Japanese rockers Mono are making their biannual trip to America, and — lucky us — one of their stops will be at the Sunset Tavern on November 15th.
Often compared to Mogwai (as is the fate of anyone performing melodic yet aggressive instrumental music these days), they take the passion of Young Team and travel due East, making as much of an impact with their approach to songwriting and cathartic stage presence as with their tidal waves of distortion. The last time they were in town I sat down with lead guitarist/songwriter Takaakira Goto. Following are some insights that might make your imminent Mono experience ('cause you're going, right? Remember what happened when you missed Mogwai? You don't want to go through that again) more enjoyable.
Is this your first time in America?
Actually it's our sixth. We come to America about every six months. We'll be back in November.
That's a lot of trips to America. How long has Mono been together?
About three years.
What's your favorite thing about America?
I like the way new music is originated. I find a lot more new music here than in Japan.
Do you like baseball?
Do you think the Mariners should trade Kazuhiro Sasaki?
Oh, I don't make those decisions; I have nothing to do with it.
Hmph. There goes that whole set of questions. Uh… what are you listening to right now?
It's a bit weird, but I love Beethoven. After our last tour, I wanted to find a way to break away from the repetitive nature of being on tour and making music. Then I came across Beethoven — some recordings from Japan, some from elsewhere. I found it very refreshing to hear the same song played differently by different people. I thought… if we play our music together, and every time it's a challenge and every time it comes out differently the way those Beethoven compositions are interpreted differently by each composer, it would be… That was my way to give the music its own life. By approaching it differently each time, it reflects how we are — what we're doing at that time — and makes the music more lively.
Wow. So have you considered actually playing some Beethoven live, maybe as homage?
I've heard rumors that you're pretty loud. Should I wear earplugs to the show?
[laughs] No, that won't be necessary.
Will you be wearing them?
No. I don't think we will be very loud tonight.
That's a joke.
Have you heard any good jokes lately?
Mind if I tell one?
What happens when you pour beer on a drum machine?
I don't know.
It tries to sing. One last question before I go: Do you have a message that you'd like to send out to the Youth of America?
Just listen to the music.