Friday, November 12, 2004

The band The No-No Boys will perform at Campus Center at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. From left, Julia Avilla (keyboards/ vocals), Kristy Mizushima, (vocals/ /guitar/flute), Dwight Fontenot, (drums) and Derrick Ford (bass).

Boys are allowed

The No-Nos are a yes-yes,
plus it’s free!

WITH A name like The No-No Boys and a pair of females sharing singing duties, it's not hard to understand why some people assume the band is comprised entirely of women.

The No-No Boys

With Go Jimmy Go, Pimpbot and Neken

Where: UH-Manoa Campus Center

When: 8:30 p.m. Nov. 12

Cost: Free to UH students with valid ID; one guest allowed per student

Call: 956-4491 or connect to www.geocities.com/thenonoboys

But show up to one of their performances, like tonight's free on-campus concert for UH-Manoa students, and you'll have no trouble finding two reasons to toss that assumption out the window.

The first is bass player Derrick Ford. The second? It's the band's drummer, Dwight Fontenot, who came onboard in 2001.

"I think it's a cool surprise," Ford says of audience reactions when the guys step on stage. "People don't know what to expect when they see us, especially when they hear our name."

SO IF there are men playing instruments, why call themselves The No-No Boys?

The answer goes back to the band's mainland roots. Ford met lead vocalist Kristy Mizushima and keyboard player Julia Avilla while the three were University of Northern Colorado students in the mid-90's. Like so many other students from the islands at mainland colleges, they had all volunteered to help with their school's annual Hawaii Club luau.

After a few years of playing the same cover songs together, Mizushima began to dabble in songwriting during jam sessions. By the time graduation came around, they had built a following in Colorado and started to gig regularly. But in order to play out, they needed a name.

"At the time, I was really involved in minority issues," explains Avilla, who worked at the Asian Pacific American Student Services office on campus.

When it came time to choose, she told Mizushima about Japanese-American internees who were placed in camps during World War II.

While most people recognize the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team significance during the war, there was another group of Japanese-Americans who refused to serve in the military.

The government would ask two questions of internees: Would you be willing to serve in the U.S. armed forces? Will you forswear any allegiance to the emperor of Japan?

War resisters who answered in the negative to both questions ended up being known as "No-No Boys," and are the true reason behind the band's name.

"We're playing with the idea of labels," said Avilla. "It's kind of like, don't assume one thing, you know what I mean?"

AFTER making the move home in 2000 to record their debut album, the last few years have been more about paying the bills.

First came the end of their recording deal with Island Fire Productions in 2003. Along with the capital to produce "Unexpected Turbulence," Island Fire secured appearances for them on KSSK's Saturday morning "Perry and Price Show," OC-16's "Local Kine Grindz" and a Nissan Hawaii television commercial.

"Now that I look back on it, it was such a good opportunity, but it was almost like it came too soon," says Mizushima.

With Fontenot, Ford and Mizushima all holding down full-time jobs (as a high school band teacher, crisis counselor and hotel employee, respectively) and Avilla attending graduate school, it's been difficult to get together and work on new material. But they continue to record on the independent level, with hopes of releasing new material by the end of this year.

"It's 100 percent self-produced," said Ford of their upcoming release, tentatively titled "Fantasma Gloria."

"We just have to work harder to get it out there, (since) we don't have other people pushing it for us."

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