BORIS are a band unlike anyone else. They have successfully garnered a cult following across the globe and stretched the boundaries of what is commonly classed as heavy music. With a plethora of releases under their belts, they have decided on touring the album Flood; an hour long mix of mellow soundscapes and heavy drone, and luckily for us, they are bringing this spectacle to Australia this month. Drummer-vocalist Atsuo took the time out from their busy schedule to chat with HEAVY.
You have many releases and albums spanning a lengthy career… what made you decide on playing the album Flood in full?
It started because we played Flood last year in Japan at the Leave Them All Behind 2012 festival, which was really good. When we go on big tours, it’s usually after we’ve released a new album. So, we always have to focus our set list on songs from each new release. We’ve been touring overseas many times since 2005, but we haven’t played much from our albums released before that time. That’s why we thought we’d like to a show that was focused on Flood, and include material from our past and our future, including new songs.
Playing an album with songs of that length must have been quite a chore to learn and remember exactly where each part goes and at what time. What obstacles did you face while preparing for this tour and how did you overcome them?
For shows, we’ve arranged the songs to a length of 40 minutes or so, because the world and the rules when making the source material in the studio are different to those of being onstage. We can’t play the studio songs unless we translate them in a different way when we do them live. Besides, we don’t always “replicate” our songs each time we play them. Some of our songs are intentionally unfinished as they are, so we can complete them with our audiences when we play live. Every night.
No two BORIS albums sound in any way the same, was this the idea from the start to have no limitations to your music and just play what feels right or did it just happen as a natural progression when the band started rehearsing and writing?
We always just do the things we like. We feel unfaithful as musicians unless we’re showing our listeners what makes us seriously passionate. In this world, I can’t believe in anything, except for when I’m feeling good or comfortable. For me, making music is sharing those feelings.
You have worked with many unique artists over time, SUNN O))), Ian Astbury, and Merzbow to name a few, can you tell us some stories about working with these individuals and what you learnt from each artist that you now can apply to your own music careers?
These kinds of questions are often asked in a way that is only limited to the music. However, fundamentally, the music we’ve made together has come true because of our relationships with each other and our friendships. Music is our life’s work, but we never make music merely for business. How can I put it…? For us, collaborations are like traveling to distant and rarely-visited regions with people who are not band members. For the trip to progress, it’s like harnessing the accumulated experiences of each other’s lives and supporting each other. It’s difficult to recount every single thing that happened during a particular trip. But, each recording is a documentary of one of such trips. I guess you can feel the influences if you listen to our mutual works before and after one of our collaborations.
Are there any artists you would still like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet been able to?
Right now we’re in the middle of working on some collaborations and I’m looking forward to finishing the work. The content is still secret though.
Vinyl has always played a huge part in BORIS releases, what is it about vinyl that you personally find appealing?
Do you remember making a phone out of paper cups and a thread? It’s when a thread connects two paper cups and one person speaks into one cup and another person listens into the other cup while holding the string tight. Aren’t those good? When you use them, the sound being delivered to your ear is influenced by the materials that you’re using, such as the thread, the kind of paper, and the air around you. Vinyl is a medium that is kind of like those thread phones. The sound that is captured is uniquely influenced by the materials used in the production of the physical record. CDs and digital music can never really capture such things. I think the same can be said about movies. The physical feeling of the material itself is also important because it makes us feel like we’re there, we can touch something. The power of vinyl is unlimited, isn’t it?
BORIS have done so many different types of shows across the world, are there any that stand out to you personally as the defining moments of the band’s career?
Although it wasn’t a special show, the most impressive one for us was a summer show we did at a Unitarian church in Philadelphia. When it comes to memorable stories, the whole band remembers that place. It was the hardest place in the world to perform at. The audience was excited. It was an all-age show, but it was in the basement of this old church, and there was no air conditioner. The heat and humidity were ridiculous. It was too humid to use gaffer tape. It made us feel confident that we can play anywhere in the world, now, because we were able to play there. That venue inspired our confidence during the tour and made our trip memorable.
What’s next for BORIS?
When we finish touring in Australia, we’ll be back in the studio, recording in earnest. We’ll be playing new songs on this tour, so we should make a new album or something.
BORIS AUSTRALIAN TOUR
June 19 – Melbourne, AU @ Corner Hotel
June 21 – Sydney, AU @ Manning Bar
June 22 – Hobart, AU @ Dark Mofo Festival
June 24 – Perth, AU @ Rosemont Hotel