Heavy metal meets visual kei: an interview with Matenrou Opera
A few days ago, just about the same time this email interview was to be published, Matenrou Opera announced that they are cancelling their European tour. So, for a while I was unsure if I should or should not publish this, but at the end, as it isn’t only about the tour I decided to post it anyways. So, check out what Sono, the band’s singer and bassist Yo had to say about their recent album, support guitarist and musical influences.
You first visited Europe nine years ago, in 2008, opening for Versailles during their first tour abroad. Do you have any special memories from that tour and about Europe?
Sono: I was surprised by how loud the audience was! It was so loud that at times I could not hear the sound of the band and I would like to hear that again during this tour.
Yo: The sausage we ate in Germany was delicious.
Back in 2008 Matenrou Opera was still a very young band, but now you rank amongst the respected veterans of the scene. How does it feel to look back at your career and what are you the most proud of?
Sono: I am thankful that the band has been around for such a long time, but it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our fans. And I am proud that we make unique music.
Yo: I think that during those ten years, we could expand the attractiveness of our music.
What does being a visual kei band mean to you?
Yo: I believe that being able to play music with the additional visual coolness is prerequisite to playing high quality performances and that is what makes a good visual kei band.
And what do you think about the present and future of the visual kei scene?
Sono: I wish there were more people who like music. But I think that it will be a culture that will continue forever.
Yo: I think visual kei was and always be about looking for new ways of expression.
Last year one of your guitarists, Anzi left and you decided to continue as a four piece band. Did you rearrange the older songs for the new lineup or do you play live with a support guitarist?
Sono: Our support guitarist JaY did some minor re-arrangements and now guitar solos and the like pretty much represent his sound.
Yo: When playing an old song live, we allow our support guitarist to play it his own way.
What is your usual songwriting method? Do you work on the final form of a song together or everyone just follows the composer’s ideas?
Sono: It’s all members working together.
Yo: Depends on the song, but most of them are done by all members.
Which bands and musicians were your biggest inspirations when you were young, that made you decide to become a musician?
Sono: Yoshiki from X-Japan.
Yo: There are no specific musicians who inspired me to start a band. Originally I simply liked to listen to music, but I liked the sound of bass, so I wanted to play it as well.
Since Anzi’s departure the band seem to have a more toned down, simple image. More of a straightforward rocker look instead of all the fancy and colorful costumes. Was that just accidental or was that an intentional change from your side?
Sono: It was intentional. Our current look represents the power of Matenrou Opera’s take on heavy metal.
Yo: That event affected us and our style, but it isn’t only about that, our look represents our world view and it is what comes naturally for the current Matenrou Opera.
Tell us a bit about your new release, Pantheon – Part 1. What is the concept behind the album and does it differ musically from your previous works?
Sono: The concept centers around heavy metal. And from the musical point of view I feel that it is more intense and beautiful compared to our previous works.
You: It is our first full album since we became a four member group and I think it turned out to be a work full of individuality, representing each of the members. As for the musical part I would like to leave the judgement to those who listen to it, but I think that the base did not change.
And finally: What can the new and old fans expect from you during your European shows?
Sono: I would like to enjoy the music of Matenrou Opera with all the fans who have been waiting for us. Let’s sing together!
Yo: Since we can not do overseas tours often, I am especially looking forward to seeing you. Please come to our show to listen to our music.
Thank you for the interview!
Thanks for B7Klan for making this interview special and thanks for Bettina for the translation help!