Naoko - Vocals & Guitar
Birthday: December 18th
Blood Type: O
Etsuko - Drums & Vocal
Birthday: July 11th
Blood Type: O
Ritsuko - Bass & Backing Vocal
Birthday: July 21st
Blood Type: A
Riding on the Rocket song sample
fun! fun! fun!(2007)
Tribute to Shonen Knife - Fork and Spoon (2006)
Live in Osaka (2006)
Golden Best Universal Hit's (2006)
GENKI SHOCK! (2005)
Candy Rock (2004)
Heavy Songs (2002)
MILLENNIUM EDITION (2001)
Strawberry Sound (2000)
Wonder World Vol.1 (1999)
Happy Hour (1998)
Ultra Mix (1998)
IT'S A NEW FIND(1997
Super Mix( 1997)
Brand New Knife (1996)
GREATEST HISTORY (1995)
Rock Animals (1993)
Do The Knife (1992)
Let's Knife (1992)
PRETTY LITTLE BAKA GUY(1986)
Yama-no Attchan (1984)
Burning Farm (1983)
Minna Tanoshiku (1982)
Where to Buy
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Shonen Knife Interview
Their charming sense of fun and upbeat music have earned them fans as impressive as Kurt Cobain and made them one of the most well known Japanese groups in North America. With founding member Naoko now joined by Etsuko and Ritsuko, Shonen Knife shows every sign of bringing their unique brand of girl-power to audiences around the world for many years to come.
On October 20, 2008 the members of Shonen Knife were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World.
You have a new album due to be released in Japan in November. Tell us a little about the songs.
Naoko: The album title is "Super Group". I wrote 9 songs of punk-pop, hard rock, and more. We also recorded a cover song of Paul McCartney and the Wings' Jet. All songs are very much like "Shonen Knife" style. I'm sure everybody can enjoy listening to it.
Shonen Knife has released quite a few albums over the years, first with the original group of Naoko, Atsuko and Michie Nakatani, then with just Naoko and Atsuko, and now with Naoko and Etsuko. How did your latest recording sessions compare to those in the past?
Naoko: When I played with Atsuko and Michie, Michie wrote some songs. Each of us made demo versions by ourselves and recorded. When with Atsuko, she played the drums and the bass and I played the guitar and some bass for recording. After Etsuko joined, she played the drums and I played the guitar and the bass. I learned the methods of recording more and more. We could work efficiently now.
On the new album "Super Group", Etsuko and I accepted a new member Ritsuko as a bassist. Now Shonen Knife became a 3 piece band. She played the bass for the new album.
Ritsuko is a long time Shonen Knife fan and she played the guitar and sings in her own band.
Congratulations Ritsuko on becoming a member of Shonen Knife. Can you tell us the story of how you were asked to join the group?
Ritsuko: Thank you so much. I'm a big fan of Shonen Knife since I was a student. I sent my band's demo tape to Shonen Knife a few years ago because I wanted to play with Shonen Knife. Of course I put my fan letter in it.
Then I got a phone call from their management that said I could play with them. My band had broken up but I got an offer from Shonen Knife to be a support bassist in 2006. I played the bass as a support bassist for Shonen Knife for 9 months. Since then I've done some support bass playing with them.
One and a half years have passed and I really wanted to be the bassist of Shonen Knife. Then they invited me as an official bassist.
What groups did you play in before?
Ritsuko: One is called "Keihan Girl" which was a two girl's unit. "Keihan Girl" respected Shonen Knife. Another is called Denki Candy which was also a two girls unit with my female cousin.
Have you ever toured overseas?
Ritsuko: I've never toured overseas. I really want to go.
What about Shonen Knife's music attracted you the most?
Ritsuko: Shonen Knife's melody lines are great like the Beatles and their chorus work is very cute like the Supremes. And they are Punk Rock like the Ramones. These attracted me.
What do you think are the keys to being a good bass player?
Ritsuko: Loving the band and music.
Tell us a little about your background. When and where were you born?
Ritsuko: I was born in Osaka and grew up in Osaka. My birthday is July 21st.
Are you from a musical family?
Ritsuko: No, we aren't but my family likes to go to Karaoke.
What do your friends and family think of you joining such a famous band?
Ritsuko: They are surprised and glad.
What does playing music mean to you?
Ritsuko: I can't realize. Playing music is an exciting thing like eating a giant cake during my whole life.
With so many fans eager to see Shonen Knife play with their new bass player, do you feel any pressure in your new role?
Ritsuko: I have a little pressure but I'm having fun more than it.
We hope to see you soon on tour!
Ritsuko: Yes! I'd like to see you soon.
Naoko, can you describe a typical day when the group is recording?
Naoko: Our recording starts from 11:00 a.m. We work a few hours and go to eat lunch. Our lunch is always Udon noodles which are Japanese bonito soup noodles. Then we work until around 7:00 p.m.
Naoko, back in July you performed a solo act in Tokyo. What songs did you play and how did it go?
Naoko: I played 7 songs:
1. Heavy Song (karaoke)
2. Music Square
3. Fruit Loop Dreams
4. Living after Midnight (played the guitar with rhythm track. Cover song of Judas Priest)
5. Evil Birds
6. Wind Your Spring
7. Good Night
Other than "Living After Midnight", all the songs are my songs. I wrote "Evil Birds" for a Japanese tribute album.
It was my first solo act. I was a little nervous and embarrassed for the show but everything went well. Many people came to see my show and everybody seemed to enjoy it. I enjoyed it, too. I got a lot of good responses from fans.
When will Shonen Knife next tour the US or Canada?
Naoko: It isn't decided yet. I'd really like to go there soon, though.
What were some of your favorite places to play in North America?
Naoko: I've been to more than 30 cities in North America. I like all the cities I've been to. It's hard to choose.
In 2006 Atsuko got married and moved to Los Angeles. What was that year like?
Naoko: Shonen Knife couldn't play a lot of gigs. Atsuko went to the US and we couldn't book shows.
Is she happy with her new life in the US?
Naoko: Yes, she is. She is enjoying American life.
In August you got to play with Atsuko again at Japan's Rising Sun Rock Festival. Tell us about the show and getting together.
Naoko: The organizer of the festival offered to have Atsuko play the bass for the show. So, she flew back to Japan for it. It was fun to play with Atsuko.
Etsuko, you first played drums for Shonen Knife back in 2003. Tell us how you first met the group.
Etsuko: I played 3 shows in September 2003 as a support drummer and became the full time drummer in 2005. Before I met Naoko and Atsuko, I supposed that they might be scary persons and I was nervous but after I met them--actually they were gentle persons. And I got relaxed.
What groups had you played with in the past?
Etsuko: A kind of pop-rock band.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Etsuko: I grow up in Nara city of Nara prefecture. It's an old historical city. It's famous for "Great Buddha's temple" and wild deer.
I liked music and physical education classes in school. I was a shy child but I liked to be the center of attention. Now I like to watch TV and get relaxed at home. In summer I like to go to the sea, go to swimming pools, see fireworks and go to Japanese summer festivals.
Naoko, the name Shonen Knife comes from a brand of Japanese pocket knives. Were there any other group names you considered first?
Naoko: I considered some names but I don't remember. I remember only one name called "Skirts"--because we are an all female band.
For someone new to Shonen Knife, what two albums would you recommend they listen to first?
Naoko: I recommend our new album "Super Group" which will be released this November. And our latest album, "fun! fun! fun!"
What groups do you most like to see live?
Naoko: I like 70's hard rock bands. I will be going to a Judas Priest show in October. I'm looking forward to seeing their show. Other than them, I like to see Doobie Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, The Answer, Arch Enemy, Iron Maiden, Motor Head and a Japanese Band called Convex Level.
How has the Japanese music industry changed since the 80s? Do you think it's tougher or easier for new groups to get started?
Naoko: I think it's getting worse because the whole sales of CDs are going down. If new groups want to earn money through music, it's tougher--but if they just want to play, it's easier than the 80's. Using a computer they can make their own CD easily. And the number of clubs has increased. But In Japan, if indie bands want to play at clubs, they have to pay money to the club and get their own show's tickets. They have to sell the tickets by themselves.
Looking back at your career, what original songs are you most fond of?
Naoko: I can't choose one--I like all of them.
What have been your favorite songs to cover?
Naoko: Ramone's song I Wanna Be Sedated.
What plans do you have for the group and yourselves over the next few years?
Naoko: In November, we'll release our new album "Super Group". Then we'll do a Japan tour as a 3 piece band. We have a plan to do a European tour in 2009. We are also looking for an overseas record deal. When we find the deal, we'd like to go to North America and other countries, too.
Do you have a final message to your fans?
Keep on Rockin'!
For more info checkout Shonen Knife's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments