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January 12, 2011 8:38 AM   Subscribe

This year, Shonen Knife turns 30 years old. Despite their start in the early 80s, it wasn't until grunge acts such as Nirvana (who invited them to tour with them in 1991) that the band would gain greater attention in North America. Their carreer has seen its share of ups and down, including the death of drummer Mana "China" Nishiura in 2005, but they continue to rock - especially live - even when writing a song for the Power Puff Girls.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (32 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
They continue to rock their one song… At least it's a pretty good song. I just can't imagine wanting more of their albums than Let's Knife.
posted by klangklangston at 8:52 AM on January 12, 2011

I eat chocobars
every day two bars per day

They are so fun live.
posted by ifjuly at 8:53 AM on January 12, 2011

And not to jump all over your FPP, Marissa, but one of the things I like most about Shonen Knife is how they opened the door for bands like Supersnazz (who got signed to Subpop pretty much as a Knife knockoff, and their Superstupid album is really a lot more trebly and Knife-y than their MySpace), The, Bo-Peep and Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her.
posted by klangklangston at 9:05 AM on January 12, 2011

Next thing you'll tell me is The Boredoms are 30. Im so old.
posted by xmutex at 9:10 AM on January 12, 2011

Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them predates Nirvana's callout by a few years. It's not by Shonen Knife - it's a bunch of bands covering Shonen Knife. So don't hunt it down if you want a good Shonen Knife album. But love it for the giant robo cover art and for using Death of Samantha to cover Shonen Knife's tribute song to Redd Kross, leaving Redd Kross to cover Kappa Ex.

See, even in the eighties, the hipsters were into things before things was cool.
posted by ardgedee at 9:13 AM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think "Rock Animals" is a better album than "Let's Knife" and speaking of that... Anyone wanna, umm... PM me here so I can, maybe find out how to get ahold of such an illgotten good? (my old cassette tape of it got destroyed in a flood years ago). KTHXBAI
posted by symbioid at 9:23 AM on January 12, 2011

I discovered them in the early-'90s doing a college radio show, but I introduced them to everyone in the movie theater with me when I unintentionally shouted "Hey! Shonen Knife!" upon seeing the movie Blade the first time.
posted by quin at 9:23 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I remember buying my first Shonen Knife album because of a negative review dismissing them as "silly bubblegum punk pop", which sounded like I something I needed to hear.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:30 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

They are great.
posted by oddman at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I saw them earlier this year in Vancouver, and frankly I kinda like some of their newer stuff despite how people tend to do the "their old stuff was so much better" thing. Giant Kitty, Perfect Freedom, and Capybara are all great newer songs.
posted by Hoopo at 9:45 AM on January 12, 2011

Crazy the drummer died on I-95 in Delaware, familiar ground. Maybe it should be tradition to listen to Shonen Knife passing through Delaware (last about 1 song).
posted by stbalbach at 9:47 AM on January 12, 2011

I've never heard them, but I know of them. There was a popular windows web proxy called Proxomitron. It was distributed not as freeware, but as "Shonenware". If you liked the software and continued to use it, you were expected to go buy a Shonen Knife album.
posted by CaseyB at 9:49 AM on January 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

See, even in the eighties, the hipsters were into things before things was cool.
posted by ardgedee at 9:13 AM on January 12 [3 favorites +] [!]

Hey - I was into Pink Lady before they got cool! Am I hipster? Or just a delusional middled aged gay guy?
posted by helmutdog at 10:00 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was in college radio and wet behind the ears, around about 1992, we had a vast vinyl library that people liked to write on the labels. So you had things like "This sucks goat penis" and the like. On Shonen Knife's "Let's Knife", someone had written in really big letters


So, natch, we played it. And it didn't ruin our show! It was great! Anyway, that's the first I ever heard of Shonen Knife.
posted by the dief at 10:02 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pedant's corner, but that song about the PowerPuff Girls is actually a song about a PowerPuff Girl - Buttercup. It's part of a triptych on Heroes and Villains, a surprisingly good PowerPuff Girls concept album.

Which is relevant because Shonen Knife have an aesthetic which you can see, watered down and cleaned up, in things like Puffy Amiyumi's title song for Teen Titans Go! and of course the advert for Fruity Oaty Bar in Serenity - which I assumed at first was by Shonen Knife, when I saw it in the cinema, due to a cognitive splice with Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner. Maybe it's just that the animators of McCracken and Tartakovsky's generation not only watched Robotech and read Shonen Jump in the late 80s and early 90s but also listened to Shonen Knife, and then the generation after that watched a lot of Tartakovsky and McCracken. i think they're more influential than their near-total absence from the charts indicates.

/Waits for more knowledgeable sources to identify the thousands of links in the chain.
posted by DNye at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

30 years? Holy cow...remember the late '80s, when everyone was screaming at the Rolling Stones to hang it up? They'd only been together for 25 years or so at that point. Leaving aside for the moment the issue of whether they should or shouldn't have called it a day*, their continued existence seems to have raised the bar in terms of a rock band's "acceptable" lifespan.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:15 AM on January 12, 2011

They're great. I first heard them via their song "Space Christmas," which was included on a CD of alternative-rock Xmas music.

Their cover of "Top of the World" is the best EVAR!
posted by Gelatin at 10:54 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I interviewed them in Toronto for my university newspaper back in the day. They were really nice. They've got a pretty nice cottage industry going.
posted by dobie at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2011

The best part about Shonen Knife shows is the fact that I'm a foot taller than anyone else there.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:23 AM on January 12, 2011

This post makes me happy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:27 AM on January 12, 2011

Bear up, bison -- never say die!
posted by trip and a half at 11:29 AM on January 12, 2011

I am a cat.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:38 AM on January 12, 2011

I don't wanna get up so early in the morning, I wanna sleep all day...
posted by AJaffe at 12:35 PM on January 12, 2011

I was never totally crazy about them, but I still remember hearing Kurt Cobain squeeing about them on some radio show. And they, the Boredoms, and Pizzicato Five were the first 90s Japanese music that I ever heard. (Even late-night college radio in Fayetteville, Arkansas, played the Boredoms.)
posted by wintersweet at 2:10 PM on January 12, 2011

Next thing you'll tell me is The Boredoms are 30. Im so old.

Tell me.

Shonen Knife is not only old enough to to drink, but to have gotten married, had kids, divorced, and start to hang around the local bar trying to relive its glory years.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:46 PM on January 12, 2011

"Twist Barbie" was one of my oldest son's (now 21) favorite songs. I put it on a mix tape along with "Colonel Hathi's March" (The Jungle Book). He also used to shake his blonde locks and say "Kurt does this!" and "James Brown says 'Ahhh!'" (Teen Spirit and Cold Sweat)

More money for musical education, please.
posted by emhutchinson at 4:37 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love their version of Top of the World. Shonen Knife make me happy.
posted by arcticseal at 5:42 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I first heard about Shonen knife in a girl-friendly indy comic anthology called Action Girl, in a story by Elizabeth Watasin. It made me curious enough to seek them out, and I ended up with about five of their albums. Fun stuff, the opposite of typical idol singers, and a wonderful antidote to the grimness of the grunge scene.
posted by happyroach at 6:38 PM on January 12, 2011

Dance Hall Crashers put in a callout to Shonen Knife in "So Sue Us" in 1995 which may have been the first time I had heard of them. In fact, the lyric is
I could probably dig up some old Shonen Knife
which I guess is true, since the band had already been around for more than 10 year at that point.
posted by cabingirl at 7:29 PM on January 12, 2011

I heard them way, way back. Probably before they toured with Nirvana. A friend gave me a mix tape of a bunch of punk (TSOL, SNFU, Crucifux, Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers) with one Shonen Knife song. I wish I could remember what song it was.

A few years later I bought a Shonen Knife album on idea where that got to. It's not with my collection of Clash cassettes :)
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 8:19 PM on January 12, 2011

happyroach: The one where A-Girl falls asleep on the train, gets sick and then dreams about meeting Shonen Knife? Or am I misremembering?
posted by DNye at 6:13 AM on January 13, 2011

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