BANDSPEAK, Interview, Music

An Interview with Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple

'The Music has always taught me who I should play with.'


A self-described “freak-out group for the 21st century,” Acid Mothers Temple formed in 1995 in Osaka, Japan. The band originated from the Acid Mothers Temple Soul Collective, something of a hippie commune consisting of musicians, dancers, artists, farmers, and other members of Japan’s social fringes. Though the band has gone through many line-up changes throughout the years (currently the only original touring members are founder Kawabata Makoto and synth player Higashi Hiroshi), and has performed under a plethora of different names (including Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O., Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno, and Acid Mothers Temple SWR, each reflecting a different line-up) they are currently touring with a core line-up of five members under the enduring moniker Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

Acid Mothers Temple will bring their blisteringly heavy psychedelic space freak-outs to Great Scott in Allston this Thursday (April 19th). Leader Kawabata Makoto was gracious enough to answer a few questions via email ahead of the show. (At Makoto’s request, his responses have been slightly edited for clarity to compensate for a slight language barrier)

Boston Hassle: Previous touring members such as Cotton Casino and Mitsuko☆Tabata appear on recent recordings but are not part of the touring lineup. What’s the reason for that?

Kawabata Makoto: AMT is not a so-called “band.” We’re more like family.
Cotton left from the tour band in 2003, coz she married and moved to the US, but our relationship is never finished even with such long distance. Also sometimes I need her voice for new recordings, so I ask her to contribute. Now, there is internet and hard disc recording! It’s really easy to collaborate and make music even we live in different countries.

Mitsuko Tabata left AMT. So did some other members. It’s a normal thing that happens in society, same as at an office, in a family, etc… If people are together for a long time, some problems happen… it’s kind of common sense.

On some of our new albums, you can find Tabata’s name in the credits, coz these tracks were recorded before Tabata left. After the vinyl revival boom, the labels started taking such a long time to release the albums. Vinyl pressing is not the same as cd pressing; it takes more time.
That’s why this kind of thing happens.

BH: What’s it like recording with one lineup and touring with another? Are there certain songs you can’t play without the members who were in the recording session?

KM: All music comes from my cosmos. I try to be like a radio receiver to play this music for people. Members should understand and share this music we play. AMT has NEVER practiced EVER since the beginning in 1995. Coz if I need to rehearse with members, it means they can’t understand what they should play. Members must understand and share this music together. So I have to choose members who don’t need any rehearsal together. Also rehearsal makes it boring for me to play this music.

It doesn’t matter who plays on the recordings. I try to re-play music that i catch from my cosmos by our hands. So I try to choose the “right” people to play the “right” music. Almost always, our members can play “right” music. But if there are more better people, I wanna ask them. Coz the music must be as “pure” as possible.

BH: There have been a lot of lineup changes in the past 5 years. How has that affected the way the music sounds? Has it changed the process of making music and playing it live?

KM: The music has always taught me who I should play with, and also what I should play.
When we got new people, the music taught me what we should play with this line-up.
I just open my ears and eyes in my heart.

BH: Who is in the current touring lineup?

Kawabata Makoto : guitar, synthesizer, speed guru
Higashi Hiroshi : synthesizer, noodle god
Jyonson Tsu : voice, guitar, bouzouki, midnight whistler
Satoshima Nani : drums, another dimension
Wolf : bass, space & time

BH: What have you been listening to in the van on this tour? Any disagreements over what is listened to?

KM: In this time, we have 46 shows in 46 days.
We must keep and save our energy just for playing music.
So we sleep almost time in the van.
Our tour driver/manager Justin “God” listens Trad Gras ooh Stenar, Virgin Prunes, Birthday Party, noise music, ethnic music, many kinds of music also radio… but we sleep.

BH: What’s your favorite food to eat when you’re on tour in the United States?

KM: Japanese food is what i cook by myself. I don’t like “fake” Japanese food outside of Japan.
We each cook by ourselves on the tour. Food is one of the most important thing for keeping in good condition, especially for such a long & tight tour. Also, food can make people stress a little, and because we have to eat everyday, stress can bigger easily. So we have to eat the “right” food that our body wants and needs.

I don’t want to have “big change” in my life, even on tour. So I try to eat my “usual” food on the tour. That’s why I cook by myself. All the other members too. Do you know a good musician should also be a good cook? Cooking and improvised music are really similar.

BH: If Acid Mothers Temple was an animal, what kind of animal would it be?

KM: Amoeba. We are so primitive, and have the possibility to evolve into anything.

BH: Is there anything you really enjoy doing or seeing in Boston?

KM: I will see my friend, the great electro-music artist Victoria Shen. I organized her Japanese tour last year, and we also played together. She is great and unique. I really enjoy playing with her.
This July, we will tour in Japan again!

BH: What are your thoughts on the burning on Notre Dame?

KM: Nothing is unbreakable.

BH: My friend wants me to ask you about aliens. Do you have any thoughts about aliens?

KM: I want to believe. I’m sure aliens have already come to Earth. But I think human beings are not the representatives of Earth in the Aliens’ eyes. I’m sure aliens have already contacted cats as the representatives of Earth. But sadly human beings don’t know this fact! Coz cats have never obeyed human beings, but human beings care lots and lots about cats!

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