What's the main philosophy behind Maher Shalal Hash Baz?
John Cage once stated that music is part of the play, and I agree with that. But when collaborating with playwrights, I feel that I still have to do music. I cannot suppress my personal musical inspiration sources. However, I believe that the process of transmitting it to band members is also music. Maher stands on the side of music, and produce it as a play. The latest album called Garakei was made in this way.
You like to introduce mistakes/glitches in the music on purpose, by teasing the players, abrupt changes etc. Can you elaborate on this approach?
I do not remember what happens when I'm absorbed in playing my guitar. Anything can happen in music. I am not free but I let the music be free, as it likes. It’s a huge freedom that has been disrupting my daily life, though.
I saw you playing the piano at a Reiko Kudo show, in a complex and sophisticated way; playing the guitar in Maher is rather vigorous. Is it easy to switch/combine these ways of playing music?
Any instrument should be played in the history of rock music. Any deviation is possible, according to what extent one is trained. When playing the guitar, I am playing the piano in my head. But when playing the piano, I am playing the piano.
At the Ateliers Claus concert, McCloud announced that some of the songs were based on old, classic pieces, is this something you did for this tour only or is it a more usual approach for Maher?
Flanders is the birthplace of so-called chamber music or of so-called art as le tableau, in the late Renaissance. In that era, the Japanese met with western music for the first time. I chose that early music in honor of that history. Furthermore, I thought such selection of score might give the participants good reason to play there. All music needs a frame like a tableau, picture, or a window, and the frame consists of language.
What are the main inspirations in your work?
Sorry, I live poetry.
How does the line up evolve? Do you meet regularly to play?
Maher has no members other than me. The musicians you saw there had worked hard to make money for their travel expenses. Usually we don't talk about music but just how we are alienated in our daily labor. I would like to display their portraits as workers in offices and factories next time we meet and play.
How is your collaboration with extern people/bands, such as Arrington De Dionyso and le Ton Mité? What is their input in the creative process?
They cannot read scores, but I do not mind how they play on my songs, because they are my close friends.
The Japanese underground we're familiar with here is the more extreme part, while Maher Shalal Hash Baz works in a naivist spectrum. Are there other bands out there in the scene with a similar view?
Maher had a tree, its branches were planted in the 00s. But it seems to have become diluted, accompanied by the rising of singer songwriter-like things that have deviated from the history of Rock. Rather, I think that Japanese old school bands that branched from us in the mid 80s are more similar to Maher, even now.
On the other hand, self-named underground bands, who had not grazed or touched the history of Rock, that had been formed by a series of psychedelic vinyl of 60s, seems to be increasing.
What are your plans for the future, any new records coming up?
I have started making a new album called JE EST UN AUTRE. At first, when I found this phrase on the wall outside of the Ateliers Claus, I thought this graffiti was scribbled down by a refugee who had been learning a new language. I had my picture taken in front of the wall, intending to use it for my next album. But later I learned that it comes from Les Illuminations.