It would be a mistake to call Hard Nips a girl band. Yes, the group consists of four women who play instruments together, but that hardly qualifies them under that clunky label with its myriad implications. Hard Nips’ whiskey-tinted tracks seem born of a world in which AC/DC’s Bon Scott was replaced not by apple-capped belter Brian Johnson, but a shamanistic pixie on amphetamines (expertly created by Yoko Sawai). Although Sawai’s ecstatic performances may be the center of focus on first listen, Mariko Tamegai’s guitar is the element that begs return engagement. Despite having cited Number Girl’s Hisako Tabuchi as an influence, her playing on Hard Nips’ latest release, “Amazing Guns,” is more Glenn Tipton meets Greg Sage than Frank Black. She may singlehandedly return the flanger to a dignified place. Drummer Hitomi Nakamura and bassist “Gooch” Yamaguchi play unperturbed by the treble section’s spasms, guiding the tempo. The band has received praise for its manic live shows, at the end of which we imagine you could collect several liters of sweat from the stage.
Working Class recently talked to the band members about their origins, their favorite things and the many ways to enjoy the best brands (or any brand) of whiskey.
WC: How do you feel more deeply connected: As New Yorkers or as ex-pats? Does it even matter?
YS: More likely as New Yorkers? Oh! As Brooklyners.
WC: You’ve called yourself ‘jerk rock.’ What did you mean? For jerks? By jerks? Both?
WC: You have a traditional rock setup (guitar, bass, drums, vocals). Does anyone play anything else? Have you thought about it?
MT: None. It would be nice to add some keyboard sounds. We had different musical backgrounds when we were little. I played organ, violin and piano. Gooch can play Okinawan guitar.
WC: When bands form, it’s tough to get everyone committed. How long had you played before you decided you were definitely going to be a band?
MT: We were already friends before the band. We’d hang out drinking together. We never played music when we were just hanging out. Our good friend told us, ‘Why don’t you guys play music?’ We thought it was a good idea to play music instead of just drinking.
It is a big commitment to be a band. We have to practice, make merch, do Facebook … there’s so much stuff we do ourselves, but it’s worth it for our fans and we’ve become so close since playing music. It’s like family. We fight, have fun times, we cry, (there are) some happy moments. We all share that.
WC: Your shows are high energy. How do you capture that during the recording process?
GY: Drinking, eating rice and chatting.
WC: You recently released a record. Are you writing new songs or are you going to keep playing these for a while?
MT: We are making new songs. Hopefully, we can make a new album this year, but it takes a long time. While we’re (working on them), we might play cover songs.
WC: Any plans to tour soon?
MT: Not yet. Hopefully (in the) summer time and we want to go tour in Europe!
WC: Does anyone have a favorite piece of gear (amp, pedal, etc.)?
YS: I love my tambourine!
WC: You list pet peeves on your website. What are some things that are the opposite — things that make you extremely happy?
MT: Whiskey, cigs and hugs.
WC: Any whiskey drink recommendations then? What’s your brand?
MT: I prefer neat. For brands: Jameson, Makers, Oban and Bulleit. I like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Mint Juleps for the summertime and Hot Toddies for the wintertime. I’m not super picky about whiskey. I just don’t like well whisky that makes me too wasted.
WC: Anything you’d like to recommend?
GY: A cafe called Bakeri in Williamsburg. The film Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine (total comedy, that movie). Square cars. Any square cars; not rounded cars. Beefcake Studio in Bushwick.
WC: What are your favorite things to do other than play music?
MT: Cooking, yoga, going to shows, watching comedy and people watching when I ride the subway.
WC: What’s the best thing about Hard Nips?
MT: We can make jokes in Japanese. We make great music. We don’t give a bull shit. We are immigrants.