With the upcoming European tour now is more than a good time to ask the guys of 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) some questions about not just the tour, but also their upcoming album and the mini-album before it. Because if you have followed the band you might know that this is not their first visit to Europe, and that the mini-album “PHOENIX RISING” was quite a milestone in the band’s works up until now…
After the departure of former guitarist Anzi the band has asked the services of a different guitarist twice (as both releases have a different guest guitarist), but what can we expect during the European tour? Are they bringing JaY as their support guitarist, or will it be a four-member band in Europe?
Let’s not waste any more time, and…
Before we start with the actual question part of this interview, can you please introduce yourselves so everyone reading along knows who we’re talking to today?
苑 (Sono): I’m the vocalist and main composer of the band, 苑 (Sono).
彩雨 (Ayame): I’m the keyboard player, 彩雨 (Ayame).
耀 (Yo): I’m 耀 (Yo), the bassist.
悠 (Yu): And I’m the drummer, 悠 (Yu)!
Like I mentioned in the intro already, this tour isn’t your first visit as a band to Europe. So I’m sure you have some memories from 2008 that you’d like to follow up on in 2017. What would be something you’re really looking forward to?
苑 (Sono): I’m looking forward to the chorus moments with the audience! During our last time in Europe the cheering of the crowd was loud enough to overpower the sound of the band, making us inaudible. So I expect the same thing to happen again during this tour.
彩雨 (Ayame): I’m looking forward to be able to drink some of the delicious European drinks again, but of course I won’t do so during our shows! (laughs)
耀 (Yo): I’m looking forward to meeting the local people in every country we’re visiting this time.
悠 (Yu): I’m looking forward to being able to perform live in front of the excited fans in Europe again. But when we were there in 2008 I was also touched by the beautiful scenery that we can’t see in Japan, so I really want to see and enjoy that scenery again as well. And of course I can’t forget the sausages and beer we had when we were in Germany! It would make me very happy if we can all eat delicious things in various places during this tour again as well.
Ten years of evolution
It has been ten years since your last visit, and of course you’ve evolved as a band and as individuals during that time. Can you tell me something about what you feel has changed personally?
苑 (Sono): When we first started we had more of a loud, symphonic sound. But it has changed into more of a heavy metal symphonic sound now. In terms of lyrics I changed the way of how I express my feelings in them in order to make a story with each song.
彩雨 (Ayame): Our sound has been refined, the techniques we use during the recording have improved as well, and thus our knowledge has increased. And not only that, I think that the fact that so many fans are waiting for our music has enabled us to transform our music in a positive way as well.
耀 (Yo): I think that the music we’re playing right now is the way it is because of our growth not only as a band, but also as individual musicians.
悠 (Yu): I think that “PHOENIX RISING” was somewhat of a new approach to the concept of 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera). You can expect “PANTHEON -PART 1-“ to be the “first chapter” in our new series as a band. The “second chapter” is right around the corner as well. Or do you think we might have a completely different meaning with the addition of “part 1” behind the album name?
When you started 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) you of course had a vision and an image you aimed for, but you’ve just said it yourself already as well, the band has evolved quite a bit throughout the years. Do you feel like these changes have had a positive effect on you as musicians as well, now you have a stable spot in the industry rather than being a band that still has to fight for it’s survival?
苑 (Sono): The roots of my personal sound are more of a symphonic metal type of sound. At the time 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) was formed I was influenced by artists like LINKIN PARK and so on. So at that times the songs I created were symphonic, heavy sound-type of songs. It now feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, now I am turning the sound into a more beautiful kind of sound.
彩雨 (Ayame): The artists that influenced us in the past are still influencing our works today. If there is something new in our old music it has been created by the experience and trust we’ve gained and received over the last ten years.
耀 (Yo): Even though we have changed musically, I do think that the underlying method of how we treat the melody of a song has not been changed for a long time.
悠 (Yu): Although the current sound of 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) is based on heavy metal, when we first formed it was arranged more closely to heavy rock. It makes no sense to me to throw away old things. I have various inspirations right now, but I’m also playing my favorite heavy metal type of sound as well.
You’ve just said it already, but “PHOENIX RISING” was more or less the beginning of a new era for 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera), wasn’t it? You’re following it up with “PANTHEON -PART 1-” now already, but what about part 2? Can you give any teasers already?
苑 (Sono): There is indeed a part 2, yes. I promise I won’t make you wait too long for it.
彩雨 (Ayame): Like 苑 (Sono) just said, there is a part 2 indeed. I’m looking forward to your response to it.
耀 (Yo): Sadly we can’t say anything about it right now other than it currently existing already. So please wait a little longer for more news about it.
悠 (Yu): To add a “part 1” behind the name is pretty much confirming beforehand that there is, or will be, a “part 2” already, don’t you think? Please look forward to it in the near future.
“PHOENIX RISING” was recorded with Leda (ex. DELUHI/Far East Dizain) as a guest guitarist, but for this next album JaY has joined you as a support guitarist. Can fans in Europe look forward to JaY’s presence as well, or do you have other plans for this tour?
苑 (Sono): JaY will come with us to Europe, yes. He’s currently our support guitarist in Japan already, so it would only make sense to ask him to come to Europe with us for this tour. Maybe there will be an official new guitarist someday, but at the moment we don’t know this yet either.
彩雨 (Ayame): The god of music will lead us to the right path and decisions. So maybe a new guitarist might be joining us in the future.
耀 (Yo): I’ve asked JaY to support us during our live shows in Japan in 2017, so to me it only makes sense to ask him to support us in Europe as well. I’m not thinking about a new official member at this moment in time, but when the time is right I’m sure we’ll meet a new guitarist, right?
悠 (Yu): The guitarist we’re bringing for this European tour will also be JaY, yes. But of course I also hope to be able to welcome a new guitarist into our group someday.
Combining four different personalities into one musical project
苑 (Sono), I’m sure it must have been a challenge to create new works for us fans to listen to, especially without a guitarist. But how did you manage this for the new album “PANTHEON -PART 1-“, and the upcoming “-PART 2-“? Did you play the guitar yourself in the studio, or did you write the guitar parts with JaY in mind already?
苑 (Sono): It’s indeed a little challenging to create new works like this, which is why you can hear the difference between “PHOENIX RISING” and “PANTHEON -PART 1-“. As the main composer of the band I do write all the parts myself initially, and I play the guitar up to the arranging part in the studio. When it comes to the final recording I ask JaY to participate, so the guitar you hear on the new album is also being played by JaY. It is better to do it this way so he’s not just a support member on stage. He actually participates behind the scenes as well.
彩雨 (Ayame), most people will recognize you as the keyboard player of the band, but they probably have no idea that you’re also doing your own works, and even taught as a guest professor at the university in 京都 (Kyoto)! Which is quite different than being on stage as a musician. Can you tell me a little more?
彩雨 (Ayame): The classes I taught at the university were about the history of music and about music technology, and I think it was very important to be able to speak with these students from the standpoint and perspective of a musician. The classes were received extremely well too, the students are very stimulated and engaged whenever I am there to give a reading and it was very fulfilling for me. That’s the reason I keep doing these activities as my own form of art (among other things).
耀 (Yo), a little bird has told me that you’re a frequent visitor of amusement parks, and I’m sure you’ve been plenty of times in Japan. But what about amusement parks in other places? Like, if you would have time during this European tour, would you like to visit one here as well?
耀 (Yo): (laughs) Yes, you’ve heard that right. That bird spread the right rumor I see. I certainly do like amusement parks, but even here in Japan I haven’t been to one in a while… I actually don’t know what kind of amusement parks there are in Europe, so I think that even if there would be time I’d be quite overwhelmed… If you think there are any good ones I should visit, tell me!
悠 (Yu), from all members of the band you’re probably the one who has gone through the biggest visual transformation throughout the years, especially since I heard you’re not a fan of the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) fashion style at all! It gradually got more and more to your current “heavy metal look”, but have you been preparing the audience for “ the real 悠 (Yu) all this time then?
悠 (Yu): When we first formed 摩天楼オペラ (Matenrou Opera) I didn’t understand the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) style at all, so I asked 苑 (Sono) for advice on the style. In the past I had a strong desire to “transform completely”, which resulted in the weird hair style I had during that time, for example. But that desire has faded out completely in the last few years, so what you’re currently looking at on stage is the same 悠 (Yu) as the 悠 (Yu) you will encounter in daily life. 悠 (Yu) is also my real name, and I think that name is completely meaningless if I don’t act like myself.
Unfortunately the last question was also the last one on my list for today. Which means I only have one left… Do you guys have a parting message for everyone who has read the interview today?
苑 (Sono): I’ve kept you all waiting for a long time, but I will finally be able to see you again. I think this will become a culmination of the last nine years, so please wait for it in anticipation. Let’s have fun at the live show!
彩雨 (Ayame): I am very happy I can go to Europe again for the first time in nine years. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Europe again. Our music has been influenced by a lot of music that originates in Europe, so I’m glad that people in Europe can listen to and are listening to our music in Europe as well.
耀 (Yo): Like I said at the start already, I’m very much looking forward to meeting the local people at every single one of our lives.
悠 (Yu): I am very happy that I’m going to Europe again after nine years. I can’t wait to do a live in front of the excited fans who are waiting for us in Europe, and I really hope that we can have a bigger chorus than we had nine years ago!
Like mentioned various times in this interview already, the band will be touring Europe starting June 30 in Finland, and ending on July 11 in Russia.
During the tour they will also visit the UK, Germany, Poland, France and -you’ve guessed it- The Netherlands. Tickets are currently on sale for all dates, so please check the band’s official website and the websites of the venues for more information about each show.
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雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind both Arlequin Magazine and Arlequin Photography.
She started in 2009 as a photographer with Arlequin Photography, but due to a growing interest in journalism, translation and behind-the-scenes work in general the project burst out of it's seams in 2021 and expanded through the addition of Arlequin Magazine.
雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker and maintains both the English and Dutch sections of both Magazine and Photography with original content, translations and photography as well as all the behind-the-scenes work for both websites.
She speaks Dutch, English, Japanese and German.