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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Shonen Knife
Kazuhiko Sonoki

Vinyl Culture: Shonen Knife takes America by storm.

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Shonen Knife interfaces with Beat Street

JAPANESE pop-punk band Shonen Knife starts its longest, most ambitious tour yet of the U.S. and Canada this month, in support of its latest album, Brand New Knife (Big Deal). As part of the three-month tour, the group performs Saturday (April 12) at Palookaville in Santa Cruz. Here is the result of a recent email interview conducted with guitarist/vocalist Naoko Yamano, typing on her computer in Osaka.

It's been a long time since Shonen Knife has been in the U.S. What is touring like?

We had a long tour in '94 all over America. Since then, we had several shows in America but not a long tour. This will be longest American tour since '94 for Shonen Knife. The tour schedule is very tight, but I'm looking forward to seeing many Shonen Knife fans.

When I'm on the road, I miss Japanese food: okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), takoyaki (a kind of pancake in the shape of a tiny sphere), Italian food at Italian restaurant in Japan, Chinese food at Chinese restaurant in Japan, etc. We will bring some Japanese instant foods and rice cakes. We are going to tour with a tour bus. I think that I may sleep most of all of the time in the tour bus.

Is Shonen Knife more popular in the U.S. or in Japan?

We are popular in Japan, too. Because we've released three albums from a Japanese major record label, and they did many promotions. When we are walking down the street, young people sometimes notice us.

Tell me about your recording session in L.A.

Recording was started the first of April 1996, for two months in Los Angeles. The producers were the Robb brothers. We wanted to make a real band sound with the new album, and the Robb brothers supported our hope very well. We could make a nice drums-and-guitar sound.

Is there a change of musical direction for Shonen Knife on the new album?

Even if our ability of playing music instruments or ability of songwriting progressed, our punk spirits are forever!

How much time do you spend on your computer? What do you use it for?

I spend about one hour a day on my computer. I check my email, and I do computer game. But I'm very busy recently so I don't have enough time to do computer. I have a plan to start our own Web site, but I have not much time for it.

Last time we spoke, your favorite computer game was Jewel Box. What computer game do you currently enjoy?

I still play Jewel Box if I have spare time. Other than Jewel Box, I like Shanghai, Gomoku and Packman.

When will there be a Shonen Knife Web page?

MCA Victor [Japan] will start their Web page, and there will be Shonen Knife's page in it. It will start very soon--maybe from the middle of April. And we will start our own Web page from June. As soon as we come back home from long American tour, we will start.

What bands are you currently listening to?

I'm currently listening to the second album of The Presidents of the U.S.A.; I Should Coco by Supergrass; Machine Head by Deep Purple; Show World by Redd Kross; Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers.

If you could tour with any three groups from any era, whom would you pick?

Deep Purple (the second period), Angel, Kiss. 'Cos I like these bands' sound and stage. That's all. Thank you! Lots of love, Naoko Yamano (Shonen Knife)

Glyph! Glyph!

For the lucky fans going to the TAFKAP show at the San Jose State University Event Center on Saturday (April 12), remember not to call out "Prince! Prince!" if you want to see an encore. Reports are that he doesn't respond to that name anymore--the more you chant, the more he'll chill backstage with Mayte. Some intrepid New York City fans switched it up by singing "I Would Die 4 U" after the last song, and he came out and did a FAT, extended encore. Pass it on.

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From the April 10-16, 1997 issue of Metro

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