VP: Sikhara has been known for playing some “unusual” places. Please give me an example of some of these unknowns.
SN: The strange thing about playing in “unusual” locales is they can be equally glorious and dubious. One of our more well documented experiences; I had asked Kazuya Ishigami to find a temple we could record in near Osaka. The Senkoji Temple where he chose was ideal. Filled with 5th century old drums made by hand by Samuri. When we arrived he asked to join us in the session. That was actually the inspiration for my current film project in Taiwan. Yet by contrast, we were asked to play in an abandoned tunnel underneath the city of Linz, Austria, and we arrived to find it was the place where homosexual prostitutes bring their johns to fuck and shoot up. So the ground was littered with old condoms and syringes. I was always obsessesed with visiting Turkey and at the first show in Istanbul in 2002, the venue turned out to be next door to the Taxim police station and was guarded with machine guns. Kind of a good reconciling of the two: I had been visiting Zabrze, Poland frequently and heard tales from many people of their fathers/grandfathers contracting horrible diseases working in the mines and had asked to visit one. They had called for me and told they don’t really offer tourism, but some time later they arranged for Sikhara to play in the tunnels of the mines. They showed me around before and I saw the temple to Mary, where they would pray each day, due to the frequent death of the workers.
VP: Out of these experiences, what has shaped the sound of the band the most?
SN: The experience working on the "Temples of Taichung" video, having come in the same time that we have been incorporating a lot more "conventional" instruments, like bass and guitar, has had a big impact. On one hand, we are stepping towards a more accessible sound, but the primitive, ritual element I can see becoming more cohesive.
I attended a ceremony in November for the birthday of a god and the monks were performing this sort of dance while chanting, that was really in tune with my own style of body movements in concert. Doing a project for so long, you need that occasional reminder what the origins of your whole concept is, and that affected me strongly.
It inspires me to take things in both directions at the same time.
VP: The modern primitive, if you will. Is this an extension of a religious rite in itself? Do you feel that your music can give people that same experience as the shamanistic rituals once provided?
SN: That is clearly the goal, to provide this feeling and experience, but I still consider myself a performer. Our shows are heavily influenced by film and books; and I am trying to create a character. I don't think this makes it any less valid, as the nature of the musical project is very entangled with my own existence. Yet, I am trying to tell a story, and I certainly hope my own life to be considerably less violent and disembodied than the subject of my art.
VP: What up coming projects are you involved in now?
One of my primary units has become my ongoing studio war with Jonathan Saldanha from Soopa, called United Scum Soundclash. The new record has people from Barbez, Ovo, Steve Mackay, Love 666 (my heros) and more people than possible to count. It is exploring music from the technological side, but ends up to sound more organic than many of my project.
Now, I am just getting ready to start a tour that I organized and am playing on for Amps for Christ, who is Henry Barnes from Man is The Bastard. MITB is one of my all time favorite and none of them have ever played in Europe. I tried to book the tour to visit a variety of locations and incorporate some audiences that might not be prepared for what they are getting into
Right now, the "Temples of Taiwan" project is my main concern. I have been invading the Taiwanese temples, where they worship a combination of Buddhist and Taoist gods, with a heavy influence from Confucianism. I put up a sketch of my work so far on our website, but I won't get around to the final results until this fall.
VP: Is there any uncharted territory Sikhara plans to invade in the near future?
SN: Right now I am in Taiwan, so seeking out some new cities for the "Temples of Taiwan" DVD. So many of the best spots seem to be hidden away. Lots of the best opportunities for footage occur for small festival, where they make ritual performance. They don't generally advertise these events, so you have to stumble into him. Although when you visit 20 temples a day, you have plenty of opportunity to ask the Gods for help. I just found a village in San Yi, which is only known because of their woodcarvings. They had just skinned a massive drum with Tibetan buffalo hide. The master monk of the temple took some time to show me around and let me play a 6-foot diameter gong that his teacher had designed.
Next stop is Sun Moon Lake, sort of a mystical place of Taiwan. The Thao, smallest of the aboriginal tribes are based there, so I am hoping to engage them in a little collaboration.
It is certainly a shame that Sikhara will be off the road this spring, but I am very excited about the film and recording projects that will be coming together over the next months.
Definitely encourage everyone to check out our website for updates. There is a rough draft from the Taiwan film available and also recently posted, is a segment from the Hop Frog Kollectiv's most recent festival in the Mohave dessert. www.sikhara.org