Melt-Banana: Grind-Pop From Beyond The Stars

MELT-BANANA

One of the most astonishing live bands on Earth. In fact, if somebody were to say to me, ‘is there any band that you believe is actually from another planet?’ I’d say, well, Melt-Banana. Has to be a good chance.” – John Peel

They’ve released seven albums and more splits than you can count, counted Kurt Cobain and Lou Reed amongst their many fans and played shows to pre-teens. They are Melt-Banana, and it’s safe to say that there are few more adventurous, unpredictable or just plain bonkers bands in the universe right now. Formed as Mizu by Tokyo native Yasuki Onuki in 1991 before changing to Melt-Banana (or MxBX, to those so inclined) following the inclusion of bassist Ichirou Agata and bassist Rika Hamamoto, they quickly stamped a mark for themselves with Speak Squeak Creak, a frenetic noise-punk assault that took the breakneck pace of grindcore and then compressed it into even smaller, more impossibly fast chunks. It was a spirit of inventiveness and reckless abandon for the rules of punk and pop that attracted the attention of the late John Peel, one of the great champions of their sound and one of the most vocal supporters of their unorthodox take on punk.

What followed this auspicious start was years of relentless recording and touring, putting out splits with Fantomas, Discordance Axis (with whom they briefly shared a drummer) and The Locust. By the time of 1997’s Steve Albini-produced Charlie, they were already working with the likes of Mr Bungle’s Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn, and it was the spark that prompted yet another evolution in their sound, toying with more conventional and noticeably longer song structures, smoothing out the barbs and razors but creating something even more ear-catching as a result. This new phase in Melt-Banana was solidified with Teeny-Shiny in 2003, its longer songs retaining Yasuko O’s whimsical lyrics and high-pitched yelps and staccato raps but framing them in what the band themselves called pop, albeit pop filtered through a vortex of caffeine, Saturday morning cartoons and avant-garde madness.

They continued to pump out albums and innumerable split EPs, many through their own A-Zap label, but in 2011 the band hit a hurdle when Eastern Japan was hit by a massive earthquake which devastated the region and left them struggling to pen new material. Still, they have persevered as always and in 2013 they released their most comprehensive work to date, Fetch – 12 songs that take everything you thought you knew about noise, punk and pop and smashes them together like super colliding particles. Since then they have operated both as Melt-Banana and as a two-piece as Melt-Banana Lite, utilising MIDI controllers and drum machines to replicate their staccato soundscapes while Agata carpet-bombs the stage with overdriven guitar lines, Onuki capturing the room through her affectionately energetic presence. No matter the line-up or stage, though, there’s one thing that audiences can be guaranteed of – they will never see a band like Melt-Banana anywhere else in this world, galaxy or universe.

Yesterday the band started their “TOUR MxBx 2017 – Area: SOUTH & EAST EUROPE” with a show at the Magasin 4 in Brussels. Check below the remaining 21 dates that will present one of the most original and outstanding live bands out there to the European audiences.

Sep 21 Lille, F Aeronef TICKET
Sep 22 Poitiers, F Les Playboy is more Cowboy Festival TICKET
Sep 23 Clermont-Ferrand, F Raymond Bar
Sep 24 Toulouse, F La Taquinn
Sep 25 Pau, F Ferronniere
Sep 27 Azkoita, ESP Matadero Ekintzak
Sep 28 Porto, PT Maus Hábitos TICKET
Sep 29 Lisboa, PT ZDB
Sep 30 Madrid, ESP Siroco / Villamanuela 2017 warm-up TICKET
Oct 01 Valencia, ESP La Carbonera
Oct 02 Barcelona, ESP 16 Toneladas
Oct 04 Paris, F Batofar
Oct 05 Lyon. F Grrrnd Zero
Oct 06 Turin, I Magazzino Sul Po
Oct 07 Padova, I Mame
Oct 08 Bologna, I Krakatoa Fest TICKET
Oct 10 Graz, A Forum SZtadtpark
Oct 11 Budapest, HUN Robot
Oct 12 Prague, CZ Underdogs
Oct 13 Wroclav, PL Impart
Oct 14 Dresden, GER Beatpol TICKET

Words: David Bowes
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