Mono released their tenth studio album on their twentieth anniversary last month, and are now setting off on tours across the globe in support of it. Nowhere Now Here has been received favourably across the critique spectrum, with Everything Is Noise being one among the chorus of voices that enjoyed it – check out the review here. We were lucky enough to chat with Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto – lead guitarist of Mono – about the album, the anniversary, and of course their upcoming live shows.
Everything Is Noise: Hey Taka, great to meet you! I loved reviewing “Nowhere Now Here”, and I’m looking forward to hearing your answers to our questions.
Taka: Nice to meet you too, and thank you for the interview!
EIN: So first of all, congratulations on your twentieth anniversary! What is the secret behind keeping a band going for so long, whilst continuing to push out challenging, fresh music?
Taka: Thank you. It may be a little conventional but if it wasn’t for all the fans who continued to support us, and our partners such as labels, booking agents, and more who understand our music, we wouldn’t be here.
We feel pure endless happiness when we’re working on our music. 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.
EIN: Your new album Nowhere Now Here came out on recently; tell us more about the vision you had when you started writing that the album, and tell us more about your writing process.
Taka: Nowhere Now Here became a musical trail of all the troubles we faced as we walked towards our new chapter. In 2017, because of our troubles and termination with our Japanese management and label, as well as our drummer’s departure, we were in a state of not being able to take one step. We didn’t have any of our schedule locked, and we were all in the mood of ‘if it was a regular band, this is when they’d disband‘. We were really in the dark and couldn’t see anything ahead. We were in a crucial time of needing to decide whether the band should reborn or stop its activity.
As a result, I left a story about regenerating from the pitch-black darkness which felt like ‘nowhere’, then through dawn, welcoming the new chapter ‘now here’. Because of this, this album is filled with completely different energy compared to our last albums. If you cut the word ‘nowhere’ in half, it becomes ‘now here’. I wanted to express that by pouring the feeling of love and positivity into that one single space, you will be able to change everything.
This album portrays a story about parting with the past. From wandering a pitch-black darkness filled with hatred, anger, and a sense of incongruity in the deep pit of your heart, to facing yourself and fighting through struggles, hidden light, and hope of what you wish to remain, then eventually in the last scene “Vanishing, Vanishing Maybe”, you part ways with the past.
EIN: Which is your favourite song to play from the album, and why?
Taka: It’s really difficult to choose one, but when I’m playing “After You Comes the Flood”, “Breathe”, “Sorrow”, and “Meet Us Where the Night Ends” live, I get a very special feeling.
EIN: We’re always interested in how such bands see atmosphere. What makes a song atmospheric for you? The notes they choose? The rhythms? Or the absence of such?
Taka: I don’t particularly have any rules to compose, but if I had to say it, composing is a process of going inside your heart. I go down deep within and start to form my heart into songs by pulling out shining bright soul-like elements from the madness-like darkness. I myself get saved by writing songs.
EIN: Which bands in the genre have you drawn inspiration from? Are there any new bands who are teaching you new tricks?
Taka: When I write songs, I don’t really listen to other people’s music. During the tour, I listened to a lot of Jóhan Jóhannsson, who unfortunately passed away, Nils Frahm, and Ennio Morricone.
EIN: Tell us more about the gear you used to create Nowhere Now Here.
Taka: With this album, I used EarthQuaker Devices‘ Afterneath and Hoof, and Jim Dunlop’s Fuzz Face a lot. I really like them.
EIN: Did you use any special recording techniques for the album?
Taka: This time, I used a lot of electronic instruments. I wanted to try creating an original unique worldview much like one of my longtime favourites Philip Glass’ early works.
EIN: You’ve got a huge tour coming up, which countries do you like playing in the most and why?
Taka: We’ve so far travelled 57 countries in the last 20 years. We’ve toured in so many countries and cities so many times. Each place has a lot of memories and friends so I can’t just choose one.
EIN: Which tracks from your back catalogue do you like playing live the most?
Taka: We’ve never removed “Ashes In The Snow” from Hymn To The Immortal Wind ever since it was written from our setlist.
EIN: Have you changed your live show in the last few years?
Taka: By Dahm joining the band, the band’s sound itself became closer to the ideal sound. We can now perform even more dramatically, now that our energy, vitality and power got stronger. He’s truly a fantastic drummer.
EIN: Finally, can we expect to see you pushing out another magnificent album on your thirtieth anniversary?
Taka: Hahaha. Of course. I hope to continue pursuing music more and more in the next 30 and 40 years and hope to be able to create even better albums and live shows.