The way it works is you pass on a CD to a friend and preface it with the words: “They’re from Japan. Just listen.” The thing is with Boris - that’s just not near damn enough to say. Sixteen years later after the band’s inception, they continue to not simply reinvent the wheel but instead take the thing of the axle and make it completely different. Like any great group of musicians and artists, they don’t let any barriers stand in their way. They’ve done countless collaborations with other incredible artists such as but not limited to Keiji Haino, Sunn O))), Michio Kurihara, Ian Astbury, and many more. I don’t know that the Melvins realized that their song would spawn such a diverse and sonically tenacious band like Boris, but I can only imagine they see it as an enormous compliment that after seventeen studio albums (not counting the myriad of collaborations), Boris is in no mood to quit and certainly in no mood to turn down the volume. I recently had an email exchange/conversation with Atsuo regarding the band’s history and their own sense of the art they create:
Since the band’s formation in 1996, you guys have certainly evolved your sound from definitive metal to sludge to experimental and even what might be considered pop. How difficult has it been for you all to sort of be able to maintain the Boris sound while still crossing barriers of music from a genre standpoint?
To us it has not been so difficult to maintain our sound since we can catch possible vision and atmosphere when hearing our own recorded music so carefully. However, in that case the member’s own identity and ego are left behind and ignored frequently. That means ‘music first’ method would shake down members. In order to preserve the balance of our feeling we need to overlook ourselves. Sometimes we feel scary about that.
Language barriers seem to disappear in the wake of music - no matter what genre it may be. When you listen to Boris, no matter what your language might be, the connection is immediately there. How do you approach the art you create in not allowing the issue of language to impede the process?
I don’t really care about language barriers at all. If there is, people try to ‘feel’ something instead of communicating with languages. In fact music is to feel, right? Communication should start from where people can’t understand each other perfectly. That is so natural and to start from there is the best way, I believe.
Boris has worked with numerous artists/musicians here in the states. How is the music scene different here than in your native Japan?
Totally different on everything. For example physically, we can’t play instruments the way western people do. And Western music scene and Japan has their own history of rock music.