ANATOMIA delivers the morbid sounds of Death, Doom and Gloom, emanating from Japan. This year the band has released a new full-length album "Decaying In Obscurity" on Nuclear War Now Productions, actively annihilates stages in their home country and is planning another offensive in Europe. The band’s mainman Takashi (drums / vocals) and bassplayer Jun Tonosaki have many interesting things to tell, starting from his involvement in NECROPHILE, TRANSGRESSOR and the path that has finally led to ANATOMIA…
Let’s start with a bit of history. How did you get into Metal and what led you to form your first band and eventually TRANSGRESSOR? Were you also in NECROPHILE?
Takashi: "I started listening to Metal when I was only 14-15 years old, which is already 26-27 years ago, through the influences from my elder brother. I started with L.A. Metal stuff like RATT and MÖTLEY CRÜE, then Thrash stuff like SLAYER, ANTHRAX, SODOM, KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, and then into Death, Black, Grind stuff like DEATH, BATHORY, BULLDOZER, NAPALM DEATH, etc. Me and my brother jammed together at home quite often and played covers from these bands. I remember we played a lot of KREATOR and BATHORY, especially "Pleasure To Kill" and "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" albums. That’s about the time when me and my brother formed this band GAMVETTA together with the bassist Junichi. After having just one rehearsal demo tape out, and played only about 2 or 3 shows, my brother left the band, and me and Junichi remained to start a new band TRANSGRESSOR. It wasn’t like forming a new band, but we just changed the name, and that happened when we recruited Gota Mori (ex – CRUCIFIXION, MESSIAH DEATH) for a short period of time. He brought in the band some influences into more underground Death Metal stuff. So that’s how TRANSGRESSOR started. Yeah, I first joined in NECROPHILE back in 1990 and I played the guitars on the "Deride The Remedied" for their split LP with ABHORER, then later I played the drums on their 7" EP "Dissociated Modernity" and also joined forces in their short US tour back in 1991."
How did you get into playing drums and singing? Do you play any other instruments?
Takashi: "Well, as I mentioned in the above question, I often jammed with my brother and played a lot of KREATOR songs, and I started playing drums and singing at the same time, you know just like Ventor did!! So his drums was my big influence in the beginning. I really liked the way he played and sang and my favorite was ‘Riot Of Violence’!! Great song!! Real heavy and a true Metal song!! Yeah, I played and still play guitars too. Mainly rhythm guitars but also some really bad "Death Metal" solos! Hahaha! You know I never learned it properly but just doing it by myself for whatever it sounds! Haha! I’m currently playing guitars in NECROPHILE and we’ve been doing a couple of shows where I play solos in almost every song! Also, I recently joined in a new side project band by Uriel (GUTWRENCH from Mexico), called NECRORITE, and in their upcoming demo I participated in playing some guitar solos! I’m not really good guitar player but I’m more having fun doing it!!"
How did the transformation between TRANSGRESSOR and ANATOMIA happen?
Takashi: "Me and Yoshio were looking for another member to reform TRANSGRESSOR back in 2002 when our discography CD "Recollected Limbs" was released and we met Jun who was one of our old friends who was an ex – member of SADONDETH, another local band existed around the time when TRANSGRESSOR was still active. So we invited him in the band and started under the name of TRANSGRESSOR in the beginning, but after some months we thought that it was hard to keep it going without having earlier line-up so we decided to start again from scratch."
OK, let’s talk about your latest album "Decaying In Obscurity". It is definitely broader in sound and atmosphere. How do you think you have progressed since "Dissecting Humanity"?
Takashi: "We are satisfied with all of it. You know it happened after almost 9 years and I believe we changed what we like to play to some extent. When we had "Dissected Humanity", we focused on playing doomy and sleazy shit, as we were much more AUTOPSY worshipping and you know we’re trying to tribute or bringing back earlier sound as opposed to trendy slamming brutal shit at that time. We were tired of those technical, ultra-fast trigger-drumming stuff. So for this new album "Decaying In Obscurity", we wanted it to be more "obscure" and "atmospheric", you know trying to do something differenta bit. We have many "old school Death Metal" bands popping up around the world anyway."
How did you decide to incorporate more dark ambient / cinematic horror music in your Death Metal style? Can you talk about tracks like ‘The Unseen’ and ‘Obscurity’?
Jun: "Yes. The fact that each last song for both the first half and the latter half is instrumental and the sequence of the songs overall created the feeling of a horror movie soundtrack. We didn’t want it to be nothing but just another Death Metal album we put out there. We wanted it to be something that listeners could actually imagine the horror scenes while being also visually connected to the music. The Italian horror film Susperia and its soundtrack are some of my biggest influences so I wanted to express the essence of it through ANATOMIA. ‘The Unseen’ is the most evident result of our horror influence. We even call that song "horror" among ourselves. Haha. ‘Obscurity’ is probably a bit more like the kind that could come from those labels such as Cold Meat Industry and Projekt. I created the sound at first only out of my personal taste, not expecting it to be released but I decided to go for it as I thought it could add darker feels to the album. I meant for it to be like the soundtrack for nostalgically obsolete Japanese cinema from several decades ago."
Beside the full length album you also appeared on numerous 7" EPs. Could you tell a bit about the ‘Merciless Torment’, ‘No Way To Live’, ‘Drawn Into The Abyss’ and ‘Forlorn’ splits? Do you plan to release them on one CD?
Takashi: "After releasing our first full length in 2005, we got so many split offers from bands around the world, so we simply went on all those split releases. ‘Merciless Torment’ was on the split with Brazilian gore master OFFAL, ‘No Way To Live’ was on the split with US ancient Death horde DECREPITAPH, and ‘Drawn Into The Abyss’ was on the split with Turkish deathly maniacs BURIAL INVOCATION. It was all fun to collaborate with these bands from different countries, and even is the best way to spread the words around the world. We have more new split releases in the future, but no plans yet to release these split tracks on one CD. Maybe after 10 splits, we can make an album with all the split tracks! That would be great idea!"
Could you tell about Death Metal gigs in Japan? Does it attract many people? How does the audience in Japan differ from Europe where you played some time ago?
Jun: "We have to admit that we are locationally challenged. All the venues here are rather small due to comparatively high land prices while there are so many bands here that want their music to get across the chosen few. The biggest scenes here may not be so underground friendly since there’s no point if you’re not making any money and it’s not likely that you could do it much with old school Death Metal in Japan which we suppose you could relate to. But those issues aside, we’re always content playing our music because there’s something universal in the way the audience acknowledge us whether it is in Japan, Europe or anywhere else. There are a few festivals here that fit out best interest and you’ll be surprised by how fanatic the underground fans could be."
How do you go about composing ANATOMIA tracks? Do you rehearse or record and then learn them? What equipment do you use for recording your tracks?
Takashi: "We usually have one person that comes up with an idea, writes most part of the song, and records a rough demo track to let the other members learn it, then we rehearse, put some arrangements, and record it… Most of the songs on the new album "Decaying In Obscurity" were written and based on Jun’s idea, and I just brought in some ideas and arranged a little. So they were mostly written by Jun except for the song ‘Cadaveric Dissection’ which I wrote entirely. Well, we don’t stick too much to our "own" equipment, but I use my own 8 inch-deep snare drum, you know it makes the best heavy sound that I have been using since my teenage."
I know that Japan has a long Metal history and usually many bands get very excited crowds over there. But how is Death Metal perceived? What are the biggest changes from your days in TRANSGRESSOR?
Takashi: "Yes, the Metal scene is quite big and still going pretty good here but as for the Death Metal scene, it’s really small and we rarely see big tour bands coming over. We already missed such great bands like GRAVE and SADISTIC INTENT this year. They toured Asia but didn’t come over to Japan and nothing… I think Japan has problems in organizing shows. There are many fans and people want to bring over such bands but the situation here is not good enough. You know, everything is pretty much expensive here, like venues, equipment, transportation, accommodation… just too much to pay and so that makes it real difficult. Well, not much different from the TRANSGRESSOR days, as we play at the same type of venues, like small live-houses or some bars, but maybe the situation now is better, as we get some money sometimes from doing shows. Depends on the organizers and the size of the crowd though."
What inspires you lyrically? Are you interested in other art forms? What other music you enjoy listening?
Takashi: "Mostly from horror films, some murder cases that happen occasionally these days (especially those in Japan that are bizarre and morbid). I like watching movies in general, not only horror but some other kinds. Other than Metal, I listen to Jazz, Classic, some Pop music, you know just for taking some breaks."
What’s your opinion about the possibilities that Internet has brought? What do you think about file sharing, does it help or hurt a band like ANATOMIA?
Takashi: "Well, I think there’s nothing we can do about it as they could be uploaded and downloaded so easy that anyone having access to Internet can get as many music as they want for free nowadays. That’s what it is now. We actually use the file storage sites to transfer our music data to labels and some people there when necessary, so we make good use of it that way. I think we don’t get that much problems when some people are sharing our music on the Internet and only certain people buy our stuff. Maybe we are a good enough underground band and they know what is real, haha!"
Can you tell how did WORMRIDDEN project came about? Do you plan to release more music?
Takashi: "It started back in 2010 while ANATOMIA was in Copenhagen, after we finished the short tour with UNDERGANG back then, from sharing my idea with David to form a side project band that plays low-tuned doomy putrid Death Metal in vein of early GRAVE ("Anatomia Corpolis Humani" demo) and FUNEBRE (demo ’90). David of course said yes and so that’s how it started. Yeah, we’ve finished the recording of two brand new songs for the upcoming demo. We’re talking to have it released on tape from David’s Extremely Rotten Records, and again on 7” EP from Me Saco Un Ojo Records just like what we did for the first demo! This new one sounds more putrid, sick, and heavy as we tuned even lower. Much better production than the first one for sure!! As this time we recorded together at a studio in Berlin while I was there to play a show with ANATOMIA at NWN! Fest last year. We’re also talking to have a full length hopefully in 2014!!"
What are your thoughts about the Fukushima disaster? How did it affect you personally? Do you think that humanity is really doomed?
Takashi: "Yeah, the situation is slowly getting worse and worse, although the restoration of those damaged cities are being made on the other hand. More polluted water is being dumped out to the sea without having any good solution for disposing the wastes. The earthquake itself didn’t affect me and my family, relatives, my friends, though I had to walk for about 5-6 hours to get home that day which takes only an hour by train I usually spend every day. Yeah, it is destroying the nature, and I think we’ll see natural disasters more often. No way to live…"
Are there any Japanese bands you could recommend?
Takashi: "I’d recommend DEADLY SPAWN. This band is one of the closest friends of us, and they play pretty good Death Metal, some technical stuff there as well. They put out their second full length album called "Forced Into Atrocities" on Metal Inquisition Records last year, and that’s the album I would highly recommend. I would also recommend some young new bands from here, and one of them is called RETURN. This band plays Black Thrash in the vein of early BATHORY and KREATOR. Just check them out at www.myspace.com/returnjpn. Also, some more bands I’d recommend are FASTKILL, EVIL, DORAID, TASTE, BEGRABNIS, REVOLT…"
Can you tell about your plans for the future and some upcoming releases?
Takashi: "OK, we have many stuff coming out this year. We have a split 7” EP with LIVING DECAY on Dark Descent Records, a split 7” EP with NECROVOROUS on Doomentia Records, a split 7” EP with BILEPUSCESS (from Singapore) on Slap Bet Records, a split 8” EP with UNDERGANG on Me Saco Un Ojo Records and the "Dead Bodies In The Morgue" LP version will be released by Dark Recollections Productions… Also, some new design shirts, hoodies, buttons, and more split releases with such bands as INTERMENT, SEX MESSIAH, MACHETAZO, and having a plan for a Mini LP on Overture Records!"
Thank you for taking time in answering these questions, please feel free to add anything. Stay brutal! Death Metal!!! OSS!
Takashi: "Thank YOU for this killer interview Plix! I had fun on this! OK, watch out for our upcoming new releases, as we have tons of many in the works now! For more info, check out our Facebook page and go tothe BigCartel site for merch. Also, we’re planning to come back to Europe for a mini tour again this October!! We’ll be playing about 7-8 shows from October 11th to 18th!! Detailed info will be announced sometime soon!"
Mindaugas "Plix" Lapinskas