Formed in 2005, THE NOVEMBERS is an alternative rock quartet comprised of Yusuke Kobayashi (Vo&Gt), Hirofumi Takamatsu (Bass), Kengo Matsumoto (Gt&Key) and Ryosuke Yoshiki (Drums). The band made their indie debut in 2007 with the release of their self-titled first album and then, detached themselves from the label in 2013 with the formation of their own label, MERZ. Since then, a new chapter begins for them.
As THE NOVEMBERS grow with time and in experience, the band continues to charm fans with their never-ending creativity and innovative ideas. The release of their new album, "Rhapsody in beauty" also re-framed the public's perception of the band - the album was intense and yet, delicate; and buoyed by the familiar sense of THE NOVEMBERS.
Follow JpopAsia on a journey of experiencing music through a new perspective, as we join Yusuke Kobayashi and Hirofumi Takamatsu in discussing their latest album, "Rhapsody in beauty" and the artful disposition of THE NOVEMBERS.
Please choose a word to describe THE NOVEMBERS. "BEAUTY".
"Rhapsody in beauty" sounds very different from before, and yet the aura of THE NOVEMBERS is present - It is the same pleasure you get from listening to all the previous albums. What was your goal when the band first started recording this album?
Throughout the process of creating this album, we wanted to express intensity, harshness, elegance and mellowness the most among all the work we've ever made. We think that the conclusive product ended up sounding "pop" in a good way, though we had imagined something less "pop" sounding.
When we started the production, we had two keywords in mind - "NOISE" and "BEAUTY". We think those are the words that can be used to symbolize this work. Since these two keywords formed an axis, there isn't much difference between what we imagined while producing and the conclusive product in a rough image. Of course, during the stages of recording and production, the songs changed in a good sense as well.
How would you explain the process of song-writing for "Rhapsody in beauty"?
It was just as usual. We simply expressed what we had imagined in our mind. The image itself was much more radical and extreme than usual, though.
Is experimenting with music THE NOVEMBERS way of exploring and discovering self?
We place an extremely high priority on freedom of expression, regardless of common knowledge and the conventional ways of others. Referring to the quote "Persistence Pays Off", we've been keeping ourselves challenged with what we're interested in positively. Then, we try to digest all the inspiration or impression we get and channel them back to our music.
From cover artworks to music videos, we can see that art plays a big part in the essence of THE NOVEMBERS. What is the band's view on combining arts and music to express one self?
Art and music share a close bond - art may be born from music, and music may be born from art. They both stimulate and influence one another to exert synergy. As for THE NOVEMBERS, the music and artwork of our CDs, the music and video of our MVs; they then combine to become a piece of work - so, we think that both art and music is indispensable.
Inspired by the "Music & Ideology of THE NOVEMBERS", various creators gather to share their forte, and we value them with gratitude and respect in abundance. We truly cherish such a relationship. On the contrary, we're always cautious and avoid cozy relationships and pre-established harmony.
In 2013, THE NOVEMBERS founded their own label MERZ. What inspired the band to take such a bold decision in challenging the norms of the music industry?
It's because the desire to spread our music grew more than ever. Although we're very grateful to our previous record label, we'd exhausted all our ideas and ended up in a deadlock situation. If that's the case then, we thought we should start afresh again.
We weren't necessarily influenced by anything, but we were encouraged by the existence of our close colleagues, so we found the first step into independence.
It's almost 10 years since the debut of THE NOVEMBERS in 2005. How has the band's relationship evolved and how has it impacted your music?
From an aimless and hazy relationship, we've stepped into a relationship with clearer roles. Now that our mutual understanding has deepened, we could share both the innocence of a child and the refinement of an adult. Particularly after becoming independent, the sense of unity between the members has become tighter. We think we can look outward together in the same direction, and the change is apparent in our musical performances. The mutual respect we have for one another and our seriousness have grown stronger too, we feel.
However, we don’t know if there’s any impact on our music.
What is the band's reflection on the past years and what is the band's plan in the years to come?
Our knowledge, passion and capabilities for pursuing what we want to do, have grown abundantly over the years. There are still places we've never been to even in Japan, and we've only just been to Taiwan outside of our country. So, we want to go to various places, to see and experience various people.
We often say that going abroad is one of the biggest goals we want to achieve in the past few years - so, we really want to play overseas.
THE NOVEMBERS will be making their mark in Taiwan on the 7th and 8th of December! They will be joining CHARA on stage at the 2014 SIMPLE LIFE Festival and also rock out at THE WALL MUSIC as part of their "Romancé" tour. Be sure to catch them live in action if you're at Taiwan!
We'd also like to thank THE NOVEMBERS and their staff for their time and the opportunity for this exclusive interview. JpopAsia wishes THE NOVEMBERS all the best in their music and in playing abroad!