GridLink interview

GridLink band logo

Originally published in ‘zine issue #31, 2005

Who is GridLink, you ask? Put it this way: Jon (formerly Discordance Axis) is on vocals, Matsubara (of Mortalized) is on guitar, Terada (from Melt-Banana) is on drums, and Okada (Disconformity) plays bass. Not surprisingly, GridLink plays grindcore. Impressive in terms of performance as well as composition, and about the farthest thing from primitive as you can get. The band will release a CD on Hydra Head in late 2005. You might be able to tell from the names of the bandmembers that three-fourths of them are from Japan. For those who didn’t know, Discordance Axis was an American band. So how the hell, you ask, is a truly international band supposed to record a CD?

“At first, the guitar is recorded in Kyoto,” explans Matsubara. “Then drums and bass are recorded in Yokohama. We make a rough mix and send it to Jon. He does his track in the USA and returns it for the final mix in Yokohama. Our music is mixed and engineered by Okada. He is the final key in our work.”

Jon adds, “I’ve considered flying to Japan for the final LP recording, but we’ll see if time and budget allows for that. I was very happy with the results in the test track we recorded, so it may not be necessary.”

Continues Matsubara, “We are all driven to making our first album now. Every member is concentrating on the work and has the passion for it, so it’s not a problem.”

GridLink’s test track, “Naked Pieces Scattered,” will be on the forthcoming final Discordance Axis release, Our Last Day. That’s the one that will have a bunch of Discordance Axis covers, a remix of the last album by Merzbow, as well as this first recorded GridLink song.

“Despite geographic separation and even cultural separation, we have a very good chemistry in this unit. I’ve been really surprised how well songs have come together so far,” says Jon. “In all honesty I was really worried about my contribution. I haven’t really done any music since 2001 when Discordance Axis died so I was really worried about my vocals sucking.” Based on the first song recorded, listeners won’t have to worry on that point. In addition, the production on the track is excellent.

Matsubara’s comment is, “The song and the production were created as an test type. We needed to experiment in order to know how we work and what kind of music we can make. We also needed to know if we could make music to our standards in such a unusual situation. It took a lot of time for that mix, but Okada believes the production will be better when we produce the album.”

So how does a transcontinental, indeed, transhemispheric, band such as GridLink get together? Jon reveals, “Matsubara asked me and I said yes. He was the first guitar player I’d heard since Rob Marton [the orginial guitarist for Discordance Axis] that was writing grind stuff who I really wanted to work with. He had already gathered Terada and Okada by the time I got involved.”

Matsubara continues, “I was going to make a solo album and had asked Terada to play drums for it. Terada had just started a new grind band with Okada and he was invited to join. Okada … plays bass, piano and engineers recording sessions … . All members live pretty far from each other, but we are very motivated and disciplined.”

One of Jon’s contributions to the band is with lyrics, which along with artwork was the main thrust of his tenure in his former band.

“The same writers influence my writing now as during Discordance Axis, though there are probably a few more added to the pot,” he says. “Actually, the basis for many of the songs is material I had started on for what would’ve been the fourth Discordance Axis LP, had it happened. I was planning on using some of this for War Chalking [featuring former Discordance Axis, Human Remains, and Burnt By The Sun members], but that project is on indefinite hiatus so I will probably use it here. Everything will undergo refinement and editing, so who knows how close it will be to what I wrote three years ago.

“I’ve been looking at a lot of artwork, trying to bring out new feelings. The work of John Harris in particular has been a big part of what I write about now. And of course the usual anime and video game influences as well!”

Continuing on the subject of growth as a writer, Jon goes on to say that, “What I was writing in college is what a lot of young angry kids write. Things seemed very black and white in those days, but it’s naive to be so binary with the rest of your life. I mean, you have your tag lines, your ensemble, and neat little pins that show the world who you are, but I got tired of that. When I approach writing now, I try to think about things in my life that I can speak to from the heart. In some cases these are the same things I cared about when I was 18 or 19 but in others they are not. I’m not in such a rush anymore either. I can take my time and go for the long view. Thinking about albums as a whole or thinking about a story as whole, which I always tried to do, but there is a refinement present now that is only possible now because of past choices I’ve made as a creator.”

There must presumably be something about this kind of music that draws these four people to it, and to GridLink in particular.

“The songs of Gridlink are created around themes Jon presents and then expressed as music. Although it is naturally grind music, we want our music to have the same depth as works of art, like pictures and movies. So our music will be newtype grind. We aren’t influenced by other grind music,” offers Matsubara, who also adds, “We’re still improving our skills to write the kind of songs we want to make.”

Jon explains, “When Matsu asked me for materials to work with, I sent him images of paintings, comic books, and manga. I also provided him with video game and movie soundtracks. It has been very difficult for him to compose material, I imagine!”

Matsubara continues, “We perform severe corporal training. It is almost like acting for music, training to create feelings, mental states and then refining the method of expression.”

Jon concludes, “I think it’s so typical for bands to decide being exploratory with their work means slowing down or becoming less intense. It was the goal of Discordance Axis to avoid this pitfall and it is the goal of GridLink to also find a means of expression that does not require writing traditional songs.”

With declarations like those Jon and Matsubara have made here, we can only wait with breathless anticipation for their song to appear on the Discordance Axis CD, and more importantly for their album to see the light of day! ■


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