Lauded by the likes of Kurt Cobain, who made them main support on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ tour, Shonen Knife, the all-female pop-punk-rock pioneers from Osaka, Japan, celebrate their 35th anniversary with a new album and extensive UK & Eire tour. Here, the band’s singer and guitarist Naoko Yamana interviews herself for River’s Edge.
The trio formed in Osaka in 1981, when Naoko Yamana first heard late ‘70’s punk-pop, particularly The Ramones. Inspired, the band crafted their own idiosyncratic songs, fashioned brightly coloured outfits and DIY albums. In 1985, K Records released Burning Farm in the US, followed by a deal with Sub Pop.
Shonen Knife toured with Nirvana, Sonic Youth and The Breeders. They have played festivals such as Lollapalooza, Reading, Roskilde and Fuji Rock, recorded sessions for John Peel and appeared on MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head and wrote a song for The Powerpuff Girls .
The singer introduces her self-interview with: “This is Naoko’s answer to the self-interview for the River’s Edge. Answered by Naoko, vocal and guitar.”
Question: What is the name Shonen Knife refer to?
Naoko: “Shonen Knife” is an old brand name of a pencil knife. When I saw this knife, I was impressed by the name.
Shonen means boy in Japanese. The image of the word “boy” equals cute; “knife” equals dangerous. When cute and dangerous are combined together, it’s the image of our music.
Question: Why do you often write songs about food?
Naoko: Japanese people like food and create many ways of cooking. Especially people in Osaka love to eat delicious food.
There are tons of delicious, reasonable restaurant streets in Osaka. I hope you can visit.
I also don’t want to write about love because it’s too common for lyrics.
Question: What is your favorite food?
Naoko: I like chocolate and cookies. I also like Unadon which is a bowl of rice topped with grilled eel.
I like cheese, too.
Question: What do you do at your spare time?
Naoko: I play tennis. I also like to watch men’s pro tennis player’s match. My favorite players are Ernests Gulbis, Rafael Nadal, Radek Stepanek and
Question: Give me your message to the River’s Edge readers.
Naoko: The new album will be released in late March 2016. The members of Shonen Knife after this new album are Naoko (vocals, guitar), Atsuko (bass, vocals) and Risa (drums, vocals).
Atsuko is our original member and she came back to the band. Risa is our new drummer who is 20 years old now.
Our recording has just finished. The new songs are very fun and very ROCK.
I hope you like it and see you guys at our UK and Ireland tour 2016!
Shonen Knife’s as yet untitled new album will be released shortly – we will be posting news on River’s Edge.