Acid Mothers Temple's Makoto Kawabata on the Music of Everyday Sounds

Acid Mothers Temple in 2012
Tom Murphy
Acid Mothers Temple in 2012

Acid Mothers Temple has performed in various incarnations since it formed in 1995; it's now touring as Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso UFO. At its core, the act is a psych-rock band informed by noise, avant-garde, prog rock and jazz. Its shows are mind-altering experiences embodying the best of psychedelic rock.

Ahead of the band's concert at the Larimer Lounge, we caught up with leader Makoto Kawabata via e-mail.

Westword: You have said that music isn't something you make so much as discover and tap into from the world all around you. How would you characterize this?

Makoto Kawabata: I always receive and listen to the music from my cosmos. I call it my "cosmos" even though I don't know exactly what it is. Just a sense of it coming from somewhere. I become like a radio tuner for receiving and playing music for people. When I'm no longer able to receive and listen to any music from my cosmos, then it'll be the time to stop playing and recording music.

What have been some of the best environments or places for you to tune into your cosmos?

I live alone by a Buddhist temple on top of a mountain where my few neighbors are old farmers. Usually it's really quiet, and I can enjoy hearing birds and insects chirp from spring until autumn. Sometime they make an amazing polyrhythmic ensemble. In winter, there's a lot of snow, and in the morning, I can listen to the complete silence of that snow, meaning I can listen to snow sounds. I also enjoy mixtures of sound. When I listen to records at home, or any situation, like in my small van, I can also hear any other noises, like rain, cars, trains, people speaking, dogs barking and everything else. I can mix both sounds in my ears and often find great music through these chance combinations of sound. Music is not just "music" that someone composed for me. Those mixtures of music are much more interesting.

You performed with Damo Suzuki and Boningen in 2012. Did you ever get to see Can when Damo was fronting the band in the ’70s?

When Damo played with Can, I was too young to go to rock concerts. I met Damo for the first time at a music festival on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, in 2002. I was in the headlining band Guru & Zero, a trio with Daevid Allen of Gong and Cotton Casino who used to be in AMT. Damo played before us. After the show, we drank and talked and became friends. We've played together in Korea, the U.K., Ireland, Europe and Japan. We have played together at All Tomorrow's Parties. One time I stayed at my girlfriend's flat in Genoa, Italy, on vacation. While there, he e-mailed me to join him at a festival in Torino. He asked, "Where are you? If you're in Italy, can you come play?" So I went to that festival with my girlfriend and played with him.

Do you feel that, for you, that guitar helps you tap into the energies and sounds of the environment you're in more than other instruments?

I don't prefer guitar to other instruments. Sadly, I can play stringed instruments better than others. However, I feel that electric guitar has more possibilities than many other instruments. Especially with pedals. That's why I pick up the electric guitar. I play many different instruments, especially for recordings, and instruments are just tools for me to get the right sound color and timbre. My first instrument was an analog synthesizer unit, a Roland System 100. I've liked synthesizers and tape machines since I was in my early teenage years, because music made by machines is more like conducting a chance operation for me, meaning they aren't one hundred percent under my control, and that's an interesting aspect of those machines for me.

Acid Mothers Temple, with Babylon and Cloud Catcher, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6, Larimer Lounge, 303-296-1003, $12-15, 16