text by Ryoko Kuwahara
photo edit by Ryoko Kuwahara
photo by Riku Ikeya

OKAMOTO’Sのアドレス帳 Vol.18 Lemon Twigs × オカモトショウ

photo : Riku Ikeya | edit : Ryoko Kuwahara

photo : Riku Ikeya | edit : Ryoko Kuwahara

Sho: You guys first time in Japan?

Brian & Michael: Yes.

Sho: Do you like it?

Michel: Yeah, I do! Brian likes it too. And he got to explore more than me.

Brian: I walked around Shibuya all day the day before yesterday and it was nice.

Sho: Nice.

Brian: I went to five different guitar shops and we went to some clothes store, and i ate a couple of times (laughs) I was a great day.

Michael: I went to Tokyo Disneyland(laughs)

Sho: Oh really! Hahaha

Michael: Yeah. But I didn’t like it. I love Disneyland but just the magic wasn’t there in Tokyo one (laughs)
Sho: So you’ve been to the one in LA?

Michael: Yeah I’ve been to LA and I’ve been to the Florida one.

Sho: I see. By the way, I read that you guys are from New York.

Brian: Yes. We’re from Long Island.

Sho: I was born in New York.

Brian: Oh really?

Sho: My dad is American and my mom is Japanese. and I was living in New York and moved to Japan when I was five. So I’m almost Japanese.

Michael: So your mom is Japanese?

Sho: Yeah.

Michael: Cool. So you’ve been there quite a bit?

Sho: Not really. We went to play a gig once a twice, but that’s it. But we’re going to New York next month to record some songs.


Sho: Are you gonna be in New York?

Brian: We’ll be touring in the states and Europe. And then festival time comes! It’s gonna be a lot of festivals.

Sho: Is it your first big tour?

Michael: We’ve performed in Europe for three weeks before. That was our first headline tour. And We’ve done a headline tour for a month in the states. So this is gonna be our third headline tour.

Sho: I see.

Michael: After that. we’re going back to Europe.

Sho: Ok. It’s amazing. Doing live shows is good. You guys are still young but have experienced a lot of shows already. Your music is strange in a good way so I was looking forward to seeing how you guys bring them to the stage. But the show so came straight into my heart. It didn’t look complicated although the rhythm and chords changes. It was really comfortable and straight.

Brian: Yeah. We’re trying to keep the balance.

Michael: We’re trying not throw people off live cause it’s already on the record. But people expect us to do some of it so we do some of it. It’s also wouldn’t be fun as much to play everything live. You like to get into the groove and rock. You know.

Sho: Right. Yeah, the show surprised me a lot.

Michael: Thank you.

Sho: How do you guys write songs?

Brian: I wrote the songs to this record all on piano, and the tempo was written as I wrote a song. Like Brian WIlson’s “SMiLE”. There are a lot of tempo changes he did by writing things separately and put them together. But since I was listening to that, I was just doing it naturally while I was writing the song.

Sho: So it came up to your head with the different rhythms right?

Michael: You know like, early Zappa. This album in particular, it’s not ridiculous changes and it’s not like prog. But it’s there.

Sho: Yeah. So Brian writes songs usually?

Michael: No we both wrote songs separately on this record.

Sho: So it’s half and half?

Michael: Yeah. On this record. But we’re not gonna do that anymore because it’s ridiculous.

Sho: Why?

Michael: Because it’s so hard to decide to decide the song order.

Brian: Oh man. We kept running in to the wall. Like, “this song is too slow to be the next to this song”(laughs)

Sho: Hahaha.

Brian: The order has to be my song and Michael’s song alternately. And we sometimes think that maybe we should stop to stick to the idea for a better sequence but we were like “Nooooo!” (laughs)

Michael: But we’re not gonna do that anymore. If Brian’s voice suits better to my song, I’m gonna let him sing on it. Like Beach Boys. Brian is not being possessive about parts of the song. He lets his brother sing.

Sho: I see. So only on this record you sing on your own track each other?

Michael: This record and the EP coming up next.

Sho: Ok. I listened to the new song. I loved that high tone voice. It was really like Beach Boys. I loved it.

Michael: Thanks.

Sho: All the rhythm changes and stuff like that. I wanted to know where you got the groove from. It was so natural. So I thought you guys might write songs together.

Brian: It’s interesting because when we put the song together when we were about to record it, with my songs especially, I wrote them on piano but there was no groove to it. I didn’t write something like funky verse. That came after that when we were recording it. When Michael was playing the drum and I was playing keyboard. Michael was doing that kinda beat. The feel for each song is collaborative.

Michael: And a lot of time changes for my songs. A lot of my songs come pieces, you know. Here comes this little part and there comes this little part. I had so many little parts I just had to get rid of them. So I just sticked all of them to one song. I try to be a little more careful about it now. I’m a little more conscious. When you think “Oh, I don’t waste what I wrote”, you have to be more conscious and try to build a great song instead of just taking parts and throwing in. You want those parts really go well. And luckily, nothing went badly. But I think if we do that every single time, something sitty would be born (laughs).

Sho: Sometimes when I write songs, I try to make destroy everything. More different part, and more different part. Goes like that and you want surprise your band members with stuff like that, you know.

Michael: Yeah.

Sho: It won’t make it to the record but sometimes I try to make that kind of destroyed sound(laughs). I like to do that sometimes.

Brian: That’s good.

Michael: You should do whatever you feel like it.

Sho: So I understand how you feel when you “waste” your sound. It’s not wasting sound but.

Michael: Yeah. If you really like the part, you save it, and it would go well with another part you write. You just have those two parts around the same time and you don’t have to put them together all the time.

Brian: There are a lot of songs I thought “Well, this is not going anywhere”(laughs). I just have bunch of little parts. What I do is to donate those sitty parts to other people. If somebody needs like a little part, I’ll just throw that to them. So it’s not gonna be wasted.

Sho: Sounds like our guitar player. He never finishes what he’s working on and I’m the one who finishes it (laughs). Do you guys have drums, keyboards, guitars and basses in your house?

Brian: Yes.

Sho: Do you guys play all of them?

Brian: Yeah. Our dad is a multi-instrumental player, so.

Sho: I see.

Michael: He recorded a lot of stuff by himself in the 70’s and 80’s. That never came out on any labels because he couldn’t get the deal. But he recorded for a long time. So he only learned drums because he needed drums on his record.

Sho: Wow.

Michael: So we were on the philosophy. So Brian learned trumpet because he needed trumpet on this record.

Sho: Really.

Michael: Yeah. And he played strings in school, and I played double bass in school. So he adopted to using a cello.

Brian: And Megan, our bass player, had a violin so brought a violin.

Michael: He plays terrible violin but he plays on the album(laughs). It’s true. But it works cause he overdubbed it million times. And a lot takes(laughs).

Brian: And the arrangement is really good(laughs).

Sho: I never did that. Cause we’re four piece band.

Michael: Well, we don’t need it(laughs). There’s no point. We’re very isolated and we still are. So only now we’ve played a lot of shows. And I met this guy who plays steel guitar. So if I need steal guitar sound, either I’d ask Brian to do sitty steal guitar or I’ll ask that guy(laughs). But we’ve got these skills by not having musicians around us.

Sho: It’s amazing skills. We love playing instruments so. We are laptop generation so we don’t really have to play drums cause we could use computer and it’s easier. But we don’t do that. You guys don’t do that, too. Right? I can feel your love to instruments.

Michael: We do have the ideas for a song. That comes before anything. But we also were in a cover band very long time. So when we were kids we were playing covers all the time. So that was our love of just playing songs and instruments. Yeah, a lot of people don’t care how good they are.

Sho: Yeah. nowadays it’s all bout making a track.

Brian: There is a guy whose name is Delicate Steve, and he’s just a new guy. I don’t know anything about his music but he’s a guitar player. That’s what he does. So he’s trying to get session workers as a guitar player and how people come to the show just watching him play a guitar. So it doesn’t matter how good they are. They are a lot more musicians still.

Sho: I’m a lead singer in the band but I was a drummer first. And I play Blues harp and panica..Well, I forgot how to say panicca in English..

Brian: Melodica?

Sho: Yeah, that’s right!

Brian: Pianica makes more sense than melodica actually.

Sho: Haha.

Michael: But our Disneyland is better(laughs). You can’t see the ceiling(laughs). Soy sauce flavored popcorn was the only good thing. And green Churro. I didn’t taste it but.

Sho: It must be green tea flavor.

Michael: Really? Ew(laughs)

Sho: Do you guys have any goals? Like, you want to play more rock side or you want to play more singing side or things like that.

Brian: Yeah on stage. And when we’re gonna record our next record, that’s probably it’s gonna be as well. That kind of development happens through playing a song. And when we wrote the songs, both or our sets are pretty mellow. But them Michael got really into rock ‘n’ roll music.

Michael: I’ve always been into rock ‘n’ roll music.

Brian: But he never realized he can write rock ‘n’ roll music.

Michael: Yeah. Cause I was always playing drums. In the cover band, I only played drums. But we started Lemon Twigs, and I started playing the guitar. I’ve never explored with my space.

Sho: You were in a cage, right? (laughs)

Michael: Yeah. I’ve never try to express myself with that. Sort of showmanship.

Brian: I thought I was a great front man. Before Michael started going on the front(laughs). I thought I moved around so cool and I got the moves. And he started putting his style in, and I was like “Shit!”. Nah, I’m exaggerating. I think he’s really good at that.

Michael: I just didn’t know that there was a possibility. But now I feel this is gonna be more fun. And now I have to play more rock songs because playing those songs change tempos all the time. And also I’m just getting into that kind of music too, like where all those songs come from more than doing weird stuff. Not just doing weird stuff without feeling right. So on the next record, there will be more power poppy songs or more musical like songs.

Brian: I’m kinda thinking about the other direction but.. cause the next album is gonna be a concept album.

Sho: I just made a concept album. I quit drinking two years ago when I started making the album. And I was really mad because I had to stop drinking.(laughs). That was kinda problem but I wanted to do that and my band members told me I had to stop drinking. And I wrote about all those madness and sadness and stuff like that. So the story of the record is about me. He loses his keys, his phones, and wallet because he was drink. He wakes up with nothing. Then he feels he can’t see, he can’t hear, and he can’t speak.

Brian: That’s cool.

Sho: It was fun making.

Brian: And it ends with a day in the life(laughs).

Sho: Kinda like that.

Michael: What’s it called?

Sho: Opera.

Michael: Ok.

Brian: Our album is gonna be “Monkey”(lahgus).

Michael: Yeah, the story of the next album is gonna be really silly. It’s about a money who discovered in woods by a human parents.

Brian: The mom is a rock musician, and the dad can be a safari guy or whatever. We have to figure it out.
Mochael: It’s really silly(laugh).

Brian: The parents couldn’t have kids so they raise the monkey like their kid.

Michael: Then they send him to school but they end up…Oops I shouldn’t say too much, right? The kids at school don’t realize he’s a monkey.

Brian: But something is different about him. He’s not from a human world so he’s life is very difficult.

Sho: It sounds interesting. Have you started recording that yet?

Michael: We have almost all songs exempt some lyrics. We haven’t recorded but “Queen of My School” will be on the record.

Sho: Oh really.

Michael: Yeah. I was in school when I was writing those songs so they all are related to school.

Sho: Sounds very interesting. All right. Thank you very much for today!

B&M: Thank you!

photo Riku Ikeya
interview & edit Ryoko Kuwahara

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