Boris: Noise Warriors
Hold onto your hats, Japanese noise warriors Boris are headed our way this month for a string of shows alongside their Dark MOFO appearance in Tasmania. This time around, the trio will be cranking out their classic cult album Flood (2000) and throwing in an assortment of favourites from their extensive back catalogue. Expect to hear everything from psychedelic metal and distortion-ravaged shoegaze to noise rock, punk and even a bit of pop – and more often than not, you’ll hear it all expertly weaved together at the same time. Before you set off on a sonic journey of epic proportions with the band later this month, grab some earplugs and have a read about how the guys combat online bootleggers and why laziness is key to the Boris sound.
You guys are well known for your unique guitar sounds, can you give us a peak behind the curtain and reveal a few of your secret weapons?
We usually tune our guitars and bass three and a half steps lower than standard tuning. We don’t use 7-string guitars, baritone guitars, or anything with a special long-scale neck, so it doesn’t really suit octave tuning at all [laughs]. We use thick string gauges. Sometimes, the ease of misaligning the pitch makes the music sound more atmospheric. Depending on what we’re playing, both of us play the guitar and we don’t have any bass. Guitars that have a pitch lower than a bass create sound pressure. Wata uses Orange amplifiers and Takeshi uses Sunn amps. We all love effects pedals, so we have a lot those and the vintage fuzz pedal is what we use the most. But pedals and equipment are easily broken on tour, so we always ask for clones and carry those while we’re on tour. Wata definitely carries a Roland Space Echo RE-150. When it comes to the Space Echo, we are not satisfied with their digital simulator version at all. RE-150 units weigh about 9kg each, so even though they’re not really suitable for taking on a flight, we do so anyway. Analog equipment like the Space Echo gives players a kind of power because each unit automatically plays itself. On the other hand, if we were going to use digital equipment for the same purpose, we’d have to spend a lot more time tweaking and adjusting the sound all the time. So, I guess our laziness is kind of key to the Boris sound [laughs].
When you’re touring overseas do you have to compromise on what equipment you get to use?
In a way, because it’s easy to break analog equipment on tour, which means there’s no choice if something’s broken. On our last US tour, we took three Space Echoes, but two of them got broken. Although, I dropped one of them [laughs]. Analog equipment isn’t suitable for touring because of things like the shaking of cars, or the differences in temperature or humidity in each new area you go to. However, we always enjoy touring, in spite of such troubles.
Do you recommend fans enjoy the Boris experience with or without earplugs?
We sell earplugs at our merch table, but that doesn’t mean that we recommend them. We sell them because we guess that some people like to use them. As I told you before, Boris tunes down low and we also use a bigger size of cymbal and drum, so I don’t think we have any unpleasant high notes in our original sound onstage. But if you’re worried about your ears, then please use earplugs. We like to have a bigger sound, but we don’t want to be too noisy for people to enjoy.
Tell us about the writing and recording process for the new album – what did you approach differently?
It’s always a different process for each new song. Whenever we’re writing, we’ve always felt like we’re climbing up a different mountain. When you go into the mountains, you’ll find your own way, right? It’s kind of like that.
You’ve recently toured across the US with the likes of Young Widows and played the Austin Pych fest – what have been the highlights?
All of the supporting artists were great and we enjoyed them. The Austin Psych fest was also great which made us think we’d like to come back again. This time we played the fest in Mexico. It was the first time we’d visited Mexico, so we were excited to be visiting a new country. We had the best reaction ever on this tour. We continually felt like each show was a highlight. It was awesome.
Boris seems to be incredibly well received in the US and Australia, what do you think it is that makes these audiences connect with your sound?
Maybe we are a party band, I wonder.
What’s your stance on the unofficial bootlegs of your live shows that have been made available?
Even though we go all the way overseas to be with everyone in person, the day after each show, all of the songs we played are up there on YouTube. For us, that’s the worst. Only some people do what I said, but we feel it’s a hindrance to the memory of the actual experience of each show. We want to cherish the time and space we shared with each other. But, asking people who uploaded our songs online to delete them would be such a time-consuming waste of our time. It’d be like trying to make a negative rate at zero. So, we tend to just ignore them. We want to move forward anyway. We try to play with an increasingly bigger sound that video cameras won’t be able to capture well.
There’s currently a big swing in the popularity of more experimental/stoner/doom style music, how do you feel about this trend and do you see it as something that will be sustainable?
I think it’s already starting to calm down now and it’s established. But the surrounding moods are no reference to us. We just keep on doing what we like.
Can you tell us a bit about your recent collaborations and who you’d like to work with in the future?
That’s a secret.
You seem to tour and record constantly, does that take its toll on you or simply make you better at it?
The world in front of us is always changing. By visiting lots of countries on tour and meeting different people, we always feel inspired.
After so long in the game what keeps you inspired and who do you look to for inspiration?
As I mentioned, we start by climbing up a new and unknown mountain. It might work negatively if we follow the old way. Exploring the unknown is difficult at times, but we enjoy it. My favourite movie by Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky is called Stalker. There are scenes in that movie that really evoke empathy. Whenever I’m interviewed about compositions and recordings, I always remember those scenes.
What material can Australian fans expect to hear on this tour?
We’ll be playing Flood in its entirety. It’s a 70-minute song we released in 2000, but we’ve rearranged it a little bit. We’ve never played that song in Australia before. We’re also going to be playing some old songs and some new songs that haven’t been released yet, so we’re really looking forward to it!
Boris Tour Dates
Wed Jun 19th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Fri Jun 21st – Manning Bar, Sydney (18+)
Sat Jun 22nd – Dark MOFO, Hobart (18+)
with The Drones, MONO, The Stickmen, Barbarion and more.
Mon Jun 24th – Rosemount Hotel, Perth (18+)