Comanechi

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Sex-mad sassy Japanese babe requires strong-but-silent talent to start momentous modern punk band. Must be able to look cool, play bass thumping guitar and put up with impromptu eyebrow shaving sessions.

A match made at a barbecue just outside of heaven (Dalston) - it’s Comanechi.

To paint a picture of Comanechi, to those blissfully unaware of their existence, has real satisfaction. This is a band to talk about, but you can’t help doing so with a bumbled rush of disbelief - like trying to tell a story after running away from the scene: imagine a rabid dog, cigarette hanging from its foaming jaws, in a tutu, with a hard on and then describing it.

Or, if your mind is not that warped, think about the Sex Pistols hijacking a train full of dynamite and heading for Lapland, on Christmas Eve.

Comanechi takes intense, pumps it full of speed and prods it with a stick and it doesn’t stop there. After making it recite impassioned love songs and teasing it to the point of having ‘an embarrassing accident’, they kiss it on the cheek and pay for its cab home. Satisfied yet aching for more.

Surprising, as it will seem when you hear them, the enslaving powerful noise that inspires these acute analogies is created by just two people. Akiko sings and drums, and Simon plays the guitar.

“I was dicking around in rehearsal one day and plugged my guitar into a bass amp by accident, it sounded fucking massive. From then on I’ve used guitar and bass amps together,” says Simon. Akiko adds: “ There are so many great bands who don’t have a bassist or no guitarist but a bassist; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they don’t have a bassist, Gossip didn’t have a bassist until recently and Lightning Bolt are just a two-piece with bass, drums and vocals.”

Which is correct of course, but none of the bands she mentions seem to be able to project the same energy, emotion and overall level of sound as one gets at a Comanechi gig.

Thrashing drums, screaming vocals and overdriving guitars are all part of their thunderous sets, with Akiko in particular adding to the energy in a way that pushes her to as close to an icon as anyone in or around London. A status she has already achieved in Japan, her home country.

Standing a little over five foot, at a glance she looks like butter wouldn’t melt, but don’t let that fool you.

In order to educate those of her personality, a recent press release for the band encourages you to “imagine a teenage Asian chick standing on a pile of dead bodies smoking a cigarette”. Oozing appeal on and off stage, Akiko seems completely comfortable with the attention she naturally attracts, basking in her allure and unafraid to express her personality,

“Take a photo of me shaving my eyebrows,” she shouted at the Clash photo shoot, giggling whilst wielding a Bic razor.

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Although Akiko’s extroverted magnetism plays a large part in the Comanechi appeal, it would be frivolous to ignore the role Simon plays. His calculated, more reserved nature compliments the craziness of Akiko, adding a natural balance and giving the band a certain dynamic that allows their originality to blossom.

And how it has blossomed. Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon recently pronounced her love for the band, in a manner that probably has her husband unsure of whether he’d like her to listen to their new record, ‘Crime Of Love’, or not, as she said: “Comanechi make me want to punch holes in Thurston’s face until I can fuck it.”

So to the album; it’s been two years since the band released anything and has been one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year, and not just in the Sonic Youth household.

It’s a clever record that’s not been rushed and one that has been crafted completely at the hands of the two members. “It’s a totally DIY project, we did everything ourselves or with our friends, so it took a little bit longer to get things out there,” says Simon.

He goes on to shed light on the secrets behind his screaming guitar: “I couldn’t afford some of the pedals I wanted so I started making them myself. GCSE electronics wasn’t a complete waste of time. There is a DIY culture in the US for this sort of thing that you don’t get in Europe, and I realised once I got into it that you can build whatever you want. I got a unique, individual sound - you have a lot more control.”

Which is quite fitting, because control is the last word you’d associate with the band, having seen them live, but that’s the beauty of ‘Crime Of Love’. It takes you to the edge and reigns you back in, with a very honest take on real life.

“It’s about not being innocent, like cheating, jealousy and all that kind of stuff. I had few friends who are in long relationships, but not having enough sex, not being happy. I’d rather be in the position of getting, well, fucked by friends who I fancied than being in a relationship with no love. I’d rather be in the position of the girl you cheat with than having a boyfriend cheating on me,” Akiko poignantly adds.

Simon continues: “When I was a kid I’d zone out with friends and listen to whole albums back to back. I’d be totally immersed in a way of life communicated through an LP. So we recorded ‘Crime Of Love’ in that way, not just as a bunch of tracks for MySpace plus some B-sides. It’s rough but durable, you won’t shag this album to death in three listens.”

This is true, especially with Akiko’s influence; it’ll definitely take a hell of a lot of shagging until this album is dead.


Words by Tom Giddins
Photographer Darren Karl Smith
Stylist Rose Forde
Stylist Assistants Camilla Felici, Sonia Shahid and Vicki Carr
Make-up Rino Ozaki using MAC Hair, Maki Tanaka using Bumble and Bumble
With thanks to Studio, 458 Hackney Rd

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