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...