Inside the Skronking, Wacky World of Melt-Banana

Categories: Interviews

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"I wanted to name the album using a word that was cute and started with 'F,'" says screeching vocalist Yako about the impetus behind fetch, the first album from legendary Japanese noise-makers Melt-Banana in six years. That happy-go-lucky vernacular is no shocker considering Yako and guitarist/partner-in-crime Agata have spread skronk-happy, bubble-gum punkazoid glossiness over 10-plus records and 20 years.

See also: Zs' Sam Hillmer on Hating Skronk, and the Possibility of Disappearing Completely

Melt-Banana playSaint Vitus Friday. The show is sold out.

While Japan's burning hotbed of sundry musics has blessed us with Boredoms, Zeni Geva, Merzbow, Ruins, Boris and Acid Mothers Temple, it's been Melt-Banana's noisy funhouse inciting the pogo riots with a face-ripping splattering of grindcore, prog and metallic insanity. The recently dropped fetch is pure fire-breathing avant-noise trippiness topped by Yako's piercing yelps and skronktastic blasts set to stop-start whiplash rhythms and propelled by sick bass grooves and animalistic drums.

In 2011, it came to a sudden halt when Japan suffered the devastating earthquake in Tōhoku and the repercussions that followed. The pair could barely summon the energy to complete what would ultimately be fetch as they dealt with the aftermath of the calamity. But an epiphany occurred when Melt-Banana toured the States and played ATP: they felt renewed and returned to Japan to finish fetch.

Now the noise-rock legends have hit the road after a lengthy absence. We chatted with Yako and Agata via email to catch up.

Where were you and what were you doing when the Tòhoku earthquake hit?
Yako: I was at home getting ready to go out to see the Melvins' show in Tokyo. The area where I live didn't get much damage but the kitchen in Agata's flat was totally messed up. He said everything on the shelves fell over and the floor was totally covered in debris.

How did the event affect your mindset?
Yako: After that earthquake, I feel that something has been changed permanently in my mind. It is difficult to explain exactly what, though.

Were you working on fetch when the earthquake hit?
Agata: We already had the demos done in early 2011 and we were about to start the real recording. But after the earthquake I could not concentrate on writing music and recording for some time for reasons I couldn't explain.

fetch is Melt-Banana's first album in six years. How is this one different from previous Melt-Banana records? The songs are definitely way longer.
Yako: I feel that what we do is always the same. I mean, we always do what we want to do and write what we want to hear at that time.

Both of you have been doing Melt-Banana for almost 20 years. How did you two meet originally? What records or bands were you listening to back then that influenced you in Melt-Banana?
Yako: We attended the same university. I got a lot of inspiration from the compilation album, No New York. When I listened to it, I was really shocked; this album made me start to think that I wanted to make music which was unique and immediately identifiable.

Melt-Banana is one of the best band names ever. How did you think of it?
Yako: You think so??? I am very happy to hear that! We wanted a catchy name.

Location Info

Saint Vitus Bar

1120 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant

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