As a member of Japanese noise-rock veterans Melt-Banana, Ichirou Agata has been befuddling audiences all over the world for some 20 years. The guitarist and songwriter, who usually wears a surgical mask on stage, spoke to BK ahead of their show at SOL Space on April 6.
It’s been a few years since you last released new material; are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes, we are working on a new album. We are planning to release it during this year.
For someone who isn’t familiar with your work, how would you describe Melt-Banana’s music?
It sounds like “gagagagakyakyakyagogagaga!”
What’s the weirdest thing anybody has ever said about your sound?
Some people did not notice that there was no drummer on stage.
The crowds at your shows are renowned for being pretty wild; what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen from the stage?
Dogs were running around in Holland, some kids kept doing backflips from the stage in Italy. These are the things that come across my mind right now.
What’s the strangest or most frightening experience you’ve had while on tour?
We hit a deer in the USA and our van broke down. We were afraid of canceling the tour, but many people helped us to keep going, so it was a great experience in the end.
How do you write your lyrics? To some people they might seem nonsensical, but what are you attempting to say?
When I write lyrics, I look up an English dictionary and pick out words that sound interesting to me and have neat pronunciation. And starting with these words, I use my imagination. I don’t think there are strong messages in my lyrics like some political bands’ songs. But there is some meaning at least if the lyrics are made up with words. Maybe some people see, and maybe for some people it is nonsense. I guess it is up to the people who read them.
What can you tell us about Melt-Banana Lite? Do you ever still perform under this guise?
We don’t use guitar or bass, but low-end noise and air synth which is electric equipment like the theremin. If we get an offer to play shows as Melt-Banana Lite, we do it.
In Bangkok you will be playing in a small, intimate art gallery/live venue that can only fit about 150 people; what type of venue do you prefer to play?
Once we played in a very small locked up barn, and we liked it. And we also enjoyed playing in a big arena when we opened for Tool. Actually we don’t mind the size of the venue or number of people. If we have a good enough sound system, we can play a show.