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Archive for March, 2013

 

Erase errata 1

ERASE ERRATA

This interview was published in issue six in early 2004 – a great jumble of an issue that featured a wide variety of bands from excitable pop fiends Gravy Train!!!! to the phenomenal one man Black Metal artist Leviathan. I think it’s fair to say that the crush I have on Erase Errata has never really abated. That is evident from my enthusiastic, sometimes over-wrought questions, which were patiently answered by Jenny Hoyston. Their amazing live shows and extraordinary recordings embody what is truly possible within music. The band’s immediate sense of its own energy has always been inclusive and ever present: their 2006 set at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds was one of the best gigs I have ever attended for that very reason. The “dance” reference is an allusion to Everett True’s cover feature on Erase Errata for “Careless Talk Costs Lives” (Issue 6, Jan/Feb 2003); an exceptional interview that might just be my favourite piece of True’s journalism. Things have been quiet for a long time from EE, barring their recent (and brilliant) “Damaged” 7” a while ago. Let’s hope for more from them in the near future.

Coming on like the West Coast fraternity of Fawn Gehweiler’s “Teen Panther” gang, Erase Errata are the aural equivalent of an endless series of snap suplexes, a fierce body shock, feet flying over your head, landing in a non-stop spinal and cranial attack. Tattoos. Glasses. Hair. Speeded-pulverizing post-everything rhythms encased by four dervishes on a stage near you. When I saw them at the Fenton in 2002 it was all wool dresses and vogueing, yelping and wowing those assembled, lucky few. We were in on something very special. There was even a trumpet. “Other Animals” was bought at that show, I’ve played it at work ever since. I interviewed Jenny Hoyston (vocals, trumpet) by email while the band were in the studio recording their latest album, “At Crystal Palace”, which is just as taloned and shattering as all their other releases – and there are a lot to find, especially on 7”. At the Bassment in October 2003 they were in jean rock-wear and in ferment. They ripped it, total tension release and action from everyone watching. They play The Who’s “Boris the Spider” to my amazement. Lock-tight like only The Pop Group before them, Erase Errata are more than the dance floor, they are the DANCE.

How long have you been together as Erase Errata? What drew the four of you together?

Jenny Hoyston: Since Dec.1999. The Club Hot! Smackdown 2000 competition drew us together. Ellie (EE bassist) defeated everyone. We had our first practice the next day.

THE WIRE referred you to amongst a number of contemporary bands like Arab On Radar and US Maple as being inheritors/descendants of the No Wave scene of the late 70s/early 80s. Do you feel any affinities with that scene at all?

Sure.

How would you describe the processes the band uses to write songs?

We improvise well.

You hint at lyrics on “Other Animals” by including snippets in the “Sworn Testimony”: why did you not want to include a full lyric sheet?

Full lyric sheet was not available. Many words are still unknown.

It is not hard to be down on the human race at the present time, and the lyrics to “Other Animals Are Number 1” seem to suggest we were doomed from the start of our evolution. Have you found an answer to your question “what is the good life” yet?

Good/bad. No one defines abstract concepts absolutely. The lyric was a reference to most people’s pursuit of happiness, comfort, actualization, etc, and was not really a question even rhetorically.

You re-recorded “Marathon” for the album. Did you not want to do “Gross Grace” (TOYO compilation track) as well?

No we didn’t. “Gross Grace” comes off better live than on recordings. The visuals/choreography makes the song.

Your trumpet playing reminded me of the Japanese psych pop band Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Are you familiar with Tori and Reiko Kudo’s band?

No. We’ll check them out on your recommendation.

Was your fall 2002 tour of Europe your first trip over here? What were the highs and lows as you saw them?

Sleeping in the van was a low. New experiences like walking through Paris in the middle of Saturday night, buying grass legally at cafes in Holland and relaxing in Greece were highs. Ben drove us all over the UK and Europe. Our label could not have found us a better person to travel with.

Do you have backgrounds in art and design, given your striking stage wear? Are Chicks on Speed an inspiration this respect?

Yes we are all interested in design to varying degrees. It is very important to us. We feel kindred with the Chicks. We toured with them a long time ago and we liked each-others outfits. Our music was quite different in sound and process.

This is a little off the subject, but I was very impressed by the various tattoos you all have! May I ask why you chose those particular designs for yourselves?

Prizzen.

Has J. Vonwolf done any cover art for other bands besides yours?

Armatron, California Lightning, TOYO Records compilations.

What kind of following do you have in the States? And how did you feel about the reception you received in the UK?

The UK was great. About the same as the US as far as reception. Better than we expected on our first trip there.

Is San Francisco a good place to be based? Do you play out a lot there?

We live in San Francisco and Oakland. They are separated by a small bay. The whole area around the bay is a great place. We love it here very much. It is nothing like the rest of the country!!!

Your song “Dexterity is Number 2” made me think of an environmental film from Brazil called “Ilha Del Flores”. Have you seen this film?

No. The song is talking about keeping a fit population to fuel the workforce and to assure the brawn of the military.

Are you a band that generates a lot of unused material when you record?

No, we’re generally in such a time crunch that we don’t get to record all of our songs when we go into the studio. We have lots of low quality cassette tapes of unused material from our practice room.

Are you returning to the UK later this year?

Yes. Hopefully in June if all goes well.

What are your plans for 2003?

We’re in the studio now recording our next full length. We have many releases coming up – a couple of 7” records, a 45rpm 12” remix of some of our older songs, various solo projects, maybe and Anxious Rats recording session…this is going to be a good year for releasing music.

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My interview with the amazing Comanechi is up on The Quietus website for you to enjoy now!

http://thequietus.com/articles/11736-comanechi-interview-wire-drill-london

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Makoto Kawabata

MK3

MAKOTO KAWABATA

 

Issue two of “SALT” was publishing in the spring of 2001, and was a substantial step forward in terms of what I wanted the magazine to be. My newfound enthusiasm for Japanese Underground music in late 2000 was to be become something of an obsession as the New Year began. This interview with Acid Mothers Temple figurehead Makoto Kawabata came about thanks to Andy Smith of Chunky Records, from whom I bought “Troubadours from Another Heavenly World” (and a whole lot more besides), and the invaluable contributions of “THE WIRE” writer Alan Cummings, whose translations of both my questions and Kawabata’s replies made the interview possible in the first place. This interview was conducted ahead of a tour of the UK and Ireland that would make the group many new friends and serve as a lasting reminder of what this extraordinary group was capable of on a nightly basis. It is scarcely believable to me that a ticket for the show at the Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham was a mere £4. I’ve interviewed Kawabata on other occasions, for SALT and elsewhere, but this initial interview remains special to me because it provided me with not just a new group to admire, but an entirely different way of thinking about music.

The work of Japanese guitarist Makoto Kawabata has taken on many forms during his twenty year career in the Japanese underground. From his earliest synth-driven experiments to his blistering “ motor psycho” guitar blasts for groups like Musica Transonic, Mainliner and Seventh Seal, his music has possessed a stunning power, drenched in the mind-altering world of psychedelic rock. Born in Osaka, and now living in Nagoya, his latest project is the astonishing celestial rock group Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO. Their released on the PSF label are characterized by a boiling energy that covers wistful folk, minimalist electronics and the most staggering psychedelic guitar rock heard since Amon Dull II’s “Yeti” double LP. The new album “Troubadours from Another Heavenly World” contains their most ethereal cosmic music to date; an hour of drones, incantations and tripped-out melodies aided by the vocal contributions of fellow underground star Haco. Acid Mothers Temple is just one of a number of new groups that Kawabata is involved with, and on the eve of their current world tour I interviewed him about his life and career.

What music was the biggest influence on you as you were growing up?

Kawabata: When I was at primary school, hearing electronic music, musique concrete and Indian classical music had a great impact upon me. In addition, my grandfather was a Noh actor, so that probably had some impact upon me. Also the music of the heavenly orchestra I saw/heard in a dream. And the strange hearing glitches which meant that I occasionally hear something like a sine wave. I have studied guitar, and other instruments, totally off my own bat. I have never copies anyone else, and from the start I have only practiced in order to be able to play own music.

You have had quite a long career in music already: can you tell me about your early years and your first groups/recordings?

In 1978 I formed my first group, Ankouku Kakumei Kyodotai (Dark Revolutionary Collective) with a friend. The only instrument we possessed was a synth, so we made other instruments ourselves. From the start we created our own songs from improvisation. I continue to use the same methods in Acid Mothers Temple and Musica Transonic. The only reason why I started making music was that I couldn’t find any music that I wanted to listen to. Acid Mothers Temple and Inui etc are the music that I first heard in my head over twenty years ago, and only now they taking a form. If you’re interested in this period of my work, you should listen to a 10 CD set of material from 1978 to 1981 that I released on the Acid Mothers Temple label. At the time I had an independent label called R.E.P. which released forty titles. This set reissues ten of them. No one took any notice of us at the time. This was back when punk and new wave ruled the earth.

I’ve read that for years you had to work ‘properly” because life as a musician was very hard. Has the situation improved for you and others in the underground?

I am able to just about make a living as a musician at the moment, but that is only because Nagoya is cheaper than other cities to live in. And also because I never go out. In Acid Mothers Temple our way of life involves helping each other out. I’m not very interested in other people’s lives so I don’t know how other underground artists make a living.

Artists like Keiji Haino and Asahito Nanjo are very significant figures in the West: how well regarded are they in Japan?

I have no idea because I deliberately cut myself off from sources of information like magazines, TV, radio and the internet.

You work with Nanjo on my many different projects like Mainliner and Musica Transonic. What is it like to work with him?

When I first met Nanjo he described himself as a “singer/concept writer’. At the time I was considering giving up music, for personal reasons, but I was so intrigued by his concepts that I started playing music again. I think that he provided me with a good opportunity to try out various ideas that I had inside myself.

You founded the group Acid Mothers Temple in Nagoya as a collective. Is the city an inspiration for your music? Is the collective a permanent place to live?

Because Nagoya is small compared to Tokyo or Osaka, it’s very easy to create linkages between people from different worlds and different scenes. When I first moved from Osaka to Nagoya, the first people I came to know were the surviving remnants of the Japanese beatnik scene. Because Nagoya is near to Nagano and Gifu (mountainous provinces where many hippies and beatniks live), there were a lot of people like that around. I differ from them philosophically in many respects, but through living together with them in my twenties I was able to learn of the benefits and drawbacks of communal life. Acid Mothers Temple is a collective of “souls”, and we do not have any self-deceiving left-wing communal philosophy. Acid Mothers Temple possess several houses in various different locations and anyone is free to use them at any time. Our only rule is to never limit each other, or ourselves.

What is so amazing about the Japanese scene and your work is the vast output of recordings under a variety of group names. What drives you to make so much music?

My music is neither a form of personal expression nor something that I myself create. All I do is tune into the sounds of the cosmos (some may call it god) like a radio receiver, and then play them so that other people can hear them too. Every day I am able to hear various kinds of these sounds, so it is inevitable that I produce music music. Another reason may be that over the years we Japanese have experienced many forms of music as information, and have thus created a huge illusion. Then, from a certain time, maybe we have found a way to compact and process this massive amount of information at high speeds. The majority of musicians who lead the Japanese underground are in their 30s and 40s, and this was precisely the generation that first experienced rock as imported information and this from this small amount of data created their own massive illusion. After rock, this generation then listened exhaustively to all forms of music – jazz, of course, contemporary composition, ethnic music. They absorbed and compacted all kinds of music as pure data, without reference to its original history or social background. Now this music explodes out from them in altered and transformed shapes.

Will you be releasing an album by your new group Nishinihon?

Nishinihon’s first album will be released on the Osaka label Gyunne at the end of December. However, Gyunne has no overseas distribution, so it would be good if we could find a foreign label to release it there.

What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming tour of Europe and the United States?

Meeting with many people. I think that people in Europe and the US are good at finding their own ways to enjoy our music. They are energetic and it is a joy to play for them. Also wine and beer perhaps? Especially French wine is on a par with Japanese sake. Scottish whiskey is also wonderful, but unfortunately we won’t be going there this time. The greatest reward of travelling is undoubtedly the new experiences in each place. Meeting beautiful women is one of the greatest rewards perhaps? I want to see the Aurora Borealis is Norway….

Finally, what are your hopes and dreams in the year 2001?

 I never think about next year. “Now” is all. And besides, people talk about the 21st century or the new millennium, but its only according to the Western calendar – and for me, a Japanese and not a Christian, it only means that today become yesterday, tomorrow becomes today. My dreams? I want to touch the guiding force of the cosmos. I would like to leave Japan and live in the Occitanian countryside. There are so many places I would like to go and thing I would like to see, but I have so little time. In my next life I will probably be reincarnated as something horrible, so I want to do as much human stuff while I am a human. Only I’m not sure what that stuff is!

Acid Mothers Temple releases an album in January 2001 entitled “Absolutely Freak Out – Zap Your Mind!” A joint release by UK labels Resonant and Static Caravan, it is a limited edition double LP set that pushes their cosmic sound into overdrive. Where “Troubadours” is trance-like, “Absolutely Freak Out” is molten, thirteen tracks of wild improvisation and ear-bleeding excess that include the splenetic tape loops of “Waikiki Easy Meet”, the electronic balm of “The Incipient Light of the Echoes” and the feedback firestorm of “Pagan Nova”. This album sees the collective in all its garish glory and comes as close to what Kawabata aimed for when he told “THE WIRE” magazine that he wanted to make ‘the ultimate trip record’. No one else makes music quite like Makoto Kawabata, and for me this record is the first essential purchase of the year.

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