A contribution by Charles van Vessem (Aniway)
People who enjoy Japanese music have been spoiled with many concerts in 2001. Fortunately I could meet and interview the group MELT-BANANA, also called Mx Bx. Their music sounds like loud and totally unrefined rock and is also called ‘Noise’. All of their instruments, including voice, are being misused till just before their breaking point. Even though their music sounds quite spontaneous I think Mx Bx had more headaches creating it then us just listening to it. All in all it’s well worth your time.
MELT-BANANA’s members are more one with their instruments than I’m used to with other bands. Singer Yako appears to let her voice sing on it’s own. Even though in English, the lyrics are very basic so we’re close to that what matters. AGATA doesn’t use his guitar quite according to the manual. The sound he makes often has little melody or other things that don’t matter. Like a Chinese musicologist said after his first western classical concert: ‘The beginning was interesting…’. Later it was found out he actually meant the tuning of the instruments. ‘People who know about music’ say ‘You have to open yourself’ to listen to music like MELT-BANANA’s. Off course this is nonsense. You should find out for yourself what music you like. So when you see an Mx Bx album somewhere you’d better take a listen. And a concert of theirs is really not to be missed….don’t forget to bring earplugs though.
MELT-BANANA’s concert was one in the ‘TEENY SHINY’ tour. Fortunately the neighbours didn’t mind about the noise produced by Mx Bx. Waterfront in Rotterdam is strategically positioned under the road leading to the Willems-bridge. Because Mx Bx prefers to spend it’s time making good music than creating image the performance was little more than revolving light effects and smoke and such. The music was really good though and my entrance fee of € 7,- well spent. Before the show I, with a smile on my face and AniWay #6 in my backpack, stepped up to somebody of Waterfront’s organisation. When I told him that I’d liked to do an interview with Mx Bx I was brought to a small room where a chair was already waiting for me. I introduced myself, gave guitarist AGATA AniWay #6 said I’d like to do an interview with them. He took the magazine and immediately recognised the front-page…just as all the other things in it. Next he introduced me to Yako, who would give all the answers. We exchanged email addresses and the results can be found below.
Q1 First of all please introduce Melt Banana's members to us?
Q2 Please can you tell us something about Melt Banana's founding days?
In 1993 MELT-BANANA became a band. First just only 3 of us, yako, agata and rika, and then after a few months one drummer joined. Playing shows in Tokyo, we had a chance to play with K.K.Null from Zenigeva, and he offered us to put out album on his label, and he set up recording album in Chicago with Steve. This is how the band really started as a band and started go abroad.
Q3 On your homepage there is word about 'the concept of behind the music'. Please tell us something more about that?
Q4 Some years ago you released your album 'Cactuses come in the flocks' a.k.a. 'Chipfarm' on Hoppy Kamiyama's God Mountain label. Since 'his' eX-Girl was featured in AniWay some time ago, please tell us something about the co-operation with him / his label.
Chipfarm is a collaboration album of MELT-BANANA and Zeena Parkins and Elliott Sharp and Optical 8, and it was a kind of one shot album. So working with God Mountain is only that. By the way, Cactuses come in the flocks is on A-ZAP. It was fun to collaborate with them. Elliott brought tracks with rythm and some samples, and we added some materials with them in studio. Their equipments were strange and cool!!
Q5 Lately Japanese bands are using more and more English in their music. In Holland most people prefer the original language, damn that we don't understand it! Why does Melt Banana sing in English?
Once I was singing in Japanese, but I found out that English fits more to my singing style than Japanese. So I decided to change to using English. So for me, what language I use depends on how I sing. there are many bands who use Japanese and also there are some bands who use other language besides Japanese and English, for example, I know a Japanese band who use Spanish, and also another band is using Italian. Possibly in the future I change to some other language when I feel I need to.
Q6 Obviously Melt Banana is not mainstream 'J-Pop'. Please tell us, what is your relation toward J-Pop?
Another world. J-Pop is for Karaoke. I like Karaoke, though. So J-pop is kind of commercial thing. Most of all J-Pop is shitty. Very very rarely there are good music, also, though. But mostly trash.
Q7 In recent years Japanese music has gained a lot of interest abroad because of the internet. Please tell us how you feel about mp3?
Useful tool. But hope it won't suck our sales market.
Q8 Since your third album is named 'Charlie' and my name is Charles, I wonder ... why was it named thus?
When we were recording Charlie, I saw a movie called "Charlie". (not Charles Chaplin movie!) This is movie from a novel called Flowers to Aljanon (I don't know English name, sorry! It is a story about one retarded guy. One doctor gave him some surgical operation, and cured his brain and he became like a genius, but it was just temporary cure they found.... blablabla... It is a very famous novel.), and I liked it very much, and it gave me some effects to me. So I decided to name the album Charlie.
Q9 Now that you've done some concerts in Holland, maybe you can say something about how the Dutch audience compares to the Japanese?
First of all, we enjoyed playing a lot. And actually I don't see much difference between Dutch audience and Japanese audience. In Japan what kind of audience we get depends on what kind of show it is. When we play with punk or hard core/fast core bands, audience mosh, dive and jumping around. and when we play with alternative bands audience is much more like watching. In Holland audience are mixed up, I feel. Some punk people were dancing around, and some people were watching us play straight smiling, etc. all in one floor. Mostly audience seemed like they were enjoying smiling, so it was good! ^O^
Q10 And finally here's your chance to add something. Maybe a message for AniWay's Readers?
Hope to see you soon!!