About "Futomeido -You Laughed Like a Water Mark- Live at Shelter 20070204"
-So you have this latest live album Futomeido releasing, but which came first, the performances or the idea of putting something out?
Atsuo: The idea of putting out this live album had come up in the process of doing the Boris 25th anniversary, so the mastering of the recordings was actually completed fairly early on. We were thinking that we would start playing shows from the beginning of 2019, but Fever gave us a date on 2018/12/29. We consulted with Nakamura-san (of Pedal Records/Peace Music), who would be putting the album out, and ended up deciding to do a show this year while releasing the live album around the same time.
-The live album "Futomeido" contains past shows you played at Shimokitazawa Shelter, right?
Takeshi: From 2007. The release show for Rainbow on February 4, 11 years ago.
Atsuo: We realized it’s been over a decade since Rainbow came out.
Michio: Oh yeah, I really has been.
-Do you remember that show from 11 years ago?
Atsuo: Michio said he checked out audio recordings and videos from back then to prep for the end of year show.
Michio: Yeah, for some reason I was able to find them. It was like, “Ah, so that’s what we were doing”. That show was the first time Boris and I played together. I’m pretty certain we hadn’t done anything together before that.
Atsuo: When was it that you and Wata appeared as guests at the release event for Ai Aso?
Michio: That was six months or so after the show at Shelter. So, at that point there wasn’t a “band” feeling to what we were doing; it was more like I was just joining for a bit. That was where it all started, though.
Atsuo: Boris drew you in more and more (laughter).
Michio: Those were interesting times... I guess maybe kind of strained? Not like we aren’t still a bit strained (laughter).
Everyone: Strained?! (laughter)
Michio: No, I mean in terms of how we performed, like there wasn’t this feeling of “Hey, we’re a band!”
Atsuo: You made it sound like we were strained in how we got along with each other (laughter).
Michio: No, no, I meant musically (laughter).
Atsuo: But yeah, at that time it was more like we were simply collaborating.
Michio: Right. It was just going to be a one-off deal.
Atsuo: Yeah, we would put out the collaborative album, do the release event, and that was it.
"不透明度" Boris with 栗原ミチオ ワンマン (2018.12.29)
Tour with Damon & Naomi
Michio: There wasn’t any talk of me joining you on tour after that, not at that point. So what happened next?
Atsuo: Oh that’s right! We went on an American tour!
Takeshi: That was the fall of 2007. The Boris with Michio Kurihara Rainbow Tour.
Atsuo: Exactly. We put together a double headliner tour with Damon & Naomi and Boris with Michio Kurihara.
Wata: Michio was playing two shows per day.
Atsuo: Oh wow, you’re right!
Michio: That was pretty grueling physically. I was the only guy working with two bands, having to play back-to-back sets each night.
Atsuo: It was a double headliner setup, but Damon & Naomi played first since Boris was the louder of the two acts.
Michio: At any rate I was super busy. I had to think of all sorts of stuff like which guitars to use where, how to tune them, and the like. Damon & Naomi used regular tunings, but with Boris everything was dropped down.
Atsuo: You were kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place back then, having to put yourself in both places at the same time, so I feel like you put in a lot of energy and effort. Not to mention being busy actually playing all the sets.
Michio: I remember it being difficult to find time to eat. It was fun, though, and I got to have a lot of great experiences.
-Did you go to many different places on that tour?
Atsuo: We did a full circuit (of America). Was that your first extended tour, Michio?
Michio: Well, I had toured with Ghost and Damon & Naomi before. But the Boris tour was longer.
Atsuo: And then from there things transitioned into Smile. We gave a sample copy of the album to Jim Jarmusch in New York, then...after Smile the movie Limits of Control [*1] came out (in 2009). That was followed by Confessions (in 2010), with both of those films using several tracks from Rainbow, so it was kind of surprising to see the unexpected amount of attention this collaboration we sort of just tossed out there generated.
Boris -25th Anniversary Tour Final- (2018.09.22)
"Rainbow" was the first song where Wata sang
-The movie Confessions [*2] in particular used quite a few of your songs.
Takeshi: Six or so (including songs by Boris).
Atsuo: "Rainbow" was the first song where Wata sang.
Wata: I’d never sung anything with a band before.
Michio: Was there always some idea for you to do so?
Atsuo: There had been songs where Wata was credited on vocals, but not to the point where she would be considered a vocalist. From around the time we made Rainbow, though, we started to think that it might be cool to play more quietly or have stuff like the songs Nakamura-san was making for Ai Aso. Wata could probably sing too if that were the case, so that’s how we got started in that direction.
Takeshi: There’s also a version of "Rainbow" with me on vocals.
Michio: Oh really?
Atsuo: Our recording process for pretty much all of our songs is that we start with a Takeshi version and then have Wata sing that. But well, we don’t decide beforehand who will be singing when writing our songs.
Takeshi: Right. The next step is to write the lyrics and then I’ll add in the vocals...not so much as a guide, but more as an image of how the song should be sung...and then pass that along to Wata.
Wata: The key and so on can end up changing.
Atsuo: It depends on the song. Sometimes we’ll switch the key when playing it live.
-Has time brought about any differences between how you performed on your live album "Futomeido" and how you play live now?
Takeshi: The album is full of the energy and atmosphere of those days. That said, the sound we have now is one both Michio and Boris have reached as we’ve gotten older and gained experience, so even if we perform the same songs, the mood and effect are naturally going to have changed.
-How about your gear? Has anything changed since those days?
Wata: Quite a lot, actually.
Atsuo: We’re using different amps now, as well as different instruments.
Takeshi: Back then I think I was using an SG double neck. I picked up the Steinberger starting with the Smile tour. My memory is a bit hazy, though.
"不透明度" Boris with 栗原ミチオ ワンマン (2018.12.29)
it’s like the level of quality we want to reach has gone up
-You must be practicing a lot for the show at the end of the year (2018/12/29). How’s it going?
Atsuo: One step forward, five steps back (laughter).
Michio: Exactly (laughter).
Atsuo: There just isn’t enough time. Today is another with no breaks. Seven hours of practice.
Michio: We haven’t been taking any breaks at all in our rehearsal schedule recently.。
Atsuo: Generally we go for six hours straight. But not even that is enough time.
-Is it like you’re trying to fill in the blanks?
Atsuo: No, it’s like the level of quality we want to reach has gone up...or maybe that there are more areas where we feel we can go further based on the experience we have gained over the years. There’s times where we want to do things more this way or that way compared to how we used to play. I think we’ve become more musical. Like now there’s lots of times while we’re listening to each other’s sounds where we’re like “What should we do here?” It’s a lot of fun, though.
For instance with “Flare” and “Window Shopping”, we went to the studio after I transcribed the songs myself, but making them come together was a real pain (laughter). Like, “Was is it always this intense?!” Takeshi: Of course it would be intense.
Atsuo: It was actually a blast once we tried it, though. Listening to each other’s sounds while putting together a song on the spot is cool and all, whereas with “Flare” it was like some sort of game...
Takeshi: Along the lines of a time trial.
Atsuo: Exactly. Like “Reach this point, then reach this point next”. I think that way of doing things was interesting, too.
Michio: So what’s it like playing “Flare” without any synchronization this time? Is there something physically enjoyable about it?
Atsuo: Yeah, there really is. Back in the day we would synchronize things, outputting various “sound effects” for each song and me playing the drums to a click, but now we don’t do any of that.
Michio: We used synchronization for pretty much every track on "New Album".
Atsuo: We really did. For “Looprider”,“Party Boy”,“Spoon” and all that, too.
Michio: Man those were some tough days...
Michio: It was my least favorite thing...
Atsuo: Michio here can’t stand uniform playing.
Michio: Yeah, I can’t do things uniformly.
Atsuo: But, things are even more fun now because of us going through all that. “Flare” is such a good time. I love it.
Live photo by Miki Matsushima