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Melt-Banana in 2010
Melt-Banana in 2010
Background information
OriginTokyo, Japan
Years active1992–present
MembersYasuko Onuki
Ichiro Agata
Past membersSudoh Toshiaki
Oshima Watchma
Rika Hamamoto

Melt-Banana is a Japanese noise rock[1] band that is known for playing extremely fast noise rock and hardcore punk mixed with experimental, electronica and pop-based song structures. Since forming in 1992 the band has released ten albums and toured worldwide extensively.


In 1991, while attending Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Yasuko Onuki started a band called Mizu and, after a short period rehearsing with another guitarist, recruited Ichiro Agata to play guitar in the band.[2] Mizu's original drummer and bass player quit six months after Agata joined, leaving Yasuko to handle the bass and vocal duties until she found bassist Rika.[2] They briefly performed shows around Tokyo without a drummer. Sudoh Toshiaki then joined as the new drummer in November 1992, and they changed their name to Melt-Banana.[3]

In May 1993, Melt-Banana played a show opening for KK Null of Zeni Geva fame, who was impressed enough to immediately offer them a deal with his label, and would later introduce them to Mark Fischer of Skin Graft Records and Steve Albini.[2][4]

In 1996, sick Zip Everywhere was nominated for MTV UK's best video.[5] In the same year the band completed their first European tour.[3]

In 1997, they created their own recording company, A-Zap (formerly Iguana Coax), and re-issued most of their early albums. Around this time, drummer Sudoh Toshiaki quit.[3] Oshima Watchman became the new official drummer in February 1998.

The band recorded its first Peel Session in September 1999. Onuki thought John Peel looked like Santa Claus and Agata has said that when finishing a new song, he still thinks of Peel and what he would think of it if he listened.[6] Peel described the session as "Simply one of the most extraordinary performances I have ever seen and ever heard ... just mesmerizing, absolutely astonishing."[7] The broadcast exposed the band to new audiences in the United Kingdom and beyond.[6]

Watchma left the band in 2000, and since then the band has had different drummers on their tours and albums.

In 2007, Melt-Banana recorded the song "Hair-Cat (Cause the Wolf Is a Cat!)" for Perfect Hair Forever on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup.[8]

The studio album Fetch, released September 2013, saw the band transition to a duo.[9] The decision not to use a live drummer led on to the decision not to have a live bass player. Using a computer for the rhythm allowed more freedom in the arrangement. Hamamoto's help was not needed for the new duo format. Additionally, throughout the band's career Agata and Onuki had been the main songwriters.[10][11]

In late 2019, during an interview conducted on tour, with Louder magazine, the band stated they would record a new album.[6]


Yasuko Onuki

Melt-Banana's music is typically described as noise rock,[12][13][1] with roots in punk,[14][15] grindcore,[15][16][17] electro-pop[15] and electronic music.[16] The band has shied away from any classification, saying they "don't write music according to genre", and has described their music as "like a chimera".[17] Melt-Banana has cited The Sex Pistols,[18] Einstürzende Neubauten,[19] Masonna, Violent Onsen Geisha,[17] Aphex Twin and Atari Teenage Riot[20] as influences, as well as the compilation album No New York.[21] Agata also gets inspiration from the feelings of excitement, triumph and peril he experiences when playing video games, and interpreting that musically.[22] He believes that influences from outside music, including video games, help them see from fresh angles and keep them from writing "the same kind of music again and again".[23] Games he has cited as an inspiration include Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Ecco the Dolphin,[22] Demon's Souls and Shadow of the Colossus.[16]

Onuki's distinctive vocal style has been described as "loud, piercing and unexpectedly authoritative".[17] Asked about her influences, Onuki explained: "there is no tradition and no influence besides maybe Lydia Lunch and the Teenage Jerks. She opened a new book for me. It was so unique and distinctive, you could tell by listening to the voice who is singing – that what I wanted to achieve with my own voice too."[20]

Although the band is Japanese, their lyrics are written in English. Onuki originally sung in Japanese, but quickly changed to English, believing that it was better suited to her style of singing. Because English is not her native language, Onuki often has to look words up in dictionaries, which also allows her to find words that sound interesting to her.[24] In writing a song, Onuki typically starts with particular words and then works backwards, the content of which comes from what she "see[s] and feel[s] in [her] usual life".[23]

Agata is noted for his distinct style of guitar playing that involves heavy use of effects and pedals.[24]

The band is known for playing an "eclectic" selection of cover songs, both live and on studio recordings. Melt-Banana was inspired to do so after touring with Mr. Bungle and seeing them perform several cover songs, and thinking it would be fun for both the audience and the band themselves. Songs that Melt-Banana has covered include "Surfin' U.S.A." (The Beach Boys), "Neat Neat Neat" (The Damned) and "Paint It Black" (The Rolling Stones).[25] In choosing the songs, Melt-Banana simply "play songs that [they] like."[26]


Ichiro Agata

Former members[edit]


From 2013 onward the band does not have a bass player.[10]

  • Rika Hamamoto (1992–2013)


Melt-Banana does not currently have an official drummer. From 2013 onward the band does not have a drummer when playing live.[10] There have been two drummers who were official members; Sudoh Toshiaki and Oshima Watchma. A number of guest drummers have been used for studio recordings and live performances.[27][28][29]


Touring and collaborations[edit]

The band have carried out lengthy US and UK tours yearly and smaller Japanese tours (the reason for this, according to them, is that travelling in Japan is quite expensive).[30][31] Melt-Banana have worked with a diverse range of artists, including Merzbow, John Zorn, Agathe Max, Mike Patton, and Discordance Axis.[5] Melt-Banana has toured as an opening act with high-profile bands such as:


Studio albums


  1. ^ a b Deiterman, Corey (24 September 2013). "Noise-Rock Lords Melt-Banana Return For a Bruising Round of Fetch". Houston Press. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d MELT-BANANA Band Page. Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Melt Banana". NME. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  4. ^ "MELT-BANANA History Outline". Archived from the original on 6 March 2001. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Melt Banana Interview - Articles - JaME U.K." Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c James Thornhill (20 December 2019). "Melt Banana: 25 years of sonic otherness". loudersound. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Capsule — Crafting extraordinary projects for adventurous audiences". Archived from the original on 31 May 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  8. ^ Goldberg, Michael Alan (15 November 2007). "Melt Banana". Miami New Times. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  9. ^ [1] Allmusic
  10. ^ a b c Martin, Ian. "Melt-Banana: Being 'stupid' isn't so bad when it comes to touring". The Japan Times. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Melt-Banana Interviewed. Both of 'em. — Decibel Magazine". 24 October 2013. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  12. ^ Robson, Daniel (17 October 2013). "Melt-Banana Return with a New Record and No Plans to Kill Any More Deer". Noisey. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  13. ^ Viera, Lauren (6 June 2003). "Melt-Banana's left-field rock". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  14. ^ Aoki, Ryotaro (12 November 2014). "Reinventing sound with Melt-Banana". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b c Thornhill, James (20 December 2019). "Melt Banana: 25 years of sonic otherness". Louder. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  16. ^ a b c Murphy, Tom (24 July 2015). "Melt-Banana on the Influence of Video Games". Westword. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e Jesudason, David (16 August 2019). "Peeling Back The Skin: Who Are The Real Melt-Banana? — Kerrang!". Kerrang!. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  18. ^ Bartz, Simon (27 April 2007). "Melt-Banana take aim again". The Japan Times. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  19. ^ Maimann, Kevin (2 July 2015). "Maimann: Melt-Banana weirdly wonderful". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  20. ^ a b Venker, Thomas (1 May 2015). "I see some parallels between Deadmau5 and us". Kaput. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  21. ^ Cohan, Brad (11 November 2013). "Melt-Banana's Agata: "Something in My Mind Changed After the Earthquake"". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  22. ^ a b Bartz, Simon (18 February 2004). "Unpeeling Melt-Banana". The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  23. ^ a b "Games, pedals and weird lyrics – Melt-Banana interview". Japan Vibe. 11 October 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  24. ^ a b Crowell, John (22 October 2013). "Melt-Banana – Interview – Tiny Mix Tapes". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  25. ^ Dennis, Peter (11 October 2019). "Interview with Melt Banana". The Midlands Rocks. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  26. ^ Smyers, Darryl (6 November 2013). "Yasuko Onuki of Melt Banana on American Audiences: "They are loud."". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  27. ^ JaME U.S.A. – Jpop, Jrock, Visual kei, all about Jmusic (Japanese music)! | JaME U.S.A. Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  28. ^ blood sisters: women in heavy music: melt-banana. Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  29. ^ (8 May 2000). Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  30. ^ "INTERVIEW: MELT BANANA". Jrockrevolution. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  31. ^ Lopez, Michael (4 November 2009). "Melt-Banana Lite: A Second Opinion". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  32. ^ Melt Banana with Mr. Bungle concert review. (29 November 1995). Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  33. ^ Melvins Tour Dates 1999 – MelvinsWiki. Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  34. ^ "Karaterice – We Rock You Long Time – Melt Banana". Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  35. ^ Melt-Banana prepares for massive tour, supporting Tool in Arenas, Drawer B Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 19 September 2011.
  36. ^ "Melvins, Napalm Death & Melt-Banana announce 2016 tour". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  37. ^ "MxBx Tour with IGORRR 2023". Retrieved 16 September 2023.

External links[edit]