Bo Ningen: ‘We Want To Make It Open’

Bo Ningen are a deadlier, more intense band than ever.

There’s an excruciatingly violent noise rising from the floor boards while Bo Ningen rehearse ahead of their interview. With their third album just arriving – the simply titled ‘III’ – the band are embarking on the next chapter of their story. It’s a chapter that promises to be the most telling through their history to date, as the record they’re about to unleash takes things to a new level. Taking a bold psychedelic style and adding more intricate layers, this record contains more depth than previously witnessed. Further reaching influences seep into the melting pot of ‘III’, calling to mind ‘De-Loused In The Comatorium’-era Mars Volta throughout and ‘Ladies And Gentlemen’-era Spiritualized, in the more gentle moments. It is an utter adventure in rock music.

From their outlandishly strange live shows, through pulsating psychedelia, to their current elaborate and experimental rock sound, Bo Ningen are ultimately an experience like no other band, anywhere. Speaking with bass player and vocalist, Taigen and drummer, Monchan we try and understand just how an outfit like this has come about.

What brought you to England?
Taigen: We all met in London so we formed the band in London. We have different types of reasons that we are here. Personally, I came to study music and performance art,
Monchan: I was working for a fashion company in Japan and I gave up, and I was looking for somewhere to move and I chose London.

Did you know each other before you came?
T: No, we are all from different parts of Japan, so we met in London – all within a period of one month or two months. We weren’t just looking for long-haired, Japanese people or anything like that but it just sort of happened.

Do you feel more like an English band then, or a Japanese band?
T: We feel both. Now we go to Japan once or twice a year. We’ve done that five or six times now – maybe more than that. So we play a lot of shows in Japan and a lot of show in London and we feel like both are home but they are completely different feelings.

You’re known for having an exuberant live show – you’re all very animated on stage. Is that you guys getting caught up in the music? Is that your style of performance? Is it performance art, even? How would you categorize it?
T: We don’t have to categorize it. Sometimes we get bored watching some kind of normal band, who don’t do that much on stage. It’s something that has developed with us and we do naturally – it is just how we are.

You talked a lot in Japanese in between the songs when I saw you playing live. Is this something that you do in the spur of the moment and what are you saying?
T: It can be a way of connecting to the audience. Also it’s like tuning a guitar, I’m tuning myself. Some people do try guessing what I am saying like you but it totally depends. It’s kind of like: imagination! Everyone has got a different opinion or a different imagination of what I am saying or singing about. It’s like, say one hundred people came to the venue, then there might be one hundred different ideas of what the show was about. That’s a more connecting way to me. Because the meaning is open, it has more opportunity.

Tell me about your new album. Is there a concept?
T: It doesn’t really have a theme. We made the album because we have enough songs. The difference is the second album is a step up from the first one. The first album, we wanted to capture what we’ve got live. With the second, we tried adding some things we can only do in the production process. So the second album is a mixture of live and recorded (tracked) material. With the third album, it’s even more – more recording, more ideas. I think every song has a slightly different colour and how I would explain it is different colours but all in one painting. The second album is the same but in the third album, we used more colours. We’re still loud and we’re still noisy but each song has a different layer and more colours.

Is that why you called the record ‘III’? It’s more of a development, rather than something else?
T: We didn’t want to give the record a name that would give people an idea of what the record was about, straight away. We wanted people to think about it. It’s like with the second album ‘Line The Wall’, it kind of makes sense but also, it can mean anything. It’s up to people’s opinion. I’m not saying we want to make it abstract but we want to make it open.

Is it the same approach with lyrics then?
T: Exactly. I don’t normally write lyrics before hand. I try not to think too much about it while we’re jamming or while we make songs. For the album, we record all the jamming and I normally listen back to them and find out what works. I think ‘this one works’ or ‘this one needs a new line’ and try and make it make sense to me, otherwise it’s too random.

Do you think about the image of the band? It’s striking, believe me.
T: We don’t like to think too much because then it becomes part of your concept. We are just what we are and we wear what we want to wear. We didn’t discuss about it. Like, we didn’t talk about hair or anything like that. There were no conversations about hair. We think about things visually, in terms of the music – like how I explained about the colours in the songs. But we didn’t discuss our own image. We just want to keep things organic.

Do you think your music would suffer if it was more planned – if you had a concept or a preconceived idea about what you wanted to do?
T: It depends. We wouldn’t want to restrict anything.

Bo Ningen’s ‘III’ is out now.

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