Shonen Knife not only has a
following of fans, but famous musicians as well. In
fact they claim, "we have so many friends, we
wouldn't know where to start." And what a list they
They've been friends with Shonen Knife for a long
time, and have spent time at each others' haunts.
They always come to Shonen Knife shows, and Shonen
Knife always goes to their shows when they come to
The vocalist Thurston Moore participated on the
Japanese domestic release of the remix album.
They invited Shonen Knife to their first
performance in Japan. They played together on the
Shonen Knife and Green Day had the same manager
during the Lollapalooza tour so they became
Toured twice with Nirvana. Kurt Cobain called
Shonen Knife "Cute!"
They shared the same bill on the Nirvana tour. Also
toured with them on Lollapalooza.
They come to Shonen Knife's shows. Shonen Knife
responds joyfully, "They buy our CDs!"
Roger Manning of Imperial Drag participated on the
remix album. Worked on "Twist Barbie".
"He came to one of our shows. He gave me a present
that he bought in Greece. He was really nice."
Shonen Knife opened for their final Japan tour.
"When we covered a Ramones tune, they gave it a
thumbs up." That's how they became friends.
Slow That Beat
When Shonen Knife toured Munich, they were given a
"Slow That Beat" CD. Shonen Knife invited them to
Japan and the two bands ended up playing shows
Teenage Fan Club
Whether it's Nirvana, the Ramones, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic
Youth, or Green Day, American bands love Japan's first and
foremost all-girl band, Shonen Knife. Straight from Japan,
photographer Kazumi Ogata and writer Nonta Hamada present an exclusive
interview with the Knife as they prepare their U.S.
took turns designing the album covers"
Shonen Knife has been
described as "pop," "cute", punk", "alternative", etc., but
their first priority is to have fun. The three piece band
from Osaka, the second largest capital in Japan, consists of
Naoko Yamano on vocals, Michie Nakaya on bass, and Atsuko
Yamano on drums. Whether it's their lyrics, their upbeat
songs, or lively performances, the band always seems to be
having fun; even their cover art has a playful touch as if
they were changing the dresses on a doll.
Our motto is "fun". We would
make home recorded tapes before we began releasing our
recordings on an independent label. We would sell them
through an import record store. The title of the cassette
was "A Fun Shonen Knife Time with Everyone". Our approach
has been the same since then. We want everyone to have fun
&emdash; our listeners, our audience, and us. Our attitude
is that music is fun, and to have fun playing it.
think that attitude is consistent with our cover art as
well. Like a toy box, it's really colorful. We'd always been
into drawing pictures, making things. When we were on an
independent label we took turns designing the album
Naoko: When we were signed to a major, we would
hire an artist whose work we liked, including the rabbits on
the cover of the last album "Brand New Knife" and the
upcoming "It's a New Find". With "It's a New Find", it all
began with an exhibition held by an illustrator friend of
ours in San Francisco. A bunch of illustrators drew alphabet
letters. My favorite one was the picture for the letter "D".
The Devil was the motif. So we requested his work. When I
asked the other members, "Which one is your favorite out of
A to Z?", they chose "D" too. Our tastes really match.
it true that your stage outfits are handmade?
drummer, Atsuko, used to work as a fashion designer so she
designs and makes all our stage costumes. From the patterns
to the sewing, she does it all.
Atsuko: I was
only an employee at an apparel clothes company. So all I did
was design what the company wanted. The clothes were totally
different from the ones we wear on stage.
Making "Steel Buns"
didn't really stand out as a kid. I was just an average kid.
I didn't like playing outside, especially ball games. I
would go to my friends' house and play with Rika or Barbie
dolls, changing their clothes. I preferred playing
Naoko: I also
didn't like games like "stick ball." I would always be
terrified of the ball when playing dodge ball, so I'd always
be running away, and end up being the last one left. I could
never catch the ball. Because we lived in the city, there
weren't too many open spaces. I also preferred playing with
Michie: I'm an
only child. That might be why I'm sort of easy going and
slow. For lunch we would be split into groups, and you
weren't allowed to go play until everyone in your group was
finished eating. I was so slow eating lunch that on my
report card there was a note, "Let's try to eat lunch
faster." I was a slow kid, the type that can be easily
picked on. I was a quiet kid.
Barbie doll fits with the band's image but it's funny to
hear how outgoing performers like you could be such "quiet"
Naoko: But you
play inside when you're in a band (laughter). It's the
basement or a studio. If we were more outgoing, we wouldn't
be playing in a band. We'd be going to the beach in the
summer, skiing in the winter, and we'd have a lot of