Interview: Takeshi (Boris)
Japan's Boris has been around for decades but it is their album Pink, now 10 years old, that is considered their most seminal work. One of the first bands to combine sludge, shoegaze and ambient tones in a crunchy yet accessible way (why yes, even before Deafheaven came onto the scene), Pink helped usher in a new kind of crossover appreciation in metal fans for minimalistic yet heavy sound. It is no coincidence that 2006 was also the first time Boris toured in North America with Sunn O))).
For the records' 10th anniversary Boris has released a deluxe edition that includes nine unreleased bonus tracks and the band plans to play the complete album in full this summer when on tour with fellow drone OG's Earth.
I chatted with bassist/guitarist/lead vocalist Takeshi via email (and Japanese to English translator) about their history, the origination of Pink and this summer's dates (listed below).
Nine unreleased songs is a pretty significant number! Did all of the bonus tracks come from the same writing/recording session?
Yeah, they are all songs recorded during the same sessions and around the same time frame as the songs on the original release. But at the same time, there is some additional editing and arranging that took place to work it out for the release.
Why have you titled them 'Forbidden Songs'?
Since 2003 we began touring incessantly, and as we matured and were able to accomplish things faster and also got to see the world, our own awareness steadily changed. Among all of this we released Pink. Amidst the constant touring, at that point it became clear to us exactly what we should be doing.
For the original Pink only songs that had that reality--songs that only we could produce, were chosen. “Forbidden Songs” consists of a lot of material that seemed like it was influenced from “something” or that the influence was too obvious, perhaps. So, because we deemed those songs as not “sounds that only we could produce”, at the time we kind of “sealed” them up. I guess that is the meaning behind it.
Are there even more tracks that didn't make the bonus cut?
Well, there were some things that just ended up being like memos of riffs, and also a bunch of songs with bad recordings so that we couldn’t finish them, things like that.
Were the 'Forbidden Songs' derived from the same session the tracks that did make it onto Pink originated from?
Yes, they’re all from the same period. From that time and even still now, we make songs out of studio jam sessions. We never write riffs beforehand. We go in the studio and record exactly what comes out of us from our feelings at that time. It’s an extremely simple method, actually.
The “Forbidden Songs” material was all born in this same way. From around 2004 we became able to record by ourselves, and so in the studio we always have the recorder going.
I recall working on the 4 releases Pink, Vein, Dronevil and Mabutanoura simultaneously and seeing them move forward at the same rate. At that time it was trial and error, and repeat. We didn’t have the full set-up that we do now, and half the time basic tracks were recorded on cassette tape with drums in the left stereo channel and guitars in the right channel. However, we could say that it was that sound quality that taught us the way we should go forward.
In general, what was the writing/recording process for this album?
We set up the equipment and mics ourselves, turned the recorder on had a jam session. We didn’t let the expectations or opinions of anyone other than ourselves intervene in any way. Therefore, we were able to follow through until we could grasp the sounds that only we could create. In that way, it was kind of the time we formulated or own recording style. We don’t let ourselves be captivated by typical methods and just do as we please. Whether the sound quality is good or bad is secondary. I have the feeling our own style of touring, recording and writing were all developed at this time.
How does it feel to be reaching the 10th anniversary of this record? Are you surprised at how fans have embraced it over the years?
For so long we have just been concerned with the future in terms of moving forward, that all I can think is, “What? Already 10 years have passed since Pink? Time flies!” However, looking back at the history of our activity and our body of work, one important job becomes accurately presenting the course of events from the past.
We’re extremely grateful to all of our fans. We hope both new and old listeners will enjoy this release.
Are you excited to incorporate the bonus tracks into your live set + play the album in full? Does it feel more 'complete' this way?
As I was just saying, we’re constantly wanting to create new works and try new things. 10 years have passed since the release of Pink, but in these 10 years our way of creating sound has changed considerably. Now, if the three of us produce the sounds of Pink it will become the sound of “now”. We have never performed any of the “Forbidden Songs” material on stage before. Therefore in no way will those songs be a “reappearance”, and rather than Pink becoming complete I guess you could say it will change into something entirely different.
You are playing with Earth on this tour, another band with a heavy, drone tonality and a long history. Do you consider them an influence on your music? What are your thoughts on touring with them? Any potential live collaborations?
We were influenced and impacted so much by Earth 2 to the extent that it pretty much changed our outlook on life. Before we have received the privilege of supporting them on their Japanese tour and having Dylan support on our U.S. tour as solo outfit, but we’re really happy to be able to go with them long-term like this time. If the timing is right for collaboration at some point we’d absolutely love to try one.
07-22 San Diego, CA - The Casbah *
07-23 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom *
07-25 Dallas, TX - Trees *
07-26 Austin, TX - The Mohawk *
07-28 Ybor City, FL - The Orpheum *
07-29 Orlando, FL - The Social *
07-30 Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade *
07-31 Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel *
08-01 Nashville, TN - Third Man Records *
08-03 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle *
08-04 Washington, DC - 930 Club *
08-05 Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw *
08-06 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer *
08-07 Hamden, CT @ The Ballroom at The Outer Space *
08-09 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club *
08-10 Montreal, Quebec - Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.
08-11 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
08-12 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop *
08-13 Grand Rapids, MI - Pyramid Scheme *
08-14 Chicago, IL - Metro *
08-16 Madison, WI - Majestic Theater *
08-17 Minneapolis, MN - Fineline Music Cafe *
08-18 Lawrence, KS - Granada Theatre *
08-19 Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater *
08-20 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge *
08-22 Seattle, WA - Neumo's *
08-23 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom *
08-25 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore *
08-26 Los Angeles, CA - The Regent Theater *
08-27 Las Vegas, NV - Hard Rock Hotel *
* with Earth