Makoto Kawabata Interview

July 14, 2011

Makoto Kawabata Interview


1. I would like to thank you for taking your time and effort, Makoto. I have been listening to your music for so long and I really love it, because I can always found something new in it! You are really inspiring us. Acid Mothers Temple was born in 1995 if I’m not wrong. I would like to know how did you get together and in what bands were you before that?

In 1978 I formed my first group Ankoku Kakumei Kyodotai (NB: literally translated, this means Dark Revolutionary Collective) together with a couple of friends who I used to listen to music with. However, at the time we didn’t own any instruments and we’d only been able to borrow a single synthesizer. We forced to start building our own instruments. Since our whole plan was to create music that we could listen to, we started recording ourselves from the very start. At the beginning we were trying to play this dream combination of hard rock and electronic music on our own homemade instruments and this single synthesizer. Later on we finally managed to get hold of some proper instruments. But we hadn’t a clue about how to play them properly, so we just stumbled through a whole process of trial and error, trying out various approaches to see if they would work. It took me four years to work out that there was such a thing as a proper guitar tuning. Before then we’d work out our own tunings, and we felt that as long as we could make the sounds we wanted then tuning didn’t really matter. Our playing was basically improvised, but listening to it subjectively you can tell that we were always trying to create some sort of song structure so what we were doing was completely different to so-called free music. Once we got our instruments, we would record stuff in this local studio that had a four-channel mixer and a cassette recorder. Then we’d take the tracks home and overdub with these two cassette recorders we had with a mixing function. Eventually we heard about independent labels and records and we started our own independent cassette label, R.E.P. We released almost forty cassette titles on the label.
At the time (the late 70s and early 80s), punk and new-wave were really popular, and the scene was mostly comprised of those kinds of bands, as well as some noise groups. We started playing some gigs, but because we weren’t punk or new-wave or noise, no one wanted to know. Then, when the whole electro-pop/techno thing started happening, people would hurl abuse at us because we were only using our synthesizer to make all these spacey sounds.
I had started creating some solo pieces at the same time musique concrete type things using lots of drones. These were my first hesitant attempts at creating music that turned the ringing sounds in my ears into some kind of structured piece. (I still continue this work in INUI, and with my solo drone guitar pieces).
Back then, I’d seen Les Rallizes Denudes just once, but because I wasn’t that interested in Japanese music I’d never heard Taj Mahal Travellers, Fushitsusha or any Japanese free jazz. The kind of people who were interested in that kind of stuff back then and experienced it in real time were probably a few years older than me. But as well, it was really hard to find any information about that stuff then. Of course, if you were living in Tokyo or another big city there was probably ways to do it, but I was living out in the wilds of Nara, recording music with my friends, and occasionally going up to Osaka to play a gig, so there was a limit to the amount of data I could come across. The friends I hung out with in Osaka were all the same age as me, and we didn’t have any contact with older people, so that was another reason. Ironically, out of that older generation there’s still quite a few musicians who are still around but everyone my age seems to have already disappeared. Now everyone digs the 70s Japanese underground scene and free jazz, even people outside Japan, but it had nothing to do with me, and I wasn’t influenced by it at all. Even today, if you omit a handful of musicians like Keiji Haino, I have absolutely no interest in that stuff. The music that did influence me was the electronic music and 60s and 70s Western rock (mainly hard rock, progressive, and German rock [NB which is what the Japanese call what we call Krautrock]) I listened to when I was young, and also ethnic music. And also the constant ringing that I hear in my ears and the heavenly orchestras I’ve heard playing in my dreams. Since everyone on the scene back then despised our music that was another reason why I was never influenced or interested in Japanese music.

2. You are involved in some many project besides the Acid Mothers Temple. What are some project that you are most happy with?
Each units have different concepts. So I can enjoy each unit.
3. Acid Mothers Guru Guru is a project you had with legendary Mani Neumeier (I was doing interview with him not so long ago). How do you remember this experience?
We have had quit good moments. Guru Guru is still active by Mani though, AMGG means that we would like to play more improvised, also I and Tsuyama love early Guru since when we were younger… so we’d like to play more like early Guru Guru with Mani! we covered some songs of early Guru Guru too.
4. What is your opinion about psychedelic scene these days?
I don’t know “scene”… it doesn’t matter. I just play my music from my cosmos, that’s all.
5. What are some future plans for the band and what for you as a solo artist?
No idea, ‘cos i’m not sure I can still be in tomorrow… anyway AMT & TMP UFO will tour in Europe in this autumn, and after this tour, Pikacyu*Makoto (duo unit with Pikacyu who is the drummer of Afrirampo) will tour in Europe too.

6. Share an interesting experience you had from concerts…
I enjoy to play at the show for the audience. even my music is such underground, I think it must be really entertainment!
7. On 03.11.2010 you were playing in Ljubljana at Metelkova and sadly missed the show. Please tell me that you will come soon again to Slovenia. I want to see your show really badly!!!
I hope so….
8. Thank you very much for your time and effort I hope to see you soon on concert!!! Do you have anything else to say about the band or yourself, that I didn’t ask?
Let’s Rock!!

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011

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