I N T E R V I E W
By Arpie Shirehorse and Ian Duggan
Around a month ago HUP was contacted and asked if we were keen to help arrange a Hamilton show for legendary Japanese punk band Shonen Knife. What ensued was the email equivalent of the biting off of a hand. You see, this band has had a place in our hearts since the early nineties when John Peel would frequently play them on his BBC radio show. It was around this time that they toured with relatively unknown up-and-coming noiseniks Nirvana. So, the thought of them bringing their joyous racket to little old Kirikiriroa was just too tempting, and at the time of typing we are frothing at the proverbial in anticipation of this coming Wednesday's show. We caught up with founder member, vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Naoko Yamano, to ask a few questions!
HUP: Congratulations on the new album, ‘Adventure’. Can you tell us a bit about it - who wrote the songs, where was it recorded etc?
Naoko: Thanks a lot! I wrote all [the] songs. This album is inspired by '70s hard rock, '60s and '70s classical rock. It was recorded at Yotsubashi LM Studio in Osaka.
HUP: Apparently, there were five past/present members of the band involved in the album in some way? (The live band is just three members)
Naoko: Atsuko, Risa and I played all [the] songs except the bass for [the] Tasmanian Devil song, which was played by Naru and for Dog Fight, which was played by Ritsuko.
HUP: Is it a fun process for you, writing and recording? I find there’s an inherent joy in Shonen Knife songs.
Naoko: Writing lyrics is so difficult for me because I would like to write lyrics in English. But making melody lines is easy. Recording is fun. We usually have no time to rehearse songs before recording, but we could rehearse songs before recording this time.
HUP: Punk music is commonly associated with strong ideological and political beliefs. What are the issues in the world that concern you most?
Naoko: I want people [to] get happy through our music. It is the first purpose to play music. I don't want to sing about negative or political matters. I want to make fun, enjoyable entertainment for everyone.
HUP: You have now released 19 albums over 35 years. From this catalogue, how do you choose what to play in your live shows?
Naoko: I pick a few songs from each album and 3 or 4 songs from the new album, but it's very hard to choose songs. It takes a few days to decide set lists.
HUP: In 2011 you released a cover album of The Ramones songs, called 'Osaka Ramones'. Should we expect to hear some of these?
Naoko: It's secret!
HUP: Where in the world is your biggest following?
Naoko: I think mainly U.K., USA, Australia, Canada and continental Europe, but we have good fan base in Asia and other countries. I hope many people follow us in New Zealand, too.
HUP: Are there any countries that you haven’t played yet, that you hope to play one day?
Naoko: We've never been to South America, Africa and Middle East countries. I would like to go if people there want us.
HUP: Do you have any favourite New Zealand bands?
HUP: Do you have any celebrity fans that we might find surprising?
Naoko: Some Japanese fans come to every show in Japan, and sometimes overseas, and some overseas fans sometimes come to our Japanese shows. Our celebrity fans got to be friends [with] each other. Shonen Knife became a good opportunity for international cultural exchanges.
HUP: Finally, any message for the people of Hamilton?!
Naoko: Please listen to our albums and come to our show. Let's have fun!
HUP: Thanks, and see you on October 4th!
Naoko: See you soon!
Tickets for the show this coming Wednesday October 4th (Nivara Lounge) are still available from UTR but are selling quickly, click HERE link to buy tix! The show starts around 8.30pm and will be done by 11pm, so get in early to see support band 5 Girls and get a good spot to watch Shonen Knife. Until Wednesday...
Jamie Strange, Labour Candidate - Hamilton East
By Ian Duggan
With the general election just days away, Ian Duggan caught wind of Hamilton East Labour Candidate Jamie Strange's earlier forays into recording his own music. We decided to ask a few questions and Jamie obliged with some answers!
HUP: Jamie, you released a concept album in 2009, 'Thanks for Faking it Sometimes'. Included on the album you had the song 'Rockstar Clone', which I understand received radio airplay and was runner-up in a 2008 UK song-writing competition that received over 6000 entries. What can you tell us about the aims of the project? How serious was it, what were you hoping for the songs and album when they were released, and did the project achieve what you were hoping for?
Jamie: The album is a satirical look at a cliche rockstar. Hence, the plastic-looking girlfriend, eye-liner, and tattoos (although the tattoos are actually real). I was thinking about 'All the Small Things' by 'Blink 182' when I wrote 'Rockstar Clone'. The opening chords match this song and the opening line is: "I'll steal this riff from another song".
I was hoping to get airplay, which I did on The Rock, Life FM, Juice TV and C4. I didn't sell many albums. However, I really enjoyed the creative process. If I was to re-release the album, I would change the cover photo to the photo of the mannequin in the sunglasses. The album photos were taken by Roly Ebbing and artwork was done by Andrew Killick.
HUP: You released several music videos, all available on YouTube, some of which have very respectable numbers of views. For example, ‘Empty Dreams’ has over 5000 views, while ‘I Wonder’ and ‘Rockstar Clone’ each have over 2000. They also look like they were incredibly fun to make! Do you have any particular memories of making them, and how were they funded?
For 'Empty Dreams' I was given the super 8 footage and edited the video myself. Then on 'I Wonder' my friend Rolly Ebbing produced and edited it in Tauranga.
High School Crush was recorded by my friend Klas Eriksson at St Peter's Church (Hamilton), and I edited it.
Rockstar Clone was also recorded by Klas Eriksson, on green screen at The Rockshop in Hamilton (where I worked, between 6 pm and 6 am), and Novotel Hotel (I did a free gig to get a room). I edited it.
They were all great fun to make! I mainly funded it myself, but also had a few small donations along the way.
HUP: What do you think of your songs and videos now, looking back almost 10 years?
They sound like old-school pop-punk now! I think Rockstar Clone holds up well lyrically and musically. Empty Dreams still sounds fine to me. Also, I believe my best lyrics are 'Footprint on a Mountain', a tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary. This was sung by my friend Jesse O'Brien, who made the top 10 of the first ever season of NZ Idol. This is probably the song I am most proud of.
HUP: Do you have any desire to go back and release more music, or are you wanting to devote your life now to politics?
Politics will be my focus. However, I would like to continue being creative. I will certainly have a guitar in my parliament office in Wellington. Feel free to pop down for a jam!
HUP: You are now standing for Labour in the upcoming election for Hamilton East. Let us know why we should we vote for Jamie Strange?
I am passionate about all New Zealanders achieving their full potential. If elected, I will work hard to represent the people of Hamilton East. I want my four kids to be able to afford to buy a house, have a strong public health system that's there for them, and participate in a diverse education system that caters for all New Zealanders. I think everyone deserves this.
I N T E R V I E W
‘Lures will Catch us a Carp’: An Interview with ‘Koi Division’
By Ian Duggan
‘Koi Division’ are a Californian band who describe themselves as “the only Fish Goth Joy Division parody cover band that matters”. They perform songs with titles like ‘Albacore’ (Atmosphere), ‘Trout Fishin’ (Transmission), and ‘Lures will Catch us a Carp’ (too obvious to require clues!). After appearing on ‘The A.V. Club’ website a few days ago, the band have rapidly accumulated a shoal of new fans, myself included. I caught up with Ian Clownfish (vocals), Hook (bass, sea synth), Bernard Salmon (guitar) and Steve Moray (drums), for what I expect is their first overseas Q&A session!
HUP: Your titles and lyrics are fantastic. I particularly like the titles ’Lures will Catch us a Carp’ and ‘Trout Fishin’. How long does it take to write new lyrics for a song and, like fish, do your lyrics slowly evolve through time?
Ian Clownfish: It's usually one spawning cycle.
Steve Moray: Some of the songs, it just comes so naturally. It starts with a small joke and builds off of it.
Ian Clownfish: There are a lot of dark, horrible, and depressing things that happen in the ocean.
Hook: Our lyrics crawled out of the ocean, turned around, and went back in.
Bernard Salmon: All of our lyrics started out with 'Glub Glub Glub'.
HUP: We have a local recording project here called Dharma Police, who record songs about the TV show ‘Lost’ and who sound reminiscent of early Depeche Mode. One problem for the project is that the ability of obtaining fans relies to an extent on them being a fan of both ‘80s synth-pop and the TV programme Lost. I would argue many more people have an interest in both Joy Division and fish, providing a larger potential intersection in your Venn diagram. Do you think you might suffer from having a small niche audience, or do you see your niche facilitating your popularity?
Bernard Salmon: I think there's a lot of people who like fish that will learn to love Joy Division because of their love for fish.
HUP: You have 11 songs to date, but there is a finite number of Joy Division songs to cover, and you seem to have already parodied their most popular songs. What are your aspirations for the project? What happens when you run out of songs?
Ian Clownfish: There are 44 essential Joy Division songs including ‘Ceremony’ and ‘In A Lonely Place’ [not yet covered]. We have 12 done, [and] I don't think it's unreasonable to do the other 3/4 eventually.
Bernard Salmon: We can do justice to some of the older recordings, that are mostly unlistenable. Once we have all the songs under our belt, we have to learn to play in an aquarium. Underwater shows are the wave of the future.
HUP: Koi carp are considered a pest fish in New Zealand, stirring up sediments, and generally making our waterways look bad. So to me your band’s name mixes something nice (Joy Division) with something not so nice (koi), a bit like Guns ‘n Roses. Are koi seen in the same way where you are from, in California? Or is your name likely to elicit different emotions there?
Hook: Koi are found mainly at rich people's houses and public parks. Also this one Chinese restaurant in New York.
Steve Moray: People go to Disneyland to eat fish all the time.
HUP: Your story has gone global thanks to being picked up by The A.V. Club, and the band has gained a few hundred new fans on Facebook over the last few days. How did the A.V. Club pick up on your band?
Hook: Juliet Rylah wrote an article for the LA Weekly about us after seeing some photos taken by Paul Koudounaris and the A.V. Club picked it up.
HUP: Your vocalist, Ian Clownfish, has the moves of Ian Curtis down perfectly. How many seconds did it take to realise the name ‘Ian Koi-tis’ was not such a good move.
Ian Clownfish: It's not really related to fish, or is it?
Hook: Do you remember that episode of the Simpsons where Troy McClure had to marry Selma because he had a thing for fish?
Bernard Salmon: It was originally Ian Catfish but we couldn't find a Catfish that could sing.
Steve Moray: We couldn't afford an actual Koi; those things are expensive.
Visit the 'Koi Division' website here: http://www.koidivision.com/
A L B U M R E V I E W
'It Only Ends Once' by ‘Dharma Police’
‘It Only Ends Once’ is the third album released by ‘Dharma Police’, a project of ex-Hamiltonian (now Auckland-based) Dan Satherley. Musically, the album has an ‘80s synth-pop vibe, reminiscent of early Depeche Mode – or, more obviously, Satherley’s other project ‘Anecdata’ and its predecessor ‘Radio Over Moscow’. However, this project differs from his others, in that the lyrics revolve around events from the television show ‘Lost’ – something you may have already guessed based on the album or project titles, if you are a fan of the show.
Not having been a fan of Lost myself, I approach the song titles and lyrics as something of an outsider. A little like how I imagine that dog felt when its Michigan owner took it to a Furry Convention earlier this year. What is meant by titles such as ‘We're Not Going to Guam, Are We?’, ‘Fish Biscuit’ and the title track ‘It Only Ends Once’? To a Lost fan these questions may be obvious. What I love most about Satherley’s (other) Anecdata project is that it is educational, covering topics including conspiracy theories, the supernatural, sci-fi and American politics; subjects I can relate to. Here, unfortunately, I can't. But then again, does it matter? Do I understand what the lyrics of most of the songs I hear mean?
Overall, if you fit into the intersection of a Venn diagram depicting Depeche Mode and Lost enthusiasts, this is the perfect album for you. Then again, if you are a fan of ‘80s synth pop alone, this may also fit your bill, if you don’t get caught up in the knowledge that the lyrics are about a TV show you are unfamiliar with.
Visit the Dharma Police Bandcamp Page here:
- Ian Duggan