Psychedelic rockers Bo Ningen talk about being selfish, singing in Japanese, and performing in Hong Kong

Psychedelic rockers Bo Ningen talk about being selfish, singing in Japanese, and performing in Hong Kong

The four-piece noise rock band’s psychedelia-tinged metal sound returns to Hong Kong this week - but not before Young Post caught up with the singer and bassist Taigen Kawabe

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Bo Ningen, clockwise from left: Yuki Tsujii, Akihide "Mon-Chan" Monna, Taigen Kawabe and Kohhei Matsuda.
Photo: Yosuke Torii

Clad in flowing robes with waist-length black hair flowing in the breeze, Bo Ningen was one of the most memorable acts at Clockenflap 2015. Young Post chatted to the Japanese group’s singer and bassist Taigen Kawabe, who spoke from Tokyo as the band looked forward to bringing their shrieking, psychedelia-tinged metal sound back to Hong Kong next week.

Are you looking forward to playing Hong Kong again?

Definitely! Last time was amazing. Not only the city, but the festival [Clockenflap] too. We had a really good show, with a great response. This time, we’re looking forward to playing in a proper live house.

Where in the world do you get the best reception?

Every country reacts differently. When we play in the US, the reception is more raw and emotional. They don’t care about other people in the venue, and they’ll mosh around. I really like that. Japan is extremely quiet, while Britain is somewhere in between. The US and Japan are extreme opposites. I’m curious to see what the crowd in Hong Kong will be like. We’re also looking forward to playing with a local support band: David Boring. We were sent their music, and I really like it. I can’t wait to see their show.


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What advice would you offer them?

We learned a lot from bands we didn’t like that were on the same bill. About 10 years ago in London, there were many lazy indie rock bands, which we totally hated. Don’t copy the sound of someone you like, there’s no point trying to sound like Michael Jackson, or whoever. That’s too obvious. Just avoid what you don’t like. Then you’ll find your sound. That’s my advice.

Are you heading back into the studio this year?

Yes, after the Japanese and Southeast Asian tour, we’ll go to the studio to compose a couple more songs and tweak the songs we’ve got. We haven’t decided when we’ll release, but we’ll definitely be recording this year.

Has anyone from the industry ever tried to make you change your image or sing in English?

Yes. We’ve never been forced to sing in English, but we’ve had suggestions. I considered putting a few English words in there, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to change the meaning of our songs. Language is important: English is very direct, while Japanese a bit more abstract. The flow and pitch is so different.

What inspires your songwriting?

Sometimes I’ll be inspired by the guitar riff or the drum pattern. Or it could be a memory or experience. I like to look at things in a different way. The house or street you live on looks different or has a different smell every day. Most pop lyrics are designed to make people feel the song is about them, but we try the opposite, to make it abstract.

What’s the best advice your mum ever gave you about music?

She said “You are too nice as a person. If you want to do music you have to be more selfish.”

What’s your karaoke song?

Guitarist Yuki and drummer Mon-Chan could answer this better, as they have signature songs. Japanese karaoke bars have one Bo Ningen song now: Henkan. Everyone always asks me to sing that, or tries to sing that in front of me. So I feel like I have to sing that one every time we go. Otherwise, we do a lot of J rock stuff, like X Japan, who we liked as teens.

Bo Ningen play Hidden Agenda on Thursday. See Ticketflap for more details and tickets.

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