Since the early ’90s, Tokyo’s Melt-Banana has been the squalling gold standard when it comes to the blistering belligerence of Noise Rock. Vocalist Yasuko Onuki (Yako in the short form) assembled her first band, Mizu, while studying at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 1991. The band morphed into Melt-Banana the following year. Since then, Melt-Banana (Onuki, guitarist Ichirou Agata, bassist Rika Hamamoto and nearly a dozen guest drummers; currently Takiya Terada hold down the throne) has turned out 10 albums and a couple dozen EPs worth of frenetic and unhinged Punk. The band’s core influences have remained intact, while its eclectic experiences have broadened its inspirations.
“We were playing with so-called Alternative, Noise, and Avant-Garde bands, so we were influenced by Zeni Geva, Ruins, Merzbow, Incapacitants, Yoshihide Otomo and many others,” Yako says via e-mail. “We’ve also played with Hardcore, Punk, Grind, Metal, Hip Hop and Electronic bands.
We play festivals and see almost every kind of music there and we’re influenced by that.”
The quartet will soon record the follow up to 2007’s Bambi’s Dilemma; this tour will feature a handful of new and so far untitled songs. It’s been two years since Melt-Banana’s last American tour and Yako is quick to acknowledge how much they anticipate American shows.
“The U.S.A. is a big country and there are so many places to play!” she cyberly exclaims. “It’s fun to see people who love music and enjoy Melt-Banana.”
After so many years and recordings, Melt-Banana’s biggest tour decision is structuring its set list, which ultimately comes down to taste and intuition.
“We put songs we like to play and new songs into the set list,” Yako says. “And we noticed that we’ve played this song ‘Rrrag!’ at almost all shows so far, so we decided to play this song every show.”
For the uninitiated, Yako offers a simple incentive to the hesitant.“If you like music, and if you want to hear and see something new, you should check out Melt-Banana,” she says. “Just come to the show to find out. Seeing is believing.”
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