Tuesday, 2 August 2016

An Interview With ETERNAL ELYSIUM


This honoured band was born in Japan, Nagoya, in the year 1991, this means that Eternal Elysium celebrate their 25th birthday this year. And how else could the band celebrate such a date if not with release of another album? So Yukito Okazaki (guitars, vocals), Tana Haugo (bass), vocals) and Antonio Ishikawa (drums) present their new work named “Resonance of Shadows”.

They already played it live in small tour which took place in three cities in Japan, and they already think about spreading these tunes further abroad. What do they plan? How does “Resonance of Shadows” differ from previous full-length “Within the Triad”? How was the band spending these seven years that lie stretched between both records?

Let’s ask Zaki and Tana themselves.

Hello Eternal Elysium! How are you? What’s new in the camp of Eternal Elysium?

Tana: Hi Aleks, thanks for doing the interview with us. It’s 2016 which means the band has been in existence for 25 years and we’ve just released our sixth album. The current lineup has been at it for 13 years. Wait, you asked about something new?!


Eternal Elysium new album “Resonance of Shadows” is already finished; did you already receive your portion of praise and exaltation?

Zaki: Lots of people gave us great reactions soon after we put that out. Those are much better than before in Japan. I think the new album is finding new fans.

Tana: We released this one on Okazaki’s label, Cornucopia, so the whole process has been completely DIY, which means it takes us some time.

There's a long break between “Within Triad” and new album. Is being in the band an integral process for you or something that you usually do when you have free time?

Tana: The band is a major part of each three members’ lives. We rehearse twice a week and gig regularly in Japan. The time between albums is long, but in that time we have also released a split 10” and CD with our buddies SardoniS and our mini-album “Highflyer” came out on CD and vinyl in 2012-13. Often the two formats have some time between them, and we usually need
to record something for bonus tracks as well.

Zaki: I learnt a lot about the 2011 disaster in Japan. The result is that I found a kind of truth in all this, and I decided to try to spread much more great vibes and thoughts from our music. I was drifting on a sea of despair and sadness while I was looking for any information that would give me hope for the future. I found the current answer, finally, and that content became some of the lyrics for songs on the new album. The term between our last album and this new one is almost the same as the distance from the edge of despair to hope.


What do you put in the new album’s title?

Tana: Looking at it simply, Okazaki wanted to use some form of the word “resonate” and I wanted to use some form of the word “shadow”. We wanted to express the hope and healing power of music, resonating through the universe, while acknowledging that there are dark things happening beneath the surface, hidden, in the shadows. Duality, positive and negative, dark and light, despair and hope. All of this is vibrating around us. Shadows are deceptively simple. They can convey so much and yet reveal so little. The blur of a shadowy line leaves so much to the imagination~ is the truth beautiful or hideous?

Eternal Elysium – Cosmic Frequency

Eternal Elysium had no songs with Japanese lyrics though I know that it sounds cool alongside doom metal tunes (thanks to Ningen-Isu and probably Corrupted!), don’t you want to finally try it?

Tana: Yes, we’re actively singing in Japanese now! We started sneaking some Japanese lyrics in on “Within the Triad” and since then the use has increased. “Resonance of Shadows” is close to half and half, English and Japanese. Dual-language is the natural state of our existence here, for me especially. Also, as Okazaki began to feel stronger about the messages he’d like to convey in songs, he realized he could express himself much better in his native language. Japanese listeners have definitely picked up on this. Ironic isn’t it that the lyrics for the cover song, “Hiroshima”, by the great Flower Travellin’ Band, a Japanese band, are actually in English!

Zaki: I got back to my roots, my early musical experiences. I remember singing traditional Japanese songs a long time ago, but after the shock of heavy/hard rock such as Sabbath, Purple, Zep and so on, I lost all interest in singing Japanese songs. My early vision of Eternal Elysium was to release our albums overseas. I couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in bands using Japanese at the time I launched Eternal Elysium in the early 90s. So singing in English was not too unnatural for me.

How do you see band’s progress on the new album? What are your personal achievements in “Resonance of Shadows”?

Zaki: We became more expressive than in the past. That's a result of playing a lot, both on gigs and in the studio, and trying to know each other better. We noticed many points that we didn't have, and we’re still polishing our skills so we can better convey our vibes. We’ve made judgments about what we can and can’t do well, throwing some of it out and going for a more simple approach. Amount of overdubs was less than past releases. We want to show more clearly what we're doing. This approach is a better match with the contents of lyrics. My score for the new album is great. I can say this album is still a transition point. I like the quality of this new one, but I’m not completely satisfied, because I believe in our potential. We'll progress more in the future, totally.

Another important new idea that I brought to this recording is changing the tuning of our strings a bit higher. The point is to play at 528hz, a natural, organic frequency/tone. Some people say that 528hz has the power to cure DNA damage. I absolutely feel different vibes from this tuning. I hope people listen and feel great resonance from new album. Search for info about this magical tone if you're interested.

Tana: “The Breeze Says Go” is the first song that I’ve written for Eternal Elysium. Okazaki is our chief song-sculptor and writer, with jam sessions being our principal source for new material, so “Breeze” is a bit of a new path.

Eternal Elysium - Hiroshima

When did you start to write “Resonance of Shadows” songs? How many of them are included in the album and is there something left after the record session?

Zaki: The oldest tune on new album is "Views on C#". This song was included on 10 inch "Mysterious Views in Stone Garden", so that was 2008. We kept playing this instrumental as an
opening tune on gigs. We began to play this song really well and the arrangement was changed and polished, so I decided to record it again. We began writing the other songs in 2011, and needed a long time to get enough to make a full-length. Some tunes were used for the EP and Split, and a lot songs and ideas were thrown out too.

How long did you record the album? Does the experience of being together in one band for so long make it easier and faster task?

Tana: The basic tracks were recorded mainly over a couple weeks in September-October. The guitar overdubs, vocals, mixing and processing then took place over the next several months. We worked at Studio Zen, which is where we rehearse and Okazaki has his recording studio, so we had the freedom to take our time. We functioned much better as a total group for this recording session, but nothing is ever “fast” with Eternal Elysium.


Eternal Elysium played with Nepenthes and resurrected Greenmachine in July! The first one has an ex-member of Church of Misery in its lineup, the second one was a well known outfit some time ago, so I’m wondering are there any new names in Japanese doom scene?

Zaki: I want to introduce some local doom bands from our hometown, Nagoya. First one is nibs. I'm just mixing their debut album. They have great technique to play doom rock. Cornucopia will release their debut album soon. Vomit Monster is not a new band, but I don’t think you know them. They released a full-length from Cornucopia too. Stone Banquet is playing doom/stoner sound. Crocodile Bambie is also a great stoner/desert rock band. Amber Vial is playing doom/ambient/post rock. From other areas in Japan, Ithaqua is playing psychedelic doom/sludge. They released an album last year, you should check. Fucho made a great album, too. Ele-phant has an interesting blend of doom and post rock. Japanese doom/stoner scene is still small, but it’s gradually growing.

Tana: As for some new names on the scene: Most of these bands have been around for a while, but maybe not well known outside Japan. Ithaqua from Kochi, playing a psychedelic mashup of Melvins and High on Fire, dark and heavy sludgesters, Bloodshot, from Takayama, they give me chills. Then there’s The Donor, kind of like Greenmachine’s “younger brother”, hailing from Kanazawa, their guitarist also plays now as a Greenmachine member. From our hometown, Nagoya, Crocodile Bambie rocks the desert-stoner rock sound.

Eternal Elysium – Sunset Puff

Don’t you plan to get out with these two bands outside Japan and do a small tour together to support “Resonance of Shadows”?

Tana: That would be epic and we can dream, but there are no plans for the three bands to tour together outside Japan.

Did you ever live through creative crisis? Did you suffer from the lack of ideas?

Tana: Of course! After so many years together, we sometimes find ourselves falling into familiar patterns and comfortable grooves. Not only in the group, but as an individual too. It happens, but you just have to keep going, climb to the next peak. Inspiration is everywhere, but you need all of your senses to be receptive to it which can be tough when you’re in a routine, with the band and with life. I get a lot of good juice from spending time out in the woods and mountains, away from digital chatter, surveillance cameras, and pointless hustle and bustle. Trying something creative outside of music and exploring the work of other artists too, are prime sources of inspiration and offer new perspectives and concepts which can send me on a new trip musically.

It seems that Eternal Elysium regularly takes part the split albums, do you plan for one more split in nearby future?

Zaki: We have no plans now.

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Eternal Elysium

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