Shoegazing, the ’90s genre of layering guitar sounds to produce far-reaching sonic heights and daydream- inducing faux comas, is easily the most frequent description of New York City indie band Asobi Seksu.
Guitarist-vocalist James Hanna admits he’s tired of the label, but five years in, what can he do other than acquiesce and accept that any attention is good attention?
“I don’t know, yeah, it’s fine,” said Hanna, calling from the Big Apple. “Whatever. I literally get asked that question every interview so I’m going to say I’m cool with it. I’ve accepted my place in the universe.”
So if shoegazing is the most clichéd Asobi Seksu description, what’s the best?
“It’s kind of the worst and the best,” Hanna laughed. “A truck driver in New Orleans that was at the bar outside of our show saw [singer] Yuki [Chikudate] and asked if we were Chinese rock ’n’ roll. I don’t remember what she answered but I think she was too stunned to think of anything witty to say back.”
He added, “I don’t know what Chinese rock ’n’ roll is, but we’ve actually told people that’s what we sound like whenever we don’t feel like getting into it.”
Formed roughly a decade ago by Hanna and Chikudate, Asobi Seksu has spent the majority of its existence under the radar yet critically acclaimed. The group, which has enjoyed a revolving door of backing musicians, finally gained national attention with its 2006 effort “Citrus.” Even though the act explored more of a dream-pop sound on its 2009 follow-up “Hush,” the core Asobi Seksu motif was evident.
It was also around this time that Hollywood started taking notice of the band’s material. Specifically, Hanna says producers and directors gravitate towards the group’s moodier songs. To date, Asobi Seksu’s tunes have appeared in television shows “The L Word,” “Ugly Betty” and “Skins.”
As for the outfit’s latest CD “Fluorescence,” Asobi Seksu has returned to its, ahem, shoegazing foundation with a batch of sing-along friendly material.
“We were just having a good time trying to make something a little bit more energetic this time around,” Hanna said. “Yuki is playing a lot of keyboards, that’s how a lot of the songs were written. We really didn’t have an agenda. We just kind of did whatever, and we’re kind of happy with it.”
For the record, Hanna feels the new album’s longest track “Leave the Drummer Out There,” which clocks in at just under 7 minutes, epitomizes the band’s mind-set on “Fluorescence.” Fans can see the group’s new material, which has evolved on stage since the album’s winter release, at its Youngstown debut Wednesday at Cedars.
“It’s a weird thing, making a record,” Hanna said. “Every time we make a record, we play the songs live for a year and then we wish we would have done them all differently. And there’s no other way about it, it’s kind of the nature of being in a band.”
When it’s pointed out Pink Floyd toured “Dark Side of the Moon” before they recorded the classic album in the studio, Hanna quipped, “That’s true, and that’s a pretty decent album.”
So maybe next time out, Asobi Seksu should tour its new album before recording?
“We can barely tour after releasing an album,” Hanna laughed. “It’s OK for Pink Floyd but not Asobi Seksu.”