tori kudo

Back to the list

2005.10.4 interview



-Can you explain your choice of the band name, Maher Shalal Hash Baz? The Jewish encyclopaedia defines it as: (Hebrew) “=the spoil speeds, the prey hastens], in the Bible, name of Isaiah’s son, symbolizing hope for Judah during the Assyrian attack on Damascus and Samaria.” (from Isaiah 8:3 – “I went to the prophetess, and she conceived, and bore a son. Then said Yahweh to me, “Call his name ‘Maher Shalal Hash Baz.’ ) Does this have any particular meaning for you? What are the other associations of the name?


The footnote of Jerusalem bible says it means “quick spoil, speedy booty”. I happened to see this longest name and liked its sound.


-Your music seems to have an emphasis on innocence, almost a child-likeapproach – is innocence a quality you value? what is the relationship between music and innocence?


Heterophony, is often considered as an expression on innocence, but it is a technique of ancient music. I dare say that the neat unison of orchestra is childish.


-Please tell me about your creative partnership with your wife, Reiko. Is it good for your marriage to work and create together?


I have been working with her since TENNO/NOISE LP (1981), and she is still a small tenno.


-What are some of your songwriting processes, and have they changed over the years?


Melodies have been written down super-quickly on convenience store’s receipt found in my car while waiting at the crossing. I can not always read them again, though.



-You have said that Maher’s music is based on punk. Who are your punk inspirations? How does the punk aesthetic apply in your work?


In front of me in my teens it seemed there were two types of music, music for playing and music for listening. It seemed both had never been mixed. It seemed like a spiritual battle around the matter of freewill and compulsion. Being easy yet unique seemed to be a key for playing the music for playing, while transcendency and mysticism could often be seen in playing the music for listening. I do not believe dictates like “our side”or “not our side” in music now, but at that time decadence seen in those life -size rockers seemed to be easy yet unique for me, that was all I knew.


-What reception do you get from American audiences, and how does this compare to Japanese audiences?

There are no city like Olympia or Glasgow in Japan. I have come to know that a band or a label could change the whole image of the town.


-What sort of a music “scene” is there in Japan? do you feel that you belong to a musical community of kindred spirits?

In Japan, a visional critic living around Koenji station is choosing who is real “underground” since 70’s.


-Is it possible in Japan to make a living from music and art? what are the challenges facing Japanese artists?

Nobody shan’t succeed unless succeeding some succession here dear.


-Could you please tell me a bit about your background? Where did you grow up? What was your family life like – do you come from a musical family?

I grew up in a rural area surrounded by nature. My grandfather was a painter and my father is a potter/designer and my mother is a modern artist. She likes buying instruments but do not play them often.


-Who were your formative musical influences as a young person? What music were you exposed to on the radio, and through other people’s record collections?

The Beatles, T-Rex, and so on.


-Please tell me about your involvement with The Anti Japanese Movement and/or Eastern Asia Anti-Japanese Armed Front. What are/were these organisation/s’ goals, why did you join and why did you leave? What are your political beliefs now?

Our propaganda was that any Japanese should had ceased to exist as being one of Japanese. One said that the intelligence of North Korea may led the movement at its very beginning. Some activists are now working for homeless people around Shinjuku station. I think it is still a nice idea to stop being one of members of a nation. I hate borderlines and manmade countries.


-I understand you make pottery, what other artistic pursuits are you involved with other than music?



-Where are you living now? (please describe your home & surroundings)

I am living in an open field. I have not got much time for vegetation.


-You have spent a lot of time and recorded in Scotland, do you feel a particular connection with Scottish people and artists?

A root of Japanese music came from Scotland when Japan opened its door to foreign country in 19th century. Celtic influence is still seen in child songs. That is why I like James Kirk because of his simple melody.


-Can you tell us what to expect from your Australian shows? What instruments are you bringing with you? Will your sets be largely improvised?

A kind of Australian pub rock will be played.


-What do you communicate with the audience when you are on stage and what do you get back from the audience?

Once someone contact with me, it means that he/she is invited to become a member of maher,


-Any other comments you would like to add:

……….an u.