Canada’s YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN are postmodern in every sense of the word. The performance art group abrasively slam high and low art against each other, taking inspiration from Buddhism, doom metal, manga, psych rock, NYC art rock, and classical traditions of Eastern theatre. At the heart of the project are Alaska B and Ruby Kato, two art students who serve as the primary conductors of this multimedia spectacle. The band released UZU, their sophomore album, last month on Suicide Squeeze, which proves to be slightly more uplifting and less sonically violent than their debut. Last Friday they brought their live show, which is equally indebted to punk rock and Kabuki theatre, to the pint-sized stage of Kung Fu Necktie for the second time, for an experience that seemed almost otherworldly. I recently got a chance to chat with them about what they’ve been up to in 2013 and where they may be going in the near future.
Izzy Cihak: Your sophomore effort, UZU, recently came out. How do you feel like it compares to your debut, both in terms of its sound and the writing and recording process?
Alaska B: I would say that UZU is a different piece of work, centering largely on more romantic and emotional themes related to the ocean and mythology, rather than the broad cultural themes of the first.
IC: What do you consider to be the album’s biggest influences?
AB: At the time of recording we were listening to a lot of early Queen, black thrash, like Celtic Frost and Sabbat. Mostly it was influenced by personal experiences of the band members.
IC: The album was released by Suicide Squeeze Records, who have put out some really great records in recent years. How was working with the label?
AB: It has been great, David is really hands-on and keeps us updated on a regular basis. The people of and around SSR are all really cool.
IC: You just played Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia. What did you think of the show?
AB: I hope it was impressive, though the stage size at Kung Fu Necktie put a cramp in our stage show e.g. Had to leave most of it out.
IC: I’m curious, since you do have such a unique live show that blends a plethora of both disparate sounds and disparate styles of performance, if there is a dream bill that you would love to play, or a band that you think you would be really amazing at sharing a stage with, whether entirely realistic or not?
AB: Hard to say, but Boris is definitely one band that everybody in the group loves.
IC: What are your most significant plans and hopes for 2014?
AB: A bigger and better stage show and the stages to match.