HomeBad Ass AsiansShonen Knife still charming audiences after 38 years

Shonen Knife still charming audiences after 38 years

Shonen Knife
Photo from Shonen Knife

By Mimi Chen

As a youngster, I remember encountering the Japanese band Shonen Knife and kept asking myself over and over “What IS this?.”

Shonen Knife  has been charming audiences with an undefinable extreme mix of pop, punk and Japanified rock ever since they broke into the music scene in 1981.  Now,  Shonen Knife just released their 19th studio album, Sweet Candy   Power,   The album glitters with the same sense of raw sweet Japanified post punk power pop complete with the same garage sound  with the charming slightly off key singing and playing that I remember.   In some ways, Shonen Knife personifies the musical candy rockers love to imbibe during late night club jaunts.

There biggest fans have included Kurk Cobain of Nirvana and Sonic Youth which even covered one of Shonen Knife’s albums. The group has even written a song for the Powder Puff Girls.

Recently, AsAmNews exchanged a 10 question Q&A with founding band member Naoko Yamano 

1.  Greetings from California! How does it feel to be releasing album 19?

Naoko: I’m very excited! It’s the first album in 3 years. It took very long but we were busy touring. Using that fabulous experience, I wrote these songs. 

2.  Is there anything different to be expected from Sweet Candy Power  or will these  songs be the Shonen Knife we have come to love?

Shonen Knife Sweet Candy Power

Naoko: I think Sweet Candy Power became more Pop than our last 2 albums Overdrive and Adventure. I was trying to write songs that make people feel fun. 

3.  I understand that band members have opted to stay at home to take care of kids. If you tour, what members do you expect will tour to support this album?

Naoko: Basically, Atsuko, Risa and I go on all of the long tours.

4.  Now that the entertainment world is starting to recognize Asians more, are you seeing more responses from people in general?

Naoko: Hmm.. I didn’t know that. I don’t mind the nationality, though. For me, fun music is fun and boring is boring.

5.  Have you experienced any negative behavior from people because you are three Japanese women?

Naoko: I think I’ve never experienced negative things.

6.  How has your life changed from when you started playing music to the way it is now?

Naoko: In the past 10 years we have toured a lot. I’ve never imagined that I could go to so many countries when I started the band.

7.  How would you describe your fans?

Naoko: Shonen Knife is fun, happy, unique and ROCK.

8.  Who are your influences and has this changed over the years?

Naoko: When I started the band, I liked late 70’s punk-pop. In these 20 years, I’m inspired by ‘60’s and ‘70’s British and American rock. Recently I like to listen to ‘70’s funk, disco and soul music.

9.  Your favorite song to play and favorite place to play?

Naoko: Our new song, Sweet Candy Power! Favorite place is everywhere.

10.  Anything else you’d like to say to people?

Naoko: I hope people enjoy our new album “Sweet Candy Power”! Let’s have fun together!

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