Once upon a time, before there was Osheaga and Coachella, before there was myspace and soundcloud and Pitchfork, international indie bands from Asia were rarae aves. Of the few that crossed the oceans and continents, one of the few to make the trek was the instantly lovable Japanese indie jam and jazz punksters, Zoobombs, led by the unpredictably fearless, charismatic Don Matsuo. Zoobombs were kings of the Japanese Next Wave and continued to release album after album, evolving in sound until they split around 2013. Fortunately the break was not permanent and this long-lived and much-loved band is back in Canada. I spoke to Don Matsuo about Zoobombs.
Matsuo was working on a fourth solo album when he ran into Bukka Billy, a drummer and an original member of the band. “We made the basic sound of Zoobombs together. He left us in 1999, but I found him again last year!” says Matsuo. “God gave me a chance to meet him again, I think.”
Bukka Billy affirmed for Matsuo that he would be able to bring back Zoobombs. “His re-reappearance flashed me a vision of that ability.”
Matsuo says all of his music “stood on Zoobombs.” In the interim, though, Matsuo kept busy making solo music. For example, he is releasing a new solo album just as Zoobombs are starting to tour again, and acknowledges that it is an “alternative Zoobombs album.” He says, “Truth, it should be Zoobombs’ new album but the band didn’t exist at that moment so I release my music solo.”
Of course, he hopes for a new Zoobombs album. “If the band can’t make new music anymore, that’s no meaning for me,” he says.
As always, fans of Matsuo and Zoobombs can expect a fresh sound. “The [solo] album is one of the results of my experiments,” he says. It demonstrates his pure love for The Rolling Stones and the updated Hip Hop music. As for Zoobombs, the sound is “changing as always.” Matsuo notes that “making music goes deeper and deeper” and that it’s a way of showing how he lives.
When I ask him how he’s managed to make music for 20 years, he says, “I’ve been learning all my life how to be a musician. Being like this, I can’t imagine what kind of person I’d be [if I didn’t]. Life is kind of strange. But I’m still loving to do [what I do].”
I ask him if he has any recommendations for someone just starting out on the path of being a musician. “Be a great person. Have a great life,” he concludes.
Zoobombs and Oromocto Diamond and Wizaard play l’Esco (4467 St. Denis) on April 24 at 9 p.m. $12