Shonen Knife Slashes International Music Scene Female Japanese trio Shonen Knife recently sold out shows in Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh. With over 30 years in the music, their new album Overdrive was recently released and well is worth a listen, so stretch out Like A Cat and take in the album. Naoko, vocalist, guitar player and founder of Shonen Knife shares about herself and the band.
Author Marisa Williams: What is your hometown, is that where you live now, and if you were a tourist in your hometown, what would be worth seeing?
Shonen Knife: I’m living in Osaka. There are many delicious foods in Osaka like Takoyaki, Kushikatsu, and Okonomiyaki. The Osaka Castle, Tsutenkaku Tower, Sumiyoshi Shrine, and Shitennouji Temple are worth it to see.
Marisa: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Shonen Knife: I took piano lessons in my childhood, but the teacher was strict, and I didn’t like it. I quit soon. Then I was influenced by the Beatles, then started to play the guitar. My family is not a musical family, but my father liked go to Karaoke and sing.
Marisa: What instruments do you play, and how old were you when you learned to play them?
Shonen Knife: I started to play electric guitar when I was 19-years-old. It’s late, though. I leaned by myself.
Marisa: What was your first concert that you attended?
Shonen Knife: My first concert was Aerosmith.
Marisa: What was the first album you purchased?
Shonen Knife: “Beatles 1967-1970”
Marisa: How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
Shonen Knife: When I find some interesting key words during my daily life, I write down them. Then I expand the words to lyrics. I put melody line on the lyrics. I make music in my brain first. Then, I use guitar and do vocal on it.
Marisa: What is your favorite musical technique?
Shonen Knife: I don’t have any special technique.
Marisa: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
Shonen Knife: I don’t have any scary things so far during the tour.
Marisa: Best or worst tour moment?
Shonen Knife: Best is when I had a good reaction from the audience. Worst is when I got cold during the tour.
Marisa: What's your favorite way to travel and why?
Shonen Knife: I like ferry boat. During European tour, we sometimes use ferry boat. It’s comfortable and gorgeous.
Marisa: What's your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
Shonen Knife: I like Spain, because the Spanish food is so good. I don’t have anywhere I have not been to.
Marisa: What do you think is the biggest difference between playing in Japan versus other places in the world?
Shonen Knife: There is no difference. If there is, it depends on the cities. For example, at some cities, people are polite and other, energetic.
Marisa: What's your biggest musical fantasy?
Shonen Knife: Continue to make fantastic songs.
Marisa: I have three personality questions that I ask everyone. They might sound like hogwash, but I promise, there is a psychological basis to the answers ;-) First, if you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and would you have any special powers?
Shonen Knife: Sky blue. Flying in the sky.
Marisa: If you were yogurt, what flavor would you be (feel free to be creative, as this does not have to be a traditional flavor) and how would you be served?
Shonen Knife: Plane yogurt. Served in a bowl.
Marisa: Describe yourself as either a dog, a cat or a cartoon.
Shonen Knife: Monkey.
Marisa: Do you collect anything?
Shonen Knife: Nothing.
Marisa: What's your biggest guilty pleasure?
Shonen Knife: I never have guilt.
Marisa: Do you have any hidden talents or special skills?
Shonen Knife: I play tennis. I don’t know; I’m a good player, though.
Marisa: What's the most important thing to remember?
Shonen Knife: Answer for this interview.
Marisa: If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
Shonen Knife: I can’t imagine it.
Marisa: What are three things you must have with you when you are on the road?
Shonen Knife: Passport, iPhone and money.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Shonen Knife: Be unique.
Marisa: Where can people find your music?
Shonen Knife: At our gig and internet.
Marisa: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
Shonen Knife: Please listen our new album “Overdrive,” and I hope you like it.
For more information on Shonen Knife, www.shonenknife.net , www.twitter.com/shonenknife and www.facebook.com/shonen-knife. For other bands on Robby Takac of Goo Goo Doll's label, Good Charamel Records, go to www.goodcharamel.com. The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University; for more on Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz.