Q&A - Acid Mothers Temple
Japanese psychedelic rock band, Acid Mothers Temple (AMT) are one of the most acclaimed and revered artists in psych. Their influence spans over 20 years, 70 recorded albums and has included innumerable member musicians. AMT will soon be embarking on another European tour with big plans and sincere promises to nourish your soul, blow your mind and take you to the ends of the universe via their galactic express.
One stop on the AMT schedule will be Liverpool Psych. Fest. We caught up with group leader and guitarist, Kawabata Makoto to discuss their upcoming performance, the meaning of ‘trip music’, ‘selfless devotion’ and the Japanese music and media industries.
Q. You will a be a part of the Liverpool Psych Fest 'Congregation' this September, what can we expect to see from you and what do you most enjoy about coming to play in the UK?
A. We'll make you blow your mind, and take you to the end of the universe with our galactic express!
Q. ‘Psychedelia’ and ‘psychedelic’ music has morphed and evolved into something more expansive than (perhaps) the more recognised form of 1960s psychedelic rock. Please discuss in relation to your own musical identity and what /bands/musicians/music influenced you when you started making music.
A. My music has come from my cosmos (I don't know the right word for it, so I call it "my cosmos"). I have never composed music; it is my cosmos that teaches me what I should play. I try to tune the radio as best I can.
Q. Acid Mothers Temple and its ‘soul collective’ have had many different names and forms. Can you tell us the reasons behind this fluidity and diversity and why you subsequently just rested with Acid Mothers Temple?
A. Acid Mothers Temple means like a big umbrella under AMT's name, there are many AMT projects with each having a different musical concept. I wanna play different kinds of music with AMT though; I wanna choose the best musicians for each musical project. I like the right men in the right spaces... the right musicians in the right music...
Q. Over the years, you have collaborated with many different musicians and experimented with many musical forms. These seem to align with your idea of ‘trip music’. Can you tell our readers the meaning of ‘trip music’?
A. I named "trip music" for my music and this kind of music. It's different from "Psychedelic rock"...60s Psychedelic rock was played by musicians with effects from drugs, also the audience took something too as a way of sharing some of the same effects of their music. But people who don’t take anything can't share this effect and experiences, unfortunately...but my music, my "trip music" already includes effects, then people who doesn’t take even anything, they can share and experience. Also, if people take something, they can feel double or triple effects... hahaha! We find the way to take people to the end of the universe.
Q. Makoto – you have spoken about being a conduit for the cosmos and how your music flows from this source. Can you discuss this in regards to your relationship with the ‘audience’?
A. My music comes from my cosmos, everywhere and anytime - same as radio wave. You can't see and listen to any radio wave without a radio. The world is full of radio waves - all around you and everywhere. If you can concentrate your mind and ears, you can catch some of your sounds (even if it is not like "music" in the beginning… just listening, that's all. That's everything.
Q. “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” Victor Hugo. What is ‘music’ to you?
A. I have never imagined my music is one of my expression. My music has come from my cosmos; not from my idea. I have tried to be "Messhi (滅私)" - I'm not sure this translation is correct or not, but the closest meaning would be "selfless devotion". I try to remove and delete my personal thing, even my personal feelings, senses, values and also my ego from the performance. The music I play should be really pure and the same as the original sounds that I catch from my cosmos. My personal things are just a hindrance!
Q. There is an (almost) improvisational flow to your live performances. What are the challenges of translating this energy into a recorded album?
A. The recording and the live performance are totally different things. Live means we have to think about time, place, people...these are the 3 factors we need for playing Live. In this time, at this place, for these people... these are the most important things for the reason why we play. Also, these three things are different, so we can't play the "same" as any past (or any future) performance.
"Improvisation" means like not "free music" to me. "Improvisation" means composing, arrangement and playing in same time. I don't need "composing", coz I can receive music from my cosmos but, it's just an expression about "improvisation". So, music needs "improvisation" especially during live performance as they are all different times, places and people and therefore the performance will be different.
Q. Makoto – you have spoken about your dislike of Japanese media and some aspects of its cultural response to your music? What advice would you give to the next generation of experimental Japanese musicians?
A. The reason for my dislike of Japanese media is one thing, they have never respected musicians. They believe musicians are just a source of income... they ask for free records, they ask for free tickets and they want to charge money for picking up musicians and writing their story. I can't trust them and their stories... I had so many bad experiences when I was younger...
I don't care any media, any reviews. I'm sure if I continue to play good music for people who need my music, more people can find our music in one day. The people's network is the strongest and deepest; I can trust only people, not media.
Q. Makoto – what is next for AMT and for yourself, personally?
A. We are recording new albums from this summer. Also, some past albums will be reissued on LP and also on CD. Most of the AMT members play in other groups and they are quite – they have other commitments to play with their own groups, solo projects and also sessions. So the times that we can play together with AMT are important periods for us. There are not so many chances, just during tours. We don't see each other so much when we're not on the tour... we keep some distance and respect each other’s space.
I toured in UK and Europe with Pika who is the vocalist/drummer of Afrirampo last May. Our duel project is called "Pikacyu-Makoto (光宙☆魔呼斗)" and we will release 2nd album from the UK label soon, and will tour in UK/Europe in August 2017.
I play some shows and festivals in another duo with my old French friend, Jean-François Pauvros in Europe just after this AMT European tour in Autumn 2016. Also, I will tour with one of the most unique drummers, Nakatani Tatsuya in US on November - December 2016 too.
Q. Finally, what are you looking forward to most at Liverpool Psych Fest?
A. We're so looking forward to seeing and meeting people who need our music! We wanna make them blow their minds, and take them to the end of the galaxy by our galactic express!! let's Rock!