Backstage With MONO: Japan’s Most Passionate Band


Mono Japan Band

Chris Mølina

Takaakira Goto is a man that loves his job. Lead guitarist and main composer of Japanese band Mono, he has had a long and successful international career making music and touring the world and from the sound of it, he doesn’t intend to slow down. On the band’s most recent tour, before their San Francisco show (a city they have been to at least 10 times) Takaakira was kind enough to meet with us backstage to provide us with some insight into his life as the leading man of Mono.

Mono is a band unlike many making music today. While technically classified as post rock and/or shoegaze, confining them to a genre or brand is unfair given their tendency towards experimentation and the evolution of the band from their first album, 2001’s Under the Pipal Tree to 2014’s double release The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness. Takaakira says bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine have served as major influences (which are probably the closest groups I can think of as points for comparison), but he also notes his love for classical composers like Beethoven.

SEE ALSO: On Tour With Icelandic Group Asonat: What’s In Our Luggage?

These influences reflect in the band’s sound and how they utilize the emotional and dramatic structure of classical compositions, but combine them with the intense, loud, distorted guitar solos of postmodern rock bands like My Bloody Valentine. This structure is present throughout the band’s catalogue, yet at the same time whenever they set out to make new music, Takaakira says the band is “always trying to find something new in their music. Something that nobody has done before. Trying to be unique and original” The band’s latest albums remove their classic orchestra sound and focuses on stripping the music down, making it more simple and using the classic four-piece rock and roll sound of guitars, bass, and drums.

Mono band Japan

Scott Williamson

Mono band Japan guitar

Scott Williamson

When Takaakira sits down to write a song, it’s not just about the necessity to make something new and original, but to bring out the spiritual side to his art. He sees music as something more than just sound. It is something that he describes, “with the power to save a life”. Their live shows are all about bringing out the emotions in the audience. Their concerts move from dark to light and tell a story, all the while some fo the most taleneted musicians I have ever seen perform thrash on stage, with a passion that often times finds Takaakira ripping a solo as he writhes on the floor. The music becomes an experience for those listening. At the same time, Takaakira notes that whenever he is onstage, it is just as much a personal experience as one for those he is performing for.

Takaakira admits he is getting older and touring is definitely wearing on his body, but the way he talks he has no intention of slowing down. Their last albums were released in 2014 and since their release; the band essentially hasn’t stopped touring. In the last year and a half, they have been to Europe, Asia, and America multiple times. Moving forward they have shows booked across South America, Australia, and New Zealand, before they head back to Asia and Europe.

When asked if he is planning on taking a break, Takaakira revealed that the band plans on taking a week off after this tour. They will then record some new music, and will then hit the road. This idea of constantly touring seems somewhat nightmarish. Sleeping in vans, constantly on the move, playing late nights. A potential upside should be the opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures. However, Takaakira reveals that they hardly ever see any of the cities. Before meeting with us in San Francisco, the band had driven from Seattle, sleeping in the van on the way. Once the show is over, they pack up and head off to Los Angeles. He once took a few weeks off in Europe, which he enjoyed, but besides that he doesn’t have a lot to say about the cities they visit.

Mono band japan lights

Shaula S. Rocha

Mono band japan

Shaula S. Rocha

The main question then is how could somebody choose to live like this? The answer is that Takaakira has found his passion and has followed it wherever it has taken him.

The band first came to America in the late 90s, not knowing any English, or anyone in the music industry. He saw coming to America a necessity because Japanese audiences simply weren’t ready to accept the type of music he wanted to make. So, they just came to New York and started playing their music. Luckily, as a result of their infamous live shows and energy, they picked up a major following at the shows they were playing. They then got noticed by a record company, and were given a deal that has allowed them to gain the success that they currently enjoy. Nothing was going to stop this group from getting to where they are today. Takaakira is a man that knows what he loves and has let very little get in the way of his career.

The perspective I took away from my time with Takaakira was the truth behind the old and worn out saying that was once given as advice to Gilgamesh many years ago. Carpe Diem. Whether your passion is making music, traveling the world, or helping animals, make the most of today as a means of following that passion and making a living doing what you love.

Evan Molineux contributor profile


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Categories: Artists

Author:Jetset Times

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