JaME caught up with all-girls group noodles before their live in Seattle.
Female indie rock group noodles kindly met with JaME before their live in Seattle to discuss their 20th anniversary while beating the unseasonably afternoon heat.
Hello, can you start by introducing yourselves?
Yoko: I’m Yoko, the vocalist.
Ikuno: I’m Ikuno, the bassist.
Ayumi: My name is Ayumi, on drums.
Welcome back to the States, and to Seattle. Are you enjoying yourselves so far?
Yoko: Yes, we’re very excited to be here.
Please tell us a story. How did noodles begin?
Yoko: We used to worked together at a part-time job and then decided to start a band.
How does the name "noodles" apply to your music? Does the name have any particular meaning?
Yoko: There isn't really a meaning to it. (laughs)
On the tenth of last month, you released a new single titled We Are noodles From Sentimental to celebrate your 20th anniversary. Congratulations! How else will you be celebrating?
Yoko: We will hold a special anniversary concert for our fans.
Currently, you are touring with the pillows on the UTATANE TOUR 2011. How has that gone so far? Have you had the chance to sightsee as you travel across the parts of the US?
Yoko: We’ve been together for a long time, and so have the pillows, so we usually perform together. So far, it’s been really fun to perform for our fans, and in front of the pillows' fans. Yes, we’ve done some shopping. (laughs)
Often, you tour Japan or parts of the US alongside the pillows and your music is released under Yamanaka’s label, Delicious. Does this close bond between the pillows and noodles strengthen each other musically?
Yoko: Yes, it does. We can learn from them.
When you lived in Yokohama and noodles was in its early days, both of you enjoyed Western music. What artists did you enjoy?
Yoko: The Pixies. We all liked the The Pixies.
Twenty years later, have your tastes remained the same or have they changed? If so, whose music do you enjoy listening to now?
Yoko: Even now, we still like The Pixies. (laughs) I liked going to their lives.
Do you remember playing your first live, back in 1991? What was it like?
Yoko: Our first live... (laughs) I remember it. (laughs) We used to do some... reckless things then. We weren't afraid of anything because we didn't know anything, and so we were confident without any reasons. Through those twenty years, we experienced many things and those things made us stronger and more confident.
What kind of reckless things would you do?
Yoko: (laughs) Sometimes we didn’t put in as much effort as we should have; we didn’t know a lot of things about the music industry at the time, so we were a little reckless. But now, we’ve learned a lot and have changed.
Some of your song titles are rather abstract, like Lemon Grass Foo Foo, Kitty South and Cover Me, Shakespeare and are very memorable. What makes a memorable song title, in your opinion?
Ikuno: I like to include a famous name in the title and that will make the title more memorable.
Being an all-girls group, do you feel powerful in an industry filled mostly with men? Do those same emotions shine through your music and lyrics?
Yoko: Of course there is that feeling, with an industry full of men, especially with rock bands, but we never really cared.
In previous interviews, you’ve been known to say that you don’t intend to "crack the mainstream." What exactly did you mean by that and how do you ensure you remain that way?
Yoko: Well, even though mainstream is more popular, we don’t want to do that. We just want to stay the same, and keep making more music the same way we have been.
How do noodles maintain a balance between a sound that is indie but not mainstream, and still pleases fans? Is there a certain technique in your songwriting that might allow for both indie and mainstream to exist?
Yoko: We just want to make more and more music, but we don’t try and make music for a certain audience. We just make music.
Let’s talk about the future. Although you recently came out with the album Explorer around this time last year, are there plans in for a new release in the next few years?
Yoko: Yes, we plan to release something new next year in summer.
On this new album, are there any ideas or new techniques you might try out?
Yoko: We definitely want to try new techniques, but what we are currently doing is we'd like to improve on a little. Something we’d like to work on are [techniques with] the melody.
In the last three to five years, an increasing number of Japanese bands have been performing in Europe. Would you consider playing in Europe?
Lastly, a lighter question: what games did you play as a child, growing up?
Yoko: Playing with dolls with my sister. (laughs)
Ikuno: (laughs) Me too, I played with dolls with my sister. (laughs)
Yoko: Oh, my sister and I liked to mimic songs, like cover them. We’d mimic artists, anime, anything, try to cover their songs and record them. (laughs)
JaME would like to thank noodles and their management, Bad Music Group and interpreter Miho Oishi for making this interview possible.