Comanechi - Akiko Matsuura interview
Moonlighting from her other job as drummer in The Big Pink, Akiko Matsuura tells David Pollock about Comanechi’s barbeque love
Dalston boy/girl duo Comanechi have been slogging away at the national indie circuit for four years, with only obscurity to reward them. That is, until vocalist and drummer Akiko Matsuura’s other group The Big Pink (she’s their drummer) took off in early-2009. That was followed by glowing reviews for Comanechi’s perv-punk sprint of a debut album Crime of Love.
For a band who live in the UK’s scenester Ground Zero and who look set to be one of 2010’s most attention-grabbing new artists, the pair’s working relationship has an unlikely origin. ‘We met at a mutual friend’s barbecue party,’ says Matsuura, waiting in her flat for a consignment of band T-shirts. ‘I’m really obsessed with barbecues, because my dad and mum used to run a barbecue restaurant back in Osaka. Since I was little, I was obsessed, and Simon loves barbecues too. So we spoke about barbecues, and then the conversation went to music.’
Even when Matsuura, then an art student, and Petrovich met, she was already fantasising about being in her own band. ‘I didn’t have much big desire, like, “I wanna be really famous,”’ she says. ‘Playing in a band is really fun at first and everything that goes along with it, like getting a label or recording an album, comes later. It’s the same as a relationship. You don’t meet someone and go, “I’m gonna marry her,” do you? Sometimes it’s just for fun.’
Her live experience, not just with Comanechi and The Big Pink, but also as the frontwoman of art-rockers PRE, has earned her a reputation as a performer to behold. ‘I don’t want people to expect just to hear exactly the same sound as the album,’ she says. ‘It’s boring. And I don’t like bands who just stand and sing really quiet, that’s boring to watch too. Our album isn’t quiet, so our show is quite brutal. The record is just one dimension, but the live show is about interaction and fun. I want the audience to think, “What the fuck was that?” once they leave.’
Part of this involves at least semi-nudity on a regular basis from Matsuura, which she laughs about. The lyrics of songs like ‘Mesmerising Fingers’ and ‘Naked’ are shot through with a flagrant but somehow tender sexuality (although ‘My Pussy’ is not what you think it’s about), and even the band’s name is a reference to twisted desires. It’s a misspelling of Romanian Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s name, but it’s also a rather crude joke. ‘It’s not about her being great or anything,’ says Matsuura. ‘It’s from a pervert’s point of view. She was only 14 when she got gold, and was wearing a really skimpy leotard with all the audience watching her, so it was kind of a joke in Japan – you say something’s “a bit Comaneci”. It’s really boring to explain, but Japanese people get it if they hear of a band called Comanechi.’
After a few words about the support act here, Glasgow’s Divorce (‘We’ve played with them before, I fucking love them’), Matsuura’s T-shirts have arrived to howls of delight and it’s time to go. Just don’t expect to see her wearing one for long at these shows.
Comanechi and Divorce play the Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Mon 18 Jan; Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Tue 19 Jan.