Interview with Naoko from Shonen Knife!

Was it difficult to start as an all girl band when they weren't very popular?
Naoko: No, it wasn’t. We could be prominent and many boys bands asked to play with them. We’ve never booked the show by ourselves when we started the band.

You're influenced by bands like the Ramones and Buzzcocks, how was the punk scene in Japan?
Naoko: It was lively. There were many punk bands who influenced by western music scene. We had hardcore punk bands, punk-pop bands in Japan.

How has your success in America differed from the success you had in Japan?
Naoko: I don’t see any differences. For now, we might be more popular overseas than in Japan, I think.

What happened with Etsuko?
Naoko: She wanted to prefer her human life as a woman.

How has Emi changed things on drums?
Naoko: Emi has a good character. Her drumming is powerful and cheerful. She is a nice girl.

How do you keep yourself relevant in music for 30 years?
Naoko: I’m encouraged by Shonen Knife fans and our staff. As long as there are people who want to listen to our music, I’d like to keep on rocking.

How have things changed and what was your favourite decade in music?
Naoko: Our members have changed. My music skill is a little bit developed but my spirit to rock music will never be changed. Favorite decade of Shonen Knife? Any time.

Who has been your favourite band to play with?
Naoko: Ozzy Osbourne.

I can't believe you opened for Fugazi! How was that?
Naoko: It was in ‘90’s in Japan. Most of all Fugazi fans liked us. Show was so fun. Members of Fugazi were so gentlemen.

30 years is a long fucking time, how do you do it?
Naoko: Without conscious, time flies.

What's life like outside of Shonen Knife, how much time do you get to yourself now?
Naoko: I’m very busy for Shonen Knife. Especially before tours, I have a lot of thing to do. When I’m free, I play tennis. I also like to watch pro-tennis. I’m watching U.S. open now.

How has the band changed over the years?
Naoko: Our line up has changed and we became more powerful. I think this line up is very strong. I love that.

How have your lyrics developed over the years, or do you still come up with random ideas for songs?
Naoko: Most of all lyrics are from my daily experience. In these years, I sometimes sing about social problems but not so serious. My policy for lyrics is “having fun”.

How much of your success do you owe to bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth here in America?
Naoko: Everybody is asking me about Nirvana. We were very lucky that we could have great supporters. I can’t measure how much they are.

Did you learn English specifically so you could release your albums in America or did you know the language before that idea came around?
Naoko: I learned English at college but at that time I couldn’t speak it so much. After I’ve got many interviews in ‘90’s, my English was developed more than before. I had English lessons after I started to go to overseas tours. I’d like to go to English school If I have time but I have no time now.

Do you still perform ever as the Ramones Tribute Band ever? (The Osaka Ramones)
Naoko: The Osaka Ramones played only one show in Tokyo in ‘90’s. I’m so surprised that a band which played only one show is so well known by people. I’d like to perform as The Osaka Ramones anytime soon.

What was it like working with sisters in the beginning, and why did Atsuko leave the band? How has the dynamic changed without her?
Naoko: Working with my sister was very easy and fun. She left the band because she got married with an American guy and is living in Los Angeles. It’s too far from Osaka. Atsuko is a rare drummer. Her rhythm sense is very special and characteristic. After she switched to the bassist from drummer, our sound had changed. I think our sound became tight than before now.

How did you come up with "oo-oo-ultra-eccentric-super-cult-punk-pop-band-shonen-knife!" as the perfect description of your band? Do you think this still applies to your music?
Naoko: When I made the lyrics, it was the perfect description but now it is a little different. Now we are not only punk-pop but punk-pop and sometimes hard rock.

What do you think is your best album that you've made so far and why?
Naoko: I can’t choose one. I always recommend our latest album. It’s “Free Time” now.

Not many bands have a compilation made of their songs like Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them… how did that feel?
Naoko: I’m very honored!!!

How many times have you done world tours now?
Naoko: I can’t count. Shonen Knife had been to more than 20 countries and more than 30 tours. From last autumn, we’ve been to Australia, Philippine, U.K. and European countries, China, Taiwan and North America in this month.

What's your favourite part of touring?
Naoko: Meeting with our fans, eating local food.

What's your least favourite?
Naoko: Least favorite means dislike thing? Hmmm… I can’t fine any good answer.

Any funny tour stories you want to share?
Naoko: Not funny but today I left my bag on my bicycle in my neighbors and I went up to a building. I noticed that I left my bag when I was in an elevator. I rushed down to my bike. I could find my bag there. I soothed my breast…!!!

Where is your favourite place to play?
Naoko: Osaka, my hometown.

How did your video get on Beavis and Butthead?
Naoko: Really? I didn’t know that.

Did you watch the show?
Naoko: No, I didn’t. I’d like to watch it.

Did you get to meet Matt Groening when you performed at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival? If so what was he like?
Naoko: He was so nice! I’ve got his autograph on my backstage pass. It is my treasure. I’d like to invite him to our show sometime soon.