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Boris is a Japanese experimental rock band that combines different music genres including drone metal, sludge metal, noise rock, psychedelic rock, ambient and pop. Currently, the band's personnel consists of drummer-vocalist Atsuo, bassist-guitarist-vocalist Takeshi, and guitarist-vocalist Wata.
Boris takes its name from a song on the Melvins' Bullhead, and released its first album, Absolutego, on the group's own label, Fangs Anal Satan, in 1996. Since then, they have released 17 studio albums, including Pink, Heavy Rocks and Akuma No Uta, a number of EPs, 7" singles, and full-length collaborative recordings, on various record labels around the world.
Boris was originally a four-piece band, with Nagata on drums. Nagata departed in 1996 leaving Atsuo to take over drumming duties and it has remained a three-piece since.
Wata, Vancouver, October 2011 From its formation, Boris' members have made deliberate efforts to avoid being pigeon-holed, or too strongly associated with any musical style. "Having some kind of preconceived message or theme is very boring to me," noted Atsuo, the band's drummer. "It becomes a crutch. Just say what you want to say."
The band's influences are eclectic, with Sleep, Nick Cave, Nick Drake, Venom, and the Melvins being a few of the more important ones. The group quickly realized that they did not fit in with the Japanese hardcore punk scene that birthed them, though they retain a fondness for the scene and its music.
In Japan, Boris release most of their music on the indie label Inoxia Records. Though relatively unknown in their home country, a recent series of reissues on US label Southern Lord Records has seen their popularity in North America increase dramatically, even gaining them widespread recognition in the mainstream music press. Many of Boris' vinyl releases feature similar artwork for the inner label of the record. This is a parody of the original Roger Dean artwork that Virgin Records used for many of their releases (seen here).
2005's Pink was met with considerable critical praise and a strong response from music fans when reissued in the US on Southern Lord Records. Blender magazine and SPIN magazine both named it one of 2006's best albums. The album also topped the metal section of Canadian magazine Exclaim's 2006 Reader's Poll, and was in the top 10 of Pitchfork Media's Top 50 Records Of 2006.
Boris' 2006 vinyl-only release, Vein, focused on a sound derived from classic Japanese crust bands, such as Gloom, Confuse, and Gai. Boris has said in an interview with Pitchfork that after being in a band for so long, "it is easier to write songs now.
Boris is a band that focuses a lot of their time on touring. In an interview, Atsuo said: "That we tour so much and release so many albums, I think it is representative of what we’re about. Direct communication is something we’ve lost in this day and age. It’s a shame – [even] interviews are over [the] phone. I think it’s important to see people face to face – that's why it's so important to go on tour. It’s something very basic to humans that we’ve lost lately."
Boris opened for Nine Inch Nails on part of the fall 2008 segment of the Lights in the Sky tour. They also appeared on the avant-garde metal soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's film The Limits of Control. Regarding Boris, Jarmusch said that "what's really remarkable is when they play live they're in the mode, in a way, of jazz musicians, not structurally or musically, but the way they listen to what the others are doing and build on it. Each time they play something it's obviously different, every time."
Boris played the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York where they performed Altar in collaboration with Sunn O))) On May 29, 2010, Boris performed a cover of The Doors song The End with Ian Astbury at Vivid Festival on Sydney. Boris and Astbury released a four-song EP in September 2010 on Southern Lord and Daymare Records that contains four tracks entitled Teeth and Claws, We are Witches, Rain (The Cult cover), Magickal Child.
In 2011, Boris released three albums: their first major release with a major producer on AVEX/Tearbridge label and an album on Sargent House called Attention Please.