Mono Live in KL + A Conversation with Taka, Lead Guitarist of Japanese band "MONO"

MONO, the popular Japanese instrumental band is fueled with fire as they stepped on the stage armed with their instruments. A truly cinematic storytelling conveyed through the sound MONO creates. The atmospheric vibes are intoxicating for anybody who’s listening to their music. The blend of each instrument’s expression transitions seamlessly. MONO truly showcases the essence of an instrumental band as their music sucks you in, be prepared to be in awe. MONO received a standing ovation at the end of their show in Kuala Lumpur.

The quartet are returning back on tour scene with their newest album titled “Requiem of Hell”. We caught up with the lead guitarist, Taka. He shares that they were inspired by the works of Dante Alighieri, “Divine Comedy”. Expressing larger than life themes such as hell and heaven. He explained it’s a beautiful book which were the idea behind the album.

Taka mentions that MONO has worked with Steve Albini for their past three albums and decided maybe it’s time to work with someone else even though they admire Albini’s work. For “Requiem of Hell”, they decided it’s time to reunite with him once again to produce their ninth album. According to Taka, Steve Albini is always number one! When asked about his influences, he spoke about loving the American band, My Bloody Valentine who’s known for shoegazing and wall of sound practices. Additionally, Taka reveals he also admires the Italian composer, Ennio Morricon. He mentions that by combining his two influencers, MONO signature melody is cinematic but the sound is loud and turbulent.

He talks about the past struggles during the early years of MONO when they started out.“In 2007, the first two albums, around then we toured a lot in the United States, no one know about MONO. We had to play at bars, there’s no stage and no microphones. The club is filled with drunks. We were always so frustrated because we wanted people know about us but no one came to our show. Every night there’ll be only 10 people, also in Japan nobody knew about MONO. We did not feel satisfied but we still continued to tour. In about two years, when we performed in Texas, there were a lot of people who enjoyed our music and were smiling. At that point, we changed and maybe we can explain more beautiful moments to share with people.”

The hardships that were faced, only made the band fired up to create music and fueled with passion to rise to the top. The lead guitarist expressed“Because we were very young and wanted to experience, like an adventure to America to play music. But there were disappointing times, but I think that the dark side makes us stronger because a long time ago, we couldn’t speak English. We didn’t have any driver, tour manager. We had no one who helped us, only us 4 Japanese in United States. It made us grow as adults.”

Taka shared that he hopes the audience will experience a new music sensation. He explains that they’re cinematic and what the audience take away from their live performance is different for each individual. He mentions that there were times where the audience would cry, and some would shout along to the music. MONO way of displaying their musical ability enables the audience to feel all types of emotions. The tour empowers Taka to keep being motivated and acts as a drive to continue making music. MONO plays approximately 150 shows a year. It’s tiring to travel but he mentions that seeing the people present at shows every night is fun for them.

When asked if it’s challenging for MONO as an instrumental band compared to bands with vocals, Taka shares that just like writers who uses words to express their emotions, but with no singer, MONO is able to describe everything with only music stating “Music can explain everything, more than words”.

The track names of their album are named similar to chapters of a book, each track tells a story. Taka jokingly expresses that he can write music but he can’t come up with song titles because there are so much options. The track names were suggested by a close friend and he would choose from the pile of names. He went on and explained that at times he does visualize while writing music most often, he writes music everyday similar to a diary. Taka envision his life comparable to a continuously growing building, consistently doing tours and releasing music. Therefore, fans of MONO will not have to worry about waiting for new music or seeing them perform live!