel that ‘diffusion’ and ‘convergence’ is becoming the main theme for the releases. Then there is New Album and several of the songs from that one are also from Attention Please and Heavy Rocks, plus there have been added some new songs in there.”
Collaborating with producer Shinobu Narita – a man often described as intense and hyper-charged in his approach in the studio – Atsuo agrees that Narita was the best complementary choice for a band like Boris.
“Because his work is so hyper. Basically, we gave him the recording data for Attention Please and Heavy Rocks and he worked on the re-arrangements based on them. His job was framing the music, the minute details of it, and then further placing it so that he can see the songs overall. He produces the sounds with a pluralistic vision, coming and going from those places. Shinobu conducted the arrangements using Ableton Live so we are using DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] software. At our live shows, we haven’t made so many changes equipment-wise but it has been changing a lot in terms of recording. We used to use MTR [Multi-Track Recording] cassette tapes, because it is easy to get that analogue sound. The tapes have a unique compression and distortion. They sound good. I guess the special thing we are using would be the Tape Echo. When we are touring, we are limited in terms of how much equipment we can carry with us but Wata [guitarist, keyboardist] and Michio [touring guitarist] insist on using a Space Echo [Roland Re-201]… These are big and heavy but they always carry them.”
Taking their band name from a song on The Melvins’ Bullhead and switching and shifting musically between sludge metal, noise rock, psychedelia, ambient and pop, Atsuo claims simply being Japanese usually influences Boris’ sonic direction.
“It’s so difficult to simplify it because it is inspired by what we have all lived through and experienced in our lives,” he offers. “What we are influenced by is not only music but also literature, art, movies and so on. Not only those cultural things either, but I think also the structure of Japanese society and being Japanese in general. Whatever the history of the band is, if people want to know about it, they will look it up themselves. It’s okay if you call us a strange Japanese rock band! When we make songs, we don’t care about genre at all. We don’t have any thoughts like, ‘Let’s do something with this genre and this genre’. If we do not draw inspiration from our own blood and muscles, from our own bodies, when we make sounds, then there is no persuasive power. The way we think is by not thinking at the time of creating. We think about it later. So at the time we’re making it, there is no meaning. I think if we were to follow something or someone else, that would be the end for us.”
Well, let’s hope not. Coming up to their 16th year as a collective, Atsuo describes Boris as a band that never looks back, either. Besides, when you’ve got a bad memory as it is, you don’t have much of a choice, he jokingly adds…
“I don’t look back at the past! I always use my memory for the stuff that’s happening right now. I lock my memories into the music we’ve made or into the memories of all those people who have seen us play live, I don’t keep them inside my own body. We just started the band to have some fun and that still hasn’t changed even now. Performing has become a job for us, yes, but I think I’m having a happy life. I appreciate our listeners and the people who have always supported us. We are still recording at the moment but I think we can announce another release soon. We are going to have a tour in Australia and New Zealand and then do some live shows in Japan. We’re going to play at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in the UK in December, too. Anyway, I’m leaving for rehearsal now. It’s been snowing a lot since this morning and I’ve been wondering how I’m going to be able to get to the studio…”
BORIS play the Corner Hotel on Saturday March 24 (soldout) and have announced a second show at the Northcote Social Club on Sunday March 25. Tickets are on sale now from the venue website.