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Natsumen Interview

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Natsumen Interview

NATSUMEN are an 8 member instrumental self described Progressive HardCore JAZZ Aggressive Improvisation ROCK band. As a frame of reference, take the best elements of Fishbone, the Mars Volta, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis then inject the essence of summer with its brighness, warmth and energy and youll have the blueprint for something very close to NATSUMENS brilliant and unique musical style.

They were in Toronto as a part of the Next Music From Tokyo Vol.3 series a Canadian tour sponsored by Steve Tanaka, a Toronto area doctor with a passion for the Japanese Indie music scene. Next Music From Tokyo Vol.3 took Natsumen to Toronto Oct 16, 2011 where I had a chance to sit down with them at The Velvet Undergound after their performance.


Welcome to Toronto and thank you for taking the time to meet with us!
1. This is your 1st time in Canada? how do you like it?
The audience has good energy here and were surprised at the positive reactions we get from our live show

2. Have you guys tried the food in Toronto? What did you eat today?
lol Nothing yet, were so tired

3. So you came from a band named BOAT ( a band with vocals) what made you decide to quit that band and start this one (purely instrumental)?
We felt that the vocals were a distraction to the music. We wanted to put more heart into the sound and only focus on the music

4. You remind me of John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Which other 70s prog rock bands would you site as influences?
Gong (band) – Angels Egg (album): really influenced us

5. Here in Canada most of us don’t know much about Japanese music. so please forgive this question. But are you the first band from Japan to have this sound? If not then who did you look up to before forming this band?
No one (that we know of) in Japan has this sound! This sound came naturally to us. We sarted in a small house and now were playing big rock shows. It took 3-4 years before anyone noticed. At first we had no intention to make an album we just wanted to focus on making good music and improvisation. Then people started asking for recordings so we had to take it to the next level.

6. Does the older generation of people look down on your music and attitude? How do you handle criticism from the traditional working public?
There might be critics but we dont hear them. We do it because we want to, we dont care what anyone thinks. If anyones said anything negative we didnt hear about it yet.

7. Do you ever think about quitting and getting a real job?
lol NO!

8. With so many members to pay for, it must be financially difficult to tour. How do you guys pay for all of it? Is it easy to get paid gigs in Japan?
All the traditional ways: merch, album sales and gigs but its never easy. Sometimes we have to pay out of our own pockets but its worth it. Everyones here for the music.

9. How’s the music community in Tokyo? Do you guys play with other groups? And who are they?
Electric Eel Shock
Panic Smile
Waja BinBin
Bosston Crusing Mania
Petti Mit

10. Is is difficult to record and release albums in Japan? You’ve done 4 so far is that correct?
We record at home and mix at home its a DIY approach

11. Have you guys or will you guys be touring Europe or the USA?
Would love to if the opportunity arrose

12. If you could choose any band (alive or dead ) to meet and tour with who would you choose?
Alive: Antony and the Johnsons
Dead: Jimi Hendrix (live at Monterrey line up)

13. When will you be back to visit Canada again? Do you think St. John’s Newfoundland could be on the menu? We’ll treat you like kings if you come to visit us!

lol Of Course! Thank you!

14. What’s next for NATSUMEN?
We have a tour booked for Japan



Darrell Shelley
translator: Ayako Sakurai



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