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Asobi Seksu - Interview

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 16 / 6 / 2007

Asobi Seksu - Interview


New York based band Asobi Sejsu have recently signed tgo One Little Inidan to release their second album, 'Citrus'. Chris O' Toole talks to the distortion-friendly rockers about drinking, gambling and music

It has been a turbulent ride for Asobi Seksu. Having toured America, broken up and reformed with a different line up the New New York City-based band has flourished in their native land, but struggled to find a deal in Britain. Now, with the release of both their self-titled debut and their second album, the superior ‘Citrus’, secured, surviving members, vocalist Yuki Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna, sat down before a gig at the Water Rat's in London to talk to Pennyblackmusic about drinking, gambling and occasionally some music. PB : Good afternoon. What beer is that you’re drinking? YC|: John Smiths. Everywhere we go I try and get a little bit of local flavoor. Better than some terrible American beers! Although I do enjoy some of them, Budweiser for example. JH : Do you have ‘Sparks’ here? That’s a good American beer. It’s like Red Bull and beer in a bottle. Really strong beer. PB : No, I have never seen that. Sounds like a promising product though; I’ll look out for it. All we get over here is Miller, which is rubbish, same as Budweiser. YC : We have low standards! There are some others though, Old Milwaukee, Coors. They have these gold cans of Coors. PB : Is that like the Tennents Super of America? YC : Yeah, it’s the ghetto beer, for homeless people. Like Old English, Country Club, Midnight Dragon. JH : Steel Reserve is another good one. I went through a pretty serious phase of drinking that. Night Flight as well. Came with a picture of a Stealth bomber on the front. It was horrible, seriously, had this metallic taste. You drink it and wake up the next day under a table. No matter how much you drink you’ll get wasted. A forty ounce of that and it’s all over. You're throwing up. Smells like rotting vegetables. PB : Sounds like Diamond White, cider mixed with white wine, or Diamond Blood, cider and red wine. JH : Yeah, that’s the stuff, really high quality. PB : Sorry, yeah, I do have questions as well; this is not all I wanted to talk about. I am the consummate professional; I was going to ask you about My Bloody Valentine. JH : Well, stick with this; this is the headline, ‘Asobi Seksu Alcoholics’, you should just write that. We are all addicted to beer. It’s all we can talk about. PB : What is the worst sick you have been on beer? JH : Well, there was this one time I passed out on the floor and somebody stole my shoes. There was a chance they were just in another room, but I am pretty sure somebody stole those from me. I never found out who did it. I woke up and was like "where the ---- are my shoes ?” YC : Our drummer passed out holding a cigarette; it was lit, like he was trying to burn down the house or something. He claims it never happened. But it definitely did. He was just laying there passed out crumpled over a desk. PB : Lucky you didn’t burn the place down. Any accidents on the tour bus? YC : Nothing, we are staying in hotels so it’s fine. The glamorous Woodside Park in north London. It is like the Chelsea Hotel in New York. That good! PB : Where have you been so far on this tour? JH : Brighton, Nottingham, Glasgow and now London. We played the Sussex Arts Club in Brighton. That’s a real nice place, small and lounge-y. The Social in Nottingham as well. You can get real nice kebabs round there, just round the corner. Seriously, you want to check those out. PB : You have to go to Berlin for a real kebab. That’s where they were invented. I was there last year, amazing stuff. JH : Sounds good. We have had some bad stuff as well; we had the worst falafel ever the other night. Although we got some good Indian as well, Bangladeshi. Actually that was good. PB : Yeah, makes sense. British food is now just bastardized versions of other countries' talents. This is what we think it should taste like. YC : We have been trying to absorb the culture. We did a pub quiz last night. We came in sixth! Loads of English stuff, topical, that we didn’t know. Politics and television. We just had no idea. Everybody was screaming out the wrong answers. It seems mainly to be about this programmw called 'The Banana Splits'. PB : Sorry, I never heard of that! YC : No, nor had we. Kind of like the Monkees, but for kids, apparently. We watched a little of it on YouTube and it's crazy. Dogs dressed like people driving around in this big fire truck. It has a good theme tune as well. All the questions were like that, but we got one about Gadaffi though. Turns out to be our specialist subject. PB : How many questions did you get about him? YC : Oh just the one. It wasn’t like, ‘What is the name of Cornel Gadaffi’s second cousin ?" JH : Do you actually have any questions? PB : I have a whole list of them here. For instance, do you get bored of being compared to My Bloody Valentine? YC : No, not at all. We met Kevin Shields the other night! He offered me a joint! He was hanging out in a bar, watching the Clientele. We know his manager so he introduced us, and he knew our work, so that was amazing. That validates it a lot. That was cool. PB : So he is a direct influence on your band? JH : Yeah, it’s a direct influence, but there are a lot of others as well. PD : From what I have read about you guys my guess would be the Shangri-La’s. Do you like them? YC: Oh yeah, we love those guys! PB : What happened on the other tour? What happened to the other band? YC : We broke up! Mainly because we all hated each other! When you go on your first tour, its always going to be rough! It was a six week tour around the US. It’s real tough to tour the US as well. All the cities are so far apart, and it’s a huge country. Six hours from one show to the next. You wake up and drive six hours and then you sound check, play and barely have time to eat, and then do it all over again. That in itself is difficult to get through and when you are stupid and young and you don’t really know what your doing and you have nobody there to help you, working for you, it's really nearly impossible. PB : When was this? YC : About three years ago. Unless you can communicate really well with each other it ends in disaster. Unfortunately nobody wanted to communicate on that tour, so there you go! JH : That was a much more diplomatic answer than I would have given. In comparison though this country is a walk in the park, a life of luxury. Everybody is real nice, awesome. PB : Even the promoters and club managers? I met Blonde Redhead the other week and they actually hated English people. They thought we were rude and horrible. They said it was one of the reasons they never come to this country. YC : Yeah, we heard some bad reviews, but we have found it real nice. Some people said it was real nasty here, but we just haven’t had that. PB : Chris Zane, (Producer of ‘Citrus’), what did he add to your band? Did you choose him for a specific reason? JH : He only did the second album. He has worked with Ambulance Ltd, Les Savy Fav and Halla. We love all those bands. He is really talented, has a lot of good ideas. Not a yes man, which I would say is probably the best thing about him. PB : Is he like a Steve Albini, trying to put a certain style on your band? YC : No, not like that at all. He wants to understand what you want to do. Get to know it objectively and then help you out. We recorded the album in about three weeks. We had no money, but it made us super focused. We didn’t have time for some ideas but there will always be a second album. PB : Why did it take so long to get the albums released over here? Was that a conscience decision? I got ‘Citrus’ to review last year. YC : It took a while for some labels to get interested over here and iron out the deals. Yeah, we released it in America then, so that must have been the American copy you had. PB : I also read that you play drums, Yuki? YC : Yeah, but not to well. Not on that album. I am ambidextrous from playing piano for some many years and I miss that real physical side of it. When you play the piano you play with your whole body. I get that same satisfaction from the drums. JH : Don’t listen to her! She is a real good drummer, hits them so hard! Like a train hitting you. Sometimes she hits them and buckles the cymbals. PB : Yeah, I read Dave Grohl never used microphones for his drums with Nirvana. Just hit them so hard he didn’t need to. JH : Yeah, I saw him on Saturday Night Live and I was just blown away! PB : What do you think are you major strengths as a band, and do you think there is a reason why you are finding popularity now? Your work is not typical of the current climate, so can you explain your success? YC : Well, our major strength is gambling. We love gambling. I guess our strength is that we have always stuck to our guns. We have come up with a sound and stuck to it. We decided we were going to be different. I am Japanese, I sing in Japanese. I think that is one of out strengths and we have been lucky that a few people have caught on. PDM: ‘In Between Days’ that was my last question? How did you get on that soundtrack? YC: Oh, they just came to our show said they liked our music and could they use it, and we just agreed. Very simple. Who knew that it was going to be accepted to the Sundance Film Festival and that we were going to fly over there and hang out. Now we are good friends and hang out. Good fun. PB : Thank you.

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Asobi Seksu - Interview

Asobi Seksu - Interview

Asobi Seksu - Interview

Asobi Seksu - Interview

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