Coyote Magazine Interview

Coyote Magazine Interview

This interview was given by Masafumi Gotoh to a French magazine Coyote in 2013.

Christophe Lorentz: Your music is very close to American power-pop and a band like Weezer in particular. Do you feel closer to the American music spirit than the Japanese one?
Masafumi Gotoh: At the beginning of my musical path, I was stimulated by English rock. When I started to form a band to make music by myself, I was indeed very influenced by Weezer. I’m not sure if I feel more connected with an American music spirit, but I think the Japanese youth actually needed the rock ‘n’ roll to fill this ‘feeling of emptiness’ that surrounded the 90’s musical scene.

Christophe Lorentz: By the way, you organise every year in Japan a big rock festival, the Nano Mugen Festival, which gathers various international bands. What is your purpose with such an event?
Masafumi Gotoh: The Internet brought people the pleasure to be split into pieces, in a good and bad way. A new emotion may be born in the interaction between those split communities. Every musical culture is meant to be so. Reggae, ska, blues, hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll: all these music were born from a clash between different cultures. Our festival may not bring such a dynamic but it is fully stimulating for us.

Christophe Lorentz: Yet despite your musical influences and your relationships with American bands you performed, you sing most of the time in Japanese… Have you ever thought of singing in English to try to become famous in the American market?
Masafumi Gotoh: It’s true that commercial success is a key factor but the use of a language that is not your mother tongue would limit my capacity to express myself. Technique and the ability to write about a desire is the key to an author’s work. Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that in English. For instance, would the French like to hear a stranger sing in horrible French?

Christophe Lorentz: How does the band work on the songwriting?
Masafumi Gotoh: The music always comes first. Words come really at a very slow pace and always come too long after the emotions. More generally, we try to create a good creative environment for the four band members and a few of the rest of the team.

Christophe Lorentz: If you refer to the lyrics of your first songs, what do you think about your writing evolution skill?
Masafumi Gotoh: I think my lyrics are improving: I realised that I can now add backgrounds around the lyrics which come from the deepest of myself.

Christophe Lorentz: The last Asian Kung-Fu Generation album, Landmark, was released last year. What can you tell us about?
Masafumi Gotoh: This is an album reflecting the actual Japanese state, after the 2011 incident. Its title is totally linked to Japan.

Christophe Lorentz: You mean that the Fukushima disaster moved you a lot?
Masafumi Gotoh: With 160,000 people unable to go back to their homes and 3% of the territory that is now missing, how could we not be affected by this?

Christophe Lorentz: Musically speaking, your style has always been based on the same elements, on the same type of sound… Aren’t you afraid to feel a little limited by your musical expression?
Masafumi Gotoh: We certainly didn’t explore different musical styles in a brave way but even so we have integrated different sounds. It is true that we sometimes fear falling into the so-called ‘Asian Kung-Fu style’.

Christophe Lorentz: Some of your songs have been chosen to illustrate some anime like Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist… What do you think about those anime?
Masafumi Gotoh: Japanese anime keeps a high-quality level: so we are happy to be associated with these wonderful works.

Christophe Lorentz: Asian Kung-Fu Generation exists for 17 years: when you remember your whole career, what do you think about its evolution?
Masafumi Gotoh: I don’t really know. I know that we grew old… But it is difficult to tell by ourselves: we are locked in a car and we can’t see us from the outside. But we think we are driving at a good pace.

Christophe Lorentz: However, what are the things you regret or those you are the most proud of?
Masafumi Gotoh: There is nothing to regret. We are proud that so many people found us among billions of bands that are still in activity!

Christophe Lorentz: You just did a European tour: what did you feel during that tour, and what message would you like to tell to your French fans?
Masafumi Gotoh: This tour has been a wonderful experience. Every room and audience was very specific to us. And to all that wonderful French public, we would like to say that we all love France. We will come back to play over there. We will never thank you enough for your support!

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Release date: 31 July 2024

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