Sugar Plant Interview


Sugar Plant are a Japanese band. Their albums include After After Hours and Happy/Trance Mellow. I interviewed them at Brownies a few years ago (late 1997) when they last toured. This interview has never been seen or published. I talked with the main members Shin'ichi Ogawa and Chinatsu Shoyama.

Chinatsu: Can you speak slowly?
AL: I will speak slowly... and... I will speak... very... good... English. You're the singer?
Chinatsu: He plays the guitar and I play bass. I sing. Sometimes I play guitar.
AL: How many years have you been together?
Chinatsu: More than three years.
AL: You two are the main members. Then you have some others who play with you?
Chinatsu: For our live show we have three other members. We don't play keyboards or drums.
AL: Do you want to play more drums and keyboards in the future?
Shin'ichi: (laughter) No. I like guitar.
AL: Do you like to play live shows?
Chinatsu: We love it. Yeah.
AL: It seems like this guy Merzbow comes out with twenty records a year. Can you keep up with him?
Shin'ichi: (says something in Japanese)
Chinatsu: I don't understand your question.
AL: Is this your first time in the United States?
Chinatsu: No. We played here before. Not at Brownies, but in New York. We played at Under Acme (Acme Underground). This is the start of our American tour. We came here last year and the year before. We like the American audience more than Japanese. It's good.
AL: What's wrong with the Japanese? You live in Tokyo?
Shin'ichi: Near Tokyo. They are so quiet.
Chinatsu: Yeah, Japanese audiences are quiet.
AL: They are too polite?
Chinatsu: Yeah, in a way.
AL: Should audiences be more aggressive over there?
Chinatsu: It's easy to know what American audiences think.
AL: Your music can put someone in a trance. People might get crazy and want to cause some violence.
Shin'ichi: Violence. Hmmm.
Chinatsu: I don't care.
AL: I listen to After After Hours all the time. Especially late at night. I didn't know what the lyrics were till I read them a few days ago. There's seems to be a lot about Astronomy.
Shin'ichi: (says something in Japanese)
Chinatsu: I'm singing about my experience and myself. The sun, sky, and stars are easy to explain and represent....
AL: You seem to be more comfortable speaking Japanese. Why do you sing in English?
Chinatsu: Our favorite music is American and British. It's natural to sing in English.
AL: Which bands are your favorites? People always compare Sugar Plant to Mazzy Star and Velvet Underground.
Shin'ichi: Stereolab. Galaxy 500.
AL: What is the live show like?
Chinatsu: We play some old songs, but most are new. We play one song off a new EP.
AL: What do you think of some of the noise bands?
Shin'ichi: I like some of the noisy music. Keghi Hanio. I saw them ten times.
AL: Who do you like to play with? Or do you refuse to share the stage?
Chinatsu: Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her.
AL: Are you familiar of the Silver Apples?
Shin'ichi: I never heard them.
AL: Are you interested in art or literature?
Shin'ichi: I like photography. Robert Frank.
AL: What about Araki.
Shin'ichi: He's famous but too erotic.
AL: You don't share the same erotic vision we see in Araki or Merzbow?
Shin'ichi: I don't understand. (laughter)
AL: You have these very poetic lyrics. Does that come out of any literary tradition?
Chinatsu: I write Japanese poetry. I majored in university. I like Bukowski. He's rough but I read him in English and Japanese.
AL: Do you have any spiritual interests?
Chinatsu: I don't know how to say in English. I read some books about the spiritual world. I don't the titles in English.
AL: So you're on tour with La Bradford. What do you think of their music?
Chinatsu: The show was great. They have three CDs out. And I like them all. Their show is great. La Bradford is very famous. This is the biggest tour we've done. We are playing thirty shows in six weeks. After that we are going to work on a new record.
AL: What should we expect?
Chinatsu: More pop. Spacey.
AL: Are there going to be some robot toys on this record?
Shin'ichi: Maybe. (laughter)
AL: Okay. I'll get someone to translate the Japanese parts.
Chinatsu: Can we talk into here in Japanese?
AL: Yes. You can talk about After After Hours in Japanese.
Chinatsu: (says something in Japanese)
Shin'ichi: (says something in Japanese)
AL: Do you guys like to stay up late?
Chinatsu: This is music for after "after hours." Do you go to clubs? After you go to a club and come back to home, you're going to be relaxed. This is music for after that. You put it on a CD player.
AL: Do you like Martin Denny?
Shin'ichi: No. I like rock and techno.
Chinatsu: Sometimes rock is too much. Techno is good but sometimes boring. So we like to combine them together. The next record will be different.