Before the start of their European tour I spoke with 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) about their memories from the last time they have been in Europe and what they are looking forward to this time, but also about their current activities and new support member JaY.
01. The first time you’ve been in Europe was in 2008, and I’m sure you still have memories from back then, but you’ve all grown as people as well. Is there anything you’re looking forward to in the 2017 version of Europe?
Sono: I’m looking forward to the chorus moments with the audience! The last time in Europe the cheering of the audience was loud enough to make the sound of the band inaudible, so I also expect this to happen during this tour.
Ayame: I’m looking forward to drinking a delicious European drink. But of course not during our shows.
Yu: First of all I’m looking forward to being able to perform live in front of the excited fans in Europe. But when I went to Europe in 2008 I was also touched by the magnificent scenery that I can’t see in Japan, so I also want to enjoy that scenery again. Lastly I can’t forget the sausage and beer I consumed last time I was in Germany. It would make me very happy if I can eat delicious things in various places this time too.
Yo: I’m looking forward to meeting the local people.
02. Not only you as persons have changed, but when you look at the first release of 「alkaloid showcase 」 in 2007 and the upcoming release of PANTHEON -PART 1- in 2017 there is a major difference in sound as well. If you look back on your career as a whole, is there anything you would have done different with the information you now know about your previous releases?
Sono: At first we had more of a loud symphonic sound, but it has since changed into more of a heavy metal symphonic sound. In terms of lyrics I changed the way of expressing my feelings in order to make a story with each song.
Ayame: Our sound has been refined, the techniques we use during recording have also improved and thus our knowledge has increased. And not only that, I think that the fact that so many fans are waiting for our music enabled us to transform our music in a positive way.
Yu: I think that PHOENIX RISING was a somewhat new approach to the concept of Matenrou Opera. With PANTHEON -PART 1- you can expect this album to be the “first chapter” in our new series, and the “second chapter” is right around the corner, so to say? Or perhaps there is a completely different meaning for “-PART 1-“?
Yo: I think the music we are playing right now is the way it is because of our growth as a band as well as individual musicians.
03. PHOENIX RISING was more or less the beginning of a new era for Matenrou Opera. Is PANTHEON -PART 1- the first part of the story you’re telling with this album? Can we expect a -PART 2- in the future somewhere, or does the -PART 1- have an entirely different meaning?
Sono: There is a “PART 2”. I will not let you wait too long for it.
Ayame: There is a “PART 2”. I’m looking forward to it.
Yu: To say something is “PART 1” is pretty much confirming there is a “PART 2”. Please look forward to it.
Yo: Please wait for the next report about it.
04. After PHOENIX RISING was released you of course went on the road to promote it with support guitarist JaY by your side. How will you manage this during your European tour? Can we expect JaY or a different support guitarist to join you, or do you have any plans for a new guitarist to join you officially in the future?
Sono: JaY will come with us to Europe. Maybe there will be an official guitarist someday.
Ayame: A new guitarist may join us, the god of music will lead us.
Yu: The guitarist we bring for our European tour will also be JaY. Of course I hope to officially welcome a new guitarist into our group someday.
Yo: Since I’m asking JaY to support us for the lives during 2017 it also makes sense he comes to Europe with me. I’m not thinking about official members right now, but if the time is right we’ll meet a guitarist, right?
05. Throwing things way back again, when you first started as Matenrou Opera, what inspired you to produce the sound you had back then? Are these inspirations still the same today, or have you found new ones to join the old ones, or replace the old ones altogether?
Sono: The roots of my personal sound is a symphonic metal type of sound. When we formed Matenrou Opera I was influenced by LINKIN PARK and so on. So the song made at that time was a symphonic heavy sound. It now feels like the weight is lifted from my shoulders and I’m turning the sound into a more beautiful kind.
Ayame: The artists that influenced us in the past are still influencing us today. If there is something new in our old music that is created by the experience and trust we have gained and received over ten years time.
Yu: Although the sound of the current Matenrou Opera is based on heavy metal, it was arranged more closely to heavy rock when we first formed. It makes no sense to me to throw away old things, I have various inspirations and right now I’m playing my favorite heavy metal sound.
Yo: Even though we have changed musically I do think that the underlying method of treating the melody of a song has not changed for a long time.
06. For PHOENIX RISING the guitar was done by Leda from Far East Dizain, but I believe the guitar for PANTHEON -PART 1- was done by Sono this time? Was there a certain reason you’ve decided to do the guitar parts yourself?
Sono: I play the guitar until the stage of composition and arrangement. All the recordings on PANTHEON -PART 1- have been played by JaY.
07. Last year you’ve done various readings at universities, but this is something completely different than your music or your art (like the cover for PANTHEON -PART 1- for example)! What drove you to doing these lectures, and were you happy with how they were received?
Ayame: The classes at the university have been about the history of music and technology, and it was very important to speak with the students from the perspective of a musician. That’s the reason I keep doing these activities as my own art. The students are very good and very stimulated by my readings.
08. You’ve once mentioned that you liked visiting amusement parks and such, but of course Europe has amusement parks too. If you were given the time to visit one (or several) with one or more members of the band, which one would you visit, who would you take, and why?
Yo: I certainly like amusement parks, but I have not been to any in Japan for a while. I don’t even know what kind of amusement parks there are in Europe. I would like you to tell me if there are any good ones I should visit.
09. From your early days as Jeniva’s support drummer to the proud drummer of Matenrou Opera you’ve gone through quite some visual changes in your costumes (I heard you always disliked the visual kei fashion?). With every change you’ve seem to have become more at ease, is the current style of looks we see from you the style you desire, or are you still gradually preparing us for “the real Yu”?
Yu: When we first formed Matenrou Opera I didn’t understand visual things and I got advice from others. In the past I had the desire to absolutely transform and the result was a weird hairstyle for example. This desire has faded out in the last few years and on stage I am the same Yu as the Yu I am in daily life. Since the name Yu is a real name it’s completely meaningless if you don’t act like yourself.
10. And as the infamous and probably overly used final question: do you have a message for everyone reading this interview?
Sono: I have kept you waiting for a long time, but I will finally see you again. I think this will become a culmination of nine years, so please wait for it in anticipation. Have fun at the live!
Ayame: I am very happy I can go to Europe for the first time in nine years. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Europe. Since our music has been influenced a lot by European music I’m so happy that people in Europe can listen to our music.
Yu: I am very happy to be going to Europe again for the first time in nine years. I can’t wait to be doing a live in front of the exciting fans in Europe, and I hope to have a bigger chorus than nine years ago.
Yo: I’m very much looking forward to meeting the local people at our lives.