Where are Shonen Knife From and Who are they?
What kind of music do they play?
What bands do they like?
What label are they on?
How old are they?
Are they married?
Will they marry me?
But SPIN said they were housewives!
What are their day jobs?
Who designs their costumes?
When did they start playing?
Why do they sound so much better on "Let's Knife!"?
Which one is the cutest?
Does anyone else think they're sexy?
Do they have boyfriends?
When are they playing in my city?
When is the new album coming out?
Why can't I find their more obscure albums?
Why isn't Knife Collectors sending me stuff anymore?
Can I write to them? What's the address?
Have they ever made a video?
What guitars/bass/drums do they play?
Should I play Yamaha guitars and drums too?
Have they ever toured with Nirvana or played Lollapalooza?
Why do Sonic Youth, Redd Kross, and Nirvana all love Shonen Knife?
Are Shonen Knife as innocent in real life as they seem on their records?
What is their best album?
Are there any other Web Sites?
Are you tired of typing yet?



**********Unofficial FAQ on Shonen Knife**********
*****by Brian McKenzie*****
***Version 2.0, January 24, 1997***
A Brief Explanation...
Hi. After a year, I thought it was about time to update the Shonen Knife FAQ. I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner, especially since I've known that alot of this information was out of date for months. I have conclusive answers now to some of the questions we all love to ask, like are they married. I'm also going to add some more questions that people have asked, and questions that I happened to think of. Hopefully this update will be accompanied by a new version of the Shonen Knife Freaks' Home Page.
If you want to ask me something that isn't on here, just chat, etc etc please email me at:

b-mckenzie@uchicago.edu
mckenzie@mo.net (I check this address less frequently)

I answer my mail daily unless I'm out of town or my account is suspended temporarily.

Although I feel I know as much as anyone I've met about the band, I don't claim to know everything about them, because I've never met them. I have read everything printed about them almost religiously for the past four years, if I could get my hands on it. I have talked to many other Shonen Knife fans over the years, and heard alot of things, some of which are true, some of which aren't. Much of the corrected information in this FAQ came from a short email conversation with a source who is a close personal friend of the band. I vaguely recall promising not to reveal who this person is, so I won't. I'm very confident that the information he gave me was correct. If you think I'm really screwed up on a certain issue, please take it up with me and we'll work it out. I don't claim to be the last word on Shonen Knife by any means. Oh yeah. This file is Copyright 1997 by Brian McKenzie and please ask permission before you use it anywhere else. This information is intended to be free, therefore don't sell it!

On with the show...

Q: Where are Shonen Knife from and who are they?
A: They're an all-girl band from Osaka, Japan. Noako Yamano is the lead singer who plays guitar. Michie Nakatani is the other lead singer (she sings slightly less often than Naoko) who plays bass. Atsuko Yamano sings backup, plays drums, and designs their stage outfits.

Q: What kind of music do they play?
A: Different people call it different things. Their style seems heavily influenced by the Ramones, The Beach Boys (or any early 60's West Coast surf band), and on Rock Animals L7. They like to describe themselves as "super-eccentric-pop-punk-cult-band-shonen-knife!". That's pretty close, I'd say. :)

Q: What bands do they like?
A: The Beatles, The Supremes, Redd Kross, White Flag, Sonic Youth, XTC, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, and probably millions of others. Those names keep popping up though.

Q: What label are they on?
A: MCA-Victor in Japan, Big Deal Records in the USA. They've just recently been signed to Big Deal. They have previously been on Rockville, Giant, Sub Pop, and Gasatanka Records, as well as a couple others I don't remember offhand. And some Japanese labels like Zero Records.

Q: How old are they?
A: No one is 100% sure, as they have never revealed it in anything I've read. A friend of mine said she saw an article in YM, which said they were 24, 26, and 28 years old. That was in 1994, so it's safe to assume, if that was correct, that they are now 26 (Atsuko), 28 (Michie), and the big 3-0 (Naoko). But remember that was from YM. It probably doesn't mean anything. Mamiko Nagawa sent me some pics of them from back in the summer of 96', and they look they're probably in their early thirties.

Q: Are they married?
A: Shonen Knife have rarely or never discussed this in the music press or online, so out of courtesy to them and by request of a few friends (theirs and mine) I won't say anything about their marital status. If you really want to know, you can find out. Besides, I've found and been told alot of conflicting information. I'm not exactly sure myself.

Q: What about that book on Alternative Music put out by SPIN? It said that they were bored housewives! Why would they say that?
A: Because SPIN is apparently staffed by morons. If they think Atsuko Yamano was married at the age of thirteen, when Naoko was seventeen, they probably think Jimi Hendrix was white. I suspect that they're just culturally prejudiced freaks who don't bother to come up with real facts.

Q: What were/are their day jobs?<BR> A: They have been "office ladies" (a common female job in Japan) for extra cash, and Atsuko is a fashion designer. They just quit their day jobs in April of 1995, so the band hasn't been a full-time thing for very long.

Q: Who designs those spiffy stage costumes?
A: Atsuko.

Q: When did they start playing?
A: They formed the band in December, 1981, and played their first show in March of 1982. They were very young then, and their early recordings show it.

Q: But they sound great on "Let's Knife"! How did they get so much better?
A: I suspect it's the quality of the recording (major label). They probably got better instruments with the money from Virgin, too. Music has not always been a full-time thing for Shonen Knife. You can tell on records like "Shonen Knife" that their instruments and recordings were really bargain-basement. I mean not even 4-track quality. They _do_ play in tune, though. :)

Q: Which one of them is the cutest?
A: You have asked the hardest question of all, little one. Atsuko has nice eyes.....:)

Q: Am I the only one in the universe who thinks they're the sexiest band alive? Do they have boyfriends?
A: See the question about marriage. I'll give you a hint. None of us would put all this effort into making web pages, publicizing tours, etc., if we only liked SK's nice music. :) But we rarely admit it. I don't know much about their love lives, but I seriously doubt that it includes backstage flings with people like you (or me) so don't bother to ask.

Q: When are Shonen Knife playing in my (medium-size) city?
A: Shonen Knife usually play only very big cities, because they know they have a fan base there. If you live in LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Chicago, New York, or Boston, you have a good chance of seeing them live. It is possible that they might put on a larger-scale tour sometime in the future, and come to medium-sized cities, too.

Q: Shonen Knife seem long overdue, by their standards, for a new album. When is it coming out?
A: Brand New Knife has been out in Japan for six months or so, and it'll be out in the U.S. in a matter of weeks. I have it, and I can unequivocally say that it's their best effort since 712 and therefore worth the wait.

Q: I keep hearing about all these different Shonen Knife albums, like "Brown Mushrooms", "The Birds and the B-Sides", and "Do the Knife". Why can't I get them at a record store?
A: SK have released a very large number of albums and EP's in the USA, Japan, and Europe. Many of these are country-specific, and have different song orders and artwork. For instance, I once saw a European version of "Let's Knife" with only 15 songs (instead of the usual 17), and a different color cover for sale at a used/import record shop in Silver Spring, Maryland. Just remember that you don't need to buy all these albums, as the songs are simply duplicated, unless you're a major SK freak. I buy almost anything Shonen Knife that I see, but I passed up the previously mentioned CD because I had the same thing at home, and this one cost thirty dollars! The Birds & The B-Sides is their last Virgin release. It's very similar to the XTC Fossil Fuel collection in that Virgin got the rights to put it out when SK got out of their contract. I strongly reccomend Birds & The B-Sides. Nobody should miss the "Top of the World" cover.

Q: I joined the Knife Collectors (the SK fan club mentioned on the liners of several albums). I got the 4-track CD and the first newsletter, but nothing has come from them in the last two years. What is going on?
A: The Knife Collectors was set up partly by Virgin Records, which turned out to be a problem when the band left that label. One person has told me they called him (after he bothered them for a long time) and they said they were backlogged. I think we shouldn't expect anything else from them, and be happy we even got the CD. A guy I know said they told him they would sell him the CD and the newsletter for seventeen dollars.

Q: Can I write to Shonen Knife? What's their address?
A: You can write them at this address:

Shonen Knife
c/o Zero Communications
1-4-2 Gently Bldg. 4F
Yariyamachi,
Chuo-Ku, Osaka 540
Japan

They will get what you send, and they have been known to reply by postcard before.

Q: Have Shonen Knife ever made a music video?
A: Yes, but it only made it as far as Beavis and Butt-Head before MTV stopped playing it. That was the video for "Tomato Head". There is also a video of "Brown Mushrooms". You may be able to buy these somewhere, I don't know. Some people have live videos, but I've never seen one. I'm supposed to be getting one soon.

Q: What guitars/bass/drums do they play?
A: In the last pictures I saw of them, Naoko was playing a contemporary (not vintage) Rickenbacker (sp?) through an unidentified Fender amp. Michie was playing a Yamaha bass with a smiley-face sticker on it, and Atsuko was playing dark green Yamaha drums. In the acoustic show, Naoko and Atsuko had Ovation acoustic guitars, and Michie had a bass that looked like a Yamaha.

Q: Does this mean that I should play Yamaha guitars and drums?
A: Yes. You should also know that if you buy the right shoes you will be able to jump like Michael Jordan.

Q: Have they ever toured with a really big band like Nirvana or been on a major tour like Lollapalooza?
A: Yes, they have both toured with Nirvana and played at a couple of Lollapalooza stops in 1994.

Q: Why do all these high-profile bands like Sonic Youth (they've been on the Simpsons, for God's sake!), Nirvana, and Redd Kross like Shonen Knife so much?
A: I think it has something to do with the fact that Shonen Knife is cool.

Q: Are they as innocent in person as they seem on their records?
A: The answer to that question seems to be an emphatic "Yes!" according to everyone I know who has met them. They do seem a much more complex when someone who knows what they're doing translates them from Japanese, like in the Alles interview. I suspect that they're very intelligent people, behind those cute Japanese accents.

Q: What is their best album?
A: 712. But that's just my opinion, and I'm sure alot of people would disagree. 712 takes awhile to get used to, but once you learn to appreciate it you realize what a work of subtle genius it is. Let's Knife and Brand New Knife are also very very good. I'm not especially big on Rock Animals, but it has its bright moments. Birds & The B- Sides is good, in that it has better-recorded versions of some old classics.

Q: Are there other Shonen Knife Web Sites?
A: Yes, lots and lots. I won't list them all here. I will, however, put links to as many as I can find on my updated page. GWiz also has a library of links to everything he can find. Go and look at GWiz's LA Shonen Knife Nexxus...it's good. And GWiz is my friend. :)

Q: Are you tired of typing yet?
A: No, but I can't think of any other questions I've been asked. Please come up with some more and e-mail them to me!

*****END OF UNOFFICIAL SHONEN KNIFE FAQ FILE*****

Copyright © 1995-97 Brian K. McKenzie

b-mckenzie@uchicago.edu
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