JrockRevolution.com had a chance to talk to Melt Banana at the FUN FUN FUN FEST in Austin, Texas.
Why did you name your band Melt Banana?
Yasuko Onuki: When we first thought about a band name we wanted to have some catchy name like a pop name so I was talking with [guitarist] Ichirou Agata and he said "Well pop is banana like Andy Warhol pop art. Well then lets put ‘melt’ in front of it."
Before you decided to start a band had you been playing instruments or did you just want to start a band?
Yasuko Onuki: When I was a kid I was learning how to play marimba but that’s all. I hadn’t learned how to play guitar. I just wanted to do something and music was very close to me.
What are your musical influences?
Yasuko Onuki: It is difficult to pick one or two. When we started to make music we listened to a compilation called "Know New York." I was so shocked and realized I wanted to make something unique.
Who do you have in your car stereo?
Yasuko Onuki: Today we were listening to the Secret Chiefs.
Your sound is more experimental. Does playing punk and experimental give you a different audience?
Yasuko Onuki: Yes, that’s right.
How long is your current tour?
Yasuko Onuki: Eight weeks.
What city are you looking forward to most?
Yasuko Onuki: This [Fun Fun Fun Fest 2009] is our first festival in the United States so we are looking forward to seeing the festival and visiting Austin.
Was this one of your biggest shows?
Yasuko Onuki: Two years ago we toured with Tool and that was bigger but this was a big audience.
How do you see your music evolving in the future?
Yasuko Onuki: We want to try more different things. Usually we just make music. We don’t think much about what to make before we make it.
Do you just create what sounds right?
Yasuko Onuki: We just always want to make something new. So it should be something new.
Why is it more affordable to tour in the United States?
Yasuko Onuki: Because in Japan highways are very expensive. They have a lot of tolls which cost a lot. We drove 700 miles from Tokyo to Osaka and it was $130 one way just to drive there. In the U.S. it’s much cheaper because of the lack of tolls. We rent a van when we tour here and do our own driving.
I saw where you are playing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia. It looks like you are playing in a lot of college towns. Is there a reason you chose these smaller towns?
Yasuko Onuki: We like to play to that sort of audience.
I understand that you have a new album that just came out.
Yasuko Onuki: It’s called Melt-Banana Lite Live Ver 0.0 and it came out on November 3rd.
Is the album available at your shows and on the internet?
Yasuko Onuki: Yes!
What is the difference between Melt Banana and Melt Banana Lite?
Yasuko Onuki: Melt Banana Lite is a different format. As a band we started to feel like we wanted to try other things and that we did not want to be stuck on the same band format. We decided to use the samplers and the synthesizers instead of guitars. It is a different face of Melt Banana.
Do you think that the different format makes the music more accessible?
Yasuko Onuki: It’s more like the opposite.
When you’re not out touring, what do you do?
Yasuko Onuki: At home I like surfing on the net and playing video games. When I’m not doing that I’m making music.
Do you have any other projects besides Melt Banana?
Yasuko Onuki: We did the song "Hair-Cat (Cause the Wolf Is a Cat!)" for Perfect Hair Forever on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim but there aren’t any other projects like that coming up.
Do you see yourself as an inspiration for other girls getting into the music industry in Japan?
Yasuko Onuki: That would be nice.
Does it give you more opportunities as a woman in Japan?
Yasuko Onuki: I am not sure. In Japan many girls play music so for me it is not a ‘more’ thing.
Does your heavier sound show girls that they can do that sort of sound too?
Yasuko Onuki: In Japan we play with some bands who have female singers. There are many bands where girls play that are hardcore bands. It’s not limited anymore.
Do you have any advice for any other Japanese bands that come over to the U.S.?
Yasuko Onuki: They really just need to tour. At first it can be hard to book the shows and it can be hard for them to drive around by themselves but if their music is good then they will get a good audience here in America. If the band wants to do something like this then they just need to start.
Do you have fun?
Yasuko Onuki: Yeah yeah!
Do you have a message for Melt Banana fans?
Yasuko Onuki:We want people to listen and if they are depressed we want them to listen to our music and get energy.
Interview by: Haleigh W.
Photography by: Hans W.
Edited by: Ali W.
Special thanks to Melt Banana for the opportunity!