Interview originally published in DEGENERATE #2 magazine. Degenerate was a magazine that was co-published by Freak Animal and Kaos Kontrol. It replaced the Freak Animal magazine that was published in the 90’s. After Degenerate magazine ended, eventually idea to start Special Interests magazine was established. All old scans of the magazines are free to distribute. No official re-prints of magazines exists. Some files was found from old back-up hard-drive, so lets see what was situation with Incapacitants almost 20 years ago. …No progress?!
Questions Mikko A 2001
Answered by T. Mikawa
When you started Incapacitants, did you have clear vision of what you want to achieve? What was your motivation to create this sound and when did it actually start?
-When I started Incapacitants in 1981 as my solo recording project, not a live unit, what I wanted to do was to create pure strong noise. At that time I had been a member of Hijo Kaidan, which was very notorious for the disgusting live performance by some members. I didn’t like such performance on stage so much and thought that I would like to concentrate on sound itself.
When you started Incapacitants, did you think that it would last this long, still doing loud noise after decades?
-I had no idea about that matter then. I just started what I wanted to do.
Jojo Hiroshige said in old Bananafish interview that some noise artists like Masonna and Hanatarashi sound like they are trying to revenge being bullied as children by being as unpleasant and harsh as possible, but Incapacitants is different – mostly interested seeing how much power you can generate with noise. Is this your goal in noise? To generate as much power as possible. Or like one of your CD’s is titled “As loud as possible”?
-Basically, Yes should be the answer to this question.
Many people talk about noise and power electronics as almost opposite styles. Many feel that noise without message/content is useless. Often it seems that many of those who created record with “content” still have nothing more to say than just pure noisers. They just insert pornographic or political picture to cover. With Incapacitants, I don’t think there is any clear message, except titles like “Curse of Ceausescu”. But you have done Incapacitants for so long time, I think it must have some personal meaning for you?
-Whether to put some kind of message or content with noise when to create noise is up to the attitude of the person who creates noise, I think. In my case, I don’t think to give message to noise sound itself except for the pieces’ titles. Titles I gave to the pieces are basically based on very personal matter and I don’t expect listeners to understand my intention of the naming because each title requires to be explained minutely by myself if they should be correctly understood. I would like to listeners to concentrate on noise itself that I strongly believe contains very rich context.
Incapacitants style has remained same since beginning – or at least on all releases I have heard. Long songs of extreme noise, with strong “live” feeling, no quick cut’n’paste editing. Most of recordings have different sounds, some with electronics, some with metal junk, some with feedback. Some of the are heavier with lots of bass, some just high pitched noise. But still, basically same style. You also have CD called “No progress”. Do you feel Incapacitants have no progress at all? Have anything changed since beginning? Recording methods, equipment, live show methods,…?
-Yes, I agree with your opinion. The retrospective CD “No Progress” shows that we have no intention to make progress from the beginning. Of course, equipments we use have changed rather dramatically, but as you mentioned, basic style remains the same. The biggest change in Incapacitants history was that at first it was my solo recording project but later it has become duo live unit.
What is the equipment you are currently using? What happened to old equipment? Do you (accidentally) break equipment during shows, as you told they are very physical shows?
-Recently, I usually use crystal microphone, metal sheets with pick up, sampler, Electro-harmonix mini-synthesizer, mixer, fuzz, octarver, ring modulator, auto-wah, Ishibashi-thermin and some other effectors. At an early days, I used hand made ocillator, named “The MIKAWA”, which was named after “The Simeon” of Silver Apples, but it was broken now. I don’t know why it’s broken but it may be due to the intense physical action during the live performance. I sometimes kick the equipment table down toward the end of the show, which might cause some troubles in the equipments.
Sometimes Incapacitants uses also screaming or yelling vocals. Does it include any words, or only used as instrument equal to noise?
-Screaming voice is one of our instruments, but it could be both meaningful sentences, though it is hardly heard, and just meaningless screaming.
Merzbow creates now his noise with lap-top computer. What do you think of computer noise? Does manually created noise with junk metal and simple electronic devices have more feeling?
-Computer noise is interesting and cool to me, but so far I don’t want do it by myself, especially on stage. Live performance with physical action is essential to us.
Do have been member of Hijokaidan in all their best records. Is Hijokaidan still active? Lately I have only noticed re-releasing old stuff. Is there new recordings / live shows?
-Hijo Kaidan is still active. Basic member is Jojo Hiroshige, Junko and I. Kosakai sometimes joins as a live member also. If possible, we’d like to release new Hijo Kaidan’s album, but recently Jojo’s main activity is his solo performance.
In past Hijokaidan collaborated with Japanese hardcore/grind band S.O.B. and made it SOBKaidan. I think you wasn’t involved, only Jojo, but what do you think of fusion of noise & this kind of music? Nowadays lots of noise fans have punk or metal music past, do you think it affects the style of noise?
-My feeling about this is that hardcore punk guys tend to feel sympathy with hardcore noise. Of course some noisician likes hardcore punk or metalcore or whatever. I myself am neutral.
Have you noticed that interest towards (Japanese) noise would have gotten smaller abroad during late 90’s? Not so much of noise being released and sold. Does this same thing happen in Japan, or everything stayed normal?
-My observation tells me that new comers in this category who continue to be active are relatively few and the artists who receives attention to some extent have been the same, generally speaking. Of course I don’t want to say there have been no new comers in these 10 years, but most of them disappear form the scene.
Also some other Japanese bands seem to disappear or have not made new records, for example long time nothing new heard from CCCC, Gerogerigegege, Solmania, Monde Bruits, Diesel Guitar, etc! Do you know these people and are they still doing something? Kosakai was in CCCC, I heard it has stopped. Does Kosakai have now involvement in other bands/projects besides Incapacitants?
-CCCC disbanded. Solmania is still rather active. They are doing gigs and releases new CDs. About Gerogerigegege, I have no information but they seem to be still releasing something. Diesel Guitar has returned to his own hometown and is still active to some extent, I heard. Regarding Monde Bruits, he made a new unit “ABM” which is guitar noise improvisation trio. Kosakai belongs to various kind of unit in addition to his solo action. Recently he released 2 CDs. One by the drone improvisation unit “Tangerine Dream Syndicate” which used to be “Ramones Young” CD release by Alchemy. The other was under the name “Uchu Engine” where his part is vocal and guitar. It’s basically rock band in my opinion. CD release by Pataphysique Records.
Do you listen to new noise bands of Japan or rest of the world? Does it interest you?
-I don’t care whether it comes from Japan or abroad as far as it’s interesting to me.
Do you listen to your own noise releases?
–Yes, sometimes. I love my own sound very much. In other words, I create noise which I would like to listen to.
I noticed Incapacitants appears on compilation CD made by SONY/Epic records. Does this kind of big label enable you reach new listeners outside “real” noise scene, or do you think people just are shocked for this kind of loud noise?
-Regarding “Balls to the Wall” compilation, it was one time plan and had no continuity. I don’t think that had big impact to ordinary people, because the sales itself was negligible and people who bought that CD were mainly people who were inside the scene or at least around the scene.
Many noise artists collaborate with others very often. I don’t remember any other Incapacitants collaboration than on “Live Incapacitants” CD there is live collaboration with Tatsuo Yoshida, which has very strange result! Do you think Incapacitants works best in own pure noise and not in collaborations with other artists?
-I have no intention to stick to pure noise duo style but so far I believe the duo with Kosakai is the most effective style to do what I want to do. In case of the collaboration with Tatsuya Yoshida, it was a kind of experiment. The result was very exciting for us all, though it may sound strange as Incapacitants. Even if so, I don’t care at all. Other than that case, we collaborated several times with K2. His latest release (4CD set!) contains our live performance. Moreover, Kohei Gomi of Pain Jerk and me collaborated under the name of GOMIKAWA, whose CDR was released by Self Abuse Records. With Fumio Kosakai, GOMIKAWA had become GOMIKAWA FUMIO. GOMIKAWA FUMIO’s CD will be released by Alchemy in the near future.
Many of your releases include live recordings. How does this differ from your studio work? Do you use same methods or are they different?? Sound often is very similar in both…
-Though Incapacitants started as my solo recording unit, now its main activity is to do live performance. So, it is natural that the sound sources of the CD releases tend to live materials. However, we sometimes go to the studio to make a kind of recording. Basically the same as live performance, as far as sound concerns, but in studio, we have no frantic audience at all, we can be cooler and concentrate sound itself much more. On the other hand, in case of studio recording live feeling I love can be easily lost. In a sense, it’s a trade-off.
When reading for example Ongaku Otaku magazine, it looks like noise shows are often very social things in Japan. Noise artists meet each other and go to eat together after show etc. Is it always like this or only when “special” shows, like foreign bands touring? Do you see new people come to noise shows or is it always the same maniacs who come every time?
-It depends. As for me, I rarely go to see other people’s performance except when I’m also the performer at that show. So, that is almost the only chance to speak with other noise performers face to face. More importantly, I like to drink. So I usually go to drink with other performers and organizers. We call it “Uchiage” in Japanese. Regarding audience, some new, some regular, but Uchiage members from audience is mainly regular people.
I remember reading somewhere that Incapacitants also played live show outdoors in public place early in the morning, and “Live Incapacitants” includes live show recorded in Christmas day. Do you have more “special” live shows, have you played in any strange places etc.?
-The only outside performance was at Tajima in Fukushima prefecture, JAPAN. CD “Fabrication” contains the recording at that time as “Good Morning Tajima!” By the way, I’m not Christian and so don’t think to play live on Christmas Day. I should have stayed at home calmly with my family, however. There is no other special show or performance in a strange place so far.
What does your family think of Incapacitants?
-I guess they don’t mind it. I think they don’t like noise at all, so if I try to make them listen to my sounds, they may run away. As far as I do it away from them, they don’t mind.
Have you played outside Japan?
-Yes, only once. At “Mottomo Otomo” Wels, Austria, Nov. 5, 1999, which is included in “Live Incapacitants”.
Old Hijokaidan live shows was violent / intense actions. Did you participate on them? Did this kind of things happen with Incapacitants? What kind of live shows you are doing now?
-As mentioned before, I was at those early days shows but not engaged in that kind of action. However, strange to say, Incapacitants live always contain intense physical action. Usually I come to be unable to continue to play due to extreme fatigue and disappear form the stage while Kosakai is playing. A few minutes later, his diving to the audience ended the show.
Are you interested to combine noise with visual arts, installation / multimedia, or is noise best when it’s pure and without anything additional?
-I’m not so interested in visual arts, etc. In my understanding, noise should be as loud, fertile and pure as possible.
Many of your CD’s released on Alchemy Records include a lot of text, but only in Japanese language. What these text are saying? Why not English translations, even with small text? Is Alchemy only interested in domestic Japanese market?
-I’m not in the position to answer this question, but generally speaking, taking it into account that there are many customers outside Japan, Alchemy should try to translation. I don’t think they see only domestic market at all. My guess is that cost and time translation required prevents Alchemy to do so. I’ll talk to Jojo about this matter.
Alchemy Records re-released your debut album “Repo” on CD format. Will you start re-releasing more old materials (tapes), or is newnoise priority?
-“Repo” re-release is based on strong request by many fans. I think the “best” release is always next release, so, re-release is not my priority.
-Nothing special so far.
Editors note: Despite no special plans, during last 20 years, both Incapacitants and Hijokaidan has been busy with gigs and new albums.
New album appears to be coming. Below you can hear 2017 album track still going strong!