From the fiery internal conflict of Cream to the brothers-in-arms bond of ZZ Top, every power trio has its own driving force. Put the question to Takeshi, the doubleneck bass-and-guitar-toting frontman of Boris, and he’ll wax mystical about the band’s near-symbiotic connection—almost as though one mind has driven its infectious blend of drone metal, acid rock, and doomy sludge through nearly 20 unbroken years of continuous musical invention. “We have this unity within ourselves,” he says through an interpreter. “All the music happens naturally for us because we have this connection.” The band is just finishing up a 30-city U.S. tour before heading back to its native Japan to bask in the release of the latest Boris studio album, aptly titled Noise. “We decided that our next album would be really noisy, so we had the title first. In the process, though, it became more musical. And that’s okay with us.”
With Takeshi playing his signature First Act Custom Shop doubleneck bass/guitar (modeled after Geddy Lee’s famed Rickenbacker 4080), the wave of sound he generates with bandmates Wata (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Atsuo (drums, vocals) often smacks more of ritual than process. A Boris live show isn’t just a concert; it’s a magical happening, complete with transcendent highs and meditative, ambient lows that tap into a stirring sense of power and oneness—aided and abetted by washes of extreme volume. “But we’re not here just to make a huge noise,” Takeshi concedes. “We sometimes play super quiet, too. We’re trying to use dynamics to express human emotions like happiness, anger, love, and sadness.”
Noise lives up to that credo, from the opening swells of the lead-off track, “Melody”; the song undulates with wide sweeps of delay on the bass and guitar, with Takeshi hugging the bottom with his relentless chug. (He and Wata regularly tune down a whopping three-and-a-half steps.) “Vanilla” switches gears into straight-up aggro-punk, while “Taiyo No Baka” veers into dreamy acid-pop as Takeshi recalls his hero Geddy Lee’s unwavering rhythmic touch. The song is followed by the epic 18-minute “Angel,” a dark, ambient doom ride that gets a distortion boost from Takeshi’s Pro Co RAT 2, modified by a friend for more precise filter control.
Having recently switched from Ampeg SVT- 2PRO heads to Orange Terror Bass 1000s, Takeshi finally has the compact bass and rig he’s been seeking for years. “My First Act is a little smaller and lighter than the usual doubleneck, so the necks are thinner and it’s easier for me to play. I switched to the Orange heads last year. The response is quick and honest, and they’re easier to cart around.”
Besides Geddy Lee, Takeshi counts Chris Squire and Cliff Burton among his strongest influences, but he also credits his Boris bandmates as key inspirations. After two decades in the trenches, there’s a strange chemistry to how Boris writes, records, and performs: They’re willing to try anything, without worrying about the result. And it usually works.
“I don’t really think of myself as a bassist or a vocalist,” Takeshi says with an easygoing laugh. “I’m just part of Boris. It’s not like we think about the music beforehand. We just jam; there’s no intention or anything. It just naturally evolved that way, like a family does. It’s organic and natural, like a river that keeps flowing.”
Boris, Noise [Sargent House]
Basses First Act Custom Shop doubleneck bass/guitar, Steinberger Spirit XZ-2/GU-4R
Rig 2 Orange Terror Bass 1000 heads, 2 Ampeg 8x10 cabs
Effects Boot-Leg DBX-1.0 Deep Box, Dwarfcraft Eau Claire Thunder, MASF Starry Wisdom bass fuzz, Strymon Timeline delay, Pro Co RAT 2 (modified), Electro- Harmonix Holy Grail Nano Reverb