Interview: FUNERAL MOTH (Japanese Doom)

FUNERAL MOTH released their second album earlier this year. Transience is a two-song, 40-minute epic of DOOM. Heavy and slow. But FUNERAL MOTH also bring a lightness to their sound that gives the music a genuinely serene atmosphere. I was thinking about a band like LOW (slow, clear etc) when asking about post-rock influence, and it’s interesting to see the different members bringing diverse influences.
Light is probably a bad verb for Doom, FUNERAL MOTH are still HEAVY. Clear waters still mask ominous depths.

Interview with Makoto, Ryo, Yuichiro and Tomohiro, 29 November 2016.

I try to avoid the “history” question, but there are some important member changes with this album, can you explain the current lineup?

Makoto: Yes, Nobuyuki who’s the one of the founder of the band left FUNERAL MOTH last year to focus more on his personal life. Fortunately, a talented musician Ryo joined without stopping our doom endeavour. Nobuyuki was the main songwriter, but after the member change, I am writing all of the songs, so the music has changed a little bit.

Ryo: I have been a fan of FUNERAL MOTH since seeing them play on the MOURNFUL CONGREGATION Japan tour on 2010, so I can’t describe how much I was excited when the members gave me an opportunity to actually become one of the member. Now that I am a member, I am giving everything I have to keep this band going.

The booklet lists recording credits with dates and it was interesting to see how everything was recorded separately between July and December 2015. Were all the songs written for all parts before recording began in July?

Makoto: Yes, both songs were written and arranged before the recording. We had played “transience” live since 2013, and “lost” since 2014.

live 19 december 2015 at earthdom, tokyo

Drums were recorded first, does Yuichiro work from a demo recording of the guitar/bass?

Yuichiro: The drum tracks were recorded partially with guitar, but most of the time I played without anything. Usually drummers play with a click, I do not play along with it. I can’t bare listening to noisy clicks.

In October, when the recordings were complete, did you hear a different album than you imagined before each element was completed separately? I wonder if you saw something new as each individual part became one?

Makoto: As for guitars and bass, we spent a lot of time until all of us were satisfied with the sound and playing. We didn’t have any clear vision how the sound had to be but we tried to make raw and organic sound. We are totally satisfied with the result.

Tomohiro: I am quite happy with the result. I used strong fuzz effect on the previous album, but this time I tried to create natural sound, so the guitar is plugged directly into the amp.

How difficult was it to mix and master recordings from at least three different studios?

Makoto: It wasn’t difficult at all. Fortunately, 3 of us can do recording by ourselves so it was easy to record each instruments in their own studios. When we recorded previous album “dense fog”, Tomohiro recorded his guitar by himself and Justin of MOURNFUL CONGREGATION recorded his lead guitar in Australia. So I had an experience like this.

In the description you point out that you used some specific musical theory in this album (rondo form). Can you talk any more about this – the song, the themes – and did any particular classical piece influence your decision?

Makoto: To tell the truth, “Dances of Death” of MEKONG DELTA was the inspiration to write the song in Rondo! The concept of the song “transience” is life and death. In rondo form, principal theme alternates with other sub themes, which represents the cycle of life and death.

I saw a few reactions to the artwork, that it is not “traditionally” bleak or dark, but you have said it reflects the themes – can you say anything more about the artwork, what it symbolises?

Makoto: Yes, I think it’s not a “normal” artwork for doom album. Of course, there are the meanings behind it but it’s too personal so I don’t want to reveal everything here. As I mentioned in previous question, the theme of “transience” is life and death. From sea, life was born and after death we go back to sea. This shore is the symbolization of womb and grave.

Your sound has some of the ethereal lightness you can also find in post-rock and similar genres, do you draw any inspiration from those genres?

Makoto: Personally, I don’t listen to post-rock. I’m totally a metalhead. I’m influenced by DUSK (US), diSEMBOWELMENT, EVOKEN, and so on…

Yuichiro: I am more influenced by progressive rock, and my drum playing is not inspired from metal music, so that may be the reason why listeners refer our music to other genres.

Tomohiro: I do listen to post-rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but I personally don’t reflect those music with ours. I love music with laid back atmosphere.

Ryo: Actually, I used to play in post-metal band, so those reactions from the listeners are completely understandable. If I was to describe my taste of music with one word, it would be transparent, and my favourite music spreads from jazz, trip-hop to alternative music. It always calms my feelings when I listen to them.

Makoto: And I must add MOURNFUL CONGREGATION as the biggest influences for all of us.

We have been working with you and Weird Truth for years and long may it continue, what are you plans for the next year(s) with FUNERAL MOTH and Weird Truth?

weird-truth-logo

Makoto: In January, FUNERAL MOTH will share the stage with US doom/sludge band Disrotted here in Japan. And we are writing new songs for next material but there are no fixed release plans yet. We want to release next material as soon as possible so we must kick our own ass!!!As for Weird Truth, I have many release plans for 2017. In December 2016, I’ll release split CD of Danish doom/drone band SOL and Japanese doom/industrial/ambient Begräbnis. In January 2017, I’ll release Ukraine doom band Crypt of Silence’s new album, which is co-release with mighty Solitude Productions. And I have some more plans but it’s not time to reveal them yet.

Final words are yours!

Makoto: Thanks for the interview. I hope you enjoy our album. Stay doomed!

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