Don Matsuo to take solo experiences into Zoobombs’ new act


Special To The Japan Times

In September 2013, weeks away from celebrating their 20th anniversary, Tokyo rock act Zoobombs announced they were disbanding. The group’s leader, guitarist and vocalist Don Matsuo, and his wife, Zoobombs’ keyboardist Matta, went on to form a new group called The Randolf. However, that project was short-lived and Matsuo instead spent much of last year gigging in support of his solo material.

But old habits die hard. Less than 18 months after ending Zoobombs, Matsuo is preparing to start the band up again.

“After my activities with The Randolf and my solo stuff, I realized all the music I make is based around Zoobombs,” Matuso says. “So I decided that Zoobombs must continue to go on. I’m going to find new members and roll the dice again.”

Wasting little time, Zoobombs — which will once again see Matta playing alongside her husband — will travel to North America in late April to share their garage and psychedelic rock-infused jams at shows in Canada and the United States. All seems to be going well for the band so far. Well, except for one minor thing.

“It’s funny,” Matsuo says. “All the dates are almost booked, now we just have to find people to play with!”

Luckily, Matsuo has become quite adept at getting the most out of backing musicians despite having minimal or no practice time. This is largely due to his experience from touring under his own name. Instead of bringing a band with him for solo treks, he makes a new one in each city he performs in.

“I always play with young, local musicians everywhere I go,” Matsuo says. “I send them songs and then we play together without rehearsing. So each night is really special.

“I know no other musicians play like this and that it can be very risky, but I get really great energy from the young musicians and the chemistry we create allows me to see the magic of music again and again.”

Matsuo has toured like this since releasing his 2006 “O-re-ha-si-na-i-yo?” solo debut. His upcoming Japan concerts for fourth album “Arcadia Blues” will be done in the same manner.

“Arcadia Blues” will be released Feb. 4. Matsuo has always accented his rock-based cuts with other genres and this album follows suit, but it has much more of an experimental hip-hop feel to it than anything else he has created before. The sound works best on the tracks “Stabler” and “Sweet Sour Candy.” Lyrically, “Arcadia Blues” is darker that Matsuo’s usual output, too.

“There’s a constant flood of information in the world, unbelievable murder cases, and governments that can’t be trusted. And I wonder about society, our developments, and our future. I’m always thinking about where we’re heading now and if I’m doing the right things with my life.

“I think that music should be fun and uplifting, but this time I had to write what I’m feeling now for me.”

Entering his mid-40s, Matsuo admits worrying about how long he will retain his desire to create.

“I tried lots of new things on this album and they worked,” he says. “I found that deep inside, I still want to make something new.”

Don Matsuo’s “Arcadia Blues” is in stores Feb. 4. The Don Matsuo Arcadia Blues Tour begins at Tokuzo in Nagoya on Feb. 24 (7 p.m. start; ¥2,300 in advance; 052-733-3709) and finishes at Ellcube in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, on Apr. 12 (6 p.m. start; ¥2,000 in advance; 0144-35-0501). For more information, visit