Musicscan: what's your self-understanding of yakuza - what does your band stands for? what are the goals you want to reach with your music?
Yakuza: We chose the band name not so much as wanting to form a Chicago chapter of the Japanese mafia, but the term also translates as outcast of society. For us thats the musical society, we work within our own parameters with no particular set goals.
Musicscan: Introduce yakuza and its individuals, please. what is to know about you guys?
Yakuza: James staffel drums, eric clark bass, bruce lamont vocals and saxophones, andrei cabanban guitar. We are all from Chicago and have been playing in bands for a long time.
Musicscan: what do you do besides playing music? do you still work regular jobs?
Yakuza: Nothing to speak of. The bands is priority #1.
Musicscan: how did you first get involved in hardcore, metal, punk, etc...? what is your background?
Yakuza: Metal is our roots. We are grew up with 80s speed metal and hardcore punk being the soundtrack for our high school experiences. Then came 90s forward thinking alt rock like janes addiction, faith no more breaking down boundaries within the affomentioned music. I think we found some kindred spirts in the sense that we are not comfortable in just doing the norm or whats expected. We have kind of ran with that.
Musicscan: what kind of musical education do you have? how did your musical work develop through different bands and years? i guess you have been in other bands before yakuza. what is worth to speak about?
Yakuza: Bruce has the most. He studied with some jazz instructors, went to college for music, then dropped out because he hated it. The rest are self-taught with very little outside instruction. Each member has worked through many bands. Andrei was in American heritage, Bruce was in dyslexic apaches, jim ballsniffer, eric was in made to fade.
Musicscan: Getting your record i was blown away. i never heard of your band before and put it on without having any expectation. i never read those band information i get with a record to give the music itself a chance. it was amazing to discover "way of the dead" - it's for sure one of the best records i received for the last couple of months. is this way people react when they are introduced to yakuza?
Yakuza: i mean everyone who is into intensive music has to love yakuza...the reaction has been overwhelming fro the press and from the really diverse type of music fan that has been out to see us.
Musicscan: for me personally your style of playing is aggressive, maybe a little sick, partly chaotic and yet melodic. the listener always have to expect the unexpected. that's what the songs are all about. do you agree? do you like to challenge your listener?
Yakuza: We are not really considering how the listener will receive the music so we are not out to challenge anyone per say. What we create starts out for us. It has to sound pleasing to our ears. I would definitely say expect the unexpected thats the way we like it.
Musicscan: what kind of people should be interested in yakuza? where do you see your potential listeners? it's not that "true metal head" i guess.
Yakuza: Actually, I love the true metal head more than anyone. Their intense loyalty to that particular genre more than anyone is commendable. I hope that we have a cross-over appeal. We personally have a love for some many styles of music it shouldnt matter.
Musicscan: do you feel like being connected to the metalcore/hardcore- scene in one way or another? i mean you need an open-minded crowd to play to and those "crossover" bands that play this intense metal-sound (like mastodon, burnt by the sun, isis, burst) seem to fit in better with an more metalcore-based crowd. that's for europe but how about the states?
Yakuza: Funny we have played with all those bands. Bruce even recorded with dave witte from bbts for the east west blast test 2 record . yes the connection is there.
Musicscan: what kind of mix you see on your live shows? it should be a diverse crowd i think..
Yakuza: see two questions up. The crowd. A mixture of metal freaks, hardcore kids, jazz fanatics, etc. whats funny is the reaction seems to be one of puzzlement.. did you like it? I dont know did you? Then after they get away from their friends they will secretly walk up to one of us and tell us they loved it. Weird, but cool.
Musicscan: your songs combine lots of different elements to create some kind of unique sound. how do you go about writing a record? what's your main focus creating new songs onto?
Yakuza: For way of the dead we had written about 20 songs and chose which seemed to flow well together.
Musicscan: describe the song writing process, please. your songs are incredible interesting and complicated but rarely ever stay in one place for too long...
Yakuza: we have a couple ways..someone will come in with a riff, or a rhythm and we will work around it. We also have an alter ego band known as the kabuki mono. Its the same members but the music is based on loose themes as opposed to rigid song structures. We will sometimes use that as a sort of workshop in order to work out new ideas.
Musicscan: is it an intentional drive to make the songs as varied musically as possible?
Yakuza: No intentional. This is where our influences tend to seep through.
Musicscan: what does it take to write a particular song? have there been any songs so far that were specifically difficult to make?
Yakuza: Some took 3 to 5 minnutes,others took 2 ½ years. Not so much as being difficult, just wasnt working the way we wanted at that particular time.
Musicscan: there are lots of instrumental parts on the record - the music itself has room to grow and there is some kind of special mood around the tracks. why did you choose to go this way musically?
Yakuza: Its in our collective personality. We like that as much as the harsher stuff.
Musicscan: are the lyrics equally important to the music? by the way: what is to know about your lyrics? what are topics you deal with? unfortunately i only received some kind of promotional copy without anything...
Yakuza: lyrically the record just focuses around loose abstract themes, no stories, just random sort of words/thoughts to create images basically sort of like William burroughs cut up method just not as well
maddening. Our stuff is much darker.
Musicscan: there's so much emotion in your songs. i'm impressed every time i listen to them - what makes you write such intense music?
Yakuza: Intense music from intense people.
Musicscan: you surely want to cause feelings and reactions within your listeners. what kind of reactions?
Yakuza: Its not what we want that matters its what we hope. We hope others find our music special because we take it very seriously.
Musicscan: is isis a band that inspires you? i often think of them hearing your record, because some parts remind me of them...
Yakuza: 2 out of the four members of yakuza think oceanic was the cd of the year for 2002. the other just only two love it.
Musicscan: do you feel successful as a band? i only read very good reviews for your first record and i can imagine that everyone will love this new full length...
Yakuza: success is an interesting concept. While we appreciate the positive response we cant sit back and relax, the band is all in the forward motion. We are already half way through writing our new record.
Musicscan: i never saw you playing live so far. what is an yakuza live-show all about?
Yakuza: Subtle brutality.
Musicscan: what about touring europe - is there a chance to see yakuza play live here in germany soon?
Yakuza: We are hoping to get over in may with today is the day. Please bug cm as much as possible so it can happen
Musicscan: any last words?
Yakuza: Bug cm about us coming to Europe and thank you for the interview.