Track Premiere: Ogikubo Station – “We Can Pretend Like”

Posted: by The Editor

Ogikubo Station is the musical lovechild of Maura Weaver (Mixtapes) and Mike Park (Asian Man Records, The Chinkees, Skankin’ Pickle). They’re set to release their forthcoming record We Can Pretend Like on August 24 via Asian Man Records, and we’re pleased to premiere their newest single, for the title track “We Can Pretend Like” below. Listen to the mesmerizing track as you read our enlightening interview with Park below.

The Alternative: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you and Maura live in completely different states. What is the recording process like?

Mike Park: Yes, yes. I live in San Jose, California and Maura lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. Recording and songwriting is not the easiest, and not ideal, but it’s worked out thus far. Basically we just send ideas back and forth through email, and then Maura flies out to California a week before we start recording. We’ll rehearse together and try our best to make it feel like we’ve been practicing for months. We tried doing some Skype rehearsals, but there was always like a slight delay and it just didn’t work.

You’ve been in so many different bands and a part of so many different projects, what makes Ogikubo Station unique?

Well, I guess musically it’s just different than a lot of other projects. For example, if an old hat only knew me from Skankin’ Pickle and then listened to Ogikubo they’d have no idea that I was part of the band.

Both of you represent different marginalized groups within society and the music scene in general. Do you see yourself as a role model? Do you ever feel tokenized?

Role Model? Most definitely. Especially back in the 80’s when I started playing music. Then, when I started touring, there were so few people of color, especially Asian Americans in the punk community, so I had always wanted to voice my experience growing up with strict Asian parents while diving head first into the punk community back in the mid 80’s.

Tokenized? Yes. Daily. Every fuckin’ day. Yesterday an older gentleman came up to me and said “Ahnyonghaseyo.” Hello in Korean. Trivial yes, but what if I was Japanese or Chinese? And yes he was just being nice and I wasn’t angry, but what if I went up to every white person and said “GUTEN MORGEN” or Sieg Heiled them at attention?

You’ve been all over the world and have attended/played hundreds of shows. What have been some of your favorite experiences? What are you most looking forward to with touring with Alkaline Trio?

Two stand out.

A. I played a free festival in Pusan, Korea in 1999 with the Bruce Lee Band. There was over 15,000 people there and we played right before Megadeth. It was the biggest crowd I’d ever played for. They shot me up in an elevator and had giant pyro going on during the set. I remember after the show looking at Dan Potthast [who played guitar] and just us kind of smiling in awe realizing that was a special show.

B. One of my old project, The Chinkees, toured Japan with a band called Kemuri. The tour was sold out in advance and we were treated like rock stars. Flying to shows, having people carry our bags and basically feeling like we were The Beatles. Of course it was because the headlining band was huge, but it’s always fun to play make believe.

Finally, the trio. I’ve known these guys since they were teenagers. I feel a special bond with them since Asian Man was the label from the early days and were able to see their rise in popularity from the start. But most important is that I’ve maintained a friendship over business, and that when we are together it still feels like 20 years ago. The joking, the smiles, and of course the music.

You’ve worked with many notable bands and have become almost a legend of sorts within the scene, how do you juggle everything?

I don’t know if I do a good job juggling everything. I stress quite a bit and am nursing a cold sore at this very moment due to the fact that I’m trying to juggle the label, my music, my wife, my kids, yard work, and average 4-5 hrs of sleep a night for the past 25 years. Probably not the best thing for you, but it’s all I know. I keep telling myself to slow down, but I’m not sure I know how.

What was some of the inspiration behind writing this album?

Life. Watching, experiencing, avoiding all of life’s curveballs, and the constant of being smack dab in the middle of living. Drawing from love, hate, apathy and all of the above is what the album is about. Just things that hopefully people can relate to.

What is special to you about this release in particular?

I know everyone always says they are so happy with their new record/songs and of course I’m no different. But there’s something about this record that I’m really proud of. I’m a harsh critic on my music, but this one feels different. This feels like it can stand the test of time and be relevant for years to come.

What’s the difference between releasing your own project and releasing someone else’s work? Is there more passion/stress that goes into it or is it uncomparable? Which do you prefer?

There are definitely similarities, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have more invested in my own music. That’s why when I released my solo records, back in 2004/2005, I released it on Hopeless Records, just ‘cause I didn’t want it to interfere with Asian Man releases. And Asian Man is a weird label, I don’t do a lot of the conventional things that a lot of labels do. The music business as a whole has always been a love/hate relationship. I love music, but the business sucks. That’s why I started AM. I wanted to do things my own way.

Asian Man has been a huge helping hand to many. How do you keep the label afloat? What motivates/inspires you to keep doing more?

There are many variables, but recently one of the big factors of excitement has been from the volunteers that come in and help pack records. Usually they are young adults and it’s fun just having them play me new bands and tell me about stuff going on in the DIY community. I still go to a lot of shows, but it’s harder and harder these days, so it’s nice to hear their perspective on new bands I should listen to. And it’s motivational to see their excitement in music and makes me want to do more.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you that you’ve always wanted to share?

*laughs* Gosh, I’m not sure?  My mom still cuts my hair? She’s 82 and I’ve never had my hair cut by anybody other than her.

Any advice you would give? Could be about anything.

Yeah, get moviepass, $10 a month, and then get a group of friends together and then every Monday go to the worst movie you can think of and have fun. We have a crew of friends that we do this every week. It’s fun and a cheap way to get together and do stuff as a group.

What does the future look like for you?

Probably more of the same. Sometimes I feel like I’m limiting myself, as I would like to do more in life, but at the same time I feel pretty lucky to do be doing [what I do] for a living. But really, who knows what the future holds? We’ll see I guess.

Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie

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