Tuesday 31 October 2017

An Interview With Yukito Okazaki from ETERNAL ELYSIUM


Eternal Elysium may not have the international fame of BORIS or Church Of Misery but these guys are still considered pioneers of the International Psych Doom/Stoner Metal scene. The band have been going since 1991 and have released a wealth of fantastic Doom/Stoner Metal riffs over the years and across 6 critically acclaimed albums.

Their most acclaimed album is probably 2005's – Searching Low & High – which has been given a new lease of life courtesy of RobustFellow Prods. As that cool label is reissuing the album on DD and CD. The album has been digitally remastered and remixed by lead guitarist/vocalist Yukito Okazaki with stunning new artwork to match.

I caught up with Yukito Okazaki (Vocals/Guitars) recently where we discussed about this classic album and future plans for the band.

Hi Yukito. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Pretty good. Thanks to you guys for giving us the opportunity to get the word out about us to people.

We are here to talk about the reissue of your classic album – Searching Low & High. How did the idea came about to reissue the album on CD. Was it your idea or RobustFellow.

We got a great offer from RobustFellow last year. I was surprised and glad, because we were often talking about how most of our past albums are out of print. We asked what they wanted to do, and they explained their plan very much. That's totally great, so we decided to create something great with them.

Why that particular album. Why not other earlier albums of the band.

I understand what you're saying. There are a few reasons: the first point was that we needed to check the old contracts and situations of each album. At least with Searching Low & High we knew we were free to reissue for CD and digital releases. Vinyl of this album (released by Hydro-Phonic Rec) is still alive, so we didn't think we wanted to do that again. It took some time to clarify the situations with some of the other albums.

And, there is a more important point. This album is the 4th, but also the first release of the current lineup. I love every album we put out, and I'm sure Searching Low & High has great vibes. I remembered what we felt then. Lots of beautiful people helped and supported us so much. Almost 12 years have passed since we made this. 12 years is the timing when the Japanese zodiac has made a complete cycle. Perfect.

Did you have any other label offers to release the remastered album on CD. Are there plans for a vinyl release in the future.

Not really, we remastered it for this project. I don't want to spoil any surprises of future plans. Anyway, there’s gonna be great gifts for those who are waiting for reissues of more of our works.

Can you tell people what is different about this album compared to the original.

The biggest change is the sound image. I mixed both the original and this reissued version, and I tried to pull some ornaments out of there to get the sound of the real recording environment back. Enhancements that I made on original mix sometimes covered what we were doing, so I was carefully taking out the excess. I think the total balance became much better than original. Shape of sounds became a little mellow, but still heavy, even more. I took out some trippy dubs, and modified others. And, I added some dubs only a little bit after I made natural mix. I think you guys can catch our vibes more.

You’ve included two songs that appeared on the vinyl version of the album – Eternal Elysium and The Spiral Conclusion. Why were these not included on the original CD version of the album.

We recorded these two 4, 5 years after the original release, just for bonus on LP, so it was impossible. Well, I remixed both tracks for reissue release, so I think fans who already have listened on LP can enjoy again.

I’ve heard the new version and it sounds so much better than the original version. Was it an easy or hard experience remastering the entire album.

Thanks. I actually tried only remastering first, but I felt the it was possible to make the original sound even greater. I think that's right decision. It made value so much more.

Did you feel apprehensive or feel under pressure when remastering and remixing the album. As the album is held in high regard within the Doom/Stoner/Psych Rock scenes.

Yes, I did, obviously. But, that's not for rating from people. It was like I was fighting with my own previous work. This hard work was a kind of big trial, especially for me as mixing engineer.

The new artwork for the album is stunning. Why did you decide to go with new artwork and not the original artwork. As the original artwork is very cool and superb within its own right.

Honestly, because I felt tired to do artwork at the time. Eternal Elysium has kind of D.I.Y. mind, so original artwork was created by me and my wife who have much experiences to do graphic design. But, that usually takes a lot of my energy. And RobustFellow introduced some great artists/drawers from Robust team. So we decided to work with their artist. Anyway, cards of original artworks are included on reissue package, so you can enjoy both.

Did you have much involvement with the new artwork. Or did you leave that decision upto RobustFellow.

Not too much. I suggested just some real Japanese tastes.

Does it surprise you to this day at how people still hold Searching Low & High in such high regards.

Yeah, I didn't think people feel like that. For me, the things I'm deeply into are usually what we're doing, so I didn't care much about past releases. I appreciate people keep checking our old titles.

Did you realize you had something special on your hands when you originally released the album.

Well, I felt we've got something special and am in another dimension just after every release. I had some kind of confidences about the sound, but I couldn't imagine somebody really wanted this album to be reissued.

Did you ever notice or realize the insane high prices people were selling and buying copies of the CD & Vinyl on eBay when the album was originally released. How did that make you feel.

That's pretty crazy. I didn't check how much people spend getting the original one, but I also understand people’s feeling. I just remember how I spent lots of money when I got some rare items of Black Sabbath long ago, ha ha. Anyway, I hope this reissue makes good opportunity to listen to the real sound that we created for listeners.

Will any of your other albums be getting the same reissue treatment that Searching Low & High has recently gone through.

I think so. We're certainly planning other reissues. When this reissue of Searching Low & High sells well, our upcoming reissue projects will be smooth.

What are the future plans for Eternal Elysium. Any new records or forthcoming tours that fans can look forward to.

We were playing very much after releasing latest album last last year, but we couldn't show what we’ve got happening overseas for a few years. We hope to back to Europe as soon as possible. I think if the voices of people who want to check us are getting louder, it's gonna be possible. Please support us.

Thanks for doing this interview. All the best with the new version of the album.

Thank you so much, too. I hope everybody feels great to live well. That's the main message from Searching Low & High. Have a great life. Peace.

Words by Steve Howe and Yukito Okazaki

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR and RobustFellow Prod for arranging this interview. Thanks to Yukito for doing this interview. Searching Low & High is available to buy on CD via RobustFellow Prod now.