JRR: You’ve been touring the United States in support of your latest album “Super Group.” How many cities do you visit on tour?
Naoko: Thirty cities on this tour. Fun Fun Fun Fest if our twentieth show so we have ten shows to go after this.
JRR: Has your fan base changed over the years and do you have a lot of new fans?
Naoko: Yes. The children of our older fans listen now.
JRR: What do you miss most when you are on tour?
Naoko: Japanese food.
JRR: What do you eat when you are on tour here in the States?
Naoko: Hamburgers or pizza.
JRR: When you started your music was influenced by early punk bands?
Naoko: Yes, especially late seventies punk bands like Ramones and The Buzzcocks.
JRR: You played very simple medleys when you began and to some extent you still do now. Do you still like the short songs best?
Naoko: Yeah, I like punk music so I want people to be happy through our music. If the music is too complicated, it doesn’t stay in people’s mind. We play simple music that goes directly to people’s minds and stays with them.
JRR: You are famous for your colorful clothing. Who is coming up with your outfits now?
Naoko: Etsuko designed our current costumes and her aunt made them.
JRR: Do you have a lot of costumes with you?
Naoko: Yes, we have a lot of costumes. When we started my sister Atsuko, our former bassist, designed our outfits. Now we still use the same kinds of bright colors and geometric shapes she started.
JRR: Many of your videos have a child-like quality but aren’t for children. Who is your primary audience now?
Naoko: From little children to older people. Shonen Knife has been around over 27 years so many people, our original fans, have grown up and have had kids. Now the sons and daughters of our original fans are listening to our music. We have a lot of various kinds of fans.
JRR: How does it feel being female in the rock scene? Is that harder?
Naoko: I think so, I think sometimes it’s easier being female and touring with male bands because many of those guys will help us out and carry our things and be good partners.
JRR: During your long career you’ve acquired a lot of influences. Is there anyone that cites you as an influence?
Naoko: I think so. Many bands have been impressed by Shonen Knife.
JRR: Do you have families back home that you miss when you are on tour and do you see them often when you go back home?
Naoko: Yes, my family always goes with me when I tour in Japan but here is too far from Japan.
JRR: Is your sister Atsuko, who started Shonen Knife with you, still involved with the band at all?
Naoko: Just for this tour my younger sister, the original bassist and former member, joined us for our show in Los Angeles. She is living in Los Angeles now. She left the band because she had to move to Los Angeles but for this tour she joined us from Los Angeles and traveled with us in California.
JRR: Are there any bands that you listen to now?
Naoko: I listen to seventies American music and seventies British heavy metal music.
JRR: There are pictures of you wearing a Motorhead t-shirt. Are they an influence?
Naoko: Yeah, yeah. I like Motorhead, Judas Priest, and Kiss a lot.
JRR: What is in your car stereo or on your iPod?
Naoko: Limp Bizkit
JRR: Shonen Knife has been playing 27 years. How long do you think you will continue to enjoy touring?
Naoko: My entire life.
JRR: When you started, touring with Nirvana this was one of your big breaks in the States. You’ve toured with a lot of bands since then. Do you still keep in touch with any of the American bands you have toured with?
Naoko: Yes, we tour with many American bands so I try to keep in touch with them.
JRR: You just got a new American label, Good Charamel Records. How is the distribution in America going?
Naoko: It is going well.
JRR: Are they promoting you well, are you getting many sales in America?
Naoko: Yes, and also we have other deals in other countries. Recently many people buy CDs through the Internet or by downloading it mainstream. Our albums are available on iTunes for download.
JRR: Is there any message in your music beyond that fun and how it reaches your mind?
Naoko: Yes, I just want people that listen to our music to get happy through our music.
JRR: Are you having as much fun now as when you started playing back in 1981?
Naoko: Yes, so it’s “Fun fun fun”.
JRR: Will you come back to Austin some time?
Naoko: Yes, next year if possible.
JRR: Do you have a message for your fans?
Naoko: Please listen to our latest album, Super Group. Let’s Rock!
Interview by: Haleigh W.
Photos by: Hans W.
Edited by: Kia