Guitar and vocal
Akiko Fukuoka - Bass
Kumiko Takahashi - Drums
Released March, 2009
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Seimeiryoku (Life Force)
Released October, 2007
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Miminari (Ear Ringing)
Released July, 2006
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"I think the lyrics are very much influenced where we grew up, and all the views of the landscapes we have... so I think it'll give a deeper feel if you listen to our music in Tokushima." - Kumiko Takahashi
When you think of Japanese music the city of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku probably isn't the first place that comes to mind. But for the group Chatmonchy, their hometown has been a catalyst to creating their distinctive style of rock music.
First formed in 2004, the all girl band have released three albums and just completed their first tour of the US. And thanks to the good people at Ki/oon Records and iTunes, you can now enjoy their music from the comfort of your own homes... though no doubt Tokushima's tourist board would love you to come visit them in person.On March 28, 2010 the members of Chatmonchy were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World before their last LA show. All photos courtesy of Chatmonchy and Ki/oon Records with credits to Mayumi Nashida.
First off welcome to the US. How was your trip getting here?
Kumiko: It was a journey! We had many interesting accidents, but it was very exciting.
Now that you've done several shows on this tour have you been making any changes to your presentation?
Akiko: We are changing our set list every time, which is something we don't normally do in Japan. I think that's because little by little, we started to understand the reactions of the American audience.
You've achieved a lot of success in Japan with your music already. What made you want to try and spread your music overseas?
Kumiko: We wanted to try out our music in America, the home of Rock music, and find out how far our music could get through with the language barrier.
Do you consider yourself to be in a "girls rock band" or a "rock band", and what do you think the difference is?
Eriko: We'd like people to consider us as a "rock band". We don't really think that mentioning "girls" is necessary, as there's really not much of a difference.
Are you going to try and get some sightseeing in-between shows? What places do you want to visit?
Kumiko: We had some free time in San Francisco, so we went to the Fisherman's Wharf and saw the seals, but it was creepy... Then I had clam chowder, four times! Also, the pancakes at IHOP in LA were really delicious.
What do you hope to accomplish by the time the tour is complete and you are all back home?
Akiko: We hope to make the American audience feel that they'd like to see our show again. And also to simply gain more fans in America.
Later this month you will be releasing another album featuring some of your b-side songs in Japan. Tell us more about it.
Eriko: There are 19 songs in this album, all of which were the b-sides from our singles. We spent as much effort in writing/recording these songs as the lead singles, so we decided to compile them and release it as an album.
Let's get to know you all a little better. Can you tell us about your hometown and what it was like growing up there?
Akiko: We're from Tokushima, and there's really not much there, but the weather is beautiful and I think it's a great environment to play music. But since rock music isn't really recognized in Tokushima, we hope that our activities will bring better understating of the genre.
How did you each first get into music?
Akiko: When I went to see Chatmonchy's live performance. I immediately became a fan.
Eriko: When I went to see a show of my older brother's band.
Kumiko: I was in the brass band in middle school (clarinet) and high school (percussion), and then I joined the band club in college and decided to play the drums.
How do you feel growing up in Tokushima has influenced your music, compared to someone who grew up in say Tokyo or Osaka?
Kumiko: I think the lyrics are very much influenced where we grew up, and all the views of the landscapes we have (just like how you can feel the vibe of California in Red Hot Chili Peppers's music), so I think it'll give a deeper feel if you listen to our music in Tokushima.
Eriko, can you tell us the story of how the original band first came together when you were in high school?
Eriko: It started when two bands joined together. I met with another band at a venue and we united.
Akiko and Kumiko, can you tell us how you joined the band?
Akiko: I became a fan of Chatmonchy when I first saw them live during my junior year in high school. And I was friends with the original bass player from Chatmonchy, and I joined the band after she left.
Kumiko: I went to the same college with Akiko, and I was always asked every time when their drummer changed (3 times). I'd been rejecting the offer, but then I decided to join as the support member during their fourth approach. I was trying to become a teacher at that point so I was thinking to quit after college, but then I fell in love with it after joining the band and became an official member.
How did you get hooked up with Ki/oon Records?
Akiko: We sent our demo CD to about 20 different record companies and Sony Music replied to us.
When you look at your music from the self-produced "Chatmonchy ni Naritai" up to "Kokuhaku" how would say your music has changed or developed?
Eriko: Since after our debut, being able to work with producers (Junji Ishiwatari and Seiji Kameda) was a big difference, because we were able to look at our music more objectively compare to when it was just the three of us.
Can you tell us about how you create your music? How do you take an idea and turn it into a recorded song?
Eriko: We all write the lyrics, and I would write the melody using my guitar, then Akiko and Kumiko would join on the arrangements. It all starts from the lyrics.
Are there one or two things you feel are essential to creating a "Chatmonchy song"?
Kumiko: The lyrics!
Shangrila is one of our favorite songs of yours. Can you tell us the story of how you wrote it and what it means to you?
Kumiko: Shangrila is a song I wrote about 6 years ago. I compared my friend to Shangri-la back when I was in college. We played this song almost every time during our tour, so I feel very attached to the song.
Last Love Letter is another one of our favorites. Can you tell something about the song we probably don't know?
Akiko: It's a song about how boys could cry too, when they want to!
What are the three of you like when you are on tour? All fun? All work? Lots of fighting?
All: It's all about fun! Playing shows, going sightseeing, meeting with our fans... it's all very exciting.
How do you prepare for a show? Do you have any rituals you do before going onstage?
Eriko: I always do voice exercise.
Btw, who came up with name "Chatmonchy" and what exactly does it mean? Did you have any other band-names you also considered?
Eriko: Actually there isn't any meaning. We just chose the name from the way it looks on Katakana and also the sound of it. And we didn't have any other names in mind.
Outside of music what do you all do for fun and relaxation?
Akiko: Games, wrestling, and drinking.
Eriko: Eating great food.
Kumiko: Studying the history of the end of Edo period.
What do you want the world to know most about Chatmonchy?
Eriko: That there's a band in Japan who could rock out and write good music!
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
Eriko: Thank you to everybody who was looking forward for our US tour. Thank you for your support!Kumiko: This tour was very inspiring. It made me want to write more music once we get back to Japan, and was also very happy to see and meet our fans here in America. Thank you all for you support!
For more info checkout Chatmonchy's official site and MySpace and Facebook pages. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments