Endon’s Extensive Experimentation: “Boy Meets Girl” Meets the World
Although Tokyo is not known as a bastion of diversity, the breadth of extreme music indigenous to the area befits a city of over nine million people. Whether it’s the harsh electronics of Merzbow, the hardcore of S.O.B., the chaotic noise of Zeni Geva, or the doom metal of Boris, bring your earplugs: there’s a little bit of something for everyone.
It’s possible that the reason Endon got tagged as “the most extreme band in Tokyo” was because the band incorporates facets of all of the above into a sound that redefines blistering. Since forming in 2007, the group — vocalist Taichi Nagura, guitarist Koki Miyabe, drummer Shin Yokota, and electronics/noisemakers Taro Aiko and Etsuo Nagura — have deftly combined the analog and digital, the accessible and the arcane, the sluggish and the swift to create a noise that is simultaneously familiar and unique and kind of a mindfuck.
Endon’s latest album Boy Meets Girl, their first to come out on Thrill Jockey Records, is possibly their most ambitious record to date. Recorded by Atsuo Mizuno of Boris (who took the band on an American tour at the end of 2017; check out our review of the Philly show), the group’s third album is a conceptual piece of sorts. Nagura’s often wordless screams tell the tale of a boy born from a womb of noise into a world where the notion of love is anything but Valentine’s Day chocolates and flowers.
While Endon bided their time in Tokyo before kicking off a tour of Europe as a guest of Sumac next month, Nagura took the time to answer some emailed questions about the new album.
What does “extreme” mean to you? You’ve been called the “most extreme band of Tokyo.” Was that always the intent of the band?
Endon are not so into the term of “being extreme” at all these days. For us it is difficult to describe something as “extreme” when a subject is limited to music by itself. Music is a social thing, in most cases when music is described as “extreme” it is always combined with an actual behavior like to give it with throwing shit, beating someone in audience floor, background music for beef on social media or something like that. In modern era those are “extreme” music. Our music is more physical and being assimilated.
In English “Boy Meets Girl” is an expression related to stories about romantic relationships. Do you think your music is romantic?
Yes, it must be.
The press material states: “Boy Meets Girl was envisioned as a soundtrack to an imagined horror film about love.” Is it a concept album?
Let me say all [of] Endon’s albums are conceptual. Listening to our music from our first EP Acme Apathy Amok to Mama, then to Through the Mirror could be very similar to reading book, from one chapter to another of one story. In that sense Boy Meets Girl is on the same direction as what we have had.
Most of the quote on the press release is like hindsight, which was actually not an original concept during the songwriting process. To explain it simply, one of the main themes of Boy Meets Girl is “to meet up with someone.” On a sonic and editing level, our aim was to make it more like a mixtape rather than a soundtrack. And another concept of the album is “light music being played by heavy sound.”
The ratio of electronics to analog instruments seems like perfect on the new album, often thrashing away at the same time. Was that a goal or just how it turned out this time?
This is not our goal at all; we are always looking for better ratio of balance on every record. On Boy Meets Girl most of the guitar sound is more distorted than before so noise elements on this album are less distorted overall, for total balance.
The album came out Black Smoker Records in Japan last September. How did you wind up joining up with Thrill Jockey for a US release – was it through your relationship with Aaron Turner?
Tadashi Hamada from our main label Daymare Recordings in Japan has been a business associate with Bettina Richards from Thrill Jockey for years. He invited her to our show at Thalia Hall in Chicago in 2017. She enjoyed it and reached out to us then.
“Red Shoes” sounds like Endon trying to make a vintage rock ‘n’ roll record. Was that the intent of the song?
Absolutely, it was originally written as an intro of “Not for You.” On this song we are inspired by old surf rock artists like The Chantays, Dick Dale, or Joe Meek. Technically it has lots of spring reverb on drums and guitar.
I read an interview with you where you said you don’t feel like part of the hardcore scene in Tokyo. “Not for You” sure sounds like hardcore!
If you want to connect Endon’s music to hardcore that is totally fine. Personally I don’t think we have similarity between the term of hardcore and our music.
There are a lot of screams, heavy breathing, yelps, and other strange vocals on the album (especially on “Doubt as a Source”) reminiscent of Mike Patton’s vocal style. What prompts this kind of expression from you?
I like any kind of vocal scream, if it is a big influence to me. I have taken memos when I find a good one in a movie or TV program. And I am a very eager listener of voice improvisers for sure. In fact I have listened to most of records on Tzadik [Records] which includes “voice.”
With respect, I have listened to Patty Waters, Meredith Monk, David Moss, and Diamanda Galas a lot.
Will we be seeing Endon back in America at some point?
We would love to come back as soon as we can.
Boy Meets Girl released today via Thrill Jockey Records on CD and limited raspberry color vinyl.
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