Here’s an interview with Supersnazz I dug up somewhere… Loft to be exact. Considering the ch-ch-ch-changes the band is going through, I thought it was apropos. It was done right after Invisible Party came out in 2003 (I thinks) and I’ll (prob’ly) post a review of IP I found for my next post.
Supersnazz is a band Japan is proud to claim for its own. They’ve just released their second album after undergoing a member change that rendered them 2:2 in terms of gender ratio. This release shows the new lineup growing even tighter and will surely secure the band’s place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I talked to them about the new album and their high-energy live shows. (Interview by Jin Nakamura)
──It’s been two years since your last release. We did an interview when the last record came out and it just happened to be on 9/11, after which you guys went on a US tour. I have to assume that was a little bit weird?
SPIKE Actually, it was pretty much like always.
SHOE Yeah, because it was a West Coast tour.
TOMOKO People there were saying things like,
“It must be hard for everybody in New York.”
SPIKE If it was a big event where people were flying in from all over, I’m sure there would’ve been more talk about it but not at the little local rock clubs where we were playing.
──Last year, you guys toured Australia and South Korea. I hear there’s a pretty kickass punk scene in South Korea. How was it?
TOMOKO There’s definitely a lot going on there, but not at the place where we went. The food was really good though.
SPIKE Because we were playing places like Live House Rolling Stone with bands that were like, I dunno, characters from Kinnikuman playing in Dragon Ash or something like that. There was a lot of mixture rock.*
──Kinnikuman playing in Dragon Ash!? What kind of band are you talking about?
SHOE On the way to go eat yakiniku we ran into some punk kids with spiky hair. That’s the kind of band we should’ve played with.
──How about Australia?
SPIKE Australia was good.
TOMOKO Australia was probably where we felt most at home of any place we’ve played so far.
──As far as culture, Australia is in the cultural sphere of the UK, right?
SHOE Yeah it is but the food is fresher and tastier, more the kind of thing Japanese people like. UK food sucks.
SPIKE It’s like they have better taste there.
TOMOKO The meat was really good!
──Did you eat kangaroo?
TOMOKO Yeah. We were like, “Kangaroos are so cute,” and then that night we were eating them.
MARKY Food is important when it comes to touring.
──Yeah, you’ve talked about nothing but food. What about the crowds or the clubs or something else?
TOMOKO That’s because food is the fuel for everything else.
──This is your second album with the current lineup. How was the recording?
SPIKE I think it’s tighter than the first one.
TOMOKO With the album before this one, there were some songs left over from before. In some way it was like a continuation of the previous lineup. This album was different. The four of us started worked out all of the songs together from scratch.
──All of the songs were written after the lineup change?
TOMOKO You could say that, but it was more like all the songs were written a week before recording (laughs).
SHOE Yeah, we put on the finishing touches the day before (laughs).
──You had two years. Why did you cut it so close?
TOMOKO Well, that’s like saying you’ve got two months of summer vacation, so why do you wait until the last minute to finish your homework?
SHOE The recording dates were set about a half-year before but there were lots of hassles and things to do and stuff.
──First, you set up the recording and then you start writing new songs?
SPIKE We left the battery charging too long so it starts to go crazy.
TOMOKO Spike and Marky went and charged up in India.
──You went to India?
SPIKE Yeah, just for vacation though. (laughs)
──So, you go to India to recharge and get a little bit of ethnic influence…
TOMOKO No, there’s no ethnic influence at all. They didn’t even get within a mile of a sitar.
──I feel like this record has more mid-tempo songs than anything you’ve done up till now.
SPIKE That’s because we’re getting old (laughs).
TOMOKO It has kind of a grown-up feel (laughs). No, we didn’t plan it that way but it’s much easier physically, especially for this guy (indicates Shoe).
──You need strength to play fast songs.
MARKY Actually I think it’s the opposite. Slow tempo songs are harder to play.
SPIKE Because they’re not running on pure energy.
SHOE They’re physically easier but mentally harder. I’ve hardly ever played tempos like this.
──It’s probably because of the new lineup getting tighter that you can play songs like this. Isn’t it hard to bring songs into the studio that you just wrote days before?
SHOE It was a bit of a struggle.
SPIKE It all turned out well in the end, so I’m happy.
MARKY For a guitarist or bassist, changing the speed doesn’t make a huge difference, but for the drummer I think it does.
SHOE When you slow down the drums, it becomes kind of hard rock. I hadn’t done much drumming like that so I had to think a lot about what to play or not play.
──Sometimes if you slow it down it can get a little dull and lifeless.
SHOE Right, so even slowing it down, I wanted to make sure there was plenty of energy there.
──Yeah, if you compare old rock and punk to what you hear today, it has a slower tempo but you can still feel the energy. I feel like the new album has that going.
TOMOKO That’s what we were going for so I’m glad to hear you say that. I feel like we really managed to write some good songs this time around. If they’re too fast and crazy you can lose the melody, so we wanted to pay more attention to the melodies this time. We wanted to bring the tempos down instead of weakening the songs, give it a feeling that was heavy but lively.
──Heavy but lively? Well, you slowed the down the tempos but the songs definitely don’t drag. The slower tempos give them more of a pop feeling.
SPIKE We often say we’ll be pop for life.
SHOE There definitely has to be melody. I don’t know, it just so happened that this album’s tempos are slow. Maybe the next album will be all fast songs again.
TOMOKO Yeah, like ten songs in twenty minutes.
──Sure. Bands sometimes make a departure.
MARKY The songs were good when we played them in the studio, but it’s tough to get them across live.
SPIKE Yeah, but we got a good response from them when we played them live.
SHOE We did. I want to play them more in our live sets.
MARKY I hope we can pull them off better live and I’d really like to practice them more, but these three…
──He’s telling you all you’d better shape up! (laughs)
SHOE Yeah right… I said that when I joined the band too (laughs)
TOMOKO For me, it’s not good to practice too much or do things too perfectly.
SHOE Today is the first time we’ve seen each other in a while.
──You don’t really practice that much? I thought you guys usually practiced once or twice a week or something like that.
SPIKE There was a time… (laughs)
MARKY (laughs) Lately I’ve started thinking yeah, maybe that’s good enough.
──You gradually come around.
TOMOKO Okay, let’s keep adding new members to kick my ass about practicing.
──Okay, a last word from everybody please.
TOMOKO If you love rock and roll, buy this album!
SPIKE It’s the best we’ve done so far so please buy it.
MARKY We worked hard on it so please give it a listen.
SHOE We’re heading out on tour so if we hit your town, come and hang out!