FAULT Online interviews Bo Ningen

On first hearing the second album from Bo NingenLine the Wall – it’s safe to say we were in awe. They’ve been round the block for a few years now but are only just starting to make a bigger name for themselves, setting off on their first UK headline tour on 4th October. The four guys have played previously with bands such as TOY and The Horrors so you can already guess they’re likely to be trippy and equipped with some faint-enducingly cool pedals.

Noise artists from the Far East have always been famous for their broken and pulsating tracks – from Merzbow to Otomo Yoshihide. They are perfectly in-tune with taking specific aspects of sound and increasing them to ear-bleeding extremes. This talent isn’t lacking in Bo Ningen, but rather than capitalise on that, they have chosen to go down a very different route, where overdriven guitar effects reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s Swimsuit Issue have been thrown together with the essence of early 70s heavy rock in what appears to be an attempt to create their own genre.

FAULT caught up with Bo Ningen towards the end of the tour to see if these Japanese, long-haired, heavy-psych playing breakthroughs of the underground London music scene lived up to the hype of the recordings. We sat down with Taigen (bass and vocals), Yuki (guitar), Kohhei (guitar) and Monchan (drums) to ask a few questions about the new album.

FAULT: What’s the story behind the name Bo Ningen [Stick Man]?

Taigen: From the front I look 3D but if I turn to the side I look 2D and the phrase two-dimensional human being reminded us of a stick man drawing. The rest of the band and I are all skinny so we thought Bo Ningen sounded kind of nice in both Japanese and English.

You’ve been touring for nearly a month now non-stop, have you had enough of playing yet?

Yuki: No, we’re tired, but this is the first time we’ve done a proper headline tour and the more we get tired, personally I feel like I can do more, I want to do more.

What’s been the stand out gig of the tour?

Y: I’d say Bristol. It was the vibes, everyone was just on fire, like we were playing in London. London’s obviously our big home and when we go play somewhere else it’s a different city with different people but there it was the same level of energy and excitement in the audience.

 

Have there been any nightmares?

Y: We had one, the strangest guy I’ve ever met when I’ve been in a band. It was in Cardiff at SWN festival. It was a really nice town and there were nice vibes, everything was perfect apart from that guy. He came to the show and was just going really insane, he kept pulling out my cables, coming up to me during the songs and messing with my guitar. I got really annoyed so I just kicked him a couple of times in the stomach.

You like to go for it onstage, have you ever gone too hard?

Y: I got like four or five stitches in my head. It was a London gig some while ago, I was doing a sort of crowd surf thing and someone threw me into the floor. It was kind of like an insane party so there were lots of bits of glass all over the floor and I just sort of banged my head basically and that was it. Yeah, that was horrible!

Do you get different crowds coming to your gigs than when you first started out?

T: Definitely, it totally depends where we play as well. Every single place has got different vibes, a different location, different sound and our set list is always different as well, we do change it. We kind of decide our set list just before the set to not only adapt but to think about spaces and people.

What was the influence and meaning behind the artwork for ‘Line the Wall’?

K: It’s lines, fraying and like flowing to whatever places. I just came up with the image from the title and the songs. I started working on the artwork for this one after we’d finished all of the mastering and stuff. I had a title and I had a recording so I just had to think about it.

Does art influence your music?

K: I think it’s not one way from art to music, it’s both ways. I mean it’s all the same thing with us, it’s not just listening to us or seeing us but seeing our artwork and our videos too, it has to be together.

What did you try to do differently with Line the wall?

T: The first album I would say is more straightforward than what we did in Line. I did the mixing by myself back then and didn’t tweak too much; I quite liked the sound we recorded so we kept it really live. For the second album we wanted to consider the sort of stuff you can only do in the production side of the recording: mixing, cutting, definitely more overlaps, more layers.

Your songs are quite complicated; do you have a set method of writing?

T: We start with just jamming, four of us playing together in a rehearsal studio or sometimes someone will bring ideas for riffs and we build it up together. We also have to play a song live to try it out, otherwise we won’t know if it’s going to work. Some songs we hadn’t tried out in the UK ‘til the start of this tour.

Have you got any gigs lined up after the tour?

T: None confirmed. We’re sorting that out. We’ve just released our second album so we want to go anywhere we’ve either been or haven’t been and play our new set and this new album. We should make more songs, keep playing shows. We had a month off after recording the album because we had to focus on the production side, mixing, mastering and like designing so that was enough.

Line the Wall is out now on Stolen Recordings.

Words by Rebecca Hopkins
Photography by Sarah Aylward
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