8 p.m., Oct. 28, The Space, 295 Treadwell St., Ste. 18, Hamden, $12-$14, 203-288-6400, http://www.thespace.tk.
In the hands of some bands, noise rock is an artless cacophony of volume and dissonance, a root canal of crashing notes and painful, unintelligible howls. Melt-Banana is most assuredly absent from that sad roll call. The Tokyo quartet are quite aware of the power of melody, and equally capable of presenting it at blinding speed with stopwatch precision and heartstopping power, like a hurricane channeled into Steve Albini's studio. Melt-Banana's influences reflect their 20-year history as well as recent experiences.
"We were playing with so-called alternative, noise, and avant-garde bands, so we were influenced by Zeni Geva, Ruins, Merzbow, Incapacitants, Yoshihide Otomo and many others," says vocalist Yasuko Onuki — Yako in shorthand — via e-mail. "We've also played with hardcore, punk, grind, metal, hip-hop and electronic bands. We play festivals and see almost every kind of music there and we're influenced by that."
Yako assembled her first band, Mizu, while studying at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 1991; the band morphed into Melt-Banana the following year. Since then, Melt-Banana (Onuki, guitarist Ichirou Agata, bassist Rika Hamamoto and nearly a dozen guest drummers, currently Takiya Terada, who guested previously nine years ago) has turned out 10 albums and a couple dozen EPs worth of frenetic, unhinged punk and amassed rabidly loyal audiences around the world.
"These days, Japanese audiences' behavior is getting similar to how American audiences behave," she says. "Ten or 15 years ago, Japanese audiences were very quiet during the show, more like listening to music. When I first played in the USA, I thought the audience was very noisy but I felt they were enjoying the show, not only just listening, and I liked it a lot. They looked like they were really having fun, and I became happy too."
The foursome will soon record the follow up to 2007's Bambi's Dilemma; this tour features a handful of new and so far untitled songs. It's been two years since Melt-Banana's last American tour and Yako is quick to acknowledge how much they anticipate shows in the states.
"The USA is a big country and there are so many places to play!" she exclaims. "It's fun to see people who love music and enjoy Melt-Banana."
After so many years and recordings, Melt-Banana's biggest tour decision is structuring their set list, which ultimately comes down to taste and intuition.
"We put songs we like to play and new songs into the set list," says Yako. "And we noticed that we've played this song 'Rrrag!' at almost all shows so far, so we decided to play this song every show."
The band's fans will certainly show up in force, but for the uninitiated and hesitant, Yako offers a simple incentive.
"If you like music, and if you want to hear and see something new, you should check out Melt-Banana," she says. "Just come to the show to find out. Seeing is believing."
As for Melt-Banana's incredible longevity in a business so often associated with crass disposibility, Yako takes a fairly philosophical and positively realistic (or realistically positive) view to the band's lengthy timeline.
"It's not difficult to continue if we keep doing what we want to do and if we don't lose the way," she says with confidence. "Actually I don't feel that we've spent so many years together already, though."