Japanese all-female pop-punk trio Shonen Knife formed way back in 1981 and shot to fame in 1991 when Kurt Cobain asked them to open for Nirvana on their UK tour. Ahead of their show at Sonic Ekkamai (Nov 25), we chat to the band’s singer and sole original member Naoko Yamano about 30 years in the game and life on the road.
What are the best and worst things about being on tour?
There is no worst thing about touring. I like touring a lot because I can meet our fans directly and taste delicious local foods.
How do you prepare for a show before hitting the stage?
We do stretches; I don’t listen to music before shows.
From your experience, are there any differences between audiences in the West and Asia?
There is no difference. Music has no frontiers. It’s a universal thing, but it depends on the city. For example, audiences in our hometown Osaka are more cheerful while in Tokyo people are more polite.
Shonen Knife have been around for over 30 years; where do you see yourself in another 30 years?
If I’m alive, I’d like to keep on rocking as long as I can.
How has your sound changed over that 30 years?
Early Shonen Knife is more primitive. Present Shonen Knife is more powerful, more pop and has a thicker sound.
To mark your 30th anniversary, you released Osaka Ramones comprised solely of covers of The Ramones; what other bands would you like to pay similar tribute to?
Judas Priest, KISS, The Beatles and Buzzcocks.
What’s the music scene like in Osaka right now?
There are many interesting, very underground bands in Osaka but there is no strong sense of scene there. The disposition of Osaka people is too individualistic.
The clothing style for Shonen Knife has always been coordinated very carefully. How do you decide on the outfits?
My younger sister Atsuko, an original member of Shonen Knife, designs our stage costumes. She likes 1960s and 1970s fashion like Pierre Cardin, Mary Quant, Yves Saint Laurent and so on.
A lot of musicians like to show that they’re serious about everything; have you ever considered singing about more political topics?
I sometimes write songs about social problems, like “Economic Crisis” from our album Free Time (2010), but my opinion is that music should be a happy thing and I want people to be happy through our music. Even if I write about slightly serious things, I add some sense of joking. “Economic Crisis” became a fun hard rock song.
What are your expectations for your gig here in Bangkok?
I expect that our audience will get happy with our music. Let’s ROCK! I can’t wait to go to Thailand and see you there!