If one statement can be made about Boris, it’s that they aren’t afraid to experiment with their sound. From their release of Absolutego in 1996 and onward, watching Boris release album after album on a fantastic genre bender was a treat to ears across the globe. Every release sounded new, like they were making some challenge to the standards of the musical world around them whilst posing the same challenge to themselves. Flood’s careful dance between minimalism and roaring doom, Akuma no Ita’s in your face thrashy rock, Feedbacker’s storm of howling riffs, dynamic song structure and all the albums in between - all of these records became favourites amongst fans and critics alike before it all lead up to a pinnacle. Then it happened. Pink was released, taking the best parts of their previous records with even more genre experimentation to create something that had a dash of shoegaze, a hearty twist of sludgy rock and a whole lot of ball-tearing riffs. It was fun, full of dynamics and captured everything there was to love about the band.
Just over 20 years and 28 albums later (not including collaborations), Boris are still alive and kicking. They’ve just announced the release of their upcoming album Dear along with celebrating the 10th birthday of Pink on a gargantuan world tour, only now reaching Australian shores. LIFE IS NOISE caught up with multi-instrumentalist Takeshi for a chat about the making of Pink and what makes Japan’s masters of experimentation tick.
Q: One of my favourite things about BORIS is that you guys aren’t afraid to experiment with your music. You change styles album by album, sometimes even song by song. Out of all the different styles of music you play, what do you like performing most?
T: Recently I suppose I like playing slow songs again with a feeling of tension... the way each member’s sense of timing is slightly out of sync, sounds from the amps interfering with each other, the muddiness, stagnation, and waves of sound born from them... I mean, I feel it’s the most congenial to me.
Q: Looking back on Pink ten years later, what are some of the thoughts you were all having before recording the album?
T: Years before Pink was released, we were in the process of increasing the frequency of our touring and pace of putting out releases, and as you might expect once Pink came out we really sped up even faster. As we had been thinking, we went forward with the process of self-recording and self-producing, and the constant praise we got after that – the recognition gave us confidence, and so we continue to create carrying that feeling.
Q: Do you think you would have done anything differently when recording Pink?
T: Of course. We usually only take interest in doing something new, and even at this moment while answering these interview questions we are thinking about our next plan.
Q: Do you have a favourite song on the album, or a story about a particular song?
T: Whenever we play the title track Pink, the opening riff always gets everyone going crazy, so I feel it’s kind of a masterpiece in that respect. And then Farewell, I suppose. It was used in a Jim Jarmusch film and another one by a Japanese director, and it’s a deep song that also has emotional attachment for me personally. I can’t believe how raw the recording is, but, there are various miracles that occurred in it, and as a result that is the recording we went with. I also think it is a song that has been nurtured by our listeners and audience.
Q: A lot of publications said that Pink was your best album at the time it was released, also noting that it was the most accessible album as well. What was your response to that?
T: Well, certainly at a glance I think Pink is a catchy album. However, to us there is a lot of enigma wrapped in it – how could we play it (or record it) to bring it to completion? Even after thorough investigation, still now there is no correct answer. I think perhaps all of that mystery contained in Pink – the part that is like rock magic – is what has fascinated so many people.
Q: Out of all the albums that you’ve released, what would you say is your favourite and why?
T: Well, that’s difficult to say. I mean, I like all of them. Conversely, we wouldn’t release something that we didn’t like. At the present time my feeling is that our new album that will be released this summer is a masterwork. We hope people are looking forward to it.
Q: Feedbacker is possibly my all-time favourite Boris album and got me into drone and doom music. What goes through your minds collectively when writing drone and doom based tracks?
T: We’ve never written songs giving particular thought to whether they will be doom or drone or something else. We are always just led by the sounds and by chance it might be slow, and so the mood of that occasion brings with it a lot of sustain. For us it’s not about “What kind of riff should we play?”, but rather it’s about the sound expression within each measure and between each measure, the manner of pushing on the frets, the manner of picking, the manner the strings oscillate... all of that comes together, and we’re playing to bring out the inevitable sounds and reverberations.
Q: How do you go about writing your more ‘rock’ based tunes? Do you use a different method to when you’re writing other songs, and if so, how is it different?
T: Basically each song is brought to completion out of jam sessions. If it’s a rock oriented song I guess it means in large part it had a “rock impulse.” Because our ears and body are driven by that, in that mood the instant we churn out a riff, it’s sharp and suitable for the main part.
Q: Could you tell us about some of the more interesting or different bands that you’ve played with recently?
T: Recently in Roppongi (in Tokyo) we played on the same bill as Ai Aso, for the first time in a while. It was her first show in two years, and with her guitar at minimum volume and her singing voice just as small, it was very tense. She is super fragile!
Q: Finally – how has the Pink 10th anniversary world tour been so far? Is there anything Australian fans should look forward to at the show?
T: We toured through the US, Japan, the UK, and Europe, and both new and old fans seemed to be enjoying the shows. Australia is a country we’ve come to many times and love, so to be able to have the final shows of this Pink tour in Australia is very emotional. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the shows.
Catch Boris and Tangled Thoughts of Leaving on the following dates:
Crowbar, Brisbane - Monday May 15
Manning Bar, Sydney - Tuesday May 16
Fowlers Live, Adelaide - Thursday May 18
Max Watts, Melbourne - Friday May 19
Rosemount, Perth - Saturday May 20
Tickets available from lifeisnoise.com and the venues.