Italian post-punk band Japan Suicide have recently released ‘Santa Sangre’, a 14-track departure from 2015’s ‘We Die In Such A Place’ LP. Taking their name from Japanese author and nationalist Mishima Yukio who committed suicide in 1970, the five-piece is formed of Stefano Bellerba (vocals, guitar), Leonardo Mori (synth), Matteo Luciani (bass), Saverio Paiella (guitar), and Daniele Cruccolini (drums). You can find ‘Santa Sangre’’out now via Unknown Pleasures Records.
Take our readers back to the beginning. How was Japan Suicide formed?
Matteo and Leonardo had a Smashing Pumpkins‘s cover band, then I met them through a mutual friend (Luca “Vash”) and we started to write our own tracks. After came Saverio and a bunch of “damned” drummers.
I’ve noticed that there’s a growing amount of post-punk bands based out of the Mediterranean, how do you think your location impacts your artistry?
I really don’t know 🙂 I don’t remember which Gallagher brother said that he would never join a band if he was born under the sun of Italy, so… Someone called our town the Italian Manchester (for the steelworks), but it’s just a joke.
As a band you’ve morphed into an individualistic specimen during the space between ‘We Die In Such A Place‘ and ‘Santa Sangre‘. What went into this shift of growth aside from time?
I don’t know if I have understood your question. I can say that the time that flows in life could bring a sort of anxiety over a band that can’t make a profession with music, but maybe this has not an influence on music. About composition it depends by the time that you spent to reflect and work on your music.
Now that you’ve had a bit of time for ‘Santa Sangre‘s world-debut to sink in, what’s the reaction to the release like among your own band, never mind the public?
Well, it’s strange, because you spent much time to work on a project, and then you think to the next just after the last day of recording. We are satisfied about the quality of the album and that we think that is different from ‘We Die In Such A Place‘, maybe uncertain about its beauty and if it’s an album that pushes people to listen it several times.
The influence The Cure has played on your band is clearly evident, what’s your first memory of Robert Smith’s group?
Robert Smith is haunting like a spectre or protecting us like the Mothra butterfly on “South Park“‘s episode, we’ll see… For us it has been like a travel companion, and it happened after our formation, because we had a different history of listenings. We liked also the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but it wasn’t realistic.
Your latest album references author David Eggers, and is partly inspired by Roberto Bolaño’s novel “2666” and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s film “Santa Sangre”. What brought about this sense of dystopic frustration?
I’m not a fan of dystopian narratives, but I have appreciated the David Egger‘s novel and the topic and also this imagine of the circle were matching well (or at least in my mind) with the sound of our song (‘Circle‘), in its psychedelic gait and with the final explosion of the track, like the showdown in our video. In the last part I’ve used a quote from “Blood Meridian” (Cormac McCarthy), for the same reason, in order to set everything in its western scenery that matches with the music.
Creating an album with such a sense of aesthetic purpose how did you go about meshing your tracks together lyrically and sonically? Some of your lyrics were credited to novelist Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Ligotti, and “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto – did your melodies come about prior and your literary inspirations later?
The lyrics are balanced, there is more fiction than memoir genre, and in both case it is the sound to the center, from which I take the direction to find a common subject for the lyrics. It’s more a game, like a “fan fiction”, than a methodical way, to make something of complete. And also there are a lot of things that are already been told and in a better form than mine :). I usually take notes and sometimes I’ve something of already written that is good for a certain song, or I start to think about the lyrics after a track is well defined. Then I can combine the words with the vocal line.
Your music video for ‘Circle’ is reminiscent to “The Wicker Man” film, how did you go about achieving this?
Matteo liked the procession scene and he has thinked that could been good for the song, and also that could been possible to make by own and with the director (Brunotti).
On a related note, the artwork for ‘Santa Sangre‘ was created by Luca “Vash” Paolucci – how much of a role did you play in that? What’s the symbology behind the eyes, skull, and snakes among other things in direct concert with your album?
At the beginning Matteo talked with Luca about something coloured, the subject already been a woman in the desert. Then, after different tries, Luca as found this Aztec divinity. The first version was simpler and intimate. The final version is more representing of the sound, that is very dense, rich (hope not too much). About the symbolic aspects, it’s more concerning the imagine in the entire, to me it’s something of ritualistic or elegiac, like a heavy journey that ends in a pray.
Rumour on the street is that you’ve got a North American tour planned for May. What can fans expect from Japan Suicide out on the road and what do you think can be expected from your first shows on the other side of the Atlantic?
About this we could talk only once we came back, it’s something bigger than us, like a new monster in the next level of a video game… About the fans, it’s just amazing to know that someone from any place so further is waiting to see us live. We are grateful for this, and thanks to you for the questions.
Photo credits: Luca Sola (1st one), Francesco Brunotti (2nd one)