An interview with Mono’s leader, Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto!

MONO
© Chigi Kanbe

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Interview: Bill Lytras.

Bill speaks with the leader of Japanese post rock legends MONO, to talk about their latest live album “Beyond The Past / Live In London With The Platinum Anniversary Orchestra” and their glorious – long career.
Read the interview below!

Hello there! Thank you very much for making this happen!
This is the second interview with you guys! Our very first was back in 2018 days before your last show in Athens, Greece.
Do you remember anything from your last visit here?

I remember it became such a fantastic night!
Although, because it’s now been a full year since the pandemic started, it does feel like the Athens’ show was decades ago.
Greek audience is very wonderful. I can feel everyone listening to every single note we perform properly. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again on the tour soon!

Let’s go back to December of 2019 and your 20th anniversary show in London. Looking back to that night, what feelings do you get?
How was the whole atmosphere?

The venue was filled in blessing mode and we were all very moved.
It became such an unforgettable day that we can’t simply put it into words!
It was the best day of our band life. We’re truly thankful to all our fans and partners who have been supporting us.

MONO
© Teppei Kishida

Are you satisfied with the result of “Beyond The Past / Live In London With The Platinum Anniversary Orchestra”?
To me is a great live album!

Thank you for your words!
We’re very satisfied with it as well.

Back to 2019’s “Nowhere Now Here”.
Taka told me, that if you put a space in the middle of “nowhere”, it becomes “now here”.
How’s the “now here” for Mono? How much the things changed since then?

Right now, it feels like we’ve come out of the dark and in the right place filled with light.
The world has gone into an unexpected pandemic but our morale hasn’t diminished at all.
We’re currently in the middle of writing new songs, new album and preparing new tours.

What feelings do you have for this record 2 years after it’s release?

If I listen to it now, I feel a lot of struggle, anger and sadness.
Back then, things were really chaotic for us due to various issues.
We were saved by releasing all our emotions through songwriting then touring, and we eventually made it to the place filled with light.
This was a turning point for the band.
Through facing ourselves, I feel now we’re reborn.

MONO

In “Nowhere Now Here”, you added electronics to your sound for the first time and of course Tamaki’s vocals on “Breathe”!
How did these come about?

When things started to become suffocating for the band, I did a solo project called Behind the Shadow Drops and I decided to incorporate the same electronics for MONO.
With “Breathe”, there was something we really wanted to convey in words.
Back then, we really got exhausted to the point of suffocation due to the various troublesome business matters and their egos, far from anything creative.
From such a point where we could not move, we wanted to express our determination that, “we’re going to cut the past and move towards the new surface”, with a song and lyrics.

Please, tell us ‘bout the short film created in collaboration with French filmmaker Julien Levy.
How did that come about and what inspired the film?

Julien is a Tokyo-based director and I feel he was an artist who portrayed the chaotic city well.
I thought the mood of Tokyo from an outside perspective was unique.

How is touring and making music for all over those years?

For the last 20 years, we released a new album every two years.
We toured the world for a year and a half, wrote songs inbetween and then recorded.
Right now, we can’t tour so I’ve been utilising all my time as a good opportunity to compose and record, while also experimenting with various new things.

When you come to record a new album, do you have a set approach or does it change each time?

When it comes to composition, I really don’t know until I start writing.
By writing a song, I always realise for the first time there was such a feeling deep inside my heart.
The recording is always the same.
We always spend the best time with Steve Albini in Chicago. It’s one of the most fun times!

Steve Albini
Steve Albini

If you had to choose one of your albums to be the soundtrack of our times (COVID-19 crisis) or for the end of the world, which one will be and why…

I think this mood will be summarised in future songs — our current feeling of suddenly losing what was once normal and its inconvenience, but at the same time, seeing the most important things coming to light.

In which movie could your music be the soundtrack of?

If it’s a movie that moves you and gives you new values and outlook on life, I’d like to collaborate regardless of the genre. I just love movies.

Could you please describe the band in 3 feelings?

Loud, soulful and spiritual.

Heaven or Hell and why?

I want to express both worlds. Like yin and yang, there is white within black and black within white. In other words, there’s light within hell and vice versa, there are also shadows in heaven.

Guys, thank you so much for making this happen!
Hope to see you soon perfoming live! Do you have any closing words for the readers of INTOTHEPIT?
My best wishes! 

Thank you so much for your support, we can’t wait to meet all of you hopefully soon!

Much love,
Taka