As MONO celebrate 20 Years Together with a massive World Tour, we were lucky enough to grab Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto for a chat all about the band, the writing/recording process of albums then taking them on tour and a whole bunch more. Take a look and get ready for MONO‘s Australian Tour kicking off tomorrow!
You keep a very constant touring schedule. Is there ever any downtime for the members of MONO and what do you do to relax?
Generally, during tours, I read books or watch movies. Actually, they’re the most suitable time to read books. I have a lot of books I want to read and you can learn a lot of important things in life from our predecessors’ experiences. Between tours, I try to spend time with my family and enjoy as much as possible to release my tensed up mind and body.
The new album, Nowhere Now Here continues your form of consistently great music. How hard do you push yourself and do you reject a lot of material?
I feel like my answer ends up being the same every time, but we feel pure endless happiness when we’re working on our music, more than anything in the world. The fact we can devote ourselves like this is truly the most satisfying thing in such a deep level. Of course, it is important to be able to achieve some sort of a result, but simply being able to forget time, focus and work on music are the most irreplaceable and precious thing.
Even now, we have the same hunger as when we were young. “This is not enough”, “we want to explore deeper” and “we want to keep on moving forward” are our most important motif, not just for music, but to live.
I’m very interested in your process. Do you sit and compose the material? How much is jammed out? What is everyone’s contribution?
Generally, I write all the songs by myself and create a demo. After then, I share them with the members and start to explore in the studio. If I had to compare with film production, it’s almost like I write the script and direct, then the rest of the members act. We’re a family, best friends and also a team. We all face the music seriously based on absolute trust.
Your songs have an epic quality to them. Does anything change when you perform live?
By playing live, I can feel that I’m not alone. I can feel that each fan who shared with us are like our friends. They give us the feeling that we can together have the courage and hope that will not lose against the inevitable darkness we face as human beings, such as suffering, sadness and setbacks.
How does a live performance affect you?
They strongly make us feel that we want to tour the world and share and express something important as human beings, that surpasses countries, histories, languages and religions.
Steve Albini has worked with you for a long time. Is he almost a fifth member of the band? How does he push you in the studio?
Steve is like our 5th member and for myself, he’s also like the teacher of music. Ever since the beginning, we used analogue tapes and recorded together live at the same time. It’s the simplest yet the most difficult way.
As an engineer, he is just first class and has the technic to record the best sound like a magician. As a producer, all I can say is that Steve is a genius. He manages to pull out and maximise the passion and charm of each artist, but I can imagine that it may be too bare and some people may have resistant to it, like how the record company was when Nirvana released “In Utero”, haha.
You travel the world constantly. What are some of your favourite activities in Australia?
The streets of Australia are very refined and beautiful. It’s really nice that you can feel the harmony of nature and culture. Tokyo is chaotic so during the tour, it gives us really good feelings.
But during tours, we can only visit major cities so one day, I’d like to one day go sightseeing in places with world heritage.
What are some of the biggest influences on you? What music are you listening to now?
I think what gives you the most influence in life is touring. By travelling the world, we grow through experiences and feelings. As for music, since I’m currently composing our new album, I’m not listening to much music but whenever I find a movie that moves my heart, I try to listen to the soundtrack immediately because good movies always have great music.
Thank you very much for your time Taka. I’m looking forward to the show on March 8th in Brisbane.
Thank you very much for the interview and see you soon.
Interview by Dan Brixey (@DanielJBrixey)
MONO Tour Australia this week. Tickets via The Bird’s Robe Collective
MONO – Nowhere Now Here Tour
with Jo Quail
Mar 4 / Rosemount Hotel / Perth, AU *
Mar 5 / The Gov / Adelaide, AU *
Mar 6 / Max Watts / Melbourne, AU *
Mar 7 / Metro Theatre / Sydney, AU *
Mar 8 / The Triffid / Brisbane, AU *