Boris (ボリス Borisu) is a Japanese experimental band formed in 1992 in Tokyo and currently composed of drummer Atsuo, guitarist/bassist Takeshi and guitarist/keyboardist Wata. All three members participate in vocal performance. The band is named after a song of the same name on the Melvins' 1991 album Bullhead. Their debut album Absolutego was released in 1996 on their own record label Fangs Anal Satan, followed by 24 more studio albums (as well as a number of EPs, singles and collaborative albums) on various 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.
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 focus 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."
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: New Album, their first major release with a major producer on AVEX/Tearbridge label, Heavy Rocks a sequel to the album with the same name, and Attention Please. The latter two albums were released on the label Sargent House.
In 2014, Boris announce the release of CDs of archival material under the names Archive I and Archive II and on April 8, they announced the album Noise to be released once again through Sargent House.
Throughout their career, Boris have made deliberate efforts to avoid a strong association with any musical style. In particular, they do not consider themselves a heavy metal band despite frequently being categorized as such. In an interview, drummer Atsuo stated:
"Having some kind of preconceived message or theme is very boring to me. It becomes a crutch. Just say what you want to say."
Key genres they have been associated with include experimental music, experimental rock, noise music, noise rock, experimental/avant-garde metal, doom metal, post-metal, drone metal, sludge metal, psychedelic music, psychedelic rock, psychedelic metal, and stoner rock. While they emerged as a sludge metal band with strong hardcore punk influences, their subsequent releases employed elements of a wide variety of genres, including drone music, old-school industrial music, ambient music, acid rock, garage rock, shoegazing, dream pop, J-pop, and crust punk. While the band's debut album, Absolutego, featured a "65-minute track of oozing, slow motion, Melvins-inspired drone rock/metal," its follow-up Amplifier Worship incorporated psychedelia and jam band influences to this sound. Their third album Flood incorporated elements from drone. 2005's Akuma no Uta and Pink engaged in different stylistic varieties, including shoegazing and post-rock. Vein (2007) was released with a "hardcore" and a "drone" version, whereas 2011's simultaneously released albums New Album, Attention Please and Heavy Rocks incorporated shoegazing, electropop and heavy metal influences, respectively. Noise (2014) featured elements from grunge music.
The variety of their music dictates that their setup in a live environment be equipped with many different effects pedals and other guitar accessories. Wata uses an E-bow to achieve bow-like sounds or to manipulate feedback; this device is held in the hand, like a pick, but relies on a magnetic field vibration to move the guitar's strings. Wata's live effects setup has consistently been centered on the Roland Space Echo and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff.
Takeshi typically plays a double-necked bass/guitar live, which allows him to drone away on the guitar during longer numbers but quickly switch to bass without needing to switch instruments. He used an Ibanez SG-style model, and a Steinberger Spirit, before acquiring a replica of a rare Rickenbacker double-neck in 2009, custom built by First Act. He previously used a Music Man Stingray bass. Wata uses Gibson Les Paul custom guitars with Orange heads and cabinets, as well as a Matamp head also favoured by stoner metal groups Sleep and High on Fire and an Ampeg 810 cabinet; Takeshi uses Sunn Model T amps with Marshall 412 cabinet and an Ampeg SVT II bass amp. Wata and Takeshi tune their instruments in a variety of tunings, most of which are lower than standard E tuning (most commonly B flat tuning), often resulting in the range normally associated with Baritone guitars.
Since 2006, Boris has had a working relationship with the guitarist Michio Kurihara, previously a member of White Heaven and The Stars, and a current member of Ghost. Together, they have released two full length collaborations, Rainbow and Cloud Chamber, and Kurihara has guested on several Boris recordings. He has also toured consistently with the band as a second guitarist since 2007. With Boris, Kurihara uses vintage Greco clone of a Gibson SG guitar with Bigsby Vibrato bar, a pair of Fender Super Reverb amplifiers, and an array of exotic effects pedals, including several made by the Zvex company.
All members go by one name only.