Based in Buffalo, New York, Good Charamel Records is probably not where you would think to look for emerging Japanese musicians. Founded by Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac with wife Miyoko Hayakawa, the independent record label is currently home to Shonen Knife, Pinky Doodle Poodle, The Molice, and DJ Sashimi. Beyond releasing music for its artists, Good Charamel takes a further step as an artist-friendly entity in helping its roster record music — as generally done at the Takac-owned GCR Audio in Buffalo — and get on the road.
On behalf of the Inquisitr, I had the pleasure of speaking to most of the Good Charamel roster via e-mail; DJ Sashimi was not immediately available for Q&A. While some responses came across a bit “lost in translation,” enthusiasm for all of the participating artists was strong. And, yes, that is the same Shonen Knife that hit the road with Nirvana in the early 1990s.
What do you remember about the first gig you ever played in the U.S.? Where was it?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: It was in August 1989 at “2nd Coming” in Downtown Los Angeles. We played only one show with Tater Totz.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: That was the Music Is Art Festival gig on September 6, 2012. The stage was set up just beside the famous Italian restaurant in Buffalo, New York called Chef’s. They blocked the road off and made the stage.
Rinko, The Molice: It was the Music is Art Festival where we played the first gig in the U.S. I remember hard raining, two stages, a Goo Goo Dolls show and fireworks there.
Yuzuru, The Molice: I remember it rained heavily in Buffalo. The festival was held outdoors.
Paro, The Molice: It rained all day heavily at Music Is Art 2015. But I was really impressed by Goo Goo Dolls show there. It was an amazing show!
What was the most shocking thing for you on your first U.S. tour? What took a lot of getting used to?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: It was not shocking but fantastic — people were very friendly to us. I couldn’t speak English very well at that time but through music, we could communicate with people. After we started a long tour, driving hours every day was very long. It was shocking.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: The cactuses in Arizona were much bigger than we expected.
Rinko, The Molice: Everyone can speak English very well! It took lots of getting used to play a guitar in hard rain…
Yuzuru, The Molice: What was shocking thing is the VERY HUGE pizza! And it took lots of getting used to driving on the right side in the U.S. — we drive on the left in Japan.
Paro, The Molice: I repeat: The most shocking thing is that it was pouring hard rain at Music Is Art! I can get used to anything. The U.S. style is no problem for me.
【THE MOLICE LIVE PHOTO!!!】
2017.6.20(fri) shimokitazawa Rokudemonai Yoru!!
(photo by Koretsune) pic.twitter.com/uDG08aikgs
— MOLICE VOICE (@MOLICE_VOICE) June 28, 2017
On your upcoming U.S. tour, is there a destination or venue that you are most excited to check out?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: I played in Las Vegas in this May for the first time. I’ve been there for vacation for a few times but I had no chance to play there until then. I was happy to play in front of a great audience. I also enjoyed the casinos. I’d like to visit there again. For your information, this is my blog post from Las Vegas: http://www.shonenknife.net/blog/archives/25490.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: We are looking forward to all destinations and venues!
Rinko, The Molice: We will play an area around New York City on our upcoming U.S. tour. This tour is actually our first one, so I am really excited to play at all venues in the New York City area. I want to understand their breathing, feeling, and sensitivity from the experiences. When we played at the Music Is Art festival last year, we could really feel the response from Buffalo’s audience. So I look forward to playing at venues of Buffalo, too.
Yuzuru, The Molice: I am excited to play all venues! I look forward to feeling the response from the audiences in the U.S.
Paro, The Molice: I am so excited to be able to play in New York City! And in Buffalo’s venues, too!
What can you tell me about your new music?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: Our latest album is titled Adventure. It was inspired by 60’s and 70’s rock and hard rock and includes various fun songs. I’m sure that everybody who listened it can be happy.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: We are going to launch out the new EP titled Poodle Boogie this summer. All of the songs were made this year and are way groovy. We think everybody will jump and dance when they hear our new songs!
— PINKY DOODLE POODLE (@PDP_JP) June 16, 2017
Rinko, The Molice: I have to say…The Molice’s music is among the most remarkable music on Earth. Our new album Sign will be released this autumn and is the first album with this lineup! So you can feel Signs has lots of energy and new energy.
Yuzuru, The Molice: Our new music is full of our energy and love! I look forward you to being happy with our new music.
Paro, The Molice: We made the new album to showcase our believing songs, playing and originality. We are Japanese, but we really want to play on a global stage including the U.S. — I want the audience of the U.S. to listen to our music soon!
How did you first meet Robby Takac?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: I was invited to join the recording for Good Charamel Records’ band The Juliet Dagger in 2006. I did backing vocals and played the guitar. It was recorded in Osaka, Japan. Since then we have had a good relationship each other but I did not see him until August 12, 2007. I finally met him at a music festival, Summer Sonic 2007, in Osaka when the Goo Goo Dolls played there. He is a big star but a friendly and talented person.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: Robby sent a message to us. That was the beginning of it. After we got his message, he came to Japan. And then we met him in Shinjyuku.
Rinko, The Molice: His voice is too beautiful, a low tone voice. It’s soothing!
Yuzuru, The Molice: He is a kind, gentle, tender, considerable and thoughtful guy, just as I expected.
Paro, The Molice: I couldn’t believe the real Robby was standing before my eyes, because I often listened to songs of the Goo Goo Dolls when I was younger…
Have you ever recorded at Robby’s studio? What do you think of Buffalo?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: We recorded Osaka Ramones album at Robby’s studio released in 2011. His studio is splendid. The sound system is perfect. Since we started to work with Good Charamel Records, we have a show in Buffalo every time. Now I feel like home when I’m in Buffalo. There are beautiful old buildings and good restaurants there.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: Yes! All our albums were recorded at GCR Audio. This is our favorite studio. We also like to visit Buffalo even though we have not been in winter season. We think Buffalo is a very beautiful city, especially in the summer season, with its nice weather, many greens etc. In addition, the people in Buffalo are very kind and sweet!
Rinko, The Molice: We recorded at Robby’s studio in 2015 and 2016. And we will record this year, too. I feel we can understand each other from the first recording. We connect easily! And I appreciate all their help and support. I feel like Buffalo is my second home.
Yuzuru, The Molice: I am really lucky to record in such wonderful surroundings! I love Buffalo. It feels like a beautiful town that I have watched in movies when I was a child.
Paro, The Molice: It is a really great studio! I always feel great energy there. And I love Buffalo. The town is calm. People are so kind…I love them!
— GoodCharamelRecords (@goodcharamel) June 6, 2017
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: I play tennis. I have tennis lessons once per a week and play with my friends, too. I also like to play puzzle games on my tablet.
Pinky Doodle Poodle: We like to spend our free time with Lucy. Lucy is a poodle and chihuahua crossbreed of dog.
Rinko, The Molice: Coffee time -> imagination time -> excited time -> flying to space!
Yuzuru, The Molice: Reading books, writing essays, and taking a walk.
Paro, The Molice: Taking a walk while listening to my favorite songs. Communing with nature.
What’s the best Japanese restaurant you have ever experienced in the United States?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: It’s difficult to choose one but I recently went to Sanuki No Sato and Sen Nari Sushi in Gardena, California. Both of them are good.
— Atsuko (@SK_Atsuko) June 3, 2017
Pinky Doodle Poodle: We would like to say Taisho Bistro in Buffalo. This restaurant serves good Japanese food.
Rinko, The Molice: I ate sushi called American Dream. When I went to the restaurant again, I ordered it again…
Yuzuru, The Molice: I’ve never gone to a Japanese restaurant in the U.S…
Paro, The Molice: Sushi rolls!
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Naoko Yamano, Shonen Knife: Eat well, sleep well and listen to Shonen Knife!
Pinky Doodle Poodle: Please come down to our gigs! We are happy if you listen to our music and feel good.
Rinko, The Molice: I want you to come to our gigs. The Molice loves the music as you love. We’ve been influenced by a lot of music but are making THE MOLICE music! I really look forward to seeing you.
Yuzuru, The Molice: I am so excited to be playing in the U.S. I’m looking forward to lots of meeting new people through music!
Paro, The Molice: I really want to go to the U.S. soon! And I will tour all over America soon! See you soon!
[Featured Image by Miyoko Hayakawa]