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Ramen Rock: These Japanese Punk Legends Sing About Food

Shonen Knife performs during a Black Cat in Washington, D.C., on Apr 30. For over 35 years, a all-female contingent has been portion adult familiar punk songs with a tasty twist: Many are about a adore of food.

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Shonen Knife performs during a Black Cat in Washington, D.C., on Apr 30. For over 35 years, a all-female contingent has been portion adult familiar punk songs with a tasty twist: Many are about a adore of food.

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

By night, they play gigs. By day, they representation ramen in cities opposite America.

They’re a 3 women of Shonen Knife, a mythological stone rope from Japan. For over 35 years, a rope has been portion adult spreading punk songs with a tasty twist: Many of them are about food. Think strain titles like “Wasabi,” “Hot Chocolate” and “Sushi Bar.” But don’t boot them as bubblegum pop: Over a years, some of their biggest fans have enclosed giants of alt-rock music.

This spring, Shonen Knife embarked on a latest journey – a ramen stone debate of a U.S.

Why ramen? Well, ramen is unequivocally like Japanese essence food, says Daisuke Utagawa, a ramen restaurateur in Washington, D.C., and unaccepted envoy of Japanese food culture. “It’s substantially as critical as your pizza here.”

(Left to right) Risa, Naoko and Atsuko of a rope Shonen Knife eat ramen during Haikan in Washington, D.C., before personification a show. D.C. was one of their stops on a self-titled “Ramen Adventure Tour” of a U.S. By night, they play gigs. By day, they representation ramen in cities opposite a country.

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And a noodles are apropos all a fury in America. So, to foster a latest album, called Adventure, Shonen Knife is on what it calls a “Ramen Adventure Tour” of a U.S. we met adult with a rope during Haikan, one of Utagawa’s hip ramen restaurants.

The band’s line adult has altered over a years, though these days, it consists of drummer Risa Kawano and a dual initial members — guitarist Naoko Yamano and her sister, Atsuko Yamano, who plays drum guitar. Like Cher or Beyonce, all 3 ladies cite to go by initial names only.

For a interview, Risa, Naoko and Atsuko altered into their signature outfits: geometric-patterned dresses, designed by Atsuko, suggestive of a Mondrian painting.

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For a interview, Risa, Naoko and Atsuko altered into their signature outfits: geometric-patterned dresses, designed by Atsuko, suggestive of a Mondrian painting.

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Naoko is a many smooth in English and does many of a talking. we flog off by seeking a obvious: Why go on a ramen tour?

“Sushi is already really popular, though ramen is now function in America,” Naoko says.

And — oh yeah — they occur to have a hard-rock anthem called “Ramen Rock,” created for a former rope partner who had a robe of dining out on a noodles after personification shows. (Ramen is also a normal hangover food in Japan.)

Atsuko tucks into a play of ramen during Haikan.

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Naoko and Atsuko shaped Shonen Knife in 1981 in Osaka, Japan. They were desirous by cocktail punk bands like a Ramones. (In 2011, a rope expelled a reverence manuscript called Osaka Ramones.) These days, Naoko says, she’s some-more into “’70s tough stone music, like Judas Priest or Black Sabbath or infrequently KISS.”

Naoko has always been a front-woman. And from a really beginning, many of their songs have been about food. “When we started Shonen Knife, we was ashamed to write about love,” she explains.

Naoko says regretful love, a customary things of strain lyrics, was only too annoying to sing about. But adore of food was another story.

“I found that eating tasty food is a many critical thing for people,” she says. “It’s a kind of concept topic.”

So is dieting. Naoko — who is utterly petite — says a need to quell her adore of cookies desirous a song, “I Wanna Eat Cookies,” that facilities a noted refrain that many listeners can brand with: “I wanna eat tasty cookies …. as most as we wish to eat!”

By 1989, Shonen Knife’s catchy, witty songs had captivated some flattering big-name fans – including successful alternative-rock bands like Sonic Youth, Red Kross and L7, all of whom sang on a reverence manuscript to a organisation called Every Band Has A Shonen Knife Who Loves Them.

In 1991, Nirvana asked Shonen Knife to join them on tour. At a time, Naoko says, she’d never listened of Kurt Cobain and company, though their grunge demeanour gave her pause. “I was so frightened since their looking was really wild,” Naoko recalls.

That was only as Nirvana’s seminal manuscript Nevermind was floating up. But as Cobain told MTV News a integrate of years later, he was a one in astonishment of Shonen Knife, examination them perform night after night from a side of a stage. “I was an romantic corrupt a whole time. we cried each night,” pronounced Cobain, who frequently common his adore of a rope with interviewers.

Naoko leads a throng in a clapping kick during D.C.’s Black Cat, where a rope played to a packaged room.

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Unlike Nirvana, Shonen Knife never done it huge. But over a decades, a rope has remained a cult favorite. A integrate of hours after a ramen dinner, they took a theatre during D.C.’s Black Cat. And they kicked things off with a strain called “Banana Chips” … of course.

Shonen Knife’s latest U.S. debate wraps adult this weekend.