What’s in your mind when we see or hear Japanese woman? For Indonesian kids, I guess, first things, japanese woman as a movie stars—whatever kind of movie. Second, it must be idol group, a franchised of JKT48. Third, fourth, fifth Japanese woman as a manga character. And if connected to rock music, the most answer must be Baby Metal. At least that’s what I found when take a small survey about Japanese woman in my circle of friends.
How about japanese woman playing punk music? Yeah we talk about Shonen Knife. One of a living legend band from Japan. On the indonesian punk scene, maybe they’re not as popular as Kawakami with Disclose, but they weren’t instant band from the mother of Japan music industry. Survived more than three decades, produce 19 studio album, make the finest tribute album to Ramones—they also play with Cj Ramone, more than enough to said they were great band.
Talked about japan music industry, Naoko said “baby metal isn’t rock band but a project which controlled by someone else. The girls are more like dancers and singers and the background band consist of professional players. I Prefer to listen to reak rock music performed by real rock bands” On the interview with Rolling Stone India.
This pretty trio start their creative process since 1981, and still produce album on this year (2014). Before perform on their debut show in India, I sent Naoko—vocalist and the band founder—an interview. We talk about her new album, overdrive.
Interview by: Tomi Wibisono
Hello Naoko. You are now busy prepare your debut show in India? how do you feel?
-I’m very excited to go to India. I’m looking forward to Shonen Knife fans there. I also looking forward to eat delicious food.
First, about your Overdrive album. what respond did you get so far?
-I have very good respond from our fans not only in Japan but all over the world. Especially, we toured UK and Europe this spring and North America in September and October this year. People there like Overdrive album a lot.
Oh nice to hear that, tell me more about that tour. any special moment you got there?
-For British shows, most of all shows were packed and some people came to most of all shows all over the UK. For North American tour, our show in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 16th was our 1000th show. We took requests and made set list. Both of our fans and we were so happy.
Overdrive seems got heavy metal influence such as Thin Lizzy, Kiss on this album?
-Yes. I like 70’s British Hard Rock and American Rock. Other than these bands, I was inspired by Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Boston, ZZ Top like that. Our previous albums’ theme were Punk for “Free Time” and Pop for “Pop Tune” and for “Overdrive”, it’s ‘70’s Hard Rock.
And you still write about food. Have you/will you made a song about food that made specially from another country outside Japan? maybe Indonesia, it has many unique food.
-I’ve written not only Japanese food song but overseas’. If I could go to Indonesia and have delicious food, I’ll write a song about it.
Yeah you must try Rendang or Lumpia. Btw, I love your “Like A Cat”. And its not the first time you wrote about cat. I do love cat too. They’re arrogant, ignorant but so lovely!. Tell me, what make you write a lot about cat?
-I had cats. They smell very good. Cats are very popular for people and I just wanted to write songs about my favorite items like delicious foods.
In many article about Shonen Knife, the writer often mention “Nirvana as your fans”. Do you comfort with it?
-I just thank to Kurt Cobain and other members from Nirvana. I can answer about that questions anytime.
Well, the first time I knew about Shonen Knife, when you release Osaka Ramones. Since then I’ve been following you. oke what The Ramones mean to you?
– When I started Shonen Knife I was inspired by late 70’s punk pop bands like Ramones, Buzzcocks and the Jam. The melody line of Ramones is very pop. I like Joey’s vocal. Ramones is one of my favorite band.
But your early album is more the Beatles influenced, since when The Ramones become your influence?
-I think Beatles is the most influential band for me. I’m inspired by them all the time. They are the best.
And You’ve play with the Ramones members—CJ Ramone, playing Ramones song. Is it the best thing for you in this 3 decades of your band journey?
-Played with CJ Ramone’s band but the best thing will come in the future!
In Indonesia, teenage are crazy with j-pop. And there’s a franchise of AKB48 in my country, its called JKT48. For me, its like a business that exploited the member, I don’t know in japan, but in this country they sell anything, its not about concert, cd anymore. They also sell the ticket to meet and greet and do a handshake. What do you think about this? Does things like this are common in japan?
-It is the same in Japan. I never listen to idol songs. Idols should be young and should dance and controlled by producer. Very far from Rock Music. I can’t understand.
So you gonna make Australia and NZ tour next year, Any plan to play in Indonesia? What do you know about this country?
-I know Indonesia is consists of many islands and the population is big. I’ve heard that Indonesia has its own music scene. I don’t know people in Indonesia like our music but I would like to go.
Before you play in India, do you know that india are face the gender problem including rape and trafficked?
-It’s a difficult problem.
Oh. oke, last question. Whats your favorite song to be heard in the morning?
-For today, Chicago. Thank you.
Btw, my friends are writing about Sapporo music scene. Do you have any suggestion of great band from Sapporo?
-Hmm… Eastern Youth, Blood Thirsty Butchers… I don’t know much about Sapporo. It’s too far from Osaka.