Daikon Shredding Rock and Roll – An Interview with Onoching

Here’s an interview with the legend himself, Onoching, of the Jet Boys and Onanie Machine>. His proudest achievement? None… His plans for the future? None… His definition of punk rock? Dunno… His current band mates? Not really sure… and for most of the interview, he’s not kidding. The interview is from his website and f I can do simple addition and subtraction (I can’t), the interview is from 2009 or so…

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――What were the original Jet Boys like?

We were really just a regular cover band. Well, I guess we still are, but whatever.

――When was that?

It was quite a while ago. I was 21 or 22.

――Why did you decide you wanted to play music?

I don’t really feel like I play music. I mean, I’m not serious about it at all. I think I’m still working up to something. Yeah, that’s it, still kinda working on it. Wait a minute, that’s pretty sad, huh?

――In your 46 years of being alive, how many guitars have you touched?

Well, how many? Not so many really. Five or six maybe.

――When did you touch a guitar for the first time?

A long time ago. Seventh grade, probably.

――What was the first song you ever learned?

I don’t remember. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t remember… Yeah, totally can’t remember. I hit my head and now I don’t remember lots of stuff, for real. It’s bad, man, seriously.

――When was the first time you got onstage naked?

I don’t remember.

――How was it the first time?

At first I went onstage fully clothed just like anybody else but somewhere along the line that just kinda became my style… It was pretty early on.

――How does it feel being onstage naked?

It feels good, man. Right? It’s like, I don’t need anything at all, know what I mean? You’re going the full monty. I guess I like that.

――When I hear daikon, I think of Onoching.

That totally wasn’t planned either. I was just fucking around, not like trying to be outrageous or anything like that.

――About when did you first grate a daikon with your guitar strings onstage?

I don’t remember. I just kinda thought it’d be fun. I didn’t think I was gonna do it again. It was pretty much random, I guess.

――You mean, like, there just happened to be a daikon there, so…

Yeah, like somebody bought it at the supermarket and I was like, “are you gonna use that?”

――What musicians do you like?

All of them. Everybody. Lately I like Alfee. It’s so cool to see guys like that getting older but still rocking. Guys like Alfee, I dunno, they’re all good musicians. But it must be hard for them to do that.

――Sorry to change the subject, but where did the name Jet Boys come from?

I just took it from the New York Dolls song.

――Who’s playing in Jet Boys now?

Kodama and we’ve got somebody new on drums. His name’s Sekiguchi, Seki-chan. But I’ve only met him like two times so I guess I’m not on close enough terms to call him Sekichan.

――How did you meet the present members?

It was just random.

――Do you get along well with the other members?

No, we don’t get along at all.

――Do you have some ritual or something you do before a show?

I jerk off.

――What’s the best thing that’s come of playing in a band?

Nothing good has come of it. It’s tough, really tough.

――What do you think about your audience?

I don’t want to think about the audience so I make it a habit of not thinking about them.

――Is there anything you’d like to change about your voice?

I want to sing better. Ah, fuck that, it’s okay not to sing well. It’s better to have your own voice anyway.

――Who is a guitarist or vocalist you admire?

Hmm, I dunno. There’s nobody I admire anymore really. Like, in the end, all I can do is play like I play. I might suck or whatever. I wanna be more free. I guess that’s what punk is, being free and not giving a fuck. There’s no technique for doing that. It’s like, I have an image of what I wanna do but it never really takes shape. That’s the toughest thing, I guess. There are a lot of different things I wanna do but then I feel a little bit like, “nah, I shouldn’t do that” and kinda put on the breaks, and then I just do the same thing I’ve always done, but yeah, I want to try something different.

――You totally should. Everybody would love that.

Yeah? Really? Yeah, there’s this kind of pre-set way things are done, like fitting into a mold, when you’re recording and stuff like that. I really wanna do something totally off the wall.

――Do it!

Yeah, sure, whatever. Anybody can do something crazy and off the wall.

――No, really, everybody can’t do that. Usually people can’t do that but if you did that, they’d love it.

Yeah?

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――Have your parents, siblings or relatives in Aomori seen you play?

Family members came to see me before, once. It was my sister and her husband.

――What did they think?

After the show I went to find them and they’d left without a word. They haven’t spoken to me since so maybe they didn’t like it?

My folks haven’t come to see me play. There’s a rock club right next to their house actually. It’s right next door, you can walk to it. Seriously. I went by car all the way up to Aomori to play there. There they were, right next door to the club sleeping. Somebody from the club even came to get them when it was time for the show. They were like, “The show’s about to start, are you all gonna come?” but they didn’t. I hope someday I can play somewhere they can come see me. Y’know, I wanna be a good son and all that. They’re getting older and it’s harder to get up there and see them. They could kick the bucket at any time, y’know?

――When was the last time you went up to visit them?

I was up there recently for the Nebuta Festival.

――What does punk mean to you?

Jeez, I dunno. I don’t really know what it means. I’m not really that punk actually. I mean, I just had a random opportunity to play music. By “music” I mean, I had the opportunity to play in a band. Like, maybe pretty soon I’m gonna switch to playing blues. Oh yeah, but maybe it’s too hard for me, like I can’t play medium tempo or something like that. I wanna change to some other style, I really do.

――Will you keep playing guitar until the day you die?

If I can, I want to. But who knows, I might suddenly quit playing tomorrow. I got no idea.

――Tell me about a Jet Boys song or album you like.

There aren’t any.

――How about something you’re satisfied with?

Nothing, nothing, nothing. Really. Wow, that’s really bad, huh? Maybe the one after next will be good. I already gave up on the next one. The next one I’m working on now, it’s not that good at all. Maybe I’ll try harder on the one after that.

――Are Jet Boys lyrics based on real-life experience?

No, I can’t write lyrics at all. Really, I just stuff some words in there.

――Okay, so that means they’re not based on real-life experience?

They’re not. It’s all fake. Everybody’s got a message in their songs, y’know. Well, there’s nothing here at all. I mean, I’m not some kinda poet or something, so it’s tough. Songs just kinda become whatever they become. I play an A and then maybe a D, then find another chord or whatever that fits and then go kinda like ‘chaka-chaka’ and then hit the strings really hard and let them ring, and it’s like the melody or whatever just comes along. The songs I write aren’t anything important. But, someday I wanna write like a really good song, kinda leave something behind when I go, y’know?

――Don’t you have at least a good song or two?

Nope, none.

――How do you make your setlists?

There’s nothing to it. Just write down a bunch of songs and shrug and go, “It’ll do.”

――What’s the difference between Onoching up on stage and the everyday Onoching?

They’re pretty much the same I guess. Well, on stage there’s more dopamine and adrenalin going. I’m kinda freaking out up there. Before playing I’m so nervous I think I’m gonna puke. I mean like spew everything. Really, I’m nervous every time.

――What are your good points?

Good points? Really, there’s none. I guess like, it’d be good if I could get serious and make a good recording. As far as live shows, I don’t really wanna do them anymore. I’m tired. It’s hard to get the energy up like that every time. I’d like to play fewer live shows, like maybe decide how many per year or something like that. I wanna play for like 10 people. You know, it’s hard to put all of your energy into it every time. If I do this for another 20 years I’m definitely gonna get sick of it. If I could get famous and play at some huge place with all these people screaming my name, that’d be nice. But then I’d go the other way. Even if I was super famous, I’d only play with like high school bands. I’d get offers to play at Budokan or Tokyo Dome and turn them down, and then go play with a bunch of high school bands somewhere like 20000 Volts. That’d be cool.

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