The sky was an intense indigo, the sun as hot as a branding iron on the afternoon of the interview with Keith Gordon, drummer and co-composer of the band Ryukyu Underground.

Gordon's village of Kunigami, in the northern region of Motobu on Okinawa's main island, is accessed from a lane off the coastal road. Arriving at Gordon's home by scooter, something streaks across the road, practically grazing the front wheel of the vehicle, before vanishing into subtropical undergrowth.

"That was a mongoose," Gordon, who is waiting at the gate of his house, explains. "It's a good sign. They keep the number of habu at bay." This was just as well, as the interview was conducted under a pergola thick with passion fruit vines, the ideal habitat for Okinawa's most venomous serpent.