Since the late 1980s, Japanese musical collective Ghost has been creating soaring, spiritual vistas of sound, incorporating everything from 1960s psychedelic rock to folk instruments to the insistent pulse of Krautrock. Ghost's extensive discography -- released here on Drag City -- includes 1999's Tune In, Turn On, Free Tibet and 2004's acclaimed Hypnotic Underworld. On Thu., May 7, Ghost returns to The Andy Warhol Museum, site of a sold-out show on its last U.S. tour, in 2004. CP caught up with multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Masaki Batoh via e-mail.
After your 2004 tour, Ghost refused to play in the United States until George Bush was out of office -- why?
We believe most American citizens well know what George Bush did now. But remember: Three-quarters of U.S. citizens supported the Iraq war. Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Vietnam, too. I wanted to ask people, " How much longer will you repeat the same false choice?" In the year we visited, U.S. people were disappointed with their government and had regained composure after enthusiasm, but you know it was too late. The world had turned to darkness already. I found that shameless press and people started to bully the weaker George Bush, as if they had been against him. That's why we announced that we won't be back to the U.S.
When I said "nevermore," that meant "wake up!," because we love the American people very much.
What do you expect to find changed?
I'm not an optimist. In this election, you got a great leader, but his political life depends on your actions and awareness from now on. You change the world by your awareness, spiritually. Now everybody knows how mass hysteria has occurred in social enthusiasm. This is not a casual remark from me. Please remember it.
What can audiences expect on this tour?
This time, all of our aspects can be seen. We'll bring over 30 composed tunes and free-form improvisation (always!) to you. Absolutely no one knows what we do every night, though, because we usually never decide what we do in advance. But I am sure what you have with us is far beyond today's secularism and materialism. You don't need any drug with us. By the way -- we have Helena Espvall, a cello player from Espers, on stage. So we've already got a dangerous, graceful weapon.
In Zen thought, we should prefer taking all the dust and dirty things around us in our inside, instead of dumping them in trash bin. Music will raise you from the dust. It's born naturally. So no one knows what happens next.
Beyond the Velvet Underground, do you have any particular affinity for Andy Warhol?
Personally, I don't prefer him to other artists I love. But probably he must be a master to present a very common thing as a special chimera. That way looks very materialistic to me -- sorry! But we love the Andy Warhol Museum so much. We've been there long ago and the atmosphere was fantastic. The people were beautiful, too.
Ghost with Mike Tamburo. 8 p.m. Thu., May 7. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $12. 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org
- From the dust: Ghost's Masaki Batoh