It's “no problem at all” for us!! How about you guys?! ~CHOKE's new song "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" is a song with problems!!~
The new song that illustrates the evolution of CHOKE, "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-," is set for release on June 5th. They will also sponsor their own three-year anniversary event, CHOKE 3rd anniversary "BEEF," at Shibuya CYCLONE on Sunday, June 14th. This interview tells the world how the members feel about these events, with a focus on the new song.
"Just throwing our anger around may be a way to vent our emotions, but it doesn't really help in solving the actual problem. That's why we decided to switch to a more logical method for venting those emotions."
On June 5th, the single "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" went on sale as a digital release. The lyrics almost seem to make fun of all the people who are reeling from the coronavirus crisis. Were the lyrics written recently?
[REON] Very recently.
Were they intended as a message in response to the current state of society?
[REON] That was a big part of it. It's a fact that all of society is at the mercy of the coronavirus crisis right now, and CHOKE has been pushed to a point where we've wondered if we could remain active throughout all this, too. So the song is us saying we're not going to dump all kinds of emotional reactions and information we can't even verify as true or false on social media, or let the news drive us into a panic. Of course, social media is just fine as a means for sharing accurate information if you can do so in an articulate way, but it feels wrong to post anything that might be mistaken or make the people who support us feel upset. And above all, we have the option of expressing what we want to say through our music, so we decided that's what we want to do.
We've reached a point where the extremist statements, false information, and unverified claims on social media have started to taper off a bit, but both then and now, statements from politicians and intellectual types have been stirring up panic, causing the continued spread of claims that can't be verified as true or false. Listening to "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" gives the impression that CHOKE is speaking out against that; is this not the case?
[REON] Just being angry won't solve anything. There's another CHOKE song called "Fuck It" that we also made a music video for. The language used in that song was much more like a direct attack, where we basically just unloaded all of our anger straight onto the source of that rage. At the time, that was the most effective method of expression for CHOKE. But now we feel that just throwing our anger around may be a way to vent our emotions, but it doesn't really help in solving the actual problem. That's why we decided to switch to a more logical method for venting those emotions.
A more... logical method for venting...?
[REON] Yeah. Just staying pissed off all the time won't really solve anything. If you're going to be angry, it's better to sort out exactly why you're angry and put it into words that make sense. As far as CHOKE is concerned, we want to be able to turn even emotions like anger into a positive mindset. As for how we express that... for example, with a sentiment like "going toward our dream," we'd use a sarcastic or cynical approach to lead the listener toward that message without using those words themselves. In the same way, we were hoping people would catch on to the feelings we wanted to express through "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-."
"As we are now, I'm confident that no matter what genre or style of music we put out, it would still only sound like CHOKE."
Did you have something you were aiming for with the melody, too?
[KYVA NONO] CHOKE's activities have always incorporated the idea of "mixture," so we've worked a wide variety of music styles into our sound. Most recently, we've been really into the nu metal style, so we've incorporated some of that. When we first tried out trapcore, we'd do stuff like cut back on the guitar or leave out the drums to give it a club electro feel before going rap metal on it. Those sorts of techniques that turn common knowledge on its head had a major impact on us. From then on, we completely got rid of any notion of "what we should be" and went back to a totally flat base to start making music from. And the song that came from that was "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-." It incorporates all the elements I mentioned above while also working in some symphonic elements that very few metalcore artists use, plus we broke down existing chord progressions to rebuild them into something more complex. We drew up one composition after another with an avant-garde approach, then put them all together in one song like a collage. Some people might perceive it as a song that's kind of all over the place, but in our minds, it came together in a really neat package (lol).
[B5] CHOKE has always been about being the total opposite of "easy to understand and easy to get into." That said, it seems wrong to just play some incomprehensible song that goes absolutely nowhere for 40-50 minutes. It's more about how much complicated stuff you can fit into just a few minutes in a way that tells the same story from beginning to middle to end, while still striking that ambiguous balance between "not too hard to understand, but not simple, either." And what we ended up with after doing all that was "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-."
[Toshiya Sato] CHOKE's songs are composed with a certain pacing that splits them into sections. You could listen to each section of a song individually, and it would sound like a bunch of completely different songs. What makes this band so interesting is how we form all those sections into one construct. And what makes it interesting is that we start by clearly identifying what we want to emphasize most in each section, and then each member performs their part with that in mind. Every time I play the drums, I think about how that perfect sense of balance is what makes CHOKE so appealing.
The track begins with some airy, dissonant electro layered with rough record-scratching noise, which is then joined by REON's stifled, murmuring rap. CHOKE brings its own interpretation of trap metal, with bass-heavy trap music blended with dissonant electro and a mix of rap vocals with loud metal in a style unique to CHOKE. "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" seems to embody CHOKE's method of combining many styles into a musical collage, with sudden symphonic twists thrown in and a block-by-block composition that constantly changes.
[KYVA NONO] As I mentioned earlier, the first thing I tried to do when writing "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" was to take the template of what a musical composition is supposed to be... and wipe it all out. Then I tried to see how much I could break down something constructed with a pop approach before rebuilding it from the ground up. "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" concentrates multiple blocks of totally different styles of music into a single collage just a few minutes long. I was also going for the kind of groove that only a human could create, as opposed to a machine, while also incorporating synchronization. Add to that a lot of dissonance and extreme tempo changes, along with really subtle variations in BPM between different sections, sometimes as small as just 5 or even 2 BPM, and even though the end result is pretty complex, it turned out to be one of CHOKE's defining songs. It's still pretty crazy, though (lol). But one thing I've come to realize is that, as we are now, I'm confident that no matter what genre or style of music we put out, we could still add CHOKE's own color to it... or maybe I should say no matter what we did, it would still only sound like CHOKE. Even if we did melocore, not that we ever would, I'm confident that we could elevate it to a style that you'd easily recognize as CHOKE.
- Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all- (全然問題ねぇ-No problem at all-)
"Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" will be released for streaming on June 5th. That's also around the same time frame as the band's three-year anniversary, isn't it?
[KYVA NONO] It is. We have our three-year anniversary event "BEEF" coming up on June 14th, and we wanted to get this song out into the world before that, plus it carries a timely message that we wanted to get out there as soon as possible, which is why we're releasing it via streaming instead of a CD. We're thinking that instead of clinging to CD releases, it might be a good idea to release more songs via streaming from now on, so we can put out timely messages like this while they're still hot enough to have an impact.
"You can all start out working toward the same dream or goal as friends, but then you end up hating each other and it all falls apart."
CHOKE has been very proactive about making music videos, and now "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" joins that growing list. It paints quite a harsh, graphic picture with a grotesque horror style.
[KYVA NONO] We filmed "Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all-" in an abandoned town and the ruined tunnel that leads to it. It was raining at the time, and also quite cold, so it was definitely harsh (lol).
[REON] I was wrapped up in stuff that looked like garbage bags and dragged around like a dead body on the cold, wet pavement. At some point I started feeling numb all over, and the "oh, shit" face I was making shows up clearly in the video. I hope everyone will notice that.
[KYVA NONO] The place was still littered with fallen trees and logs from a typhoon last year, which gave it a really creepy air. After filming there for a few hours, I actually started to feel pretty fond of that atmosphere.
I can't help but tie the story in the video to the coronavirus panic. Is that what you were going for?
[KYVA NONO] There are parts of it that could be perceived that way, but that wasn't what we were trying to express with it. The message we wanted to convey through the video was something that can also apply to bands forming and breaking up: "You can all start out working toward the same dream or goal as friends, but then you end up hating each other and it all falls apart." But we don't think the idea behind that message is a bad thing. It holds true for everyone that when you really try to get to the bottom of something, differing opinions and feelings are going to start surfacing along the way. But that's not something you should hate or fear. We just think that if it's inevitably going to happen in any group that came together with a shared goal or dream, then it's best to just accept it.
[REON] The video does express that in some pretty extreme ways, like with a guy beating up his own friend and taking his money. It actually contains ironic depictions of many different situations, like the luggage theft that commonly occurs in green rooms in the band industry, so I hope people will have fun analyzing that stuff as they watch it.
"They're all the kind of people who'd probably say we were lame as hell if we said something like 'Let's go insane while staying within the rules' (lol)."
So CHOKE is hosting a live event, CHOKE 3rd anniversary "BEEF," at Shibuya CYCLONE on Sunday, June 14th.
[REON] All the bands lined up to play there are bands that immediately locked on to our hearts when we saw them perform in person, and they're all so awesome that appearing alongside them drives us to perform better ourselves. They're all really bizarre bands that completely defy what I'd consider common sense and refuse to be restrained by such concepts, especially PXLLY. They're all the kind of people who'd probably say we were lame as hell if we said something like "Let's go insane while staying within the rules" (lol).
[B5] CHOKE has hosted a few events before, but all the bands we've invited to this one are bands that we've seen and heard in person, whose performances we've experienced in livehouses and thought they were awesome. In fact, it really feels like we're only able to perform alongside these guys because we've worked so hard as CHOKE for the past three years, so we're really happy that we can sponsor an event with an amazing lineup like this. The only thing is that we know we'll regret it if we slack off even in the slightest. It's really rare to get to be part of an event this exciting, with so many amazing bands in a single evening, so we hope everyone will savor that experience.
[REON] Since all the bands have a lot of respect for each other, it's guaranteed to be an event of much higher quality than you'd see anywhere else.
[Toshiya Sato] The third anniversary is a big milestone, and this will be a time for CHOKE to put everything we've been building up for the past three years on display, so I do feel some pressure because of that. But I intend to take on the challenge aggressively rather than go on the defensive. There's a lot of inspiration to be gained by performing with such an incredible lineup, and I'm determined to go big or go home.
[KYVA NONO] CHOKE is a band that crosses boundaries without worrying about aligning with specific genres like metalcore or visual kei. And this event will be packed with so much talent, everyone who sees it will be left thinking that genres have nothing to do with anything. If we can give that impression, the event will be a success. To reach that point, CHOKE needs to become more and more widely recognized as a band, and we have every intention of working hard to make that happen, so we hope everyone will come to the event and experience that thrill for themselves.
Those who purchase the digital single through CHOKE's webshop will receive the exclusive REON solo song, Shut the Fuck Up and Die feat.REON.
Also for sale at their overseas webshop is a high quality mp4 version of the band's ピザとコーラ-Pizza and Cola- one-shot live film. The download version includes an unreleased member talk and encore songs, plus mp3 and wav versions of the audio (remastered into CD quality).
- Zenzen Mondai Nee -No problem at all- (全然問題ねぇ-No problem at all-)
- Shut the Fuck Up and Die feat.REON
- (live recordings)
- (member talk)
- (encore live recordings) CD-R
- (live recordings)
Interview by: Nagasawa Tomonori
Translation credit: CHOKE