MONO Interview: “Consciously Valuing Each Moment”

Photo Credit: Craig Murray

Japanese instrumental post-rock legends MONO release their 12th record OATH on June 14. We talked to the band’s Takaakira for a short mail chat to find out more.

How are you?

Takakira Goto: I am good.

Your new album OATH is coming soon. Can you detail the music-making process with three specific memories associated with the album?

This album was written to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band. This time, we wanted to create a work that focuses on the positive aspects, such as the joy, the preciousness and the meaning of life, rather than anger, darkness, despair and sadness we have expressed thus far.

Musically, instead of staying in our traditional comfort zone, we wanted to try something new that we’ve never done before. When I was composing the music, I wanted to capture what I felt over the course of a year -spring, summer, fall and winter- and write a story and leave it behind.

If you were to select two tracks from the record, one easiest and one hardest to put into a final form, which two would those be?

The easiest song to write was the title track “Oath”. This became the inspiration to write the new album. The most difficult song to write was “Run On”.

For this album, you once again work with the legendary Steve Albini, whom I recently interviewed. What do you think is the greatest thing he taught you in your collaborative history, whether in terms of inspiration or the physicality of the process?

The most important thing I learned from Steve was that if you record the band all at once, just like a live performance, you can leave something truly special.

We’ve been doing this way now for over 20 years. In recent years, computers, AI and technology have advanced. More than ever, we’re reminded how important it is to preserve something that is more human.

Without cheating: Can you share the last three songs streamed on your streaming platform?

Jóhann Jóhannsson – “Flight From The City”

Fred Again… & Brian Eno – “I Saw You”

Thom Yorke – “Knife Edge”

Here is an art quote I really love: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” How do you feel about that? How would you interpret it?

I think composing music in a sense is a process of finding new harmonies and building a world that never existed before. High and low sounds, bright and dark sounds, hard and soft sounds, near and distant sounds, loud and quiet sounds, and furthermore. When you take advantage of all of these individual elements and combine them, I feel there’s something similar to the balance between various people and the world on this earth.

So in conclusion, I agree in a sense that art is never finished and is rather found, valued and eventually discarded overtime to only find a new harmony.

I know you are philosophical, spiritual individuals. Can you share a memory where you felt extremely enlightened, where you felt connected to the universe in a deeply satisfying way?

I feel this when the members and other people who support the band are working together towards a common goal.

Do you dream often? What do you dream about?

I think I dream, but I don’t remember anything.

OATH asks the question: “What are we doing here?” Have you found an answer yet?

No one knows what will happen tomorrow. I think it’s more about consciously valuing each moment, right then, right now.

The past can never be changed and no one knows what the future holds. I feel the most important thing is to live as if today is your life because one day when our souls leave our bodies, all we can take with us to Heaven are just wonderful memories.

Let’s imagine we are at a Musicians Theme Park 100 years from now. Each band gets their own memorial stone with a lyric or quote written on top. Since you don’t have lyrics on your music, you get to choose a quote. Which quote would you pick?

Trails of the Winter Storm.

You can check out MONO’s official website here and Bandcamp profile here.