Japan is a very interesting place, in my view an extremely advanced culture, that prides itself on innovation. They possess a skill that has been lost over here for quite some time, which to me is vital for pushing through boundaries of any kind, and that’s taking things at face value and being able to call them exactly what they are. This is also a culture that below its surface lies a deep and stirring darkness, where expectations are so high that for decades it has driven people to work themselves literally to death, or where suicide can be the only other option after success. Their culture is so nuanced that they have created terms for elaborate concepts that would blow your mind. But I digress and want to speak personally. There are many darknesses that can quietly seep into your life. Some appear in ways you’d never expect, delving deeper into the habitual routines that at one point seemed so casual, but we all have ways of dealing with our own shit. I was in a pretty fucking low place when I first encountered Mono’s music at a live show about ten years ago, I hadn’t heard them before, didn’t think off the bat they would be something I would find so much relevance in, few bands sink as deep into their sound, engaging fully with the music, becoming an extension of the music. They perform entirely unified in a way that bands from some cultures would fear, acting as one body, so much intimacy, pounding out a sound that grabs your psyche by the horns and leads you down an uncomfortable path to many surprises along the way. All of this is to say Mono’s music is informed by a complex culture, and this band can’t be understood entirely from a Western perspective. Their recordings are great, but they are a band that exists live, and you must see them to know my experience with this band. 

Fresh off of a US tour promoting their new album “For My Parents” IVIYH caught up with Takaakira Goto lead guitarist and founding member of Mono to get some insight into the method behind the Mono and the music they make.


This new album “For My Parents” is very different from your previous albums. It pays homage to your most recent ancestors in the very title. Can you explain if Shintoism was a factor in the creation of this album and if so, how did you go about connecting it to your music which is such a modern style of music while Shintoism is so traditional?

Q: この新しいアルバム 「For My Parents」は 今までのアルバムとは 全く違ったアルバムのように思われます。このタイトルにて Takaさんの最も近い祖先となる両親に敬意を表しているようです。神道がアルバム製作の際に 一つの要因となっているのでしょうか? もし そうであれば、古い伝統としきたりである神道と、現代のスタイルであるMonoの音楽と どうやってコネクトさせるところに至ったのでしょうか?

A: アルバム「For My Parents」は、一人の人間が宇宙の息吹、鼓動、ささやきを感じながら、成長し、成熟、自己の解放と向かうまでの旅を叙情詩、または一つの映画のように表現したいと思いました。
 In the album, “For My Parents”, I wanted to express one’s journey to grow, mature, and walk towards a liberation of self, sensing the universe’ s breath, heartbeat, and whisper, as a lyrical poem or a movie. I wanted this album to be a great gift for Father’s day, Mother’s day, or anyone’s birthday. I wanted to present a piece with a universal theme that applies to every person in the world and would still be the same 1000 years in the future as well as 1000 years in the past. It is my appreciation to my parents.

These latest live shows in the U.S. are very different. I really feel a connection with Japanese culture through your live performance. It is like you are bringing Japan to the states, during moments of the show I close my eyes and feel Japan permeating through the sound-waves. Is this your intention? Are you meaning to cast a Japanese vibe during your performances? 

Q: 近日のアメリカでのショーはまた違ったショーであるように思われます。Monoのライブショーを通して日本の文化とコネクトしているような感じがします。Monoがアメリカに日本を持ってきているような。ショーの間、時々、目を閉じると、音の波に染み渡り 広がっていく日本を感じるのですが、この音作りはMonoの意図するところですか? ショーのパーフォーマンスで 音を通して日本のバイブを、オーディエンスに投げかけようとしているのですか?

A: ありがとうございます。例えば、僕の好きなロシアの作曲家チャイコフスキーやラフマニノフのコンサートを見に行ったとしたら、やっぱりあのロシアの独特の空を感じたいと思うように、MONOのコンサートに来たら僕たちの母国の空を感じていただきたいと思っています。

Thank you. If I had attended concerts of my favorite Russian composers, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, I would wish to feel the sky that is distinctive in Russia. Just as here, at a Mono concert, I want the audience to feel the sky of the country where we were born.

There are moments in the live show when you are just going livid punching the stage beneath you. I have never seen someone become one with the music in such a way, are you in a trance? Do you believe it is possible for one’s ancestors to enter the physical being and is music a medium that makes this possible?

Q: ショーの中で Takaさんが、ステージをただ猛烈に叩いているシーンがありました。今まで音楽とこのような形で一体となっているアーティストを見たことがないのですが、そのシーンでは トランス状態に入っているのですか? 先祖の魂が 人の身体に入り込む、ということを信じますか、また 音楽が そのひとつの媒体となりえる、と思いますか?

A: 初めてギターを弾いた時から、これが僕の真の言葉となると感じてました。言葉では言い切れない感情を自由に表せると感じてました。音楽によって僕の内心があらわになっているという事なのかな、、あまり意識的に考えた事がありませんが。

From the first strum of my first guitar, I sensed that this would take the place as my genuine and honest word. I could freely express my feelings that are difficult to adequately express in words. My true feeling, my inner heart, is presented naked, so to speak. I have never been conscious about it though.

One of my favorite song titles that I have ever laid eyes on is “The Kidnapper Bell” from the first Mono album “Under the Pipal Tree,” what does the song title “The Kidnapper Bell” mean? What inspired you to craft this song title?

Q: 私の気に入っている曲名のひとつに ファーストアルバム「Under the Pipal Tree」の中の 「The Kidnapper Bell」があるのですが、この曲名の意味は何ですか?どういう直感、感動、霊感、または体験の元、この曲名を付けるに至ったのですか?

A: このタイトルは僕の親友につけてもらったものですが、僕たちもとても気に入ってます。曲が進むにつれて、気がづいたらいつのまにか暴風雨に巻き込まれてしまうような曲で、何か小さな小さな一つのきっかけがどんどん繋がって、どんどん大きな感情になっていく。わかっていても戻れない、まるでKidnapper Bellだな、っていう感じだったと思います。
My best friend came up with the title for that song, and we love it. This is the sort of song that, as the melody moves forward, you suddenly realize that you are caught up in a storm. It is like a very small opportunity leads up to another, and it gradually become huge. There is no way to go back, like a “Kidnapper Bell”. I think this is how we named the title.

You spend a lot of time here in the states connecting with the U.S. audience while on tour, what is your favorite thing about the U.S. culture that you think most Japanese people never get to see first hand?

Q: アメリカでのツアー中、アメリカ人のオーディエンスとコネクトする時間が沢山あると思いますが、日本にいる日本人が まずは触れることのない、日本にいると解り得ない、アメリカの文化で一番好きなものは何ですか?

A: 日本では出る釘を打ちたがる悪い習性がありますが、それに対してオリジナルな個性を尊重するところです。
While I think Japanese people tend to act in accordance with the adage, “the nail that sticks out will be hammered down”, American people seem to respect people’s uniqueness.

The typical reader on I Vacation may not traditionally frequent the post rock scene, let alone give Mono a listen…what does your music offer to newer audiences that may have not heard of your music before?

Q: 私のブログ「I Vacation in Your Hell」の典型的な読者は、Monoの音楽どころか、ポストロックシーンに接することはほとんどないのですが、Monoの音楽を聴いたことのない新しいオーディエンスに対して、Monoの音楽がオファーするものとは何ですか?

A” 例えば、素晴らしい映画、本、写真等のように、見る前と見た後では、これまでとはまったく違う人生の価値観が生まれるような影響力のある音楽をやりたいと思っています。
Just like a great movie, book and photography, I want to create and present music that has great power and influence to people that they discover a totally different value from before and after the experience.

Some are saying this is the greatest era to exist as a musician, others say it’s the worst, what has your experience been like?

Q: 今の時代が ミュージシャンとして生きる最高の時代だ、という声もあれば、最悪な時代、という声もあります。Takaさんにとって ミュージシャンとして生きているこの時代は 今までの経験上どう思いますか?

A: 今音楽業界そのものもオンラインの時代になって来てます、そういった意味では、こうやって7週間アメリカ、カナダを旅をする事は言うならばオフラインだと感じてます。元々僕たちがアメリカでツアーをし始めた頃はGPSもなく、地図を片手に4人で廻ってました。インターネットが進化した時代だからこそ、初心に帰ってもう一度オフラインを鍛えるべき時代が来たと感じてます。

Now, in this era, music business is run online. In that sense, I think it as “off line” when we tour America and Canada for 7 weeks. There was no GPS when we started touring in America, so four of us traveled with only a map in hand. Because we are living in the evolution of the internet now, we should go back to the starting point with a fresh mind and form the “off line” experience once again.

There are no lyrics in your songs.  Lyrics usually suggest and convey ideas of what audience should think and feel.  But your music without lyrics has the same power and definitely conveys emotions through your instruments and melody.  Why do you approach music this way?  And why do you think this is important for audiences?

Q: Monoの曲には歌詞がありません。歌詞は通常、オーディエンスに 考えたり、感じたりするアイデアを提案したり連想させたりします。Monoの音楽は歌詞がないにも関わらず、同じ力で 楽器とメロディーを通して感情や感情を起こすアイデアをオーディエンスに運んでいます。なぜ音楽に対してこのようなアプローチの仕方をするですか?また それがどうして オーディエンスにとって大事なことだと思いますか?

A: リスナーには曲を通じて、人体を共鳴させ、自分の潜在意識の中に音楽を取り入れ、細胞レベルで、自己を解放させる才能があると信じています。音楽は不思議なおくりもののようなものです。勇気や感動、希望に繋がるエネルギーを人々に送り、シェアする事が出来れば素晴らしいです。

I believe that the audience has the ability to allow their bodies resonate to the sound, bringing the music in the subconscious, and liberate the self at the cell level through music. Music is a wonderful gift. I would love to send an energy that would connect to the courage, emotion, and hope of the audience, and it would be great if we could share that experience.

What is “Furusato” to you?  After touring and living overseas for years, what is Japan to you?  How about your parents and family members?  Do you think that growing up in Showa era gives you a different essence to your songs?

Q: あなたにとって「ふるさと」とは何ですか?海外でもう何年もツアー活動を行い生活をしていると思いますが、あなたにとって日本とは、両親や家族とは何ですか?昭和の時代を生きてきたということが、Monoの曲にまた違ったエッセンスを与えていると思いますか?

A: 僕の両親の世代は、どの家庭にもピアノがあって、戦後最初に輸入されて来た音楽もクラシカルミュージックが多くて、僕も山と川しかない田舎の村でBeethovenを普通に聴きながら育ちました。自らクラシカルミュージックを聴くようになるのには何十年後になりますが、考えると自分のルーツはそこにあるのだと思います。


In my parents’ generation, every household had a piano, and the first imported music after the war was mainly classical music. Naturally I grew up listening to Beethoven in a village surrounded by just mountains and rivers. It was many years later that I willingly started listening to classical music for myself, but now that I think back, I believe my roots of music is there.

Today, with our music, we travel safely and perform the shows across countries where the language, culture and history are so different from one another. It was a difficult thing to do during the war (my grand parents’ time,) and during the high rate of economic growth after the war (my parents’ time,) just a few decades ago. Taking that into consideration, I appreciate that, as a Japanese artist, I have been given such opportunities now and would like to continue this journey and perform with dignity.

Thank you,


I Vacation In Your Hell
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