No stranger to endless tour dates and trips around the world, Shonen Knife have returned stateside to once again take North America by storm! With 34 concerts, including both Toronto and Montreal Canadian dates, as well as the newly announced 10/22 date at The Knitting Factory, NYC, you’d be hard pressed not to find your way into their audience.
Inspiring, influencing and creating since their formation Dec. 29, 1981, Shonen Knife is a band that has woven it’s way through rock history and clearly made a mark. In an era where many musicians come and go as though seasonal trends, they continue to evolve, yet remain true to the rock lifestyle.
Just fresh into their 2014 tour, Naoko, Tirsuko, and Emi took a moment to sit down and speak about their music, their fans and food!
Q. Thank you very much for speaking with me today. You’ve just set out on the North American leg of your Overdrive tour, and a rigorous tour at that. Over 30 dates, one night after the other. What are you most looking forward to having returned here this fall?
Naoko – to see our fans and have a good time.
Ritsuko – Eating delicious hamburger and sandwich. Jimmy John’s is my favorite.
Emi – Seeing you guys after two years.
Q. Overdrive, your 20th studio album released just this past spring, has been receiving rave reviews. The album itself drawing on your current love of 70’s rock, a decade full of inspirational artists, just prior to your own debut. As a decade that you credit to influencing the desire in yourselves to create rock music, did the recording of Overdrive bring back a sense of nostalgia, back to when it all began? What are your favorite memories from that time?
Naoko – 70’s music is very fresh for me. 70’s is the first era that patterns of musical note of Rock music was invented. Now in 2010’s, most of all patterns were out. The difference is the vibration of air and atmosphere. I didn’t listen to 70’s music in 70’s. I was too young.
Q. For the track “Like A Cat” you requested fans send in video clips of their cats, which I am sure resulted in hours and hours of feline footage! Is that the first time you’ve reached out to include fan video into your PV’s? Have you involved fans in your creative process in others ways?
Naoko – Yes, it is. Fans are included during our show, too. We get reaction from audience after our performance and we get inspiration from them. It’s like throw and catch a ball each other.
Q. In your song writing you’ve mentioned that the lyrics are the hardest part. Has bringing more English into your songs allowed for greater freedom in composition, or has adding a second language only given you more to choose from?
Naoko – I’m inspired by American and British Rock. For me, the language of Rock is English. It’s difficult for me to write lyrics with my second language but my melody line go well with English.
Q. Gene Simmons of KISS made recent news with his comments towards the ‘death of Rock’. As an artist from the era that inspired Overdrive, do you feel his viewpoint holds weight? What is your take on the status of Rock music today?
Naoko – Just having fun and feel the vibration of music is everything. Rock is music and style. As long as there are people who enjoy Rock, it never dies. Does the ‘death of Rock’ mean ‘can’t earn money with Rock’?
Q. Taking that further, your 32 years in the industry have brought you all over the world, with a stage in front of many different fans. Has the fan base changed? Do you find that the audience is wanting more, for less? Has the world become too saturated with ‘talent’ that an upcoming artist becomes lost in a sea of similarity? Or is it that the audience has become too accustomed to ease of access that the devotion has lessened?
Naoko – I can’t analyze our fans. I just play music as long as our fans are there.
Q. Touring allows a band to connect with fans in a way that simple audio can not. However many bands choose not fully explore or pursue this avenue at all. Your tours are often lengthy, with many dates reaching out beyond Japan’s borders to your fans all over the world. What is it about performing live that keeps you coming back for more? What prompted your decision to expand beyond your home country and go worldwide?
Naoko – We are touring because there are people who want to enjoy our show.
Q. Your live date for St. Paul, MN on September 16th marked your 1000th performance, congratulations! I can only imagine how intense and alive the atmosphere was that night. For those of us who weren’t there, what did we miss?
Naoko – We’ve just finished our 1000th show. We took request through internet. Our set list was very special including songs which we play first time in front of audience.
Q. In a recent interview, you mentioned looking forward to heading to India, a place you have not yet performed. What other countries have you not yet been able to travel to that you would like to include in future?
Naoko – South America and Italy. I’ve played in Italy once but it was just once. I’d like to go other cities there.
Ritsuko – Ah, Singapore! (The band has been there but I’ve never been there before.)
Emi – Me, too.
Q. One of the great things about traveling is seeing other cultures, and of course, enjoying their food! What have been your favorite places to eat at? Has there been anything you’ve tried that you didn’t like?
Naoko – I like Spanish food a lot.
Ritsuko – Wendy’s burger. I was working as a part timer but it’s gone from Japan.
Emi – I eat everything. I like to eat anything.
Q. As we gear up and get ready to experience Overdrive 2014, old fans undoubtedly looking forward to seeing you again, as well as new fans just discovering your sound, what message would you like to send them?
Naoko – Music is forever. Let’s ROCK!
Ritsuko – Come to see our show and enjoy my hair dance.
Emi – Please enjoy the present Shonen Knife and our new songs from “Overdrive”!