15 Jul 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 1
Today we left the comfortable cocoon of Perth to embark upon our first Japanese tour. Rolf was especially excited.
We first arrived in Hong Kong and spent a humid day sweating our arses off climbing escalators before getting on a Plane to Nagoya. We have a show here tomorrow night at an unusually named venue, Club Upset. Can’t wait to tell you more.
16 Jul 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 2
Last night we did our first show in Nagoya. We’re happy to say it was a success! Also, quite the experience compared to Australia. For example, on arriving at the venue for sound-check bands are given three sheets of paper. One is for stage plot/musician names/instruments. The next is for the set-list with audio suggestions for the sound mixer (eg– delay/reverb settings), then another set-list for the lighting operator with suggestions for colours for each song. They really help make the show. Club Upset is a pretty small venue but it’s got a good friendly vibe and we had a decent crowd that seemed to really appreciate the songs even though they couldn’t understand the lyrics.
Our genius merchandising department can pat itself on the back for making those stubby holders to give away when we sell cds, although there was a little confusion about what to actually do with them.
After the show it was onto the serious business of drinking – Japanese style. Just around the corner there was a little Izakaya (bar). I had the distinct impression our alcoholic limits were being tested by our friend on the left (he’s the club manager), but being Australian of course we passed with flying colours. The food was good too!
Thanks to our new friends in Nagoya for showing us a great night out. I must have been drunk to be pulling that V sign with such confidence, but Tim really takes the prize in this one.
One show down nine to go. Tonight we head a little further out of town to play at Music Farm… stay tuned.
17 Jul 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 3
We expected tonight to be a relatively quiet Wednesday gig on the outskirts of Nagoya, but we didn’t expect to be blown away by some of the bands we were supporting, most notably Morning Glory, a three piece rock act with two female front ladies, magnificent harmonies and arse kickin‘ drums plus a girl called Jyunko that delivered one of the quirkiest Japanese folk heartfelt performances you could hope to see. We ended up next-door at her friends place, Harmonica Pu Pu. It’s real…
As far as we could tell, it’s a food/curio/music/bar/op shop. We drank some shochu (Japanese spirit). Interestingly, it’s open to 25:00! Thanks Jyunko!
It wasn’t too late to catch the train back to the hotel (they stop at 12am). Luckily our tour manager Duane had a handle on where we needed to go. By now the beer and Shochu combination were making things look kind of like this.
Tomorrow morning we travel to Osaka, check in at the hotel and have a night off from playing, so we’ll probably take in a few sites.
18 Jul 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 4
Things are moving pretty fast here. We arrived in Osaka yesterday and were treated to some of the hottest humid weather so far, but we had a mission. We had to find the venue for Saturday night and distribute fliers for the tour to as many people as we could. We also needed to find a music shop so Rolf could buy a guitar tuner. This was achieved fairly quickly with a combined logic-instinct technique, but the pub took a little longer. Eventually we found it at about 7pm. The Blarney Stone.. yes, that famous Irish Pub in the centre of Osaka. Never heard of it? Dallas Crane has played there and apparently Kasabian has been known to pop in for a Tequila.
It was still empty at this stage but we had a good chat to the staff who were really friendly. I noticed they had tv screens with video clips playing, straight from Youtube. I showed them the ‘Free’ video clip and they liked it, even clapping at the end. Before long a crowd started to arrive and we got to chatting and handing out fliers. Lots of nice people and enough English going around to make things easy. We’ve got a long show there – 2x 45 minute sets but I think it’ll be a good night. Earlier that night we’re playing an outdoor charity event on the harbour. It’s a short 20 minute set with a lot of other bands but it’ll be a good opportunity to promote the next show and the rest of our tour. Tonight we travel to Nara for the gig at Neverland. More on that later.
19 Jul 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 5
Last night we played at a venue called Neverland in Nara, about 40 minutes on the train from Osaka.
It was one of those nights where you end up performing for the other bands on the bill plus a few strays, about 20 people. But once again it was great to see some more Japanese bands. One act from Tokyo by the name of Back Drop Cinderalla really stood out as the tightest heavy punk-rock crossover stage-show we’ve ever seen. We all loved it! And somehow they thought we were pretty good too, the guitarist even gave Rolfee a hug after the show. I don’t know how bands like this survive in Japan financially, but they have their own van and seem to be constantly touring, perfecting their stage show, probably playing a lot of shows like this outside of Tokyo.
It’s a strange fact that Japan is the second biggest music market in the world and it’s difficult for an Australian to name a single Japanese band. There’s this foreign idea that Japanese acts are somehow just copies of similar Western acts but from what we’ve seen so far they’re probably more original in a lot of ways. With the best bands we’ve seen here, there’s a passion for music that’s hard to describe, they put so much energy into it and seemingly get very little in return. I guess if they do make it big though the potential in Japan is massive. We’re looking forward to seeing more.
We’d also like to thank the other acts on the bill last night, especially Idle Boys who played a smooth set and tried to speak English with us
Until next time, here’s a random Osaka photo – Rolfee is on the lookout for unusual bikes.
20 Jul 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 6
Yesterday’s gigs were quite different from the others. The first was on a stage right in front of the harbour. It was a benefit concert for UNICEF called Charity Seaside Live. As seems the norm in Japan, the event was something of a variety show. We played after an eating competition to an international crowd of about 150 people. A few came up afterwards to say hello, a couple of Australians, a Canadian and some nice Japanese girls that wanted fliers for our other shows. Here’s a shot of Rolfee and Tim at the gig.
and this is is our tour manager Duane, dressed appropriately for the humid Japanese summer.
Later that night we did our two set marathon at Blarney Stone. The sound system was shit but the people were great. We had the front floor bouncing with Japanese friends throughout the second set and they took Rolfee and I clubbing afterwards.. an underground Osaka rock club playing all western music like Coldplay, The Strokes, Weezer etc. We drank tequila and headbanged until 2am before getting a cab back to the hotel. Thanks Naoki for showing us such a good time. Tonight’s show is at a place called Shirohige which apparently means white beard… ok!
21 July 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 7
I’ll admit I was initially skeptical about this gig. A club called Shirohige (meaning white beard) about 30 minutes out of Osaka that nobody around here seemed to have heard of with a capacity of 35 people. Imagine our surprise when it became one of the most enjoyable shows so far.
We did two sets and eventually must have squeezed 40 people in there, a full house! We had to tone down our rock antics from the night before, but the sit-down audience clapped, cheered and even laughed at in all the right places.. probably something to do with my attempt at speaking bad Japanese. After the show the manager gave us cold towels (nice) and passed around a tin for tips which we did pretty well on. We even got Japanese fans to help keep us cool (that’s the paper-wood variety). It’s times like these you wish you had more fluffy koalas. Thanks everyone at Shirohige! Especially Mr White Beard (it’s actually a moustache in this photo).
22 July 2008
Japanese Tour Diary Day 8
We didn’t have any shows yesterday so it was time for some serious relaxin‘. Our old mate Shady and his wife Miki took us to a place called Suma Beach. It’s crazy. Full of young people dancing, drinking and playing dating games in the afternoon sun.
It was nice relief from the heat, especially when the sea breeze came in. Still, this guy found it pretty hard going.
Later on we caught the train back towards Osaka and stopped in at a Karaoke bar.. I won’t go into details as I’m sure your imagination can take care of the rest. Tomorrow is a travel day and we have our first gig in Tokyo that night. Looking forward to more bright lights.