With his First Act guitar/bass hybrid, Takeshi can cover the sometimes rapid tonal and dynamic shifts in Boris’ music—or simply stay in the heavy zone with a combination of low tunings, pedals, and high-headroom amps. Photo by Tim Bugbee/Tinnitus Photography
What guitars and amps did you mostly use?
Takeshi: On this recording, I used the tremolo arm heavily, so my main guitar was the B.C. Rich Warbeast. To record the bass, I used my First Act Doubleneck bass/guitar. For the guitar amp head, I used my Sunn Model T with an Orange PPC412 cabinet during recording. To record the overdubs with noise guitar, I used a Roland JC-120, which produces a flat range, from low to high frequencies.
What about bass?
Takeshi: I used the Orange Terror Bass for the bass amp head and an Ampeg 810E cabinet. The pedal used this time for the [core tone] guitar was a Dwarfcraft Devices Baby Thunder fuzz, and, for the bass, a Death By Audio Apocalypse fuzz was mainly used, with reverb slightly added, and additional fluctuations with an EarthQuaker Devices Aqueduct vibrato.
Wata, what was your signal chain in the studio while recording NO?
Wata: In the last few years, we’ve used the Sennheiser E606 microphone on the cabinet. According to Atsuo, he’s able to capture finer dynamics than the standard SM57. We tune three steps down from regular tuning, and the sound is extremely distorted with fuzz, so this mic, that captures fine nuances, seems to be a good match. I always use Countryman’s DI Box to record direct signals. During the mixing, we may use an amp simulator for the DI signal. In general, with the pedal effects applied, we also make sure to ring the amp when recording. Atsuo says that recording without feedback takes away the purpose of using an electric guitar.
Takeshi, what is the origin of your doubleneck bass/guitar?
Takeshi: I initially bought one around 2001. We released a 70-minute, single-song album called Flood around the same time, and I had to switch between guitar and bass when playing. It was troublesome to switch and lose time, so I got an SG-style doubleneck made by Starfield [an Ibanez brand]. But since it was a short scale, it didn’t produce much low sound, and since the body itself was heavy and big, I didn’t like it much. It was also difficult to carry around on tours, so I later bought a Spirit, by Steinberger. It was compact and suitable for tours, and the sound was solid and pretty good, but I still didn’t like the shape much. My favorite bassists—Geddy Lee from Rush, Chris Squire from Yes, Cliff Burton from Metallica, and Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead—generally used Rickenbackers, so I was hoping I could get a custom one someday that was similar to the Rickenbacker shape. My friend from college had been to a musical instrument making school, so I had him create a basic drawing.
How did you hook up with First Act, for the Boris signature double-neck?
Takeshi: At some point, [bassist] Nate Newton from Converge introduced me to First Act. We’ve been friends for many years. He had a Mosrite-shaped custom bass created through First Act. During a Boris U.S. tour, I went to First Act’s office in New York City and met [artist relations director] Jimmy Archey.
He enthusiastically listened to my difficult request and was willing to accept the production of this custom doubleneck. He’s now left First Act and runs an amazing guitar shop called 30th Street Guitars in New York. He still comes to Boris’ live shows. If I didn’t have this relationship and encounter with Nate and Jimmy, my double-neck may not have existed.When I first started playing a double-neck, it felt strange, but now I’ve gotten used to it.
[Editor’s note: Takeshi’s custom First Act bass and guitar doubleneck has a mahogany body with a maple top, two maple necks with rosewood fretboards, a Badass bridge, and Gotoh GB707 bass tuners and Sperzel 3x3 Trimlok guitar tuners. The bass side has a Seymour Duncan SJB-3 Quarter Pound J bass pickup in the bridge and a Duncan SPB-1 Vintage P bass neck pickup. The 6-string side sports two Seymour Duncan ’59 Model SH-1 pickups.]
Since you play bass and rhythm guitar, how do you decide which one to apply to a song or a section of a song?
Takeshi: I originally played the guitar, so even during jam sessions it’s easier to come up with ideas when playing the guitar rather than the bass. When I begin to make a song, most of the time I’m using the guitar. Whenever there are songwriting sessions, we play through the guitar amp along with a bass amp, so the guitar covers the bass-frequency range. Boris tunes three steps down, so Wata and I could be called a twin baritone guitar formation. As the riffs and melodies are built, the song will tell me if I should add the bass.
Can you please clarify which songs on NO feature bass?
Takeshi: The songs I played bass on are “Anti-Gone,” “HxCxHxC -Perforation Line-,” “Kikinoue,” and “Lust.” On “Loveless,” I only play the guitar, but, by dropping the 6th and 5th strings, I created a sound image where it seems like I’m back and forth between the bass range and the baritone guitar range. I can’t create that kind of ambience just by playing the bass normally. Interesting effects were born when I tried this out in jam sessions, so this song ended up without a bass.
Wata, the EBow has become a signature component of your style. How did you discover that tool and what makes it a go-to part of your musical arsenal?
Wata: I started using it during Absolutego. I brought it in because I could get the drone pitch without being bothered by howling. Once I began using it, I was impressed that the EBow not only produces a continuous sound, but also allows a very wide range of expression by moving it closer to, or further from, the strings, and also by changing position, adjusting the left hand, and by using effects. It’s a simple but extremely profound, organic piece of equipment.
How do you decide between guitar or keyboards on a particular song?
Wata: I’m the only one who plays keyboards, so there are times when I may be in charge of the keyboard and accordion, based on the show’s color.
Since we sing as we perform, there are times when the instrument I’m in charge of changes for the song. We didn’t use the keyboard for NO.