The first time Gothamist heard Asobi Seksu we didn't know what to expect, we'd heard them described as a more sultry Sonic Youth, a competant rock band reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine. Did they live up to their influences and comparisons? Yes, but they surpassed their reviews as they turned another corner to create their own unique sound. It isn't just the occassional Japanese lyrics that sets them apart but a layered effect that combines the best of rock with something more mystical, something we'd never heard before. Asobi Seksu is Yuki (Keyboard, Vocals), James Hanna (Guitar, Vocals), Glenn Waldman (Bass), Keith Hopkin (Drums)...and Gothamist couldn't be more psyched to see them @ Mercury Lounge tonight! They were even kind enough to let us ask them some questions this week...
Let's get this out of the way, where did your band name originate?
Yuki: We wanted a name that was different. We thought Asobi Seksu sounded good and the meaning (playful sex) is not meant to be dirty, but rather more sensual and evocative, and I guess, fun.
What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?
Keith: I was so excited to have a pizza place on the corner of my block so my roommates and I ordered a pie every single night cause we got free Coke with a pie. After discovering a bone in a meatball hero from there I never went back.
Yuki: Moving here at 16 and realizing I didnt know anyone or anything here and thinking, What the hell have I done?!
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
Keith: Getting ripped off by a con artist selling me a fake ID when I was 15. I wanted to make sure I got into the Neds Atomic Dustbin show at the Academy. Later that night I fell on my head while crowd surfing (yes, crowd surfing was fun when you were 15).
James: New York is too irritating and difficult a place to really have a favorite memory. I truly love New York. It is my home. Ive never lived in another city and dont think I could, but at the same time I hate it.
What is your favorite place to drink in NYC? Whats the best night of the week to go out in the city?
Keith: I heard the West End near Columbia University is really cool.
Yuki: This is typical Keith humor. I like Mugs in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Its very chill and they have a really good beer selection.
James: Cant really afford to go to bars very often but I still represent Enids in Greenpoint. The crowds may have moved on but it is still my local bar of choice. Thursday is the best night to go out, the air is excited but everyones not trying too hard.
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What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York? Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn?
Keith: We mostly play in Manhattan because we figure if you live in Brooklyn and want to come see us, then surely you can take a 5 or 10 minute subway ride. But otherwise, the venues in Manhattan have more of a history and for the most part will accommodate the bands the best.
Yuki: No difference really. I dont have a preference. Brooklyn is cool though because I live in Greenpoint and that would make for an easy ride over. Brooklyn (Williamsburg) does tends to smell a little funnier than LES/East Village though.
Do you think your New York connection shows in your music? If so, how?
Keith: Theres definitely a wealth of bands in New York that we get to hear and see all the time. This is one of the great things about living here. A lot of bands that I grew up admiring are from New York and they did have a great influence on me.
Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action:
You know youve made it when .
James: Either I quit my job to be in a band full time or I move back home with my parents and get really into chess or something awful.
Yuki: When my parents stop asking me what I do.
Keith: When I can buy Subway sandwiches whenever and however I damn please.
Itll be time to pack up the gear for good when .
James: I like playing music. Asobi Seksu will last as long as it should and than we will move on.
Keith: Carpal Tunnel catches up to me and it becomes painful to lift a drumstick.
Ill never forget the first time I .
Yuki: Saw a homeless person taking a shit in broad daylight.
Ill never forget the first time [insert another band members name here] .
Yuki: Keith took off his clothes and played drums in his boxers during practice. His excuse is that he gets hot. I think he just wants to be ogled.
And finally, lets have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if youve got no discernable feelings, make something up that wont embarrass you in the morning):
James: Lets buy a championship.
Keith: I always liked their uniforms.
Yuki: What a surprise. Did they win again? Get outta here.
James: Oh god not again.
Keith: I always hated their uniforms
Yuki: Fucking losers. (and I like them, too!)
James: Somehow I still cant hate her
Bridge & Tunnel
James: Long Island is much better than New Jersey!!!
Keith: I agree with James.
Yuki: Spoken like true Long Islanders.
Keith: Gimme a break.
James: Fun when I was I kid. Break dancers, kung fu shops now it is a tourist ghetto, but at least it keeps them in one place.
Keith: I still have problems keeping my eyes on the road when driving a car through Times Square.
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
James: Hate Bloomberg rich fuck, no money for schools, .we have to accept that we are in a fiscal crisis, but we have 200 million for a new Javits center and Jets stadium...
Keith: Were all ex-smokers (except Glenn) so we like the smoking ban. He was too good to ever start.
Yuki: Bloomberg=Whiny bitch.
Questions inspired by movies...
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in less than 10 words). (Reality Bites)
James: Life is short, filled with stuff ..
Yuki: Lifes a bitch and then you die. Thats why we puff la. Cause you never know when you gonna go.
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
Yuki: Misery. Definitely misery.
A few quickies on the music tip:
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
James: I wouldnt do that to anyone I like
Keith: That guy from that really cool indie band, and then that other guy from that band blahblahblah and last but not least the singer of Fixx.
If you released a 7 what would you put on the cover?
James: Someone else.
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
James: Tom Waits: Blood money and Alice (released same day)
Yuki: Deerhoof Milkman
Asobi Sesksu plays TONIGHT Friday, July 30 w/ Benzos & Midnight Movies @ Mercury Lounge [217 E. Houston St. (corner Ave A & Houston)]
Listen to some songs & check out one of their upcoming shows if you aren't in the area tonight