BLURTING WITH… Shonen Knife

In which Blurt
corresponds with the cutest band, ever.

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

Yes, they are the
cutest band ever – Shonen Knife will never escape this image. Not that the
world’s foremost Japanese all-girl punk trio cares; cute is what they aim for.
Plus, for every adorable “awwwww” moment in their songs about candy, cake and
kitties, there’s a ferocious guitar riff and backbeat to temper, and nearly eclipse,
any perceived timidity. We caught up with singer-guitarist Naoko Yamano via email to explore this phenomenon,
and of course we couldn’t help but focus on their endearing girlishness. And
like we thought, Naoko didn’t mind a bit.

 

***

 

BLURT: Pop quiz!
Write one verse of a song about a kitty, a hula hoop, and a werewolf. Go!

 

NAOKO: Big, big, big cat

 

How would you feel
about Shonen Knife action figures? Or plush/stuffed dolls? What traits and
accessories would you like your figure/doll to have?

 

 If our action figures
would be sold, it must be fantastic. I’ve ever got a stuffed dolls of me from
our fans. It’s fun. But I won’t wear any accessories of my figure…

 

One of the things
American fans love about Shonen Knife is the childlike imagery, perhaps because
it puts us back in touch with our own favorite things from childhood-not to
mention our lost innocence. You’re now 50 years old, and you don’t look
anywhere close to that age! Have you discovered the fountain of youth?

 

 At first… I’m not 50
years old. I’m 120 years old. Getting aged is not bad thing, though. I’m trying
to keep myself fresh and play tennis…

 

If there were really
such an object as a “shonen knife,” what would it be like:

a)      a dagger

b)     a samurai sword

c)      something used to spread strawberry jelly

d)     all of the above

 

 I think it would be a
rusty giant pencil knife.

 

If Shonen Knife hit
the big time-the crazy, big money, ultra-fame big time:

 

a)      Who would you rather do your sell-out Grammy/MTV
VMAs collaboration with?

 

 

 KISS.

 

b)     What is the craziest thing you would buy?

 

 I won’t buy any crazy thing but I like to
have private tennis courts and hire a good coach.

 

c)      Who would you destroy?

 

 I won’t destroy
anything…

 

 

Which do you prefer:
the original Karate Kid or the
remake?

 

 I’ve never seen Karate Kid. Is it a cartoon?

 

Which do you prefer:
kitties, dogs, fish or hamsters?

 

 I like kitties the
best. I’ve ever had kitties.

 

Are you familiar with
the TV show Ace of Cakes? If they
were to design a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Cake” based on the song from your new album Free Time, what would you like them to
do?

 

 I don’t know Ace of Cakes. We have a lot of delicious
rolled cake in my town Osaka at sweets shops. Rolled cakes are in fashion. I’d
like you to eat them. My rock n’ roll cake is like that.

 

Who is your favorite
superhero and why? If a rocker like Lemmy was a superhero, how would you like
to see him portrayed in a comic book? What would be his main super power? If
you were his sidekick, what name would you take and what would you choose for
your power?

 

 My super hero is
Rafael Nadal, a Spanish pro-tennis player. He can beat evil person with his
spin balls. Super spin.

 

What do you think of
the old cartoons/kids’ shows where the heroes are rock bands (talking Banana Splits, Josie & the Pussycats, The
Bugaloos
, Jem and the Holograms)?
If there was a Shonen Knife cartoon, what would you like the first episode to
be about?

 

 I like such kind of
cartoons a lot. When I was a child, I often see them on TV. First episode would
be how Shonen Knife was formed.

 

Isn’t “Economic
Crisis” a serious topic for Shonen Knife? What inspired you to write the tune?

 

 Yes, it’s serious
because Yen is too strong. We are touring North America and if we got dollar,
exchange rate is very bad. I inspired by daily news.

 

Is there a dark side
to Shonen Knife? Is there just a *little* evil lurking in the SK universe? Do
you at least like horror films? If yes, are you familiar with the Guinea Pig
films? If so, have you seen them and how did you react? I saw them, and they
freaked me out.

 

 I’m always evil. I
don’t know it. I prefer happy films. If I watch such horror films, I can’t
sleep at night.

 

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