Our band Siccaroll-Hi has reformed after fifteen years. As part of the reformation of the band Christopher Natour (Chris) joined the band on drums. Although Chris is an Australian, we met in my home town in Mie prefecture. In spite of the fact that I’m Japanese when it comes to Japanese independent music, he is quite knowledgeable and has taught me various new things (LOL).
I’ve asked Chris various thing about the difference between the Japanese independent scene and the Australian one.
Chris’s wife is Japanese and he has lived in Mie for close to 4 years so I was able to interview Chris in Japanese.
――How did you become interested in Japanese independent music?
Chris:I’ve always loved music but I get sick of listening to the same music very fast, so as a hobby I enjoy finding new and obscure music.
The first Japanese band that I was familiar with was YMO, which I got to know through Ryuichi Sakamoto. I have known about Ryuichi Sakamoto for as long as I can remember because my older brother was a big fan. When I was a teenager I became a Mike Patton fan. Through Mike Patton’s record label I found the Japanese independent band Ruins. I had never heard anything like Ruins before and was impressed by its originality so I thought there might be something special about the Japanese scene. Then finding various other fantastic Japanese bands fueled my interest in the scene.
――What are some of the independent bands that you like?
Chris:Some of my favorites are Ruins, Yoshida Tatsuya, Zeni Geva, KK null, Koenjihyakkei, Acid Mothers Temple, Merzbow, Space Streaking, YMO, Melt Banana etc.
――Are there any differences between the Japanese and Australian independent scenes?
Chris:The best place for independent music in Australia is Melbourne. However if you compare Melbourne to Tokyo there is much more music in Tokyo. In japan, compared to Australia there is such an abundance of live houses and music studios. This makes japan a good environment for creating music, especially Tokyo. Japan is a music lovers dream.
――What are some good Australian independent bands?
Chris:I have two favorite Australian artists David Allen from Gong and Foetus. These two artists were mainly active in Europe and America but they are Australian. Daevid Allen is a musical legend and I recommend anyone who is really interested in music especially progressive music to check him out.
Foetus is also a musical legend I think, because his music seems like it incorporates all styles and at the same time sounds like nothing else.
――The other day you played your first live show in Japan in Yokohama at THE CLUB SENSATION. What’s it like playing in Japan?
Chris:I never play at big venues in Australia always small ones, but before live shows, usually there was no sound check rehearsal. I was surprised that we got to have a sound check rehearsal even though it was a small venue.
Another difference playing in Australia is that I always played in bars so it was either free entry or the tickets were quite cheap. This made it so the band didn’t have to pay money to play.
――Siccaroll-hi is an Indie pop/Power pop band which is different from the typical style of music that you listen to. Why did you join Siccaroll-hi?
Chris:I listen to all styles of music and as a drummer I want to be as diverse as possible. Ideally I want experience in playing with pop, metal, jazz, avant-garde and progressive bands. I also want experience in writing and arranging my own music. I play in Siccaroll-hi for the experience, because I like the other members and playing this type of music is one piece of the picture of my future goals.
――How do you first start playing the drums?
When I was 13 I got my first drum kit as a present from my brothers and sister. Later my sister helped me to get drum lessons.
――What advice would you give to people from other countries about experiencing music in Japan?
I would tell them to check out this web site or to check out Tokyo gig guide. Also it’s good to find Japanese who have a similar taste in music so that they can give you advice on what to do and where to go. Koenji and Shimokitazawa are areas in Tokyo which have great music scenes, so I recommend anyone interested in music (especially the Japanese indie scene) to check out these areas.