November 2002 - ETERNAL ELYSIUM
With their third full-length album "Share", which was one of the highlights of early 2002, the Japanese powertrio have continued the direction of 70's Heavy Psych Doom Rock, in opposite to the more NWOBH influenced sound of their beginning days in the early 90's. But that's history and "Share" is an album that's deeply rooted in the 60's and 70's, but still open enough for a load of different musical influences. So it was time to talk with Yukito Okazaki (guitar & vocals), the main-man behind ETERNAL ELYSIUM, about the last album "Share" and other aspects of music.Due to the reason, that this interview should be posted in an earlier update don't be confused about the first question. There's no World Cup right now. Sorry for that! The questions were compiled and worked out by Thorsten.
Hello to Eternal Elysium! What are you doing right now after your release"Share" and while the rest of Japan is watching and celebrating soccer!?!
We've done a lot of gigs in big cities as soon as "Share" was released in the end of February, and got the good reactions. Well, Japan was heat island in July, because so many Japanese were crazy for World Cup, and supported the team of Japan. This summer was hotter than last year.
Please tell us about the History of EE. There were a few changes in the band, musically and personally, I think. What were the decisive changes and stations in the last ten or more years of EE?
1991, I started EE, we played the style of Heavy Metal meets Doom Metal. Iron Maiden influenced our song- writing deeply at that time. Of course, Black Sabbath was already my god since my child-hood. After the recording of the first album "Faithful", I've changed a bit of EE's sound. 70's rock and more Doom tastes were added than. For a long time, EE couldn't make the next album, but has joined many compilation albums. And, I've signed with MeteorCity in 1999. "Spiritualized D" album was put out in 2000, I could add some psychedelic tastes. Well, new album 'Share' has more heavy grooves and kind of different music spices. I think that one of the reasons is our current bassist Toshiak, who brought his skills into the band.
Is there a typical recording session or a standard process for an Eternal Elysium song? How do you come together normally and where do you create the sound experience of EE?
Normally, we record the basic track (drums and bass) both together. Sometimes,I also play the backing guitar together. After the finishing of the basic track recordings, I add many parts (guitars, vocals, percussion, a lot of textures).
The latest LP "Share" was produced and mixed by Jack Endino (Skinyard, Soundgarden, Nirvana etc.). Is it true and what's the story behind that? How did you get together with him?
Unfortunately, it's not true. Where did you hear about it? Well, I know he is interested in us and wrote the good review about "Share".
Your latest drummer Rio Okuya was replaced after the album "Share" by the new drummer Tom Huskinson. Who is the new drummer and how did you find him?
Tom has played only one song 'Movements and Vibes' on the "Share" album. So, it's natural, because he was Toshiaki's and my friend.
For me EE's music of today is much more psychedelic, more progressive, more tripping besides the massive heavy and sabbathish influences and aspects of your albums. What are your main influences of early Heavy Sounds, the Heavy Metal Scene and the exotic vibes and grooves of other types of music and are you record-collectors?
Good question. Black Sabbath are my gods since my child-hood. I have all their official albums, some kinds of pressed in other countries and many Eps. Also, many I've got their boot-legs items there. At the same time, I've got toa used shop to get so many 70's rock and 80's metal album. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Captain Beyond, May Blitz, Doors, GFR, Blue Cheer, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Angel Witch, and more. Off course, basic doom bands inflenced me, so Saint Vitus, Trouble and Pentagram, I had all their albums. Since about 10 years ago, I'm interested in another music of heavy rock, too. I've brought Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Sly And The Family Stone, Otis Reading, and many more kinds of music albums.
There are a lot of very good reactions to your new album worldwide, but tell us about the feedback in your own country Japan?
Well, there is very small doom/stoner rock scene in Japan, so I'm not satisfied the reactions from Japanese people. Trend music has invaded the domestic music scene since 70's in Japan.
A special kind and vibe of jamming is one of the reasons, that makes EE for me to one of the most outstanding heavy groups today....especially on the two last abums which obviously remarks a new era in the EE history. Is there a special jamming atmosphere during the recordings ? Please tell us about the recording sessions to "Share" and was it similiar to "Spiritualized D" recording sessions?
Yes and no. Both albums were recorded by the same sound systems at the same place, so I think they have a lot of common things. However, we have done the different approaches. Song-writing is the most of them. "Spiritualized D" songs were wrote by myself, but "Share" tunes were made by me and bassist Toshiaki. I think that our songs are added some kinds of different spices since he joined with EE.
How would you describe your sound and the main reasons for changing the sound in that way ... I mean the change from the melancolic and heavy NWOBHM vibes on the first demos or the first LP "Faithful" to the soundexperiences of your second album "Spiritualized D" third LP "Share".
I think, that we wanted to play Heavy Metal when the "Faithful" album was put out. And, during the long silence between "Faithful" and "Spiritualized D", I've listened to many others kinds of music, aside of Heavy Meta. After that, I could spread the style of music of myself. Black music and psychedelic experiences influenced my music and life so much. Changing the sound was natural for me.
What are your favourite Japanese bands ? Do you listen to early Asian Heavy Rock like FLIED EGG, BLUES CREATION, FLOWER TRAVELLIN' BAND, etc. Are you in contact with other actual Japenese bands like CHURCH OF MISERY, REIGN, K.N.S.K., NINGEN-ISU, SOLAR ANUS, etc.?
Flower Travellin' Band is the most important band of me. They're legend. Of course, I like Flied Egg, Strawberry Path, Blues Creation, Far Out, Carmen Maki and so on. 70's Japanese legendary bands have influenced me. Church of Misery and Boris are best friends of mine. I've played with them many times.
Do you like other japenese music besides the Heavy Rock Scene as for example the Shibuza Shirazu Orchestra, which I did see on their only concert in Europe at the Moers Jazz Festival and it was a very special and very psyched-out experience somewhere between all the stuff I like. And it was heavy, too, so what`s your point of view and do you like them?
I don't know about them, but I'm interested in.
Let's talk about the songwriting? How are the writings and composings done and who writes the lyrics? Do you work like a heavy collective power trio?
I write the all lyrics. Also sounds were made by me on "Faithful" and "Spiritualized D". Almost, the "Share" sound is made by me and Toshiaki's during different sessions. Anyway, all songswere born in a bit of my ideas or just one guitar riff, and I and he grow them.
Your very first LP "Faithful" dates back to 1993.What did you do in the years before the "Spiritualized D" LP came out. On the one hand I mean it musically, and on the other hand what do you do in normal life. Can you subsist on your music or do you have a life besides the rock business? How does one day in your life look like?
Jamming, reading the books, drawing the pictures, pot smoking... many experiences there. Rock business? Umm... it's not my business. Of course, I understand that is important and difficult to run away from it. But, I just want to play my music.
Who is responsable for the album titles and the cover artwork on your albums? Is there any story behind the titles and the cover artworks?
It's my work. Do you like it? Good ideas fall down from the sky. I just catch it and do the artwork close to the idea. Do you understand?
What kind of equipment and instruments do you use and play?
Gibson SG melodymaker '68, '69, standard '71. Marshall JCM 800. And some pedals.
You are part of an US horror movie called "I'm Vengeance" by R. Anasky. I love this breaking and substantial soundtrack which is a special kind of best of, I think! But I dont know the flick, so have you seen the film and are you interested in movies and what are your favourite genres?
No, I haven't. I just have seen a few jpeg images. Horror isn't my favorite, but I like it.
Do you have any plans on going overseas and touring for example in Europe. Is there anything planned and when do the German fans have the chance to see you live?
We'll play at 12 towns in USA from the end of October to mid of November. I want to do the touring in Europe, too. I hope to do that next year.
Thanks a lot for the interview ... and the best and most heavy wishes from Cosmic Lava to Eternal Elysium ...any last word or message to your fans?!?
Thank you for supporting us. We're happy that you're enjoy about EE. Anyway, I wanna say thank you so much. Stay heavy. Sayonara.