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 make!

Redd Kross
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 Japan.

Sonic Youth
The vocalist Thurston Moore participated on the Japanese domestic release of the remix album.

Smashing Pumpkins
They invited Shonen Knife to their first performance in Japan. They played together on the Lollapalooza tour.

Green Day
Shonen Knife and Green Day had the same manager during the Lollapalooza tour so they became friends.

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!"

Imperial Drag
Roger Manning of Imperial Drag participated on the remix album. Worked on "Twist Barbie".

Toured together

BMX Bandits
Toured together

Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
"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 together.


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. tour!

"We 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.

Naoko: 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.

Michie: I 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 covers.

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. Is it true that your stage outfits are handmade?

Michie: The 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"
Atsuko: I 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 inside.

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 Barbie dolls.

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. The Barbie doll fits with the band's image but it's funny to hear how outgoing performers like you could be such "quiet" kids.

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 boyfriends. continued

©1997 Viz Communications, Inc.