20 years of Mono. What has changed for you compared to the beginning of your career concerning the band and concerning the music scene?
We feel we’re very lucky. Ever since we formed the band, we stayed away from the ugly music business and just faced the art we believed in. We could do this because of the support of our labels and many of our other trusted colleagues, and the music fans throughout the world.
In the beginning, we believed the possibility was endless, but the reality was that everything was just difficult. “How can we have our record in all the record stores in the world?”, “how can we tour the world?”, we had no idea. None of us could speak English well, and the internet wasn’t as common then, nor was GPS. We just took a piece of a map and started touring the States.
We even played in NYC’s CBGB about twice, often slept in our car, and stayed in small motels often. If I think about it now, we just did what we could by relying on our youth. They all became our fantastic memories.
We always feel pure happiness from doing music. Nothing else does the same. The happiest time is when we’re devoting ourselves to our music, and the fact we can devote ourselves like that is truly the most satisfying thing in such a deep level. Of course, it is important to be able to achieve some sort of a result, but simply being able to forget time, focus and work on music are the most irreplaceable and precious thing.
Even now, we have the same hunger as when we were young. “This is not enough”, “we want to explore deeper” and “we want to keep on moving forward” are our most important motif, not just for music, but to live.
“Nowhere Now Here” is the new album which will be out in 2019. What about the creative process?
“Nowhere Now Here” became a musical trail of all our troubles we faced in 2017, as we prepared for our new chapter. We were in a crucial time of needing to decide whether the band should reborn or stop its activity.
It’s a story about regenerating from the pitch-black darkness which felt like “nowhere”, then through dawn, welcoming the new chapter “now here”.
If you cut the word “nowhere” in half, it becomes “now here”. I wanted to express that by pouring the feeling of love and positivity into that one single space, you will be able to change everything.
For this album, we used some new things like electronics and synthesizers which we have never used before. At the same time, we also used some organic instruments like strings, organs and trumpets. By our new drummer Dahm joining, the band’s sound itself changed. Even though most songs were written before we met him, it felt like they were waiting for him to arrive.
We feel that we managed to create a very fresh and newly challenged album as our 10th album, and we’re all satisfied with it.
It’s the first album with the new band member Dahm Majuri Cipolla. What about this lineup change?
In my entire musical life, Dahm is a drummer who performs most ideally. I feel really fortunate to have met him. Expressing the new album’s energy, vitality and power were definitely not possible without him.
I also definitely think Japanese drummers can’t play dynamically like him. Sometimes the sound is so loud that I can’t even hear my own guitars.
He also has a really good chemistry with Tamaki and Yoda. He’s truly a fantastic drummer. It’s really fun playing together with him.
You shared the video of the first excerpt “After You Comes The Flood”. What about the track and the short film directed by Julien Levy?
I’m very close to Julien, the director. We have a very similar sensibility. He currently resides in Tokyo and whenever we get a chance, we go out for drinks and talk about art endlessly. I really enjoy collaborating with him and we inspire each other.
This time, we also got him to name each song and also wrote the lyrics for “Breathe” together.
For “After You Comes The Flood”, we decided to not release it a single’s music video but rather, release uniquely as our collaborative short film.
Considering the nature of your project, how much are you interested in experimentation after 20 years? And what is your way to try to do it over the years?
If we continue our pace and continue releasing albums, in 20 years time, we’ll have our 20th album released then. We’d love to make this come true.
I can’t imagine what kind of album will come alive, but we intend to continue challenging new things in each new album.
I also want to visit countries we’ve never played in before. We’ve so far toured 57 countries now, but the world is still much bigger.
You announced Japan and China Tour. There will be European dates for the new full-length? What do you like more of the live shows compared to studio sessions and what kind of venues do you like more?
We plan to do another European tour next spring, which I think we can announce very soon.
I love both recording and touring but I must say live shows are special. The energy you get from sharing with our audiences is very emotional and unreal.
As far as venues go, I must say I love places where they have a proper sound system because that’s the most important thing.
What about the collaboration with The Wordless Music Orchestra at the historic venue The New York Society for Ethical Culture? What about this experience?
We played live with an orchestra for the first time in 2009 as part of our 10 year anniversary and it was truly amazing. So many people from all over the world came to NYC to see this special show. You can check this out on our “Holy Ground” DVD.
The last standing ovation from that show is one of the most beautiful memories which I’ll never forget for rest of my life.
What are the best release you appreciated this year?
High on Fire / Electric Messiah