It was the gig which it was very fresh, and was dangerous!!
beautiful and generous mister shimmy, this gives me some strength - I'm so glad I got to read it before the yamagata gig - whoa, wait... I'll get to that in a minute... after the gig, yeah after the gig - man, did I feel weird... but so many people were kind to me, so kind. I see daniel from england who I last saw at fuji festival and got pulled away from him that really got me down... I'm so glad I got to apologize to him in person and not just by the email I sent right after. there's a lot of cats from other lands here and I talk w/some. I am so nervous. there's many kind people from here too... I get a little rilakkuma sack w/a little rillakkuma w/it. I feel so awkward... fuck, I said I wouldn't get into that. I space and forget to even say bye to han, aahh fuck. I did get to hug him right after. I thank samm and kramer for hanging there w/me, sam w/the pad's bossman mike. hell, I'm gonna stop now - time to write about the next gig...
saturday, february 9, 2008 - yamagata
it's a hike to the next gig, our most northern one and hell, driving through tokyo to gather everyone is like three hours worth of time so nobuyuki gets me in the hiace toyota van we're using at eight bells and we roll to get first knobman masa and then kramer who says he was locked out for seventy minutes last night at the pad where he was staying (one of the cats in the band he just produced) cuz of a miscommunication and so him being konked when we got there was way understandable, he's soon us and we meet the other lites who got sam - there's two vehicles cuz katzuto's got his nissan cube (mister shimmy has one of these cuz I rode in it last july and that's how I know). there's a bunch of stops on the way for some chow (I get a small sack of taco which is their word for octopus), to piss and get gas (about $5.40 u.s. a gallon) and what a trip, the attendant runs to guide the car in, runs to get our ashtray and empty it - what?! that was sure nice of him. there's lots of nature this way up to yamagata, mountains w/some parts for farming w/little town alongside - much different than the reality back in tokyo. it sure is pretty country. they drive on the left here like england so I'm still adjusting to that, involuntary freakouts and all - looking the wrong way, good thing I ain't driving. masa takes the wheel for a while so nob can konk. kramer's palying songs for samm through headphones from his 'puter, I don't know exactly what but maybe some of his own and stuff he's produced? I'm up front in the passenger seat cuz that and the driver side is the only place seatbelts are and though I rode in the back from the airport, I'm too paranoid to roll w/out those... we get into yamagata around five and the snow that we've seen all around on the way up is starting to come down. we were gonna play a pad called sandinista but there was a double booking so instead we're at sunset studio which is what a sounds like, a studio. it's not being recorded, we're just having a gig and it feels right. friends of lite, a great band called shift are playing w/us and so is another local (shift's from yamagata) band called gaya. the shift yuki knows chris xbxrx (nor cal east bay band) and they've even toured together. wow, all these folks I get to meet, what wonderful people.
us brother's sister's daughter guys join the lite ones, they take us to a chow pad and I have some tonkatsu which is kind of like german schnitzel, even w/a big mountain of cabbage on the side. it's really good. we go back and it's dark. gaya go on and only do two songs, damn. I like them. shift is next and they're a total mindblow, kind of in the melt-banana neighborhood but very much w/their own style. I'm digging it... singer yuki is a hand grenade going off! "dreamy dreamy dreamy dreamy!!!" yeah, I get it! lite's turn and they're smokin', really twisting their instrumental crimson kingdom in really nice furroughs. all four of them put in their shares to make a powerful whole, really nice compositions and full passion in the delivery. I think they're amazing. avalanche after waterfall after blacktop driveway to the highway and onward. it's very inspiring for me and helps to chase away that fear shit. kramer sits out the funanori tune when they're done and though me and samm get on much quicker, it's still too much of a gap and a loss of the momentum lite has built up. instead of playing congas or whatever those were last night, samm does lead singer - yeah! I play the fucking right chords more get in there w/jun, us two bass brothers. I love this song and it deserves me getting it right - hearing the lite guys do it at soundcheck, they had so down - it's me fucking it up. I do better tonight which is good cuz I would've broken my own leg off in my own ass if I didn't.
I leave jun's bass setup where he has it, fuck switching sides - simple is better. also, I don't leave stage after playing w/lite - no, I wanna show solidarity... we are different band but same team. I am very inspired, fired-up from watching the brothers make their music and think "now's my turn" and the fear of yesterday is gone... I am way relaxed. no introductions, I just melt our gig into the younger cats who went first - I feel together w/them. man, the ideas just keep flying from my head, lick after lick - no think, just do. samm is slammin' and w/me wherever the trip takes itself, he's great. no "fun house" like last night in desperation for help but I do go for some "born on the bayou" at one point. kramer has a texture thing going, it's hard to tell his rhythm or harmony but I don't think that's the point or why I'm here. he helps me though somehow - w/samm it's more obvious to my mind but whatever sense I'm trying to make of it, it really doesn't matter cuz I'm amazed the fear is gone and I can fucking really get the freak flag flying. wow. how to make this like it was just a switch to flick, huh? the hour gig seems moments - watt's having fun! shit, I don't want it to stop but I do and no, not encore even though yesterday we got one - I begged samm and han to go out there and drum solo to start it off... han was so great w/working the stage (I'm thinking of it now), he'd pull up a chair next me and be playing, then put the chair on his drumsticks (shit, w/his own gig he had the kids whistling "hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go" but not by command rather through power of mussic), I think of han bennik... can I ever get close to his strength that way in music. why do I close my eyes, why let fear threaten? when will I learn? that's why these gigs must happen, must somehow penetrate and learn me. I had some success tonight... I find myself susprised, laughing w/a gladness. I think of mister shimmy['s words last night as I go outside to find snow has come down everywhere, white-blanketed. man, I give great thanks for having overcome and not continuing on a downhill slide from last night... well, maybe I myself wasn't responsible but whatever it was, I am glad and grateful! so trippy for me to be in all this snow, flakes coming down on me. one thing I gotta watch is slipping cuz if I fall it will be a nightmare to get hurt so I take tiny geisha-boy steps.
this is shift's home town so them and the lite cats take us to a chow pad where we shovel lots of righteous chows, oishii (their word for tasty). delicious stew/soup w/mushrooms, crab and all kinds of stuff called nabe - the chow pad folks bring burners hooked up to little propane tanks to cook right on the table. there's all kinds of stuff I've never had in the u.s. that they chow regular here and I dig it all, really. lots of times I'm asked to chow after gigs and usually turn it down but I really like being w/these guys, yeah, they're good fun! and it don't stop there - we're konking at the shift bass player seiji's pad and once there, the beers and sochu get brought on and we're all in one room, most around this round table and sitting on the deck, sharing a big blanket over the legs. there's a part where one at a time, a person will stand up and say their name and then tell something about themselves. it's a fucking good old time being here w/these cats, I hope I ain't repeating myself too much about that but that's how I feel. I get carried away and spiel 'till like five bells before I konk against the bulkhead there, using the big hooded coat as blankie pillow, probably big ibikis (there word for snoring) roaring from me. it's a happy watt konking tonight!
sunday, february 10, 2008 - sendai
I pop at like nine bells and get out to hoof (again, slow w/tiny geisha-boy steps), brrr - a little cold but man, does brisk mountain air a righteous thing to take down into the lung. I got my camera and have been taking pictures pictures pictures - I don't stop now, even the littlest thing that gets my eye. when I get back to the pad, yuri-san has made us some great breakfast chow along the lines of what jun made me in tokyo. samm brought his own espresso one-shot pot and makes me some coff (brought a little sack of that too) cuz you don't find freshbrew in the convenience stores (they got lots of 7-11, am/pm and others here), just stuff in cans like in the vending machines (you wouldn't believe the amount of those everywhere) and though you can get it hot it still ain't the same. that sure is nice of samm.
we're playing a hour or so south in sendai tonight and again it's w/lite (all the gigs are w/lite!) and shift plus a local band called obs. the club is in the basement floor of a mall and called junkbox. it's got a good sound system and is a couple times longer than it's wide but not too big, maybe a couple of hbuyingundred. after soundcheck we get chow at a chinese place next door and I get ramen, first getting a ticket from a machine and handing that to the cook which is pretty common over here. I then go chimp diary.
we're gonna go on at nine pm like last night. obs is first and they're trippy: two drummers w/trap sets but one of them is not traditional but has a wheel rim, oil can and metal chinkaderas plus a synth cat, guitarist and a lady singer. the drummers have headphones so maybe clicktrack? the band is really trippy and I like them, kind of tribal in a way w/their sound. shift is next and blow my fucking mind even more this time, they're righteous to watch as well. man, what a tone from guitarman hiro and his phrasing. drummer cho is really slammin' and I'm digging his parts along w/the interaction w/the bass from sieji, wow! the starts and stops the whole group pulls off, their song structures... my words are weak to tell how really it gets me feeling, all I can say is fuck yeah, you know? lite follows them up and I think I've got everyone of their tunes cemented in my head - this is a good thing - I know this is helping me get my shit together, experiencing their beautiful and trippy music and playing, fantastic... thank you much, lite cats. samm talks to me about maybe more grooves from me tonight so when we go on, I dig up the riff I was using in one of my rants last night before we konked to help me explain what I had going through me while I've been witnessing the performances of these guys (shift and lite), the spiel directed at them, for them and I just keep on that. I morph it into some blue notes/beats I'm getting off of samm and then I don't know, it seems my playing gets a little psychedelic, that's what I think maybe - I wasn't trying but that's the turn I think the set takes and becomes - I do throw in a take on jimi's "machine gun" and go into all the fuzz by driving the amp all the way like I did last night but mostly I'm backing off full throttle and discipline into "a love supreme" cuz the psychedelic feel gets me to thinking about that for some reason. samm is tripping his drums some - some? lots! as is kramer w/the fuzz bass. it's difficult to get objective enough to chimp this right... right? what's right? it is a different gig - maybe last night was better but this is happeing... oh, we did a real good take on the funanori tune w/lite - shit, why didn't I think of putting that before I started commenting on the brother's sister's daughter set? I say that cuz that's when it happened, at the end of the lite set w/the lite guys. I wasn't standing next to their bassman jun which was kind of lame but he didn't have to change his amp (hooking up the speakers different to accommodate me) cuz I used the house amp kramer's using (he sits it out again) so we get the song of w/very little spaceout time which I think was a success too. so good to play w/them and the arrangement is nailed this time down. ok, back to brother's sister's daughter: we get an encore after maybe playing a little shorter than we could of? I don't know cuz I was baka and forgot to check the watch before we went on but I think it was a little early but shit, this ain't important but I ain't gonna delete it... good response from the folks watching throughout so pump up so more jams, more like staying to constant figures as I've been doing but maybe a little more driving. I'm thinking psychedelic when we finish, just am. I thank kramer and samm for being there for me.
the boat's getting loaded and this crowd of young people wanna take pictures and have me sign stickers I give them, very kind. we drive back to seiji's to konk and I go into another spielathon after showering... what a fuckup, I didn't realize where the drain was and that's where I put the levis and skivvies - all wet now (trippy how they keep the little square tubs filled w/water so they don't have to re-heat I guess - it was the same at jun's pad in tokyo). hey, yuri-san gives me a little clear rubber rilakkuma ball - what a righteous present - arigato! well, I get all philosophic (kind of) cuz it's pretty psychedelic I think, especially w/the language difference and even more, my baka slang but it's all a good time, they're all so very kind, really. man, am I glad to be here! I do run out of gas though (yeah, after like maybe twentythree thousand words) and end up konking not as late as last night.
monday, february 11, 2008 - kanazawa
you know, I only had one beer last night but I'm hearing about my "performance" - not to the cats I did it for, my buddies in lite and shift but from drummerman samm who heard it through the walls! I guess I was theatrical, symbolic or whatever the fuck cuz what he relates back to me sounds pretty nuts: stomping, pounding, insane self-dialog (two-way talking from one fucking baka), the works. now I did have this stuff that looked like water but tasted like vodka (doesn't vodka look like water... what am I saying?) called shochu I think... I think that got me lit and yeah, got me soaked cuz when I pop at like seven and a half, I'm drenched... damn it - this out was just got on last night before I konked. fuck, whatever - I'm gonna ride it out cuz I brought just the little yellow sack for outfits and that means only one more pair of levis left so... gotta ration, you know? sometimes I look at myself like a total scripted comedy filtered through irony kidneys. que chingau, mike watt?
we gotta roll early, tea from kramer (he displays his fetish by having us examine all his cache of different types which are pretty wonderful, even if I'm pretty ignorant about tea) for me and samm along w/him and yuri-san gives us a sack of onigiri (rice balls filled w/good sour stuff like pickles or plum), much respect to her. we shove off in cold weather but lots sun - no kumo (clouds), roads are clear and safe as we head for japan's west coast (my first time). it's a holiday here today, I'm told it's something about getting the country started. damn, there's so many little things I wish I could chimp about cuz there's so much detail I trip on and wanna relate but it seems it's always that way for me w/tours and putting something somewhat readable (yeah, right) to diary. I could chimp ten million words and still be fucking broad-stroking it and that's all my fault. I have no talent to work the aleph (please read borges short story "the aleph"), no fucking skill. lots of stops, I'm into it cuz that's what our lite partners want and they know the dealio in their parts. I see the sea of the japan for the first time in my life, wow. jun says the waves are much bigger than those on the east coast, in the pacific. driving through these mountains is beautiful - not as big and jagged as the alps but 'pert-near as many tunnels. I try to clear the air w/some direct spiel - I'm not so elegant but I feel very much I owe the lite cats. we get to the venue in kanazawa around four, passing a huge old cast and a big beautiful park. the pad is called vanvan4 and the audience space in front of the stage (it's up on the second floor) is cube-like and holds a couple hundred folks. like everywhere we're playing, the house people are very nice. kyoka is here - she's a lady I've put my bass to a few of her songs, she does experimental electronic music w/a laptop. I do an interview w/a newspaper about her upcoming release cuz I'm on two tunes and this is her hometown. I also do an interview at a radio station called fm izawa about tonight's show. the dj is a real nice cat who asks me really good things about my music history and about this tour I'm doing now. I get back to the venue and nobuyuki brings me chow, some chinese ramen w/dry fried noodles cuz I had no time to go w/them earlier. so very kind of him - these cats are the best, I love them.
the first act on is a cat (fuck, I forgot his name but he's sending me music so I can play it on the watt from pedro show) doing solo acoustic guitar and it's really gorgeous stuff, I hear japanese influence in the rhythms and scales. next is interior palette toeshoes (both of these acts are local) and lots of their music is based around a piano, they're really good and I'm into it. lite goes on a blasts yet another incredible set of their music, holy moses! it really blows me away, amazing. so much respect from me for them, truly. samm suggests kramer goes on before us to get things going w/his fuzz bass (he goes through a foot pedal effect unit whatever that makes a lot of things like distortion, echo, loops, etc). samm joins him and then I come. again I think the gig is like last night on the psychedelic angle but maybe a little more inventive or rather more inventions? for sure we do "fun house" cuz I sing it and now got the albit bass amp dialed to thunder a hell of a lot more than the last time we did it (the only time, at the first gig) and I got more nerve too so that makes a hell of a lot of difference, I think. I shake my body much this gig, pretty big time and sweat it out hard. I am taken, you know: launched... it's like the bass is some big tube of toothpaste and I'm squeezing out thick different lengths of low, lots of it thuddering/spuddering into splatters, samm either dancing around in it or trying to use carpet tacks on it to keep something on the deck while kramer's in a parallel universe, cosmic gas married to optical illusion confusion/union as it were. sure, for me the pants-shitter moments seem an eternity but actually the whole gig is suddenly done - samm delivered the scissors in a tiny speech. there is an encore, I'm thinking pop group? yeah - "we are time" then, huh? it gets messy inside a watt mind head thought. oh, the lite brothers had a good idea: let's play together on the funanori song after our set instead of the end of their's. kramer's on cowbell for the first time too and not sitting it out (though he was sitting in a chair for the gig). beautiful people give the thanks yous, bless you. kramer says he's wide away and does backwork. these gigs end at ten and a half but tonight we have three hours of hellride (nightrides after gigs are always scissored by me unless there is absolutely no choice - too too fucking dangerous!) to tsubame, a suburb of niigata where lite soundman masa's folks live. midnight now... I say bye to kyoka, she moves to berlin (germany) in two days, ganbatte ("go for it!") to her from me.
I've been riding in the front passenger seat cuz that and the driver one is only where there's seat belts and I'm just too fucking afraid (coward!) to ride w/out seat belts (thinking too much of d. boon) and as soon as we start rolling, I konk. four bells when I pop awake and we're there... my first time in a traditional japanese house and it's beautiful, wow! I actually see just to big rooms of it, separated by thin sliding doors. the other bulkheads are sliding doors too but w/paper "window" (you can't see out them) panels, it's actually rooms inside of rooms cuz the outside walls are not paper. the deck (yeah, we're on the deck - I love it!) has a big tatami (woven grass) mat and then a big electric heated pad on that where we all sit plus there's a gas heater and all that frozen cold is warmed away, righteous. masa's ma gives us a big sack of dried ika (squid), I love it. I konk happy, much respect to masa for driving us here (maybe akinori helped? baka watt was konked).
tuesday, february 12, 2008 - niigata
I pop at ten bells and start chowing the ika out of the sack while chimping diary, just like that... don't know why but that's what I did. the gig's only about a hour away in downtown niigata so we have no hurry. masa's ma makes us the most righteous breakfast chow: big bowls of vegetables, rice and a soup that has hunks of mochi which is rice pounded down big time to make it dough-like, dangerous if you try and chow it too quick cuz you could gag easy. man, this is such a happening chow, much respect to masa's ma. his pop comes in to meet us and shows us pictures from when he visited europe years ago. he's very cool people, much respect to him.
the weather is pretty much cold rain and gray as we head out and get to where the gig is tonight, junkbox mini. it takes a little while to actually find the pad, you would not believe the way address are "organized" (!!!) in this land, the thing w/street signs and address numbers (or rather lack of and not sequential) which is a trip cuz everything else is so together but this is way wack. we do find it eventually though. it's up on the sixth floor of this building (niigata's kind of beat up for a japanese town) and it's own by the same folks who run the junkbox in sendai, where we played sunday. there's five bands tonight so we gotta soundcheck quick but we get funanori's "tidy your mess up" down pretty good, samm's got the form now though he's always known the parts. maybe we try it tomorrow. I go to the office to check email (all these pads we've played have had wireless but here it's hardwire) and speaking of funanori, a new song has come for me from miss kaori, wow! it's gorgeous music, lots of keyboard w/the sanshin so it's different than what she's given me before. the first time I hear it, tears just flood from my eyes. it's called "toumei sunday" and has a very relaxed feel. the email w/it says it's just an early form so no singing yet... she writes "I'd like to make it on your own way, machine bass is only to know codes, just a basic" - maybe midibass? that's what it sounds like. I'm gonna try my best, I'm excited.
we chow a couple doors down and katsudon it what I shovel, it's pork cutlet on rice and also I have some udon noodles soup - it's oishii (tasty)! man, all this great chow... much respect! in between here and the club is a record store called "trane" - again, much respect!
this venue is similar to vanvan4 but the cube where the folks are and the stage is a smaller. the first band is sleeping lucy, they have a very good singerlady who's on bass, women too on the drums and guitar, another guitar is worked by the only man who also fires off samples and loops w/foot pedals. they're from this town. next is nano machine from tokyo and they got keyboard and trumpet besides guitar/bass/drums - pretty sophisticated arrangements, passionate playing - happening, really good interplay w/the guys in the band. tonight I'm watching all the opening bands entire set - they all play around half hour. keeskas soundsservice after - no drummer but there guitar/bass/keyboard + sampler player. really good singer. tonight's different w/the opening acts, it's hard for to explain except to say there's no one like yuki (from shift)! it's all interesting to me though, I'm so glad I'm getting to experience this first hand, yeah! our lite brothers follow and I hear them through the bulkhead cuz I'm a little sore in the legs from all the standing to watch the openers but man, you wouldn't know they were tired, wow, such torque from them! the way nobuyuki and kouzou work their guitars together... samm talks to me about it's pretty intense the way they do that. jun is incredible thunder on the bass and w/much skill as well - same w/akinori driving it all on the drums, a band I really really like. we do wanna get akinori of the drums and sing funanori's "tidy your mess up" cuz well, yeah, he's never done it before and I'd like samm to have the drum solo. two kits up on a lot of th ese stages would be tough, the logistics of it. anyway, they know out a great little set and we set up quick we're 'pert-near a little behind, kind of. the brother's sister's daughter set for me is kind of tough one - not cuz of being so much as scared like the first one a super deluxe but cuz I feel the communication is a little tough w/the guys. maybe like me asking samm to dance on a carpet that's moving, something like that? not psychedelic tonight I think though, not psychedelic. at some points I feel I might cower so I try this - I look right at the crowd, look into their faces... they have kind faces. my amp sounds like it's choking on power - I can't make it hump, make the bass jump... for sure no rumble. is it the acoustics of the pad? aahh, just writing this makes me feel I'm making excuses which is bullshit. samm wants me to do "fun house" - ok, anything for samm... aahh, I only sing part of first verse, lay out... sing all of second verse but then am finished. look at watch - yeah, set finished. bring on the lite brothers, my spirits lift. we have great fun w/the funanori song, even w/me blow a little clam. I get to play in between kouzou and jun - great fortune, inside I light up. we get into the trainwreck ending, I hug kouzou and lift him up... damn, does he weigh a hundred pounds or what? very light. or lite? ha! good way to pull up spirit, big thanks to lite brothers.
right after I have talk w/samm and tell him about the carpet thing and say I'll let go of a lick if it ain't making a click - you know? samm's into it. tough gig for watt but I'll double up for next one. I say goofy stuff... apologize to samm, apologize to kramer. embarrassed watt a little. good spirited japanese gig-goers are kind w/the words for me, take pictures and get signatures... arigato. snow is coming down as we load out... icy road to masa's folks' pad but we get there slow and safe which I'm grateful. whoa, it's cold but the very happening pad has the heated mat and gas heater. a few beers w/nobuyuki and masa w/a short (for watt) spiel before the konk-bobs make it obvious I'm done and they put me out. arigato, brothers.
wednesday, february 13, 2008 - tokyo
pop at seven bells after five hours of konk - that's what my body says it wants, it is not a coup of the mind unless I'm confused which is possible... which might very fucking possible. a look out the glazed window (get it?) in the head while pissing... damn, a huge cold wind and my eyes witness much snow on the ground and freezing rain falling... oh boy, I hope those guys are safe. I didn't mention it but katzuto, jun, kouzou and akinori went back to tokyo after the gig last night while samm went to a 'tel near the train station cuz he's getting back home by rail to teach a class in the morning. masa's okaasan (ma) makes some coff and brings it on a little tray, arigato. she also fixes up a sack of onigiris and one of mikas (tangerines from here - bigger than ours) for us to take for road chow. nobuyuki's at the wheel and he does real good, I'm sitting next to him (trippy being in this seat w/out a steering wheel!) and talk w/him to help w/the nerves cuz it's fucked on the road w/much ice and snow, pretty heavy but I can imagine what it was like last night. a call on nobuyuki's leash tells us the did make it (thank god) but it took seven hours. for us the 170 miles we gotta do have the first hundred of it dealing w/yuki but then pretty soon after we pass where I played last summer w/the stooges at the fuji rock festival (town called naeba), it starts clearing up and soon not a trace of the intenseness we endured is evident (funny to read such chimping from watt, huh?). I have to say though, there was much beauty in the wonder of the snow draped trees and side-of-the-road drifts piled up all high. at one point a white-out 'pert-near wiped out all visual ability but it lasted only seconds. you know this deer/elk crossing signs we got in the u.s.? well, they got them here for sarus (monkey) and tanukis (raccoon dog) - man, I wish I could see either of those cuz I have never but am glad I don't see any plastered on the road from being hit.
so we make it through safe, much respect to nobuyuki - he did good. it took five hours to make the trip. the venue we're at tonight is called o-nest and is in the shibuya part of tokyo. I haven't played around here since the stooges played shibuya-ax four years ago. we're up on the sixth floor of the o-west building. samm won't be here for a couple of hours (five pm) so the lite brothers soundcheck first. this is a happening pad, great sound and a nice layout where every gets a good look. most these gigs have women in the sound crew like tonight. all the folks at these guys are just the nicest, no fucking 'tude to deal w/and it's the same w/the bands. 54-71 checks next, they're a tokyo band and have three other gigs w/us. samm gets here and we do our check real quick - for some reason I play the stooges "little doll" and he really likes that. well, so do I! oh, I got some chow while lite was checking - some tonkatso ramen a block away that kazuto takes me too and it's yep, you guessed it: tasting good! like five bucks u.s. too, alright! I get back to see z check, the fourth band on the bill. now hununhum, a band we played w/on the first gig of the tour has four of it's members in z - the same singer/saxman, same bassman but w/the percussionman and drummerman, those two switch positions. the fifth man (guitar) is not in hununhum. like all the gigs we've done, I go and meet everyone I can in all the bands - I really dig what I'm seeing/hearing of the japanese underground scene and wanna thank them all for letting me be part for a little bit.
those guys (lite/samm/kramer) go chow while I chimp diary which is more like how a regular watt tour is - I don't usually chow w/my guys, to give them a break from me. these women come and give me presents, very kind of them. I get a rilakkuma pillow, whoa! I get a tiny little rilakkuma to put on a chain but the hole's too small to put w/my anchor though I try and try. I get an ultraman bust made of chocolate and a little box of chocolate almonds for happy valentines day I'm told. that sure is kind of them, truly. I go outside for a moment and when I come back in, I see on a blackboard the listing for tonight's gig written up it and I'm listed as a member of funanori before the stooges, yeah! triipy, huh? well, tonight I'm watching the bands from the side of the stage cuz it's hard to get out front. z goes on first and is I'm digging it, someways krautrock (or whatever they call that) kind of. everyone's really good at what they do in the band but that's what it's been like for all the bands I've been seeing. 54-71 does a set of funk and their take on rapping - great band w/what I'm told a newer guitarist, the other three (singer/bass/drums) original. what punch and drive from bassman kentaro, whoa. same w/drummerman bobo w/his kick, which besides his ten inch snare (yeah, ten inch!) is all he has besides hihat and tambourine (no toms or crash/ride cymbals)! these guys are grooving. I notice the singerman using english which is different from what I've seen this tour cuz most of these folks use their first language. they do good. I go back stage to talk w/them and find out "54-71" doesn't mean except maybe six times nine is fiftyfour and sixtynine is the japanese "word" for rock... ms yuko told me something about that before. hey, look who's here?! mister shimmy - righteous! I'm so glad to see him, so glad... big BIG hugs. lite's playing now so I go back down to watch (the dressing room's up on the seventh floor too) and they are tearing it up - go guys! man, from watching these three bands, I am sure fired up to play. saxman jun (not the lite jun) asks to jam w/us one tune and hell yeah, I'm into it, we'll do it.
samm talks to me about what he wants us to do tonight. his says how about three minutes of must drums and then we come on w/what I did at soundcheck, "little doll" and I say sure, whatever he wants. so that's what we do! the amp sounds much better tonight, like before and I don't have the probs w/it like niigata. I'm also more intent on inventions and locking in w/him. I don't why but when he drops things into halftime at one point, I riff on the staples singers "I'll take you there" - what?! the only real problem I have besides of course some inevitable stumbles is my tuning... damn is there sour-ass w/the 'g' string at some points, what a fucking baka. you would think that string especially would stay in tune, especially w/the "red thing" hanging from it. well, I've got some nerve up and insecure hell seems not threaten to overwhelm as much, in fact keeps out of sight in the mind some... of moment of need of invention or maybe - the moment... the moment seems to be a big part of this improv thing - "what is to be done?" or "what is not to be done?" (the latter more important?). a symbol for one dimension of human dilemma I think... maybe. even w/the feeling of spirit - con myself into it? I find music sacred and personal in needy moments, in relaxed ones an appreciation of the luxury of dwelling on such notions, needy beliefs... baka watt: needy needy needy. bring on z saxman guest-for-us jun (not lite bass jun) and give him john coltrane riff underneath (gave him john coltrane button when I met him earlier today). fuck, the mic or mic cord or something is having his sound break up - maybe neat somehow in a certain way? I wanna hear his tone, his sprit so I just bring over my mic so he play into that. then I go over to be next to him while I abandon riff for noodling (iggy calls it ramen) but keep that mainly to half a bar at a time? bring her home to the root each time - I would like to think so but maybe I wander... well, be a soft bass being a sax (I am not aggressive at this point). done, hugs for him. bring on lite brothers (kramer only did that cowbell in kanazawa so it's not all of us). it is ecstatic, I love them. samm sings great, clams matter not - he is from improvised scene, old timer w/that. he brought some trippy percussion: toy plastic hands that clap each other when you wave the stick they're connected to. me and jun (not z sax jun) trade bass solos - miss kaori wrote us all great to tune share, arigato!
yeah there was an encore but maybe the tuning thing is real problem so I don't put this part of the last paragraph. the people - aahhh, hardly any mention of the people from self-centered watt, what's that about? they are very kind, very generous. the whole they gave much support and helped w/any progress I've made from the holes I dig for myself to make things lame. arigato good folks of japan. I go to meet them, be in the crowd w/them. yeah, they are happening, most happening - all these folks all these gigs. I did say from the stage earlier but towards gig end that I was much inspired by japanese underground music scene and grateful for the open hearts that let me share. there's super-deluxe boss mike who I actually saw before we started (I gave him a fist in the air) so we talk after some spiel w/bill who's a friend of brother matt (we do many watt from pedro shows together). mike goes to d.c. back in u.s. and I tell him to visit all the sakura trees this land here gave us... I did last year cuz of a stooges gig the very day of peek bloom (mike's probably too early for that) and it was a profound moment on me, intensely. greet thank you bow handshake hug again again again - such nice folks, thank you much. beautiful.
lite drummerman akinori takes me and kramer to his pad cuz were konking there. he's in the kanamachi hood of tokyo. his pad is very nice, it has a great spirit and is very calming on me. one challenge to the calmness is the shower though, damn is it fucking freezing - I try to endure the ice cycles being firehosed on me but whoa... I laugh hysterically cuz this a trip. well, there was a button to push and akinori does that and the water becomes warm. that was a cardiac... funny though. it's good to be clean before I konk - I do that sometimes and after in my head always seem to vow that's the way it's to be from now on but I end up spacing on that. baka watt. I konk w/in seconds of hitting the deck but before that deck is hit, I have good spiel w/akinori. all these lite brothers have english not so well but they are patient w/me and I believe we communicate much, I learn from them much... they are beautiful. I wish I could write so much more about them, kazuto too. aahhh, my shit is weak.
thursday, february 14, 2008 - matsumoto
I pop at ten bells - wow, eight hours of konk for watt! I am feeling cramped up some so I go hoof. all taiyo, no kumo (my fucked up way of trying to relate "all sun, no clouds" by molesting some of the words I've learned here) but still a little chilly - so what, it's good to move the bones, push the blood around. there's a vending machine on the corner that's got cans of coff for about a dollar u.s., I get one and yep, it's warmed up by the machine. walking around is trippy, I wish I could find words for all the sensations for the images, sounds and smells I'm experiencing. it's cuz I'm foreign, not from here and it's all different and that has it's own wonder... I suffer from the disease of being curious, always have. I make sure though to keep track of landmarks so I don't get lost - I've fucked up that way on tours before. I get back and start chimping diary on the deck in the living room and after a bit, akinori comes in and plays a cd by 54-71, one of the bands we played w/last night. I like it. then he brings his aka-chan, haru - oh, beautiful little boy. only eight months old, he pushes himself along the deck. nami brings out righteous chow so we all can shovel (I love using hashi, chopsticks) for breakfast. babies wanna grab everything so when I take my eyes off him for a moment, there goes the cup of coff akinori made me all over my leg, funny. it's ok, no prob. beautiful haru. I get a picture taken w/him. we have to shove off for the next gig (bye bye, baby haru!), after tonight makes the halfway point of the tour. we meet samm at a train stop not too far away - oh, I was first to the boat where akinori parked it for a sec and damn if these two parking cops are writing up a ticket - a big sticker on the windshield one, they also take a picture. the fine is around a hundred dollars u.s., aaarrrrggghh. anyway, samm has a sack of tsukune which are little fish cakes cooked up in oil and then a leaf put on them, really good. thank you, samm. we then go pick up nobuyuki at his pad. it takes two hours just to get out of tokyo, crimony! we're on the same road we came into yesterday but heading west. I chimp some of what I believe happened yesterday in my diary, I have to be honest and say that.
the itinerary says the town we're in is nagano but acutually we get off almost fifty miles before there in a town called matsumoto. it's a town that's pretty high up, snow is everywhere but not any blizzard/rain hell of anything. shit, I had the pad's name we're playing wrong too, it's alecx not alex. the gig boss also has a record store but fuck, I can't remember his name... very cool people though. I meet cocas and they give me music when I asked them, I dig it when bands I get to play alongside w/flow their tunes so I can hear them and play them on my show. both of the opening bands are from here and I meet the cats in one of them, anks. very very nice guys. cuz it's after five, we gotta hurry and soundcheck, do a short one - jun says I can try his marshall wva 400 amp tonight, ok I'll try it. we do "tidy your mess up" yet again and yes, I think we do have it... when will we try it in front of people? aahhh!! this pad is like lots of the others on this tour, except downstairs in a building instead of up. we chow chinese not too far away. I ask kramer to sit next to me. samm orders for me mabo dofu and it's cubes of tofu in a chili sauce. and rice, lots of rice in this land and it's really different than u.s. or europe. you have to just chow both to realize how good the way they got it here.
I get back just in time to catch the anks - I like them, squirrely guitars. they do a good job, everyone pulling together - bass/drums locked. coccas are next, a trio w/a kind of garagey sound w/a little bit loose feel, very happening. much emotion from guitar/singer masa, I can dig it even w/out understanding a word. drums big part of the feel and great bass too, yeah! some little solos, tasty. the lite brothers bring forth the thunder, their sound real snaps in this room. bassman jun uses his albit amp cuz he had me try his marshall and I like the edge he's got w/his sound through this. him and akinori launch kouzou and nobuyuki tune after tune, wild... the band is on fire! now is our turn and I'm thinking if I don't get it on we're gonna choke on these guys smoke - much respect to them cuz I think that's something very happening situation for watt to be in and not fucking wallow in doubt - do it, watt! kramer and samm work out the opening plan: kramer will lay out a loop w/that pedal board he's been using - well, the other one, he brought two and one does that the other does uh, well, other things - I don't really know... there's a fuzz box too. now when our gig starts though - there's no loop! all I hear is screaching like a jet plane taking off or something so I go into a acid raga rock kind of a trip. we do "little doll" again (samm wants it) and it's more together than last night, especially w/the scat or whatever the fuck I do at the end there... riffing on "shake" and "little doll" while shaking my body like I was w/my secondmen. hell, it's valentine's day, ain't it? I keep trying flowing inventions and try to nail endings w/them both, making more eye contact to help. this marshall ain't maybe as happening as the albit, not as much gnarl so I go w/that, more jamerson like bass lines and grooves. I bust it open in parts but it ain't like last night but that's ok, I'm digging the gig. the folks in the crowd are beautiful to play to, they show much appreciate and totally focus on everything, much respect to them. shit, I do whup in some parts if I think about it and in fact some of the craziest fast bass I've done this whole tour results. samm hangs w/me though and kramer's putting his eyes out for me to see to, I'm into it, it helps. he's sailing w/some lines on his fuzz bass too. we bring the lite brothers on and blast the funanori "lazy and crazy" really tight, me and jun got the bass duel-o going while I shaking it up next kouzou - I dig being by this cat, he's got the juice! give it to me, brother kouzou, help me throw it back to brother jun. encore encore... I go out there and see kramer and samm in the crowd watching me, what?! I'm way out of tune cuz but I work that into the most econo solo ever for watt... I got one thought today, one v-day one... I use the dissonance for a phrase, micro-tones w/moving the tuning keys as if to say, "this 'e' and 'a' string will never be in tune, I do it a couple of times - I then hit a 'b' way up high on the 'g' (or was it 'c-sharp' maybe? maji yabai!) and hold it long long long, slide it down... all the way doooowwwwnnn and say "love" on the mic... I'm done. whoa. I go right out to the crowd and meet w/the folks - so much good spirit! pictures, signatures (hey, a cat from canada wants me to sign his ciccon youth record!), hugs, hand shakes, the works - thank you thank you arigato! I get a present - a little rilakkuma w/his own konk sack! big joy for jijii watt.
we're konking at this kind lady named chifumi, right above a shushi pad where her ma has been the chef (I'm told that's very unusual in japan) for thirty years. she makes up the best soosh I've ever had, wow... much MUCH respect to her! I am so worn out from the gig but come alive and do big spiel w/some beers w/samm... chifumi's great. of course I have get silly and stumblebum w/words w/samm, silly watt. "what's it all about?" I think that's the last line of my final speech... it's four bells (we got there at eleven!), I think I konked as my head was on its way down to the deck, it was way quick!
friday, february 15, 2008 - kumagaya
I pop after only four hours of konk, how... old punk rocker? I go downstairs and chifumi's ma makes me the greatest chow - very kind people, her and her ma, very kind. I am most grateful. it's miso soup, big hunks of salmon, rice and pickled trippy vegetables - I think this must be kind of typical traditional japanese breakfast now after having a bunch made for me. I love it, good shoveling - same w/the green tea I put down the hatch. I chip diary 'till we gotta bail, maybe ten bells? chifumi wants to show us matsumoto castle. it's beautiful - I visit the jenjya (place where god lives?) across the road first. too bad we can't go inside but it and all around are amazing. there's swans and ducks in the moat filled w/huge carp. we gotta get west to kumagaya which is about fifty miles from tokyo. nobuyuki is driving us in kazuto's car, a nissan cube which is the same kind mister shimmy has. bye bye and thank you to chifumi. we drive through the mountains but there smaller than the ones we had to wail on earlier in the week. the weather's cold but very clear and most of the drive we can see mount fuji (saw a little of it on yesterday's ride), it's a mindblow, very beautiful.
the club (actually they're called "live house" here) is called blue forest and is up a couple floors in small building. very low stage and much padding on the walls. I meet everyone in the bands we're playing w/like I always do and talk to them as much as I can. they are all very cool people. one of them, the balloons, are touring in the midwest of the u.s. next week - talk about heavy weather! and look at this: saxman jun is in mouse on the keys - this is the third band I've seen him in on tour! so great to see him again. his drummer in this band is a huge george hurley fan, much respect. I don't get any chow tonight, lots of times I don't feel like it. mostly I've been doing these chows this tour just to be w/my new japanese friends.
the gig starts early like usual, seven bells. trippy, lite goes on first but that's cuz drummerman akinori has work tomorrow and must bail early. they whup up a great set, damn! next come balloons and I gotta lay on the deck in the back cuz my fucking wallet has given me a big pain in the ass, literally. I also figured out that the seat I'm riding in the boat has to have its angle more upright or my back gets some soreness cuz of not enough support - fucking jijii (old man)!!! I got my head propped up on the bulkhead when this young artist cat (he later tells me his name is komadori) gets this little cart I guess he had brought earlier that's next to me and pulls out this wooden lions head w/a hinged mouth and a cape attached to it, kind of like a smaller version of those chinese dragon things you see in the china town street during their new years. he puts the jaws over my head - he says it's for luck. he's beautiful. he asks if he can draw my picture, I tell him "sure" and he gets it done in a couple of minutes - I really dig it and wanna hang it up in my pad. the balloons are great, the play kind of jazz feel w/two guitars, bass and a drummer (he's wearing a germs shirt - yeah!), one guitarist sings. I hope u.s. folks check them out when they tour and I hope they stay safe on those winter midwest roads. next is mouse on keys and they have a couple of keyboards and again, kind of a jazz trip going w/them, jun blowing great sax. much respect. our turn, the set turns out to be what samm calls a "chill" set, a lot more calmness maybe? samm also said he could hear kramer this time - am I bogarting? hope not. I put on new strings at soundcheck and have much more tone, they stay in tune better too. I lay some "maggot brain" on samm and he it swings it smoov, alright. there's all kinds of trippy riffing - lots of moonshot cosmic, maybe? we bring on the lite brothers for a much different of the funanori tune cuz akinori had to bail - samm's on drums but still singing it. I wish miss kaori could hear it cuz I bet she'd laugh her head off w/what we did w/her tune. tune? I think I'm a little out tune, baka watt. it's good fun though.
I talk to the folks after we play, whew, I'm a little beat but very happy. the gigboss gives me neckrubs - much respect to him! I talk to this cat who teaches english and we discuss the sakura (cherry blossom) trees in washington d.c., the ones given to us by the people here, like six thousand of them. he tells me they actually help saved sakura trees here in japan when a disease attacking them was on the rampage and transplanting some back saved the day. alright! "forever friendship" he tells me.
everyone heads back to tokyo (even samm on the train) except for me and kramer who ride back w/kazuto to the house he grew up in saitama (kumagaya is in saitama prefecture, yet another fuck-up w/the gig poster). his ma is wonderful, great chow from her and much kindness. I get to spend some time talking w/her and katzuto after a shower - the shower's important not jut cuz of the clean thing but getting the wet flannel off and my skin dried so I don't freeze, even in a warm pad. it's good to be wore out after a gig, I think... means you tried really hard even if those guys felt "chilled" delivery feel. "delivery" - I love it when jun says that... I ask him to do it all the time. trippy. once again for watt: immediate konk.
saturday, february 16, 2008 - tokyo
pop at seven bells and seeing blues skies being lit up w/bright sun, I head for the hatch to hoof outside for some explore and stretching of the old bones and creaky joints. I space and forget the orange knitcap (baka mike) so I use the hood cuz it's gotta be in the forties (centigrade) like usual this tour when it's free of rain/snow - it's colder of course when that's happening. I pass a giant samurai (like those giant golfer things used for advertising along the road in the u.s.) and notice the bigass arrows he's got in his back - I imagine getting run through w/one of those motherfuckers... I had a nightmare when konked but couldn't remember it when I popped except for fear sensations and this brought it back... still, I couldn't fathom any details. I pass an old boneyard and go into that. this ain't even a block square but it's very interesting for me, very different. I take a whole bunch of shots. no one's around but I hope that wasn't disrespectful. there's swastikas on the gate but it's not nazi - it's from a time way before nazis, way before. I've seen them on buddha statues and stuff from the old days. I say a prayer when I leave, hoping I was fouling this place. I've yet to find wooden telephone poles, they seem to be all cement in this land and lots of shit clamped onto them w/metal straps. anyway, there's all kinds of neat shit for me to notice and trip on - how I wish I could relate it all cuz maybe some day the road I'll get the nerve up to try and re-read what I chimped and remember things that get spaced. well, maybe at least a sort of feeling for it? hopefully at least I might get other cats interested in this land and wanna visit and learn firsthand, that would be a good thing in my mind. I'm never gonna get a good recounting happening, the shit I chimp is always gonna be short. I get back to kazuto's folks' pad and his ma makes me a righteous chow. there's sausage w/that kind of mustard that's mostly seeds - I love that shit. there's salad like my ma makes but w/salmon and w/out the olive oil and vinegar. I read email, it's been a while... here's one from miss yuka, asking me to chow some yuzu kosho - whoa, there's some here and kazuto's ma let's me have a bottle - very generous of her. it's trippy, kind of chili mixed w/citrus, not very hot but very tasty. I tell her of miss yuka teaching me about macha and she makes me some of that, wow! it's concentrated green tea ground really fine and whupped up in hot water in a cup w/a whisker... I love it. domo arigato thank you so much. she shows me her hobbies, painting and patchwork - they're beautiful. tonight I play the gig for her!
it's a couple of hours of driving for kazuto to get us to the gig. fuck, on the way he gets a ticket for running a stop sign which is a big surprise to us - this keisatsu (cop) comes running up on foot right through traffic. kazuto says the fine's gonna be 'pert-near seven hundred bucks u.s. - kuso!! (shit!!) - what a bummer. the gig's on the second floor of a beat-up wharehouse in the sumida part of tokyo, near the alakawa river. yeah, the poster for this gig is wrong too - it says chiba for the town, whoops. now this is not a "live house" or a rock club - it's a space run by the cats in one of the opening bands tonight, 2up (pronounced "up up") and called highti. another band playing tonight helps w/getting the pad ready for the gig, they're called kuruucrew - I meet everyone personally to express my gratitude to share a gig w/them. then who shows up? the lite folks along w/brother nez! he has the transduction record label lite records for and he's come all the way from ireland for the rest of the gigs. he's also an old friend of mine, met him in the early 90s when he'd come to see me when fIREHOSE would play scotland and england. so so SO good to see him, so good - big hugs! we go to get chow after a short soundcheck - only thing w/a mic is samm's kick and kramer's got an svt tonight (he's been using whatever house amp they got available, they've all been pretty good). tonight I'm gonna use the marshall head of jun's to make things simple cuz there's not a lot of room. oh, fucking forgot (baka jijii watt), the melt-bananas arrive and it's also really great to see them again - I played w/them twice last year in my cali state. big hugs for miss rika, a bass sensei for me - much respect! hugs for agata, yaka and yuki too, of course - love this band. damn, I forgot this too: samm came w/his wife ito and little girl io, beautiful people and I'm so glad to meet them. back to chow: I find some takoyaki in a little street stand, it's octopus cooked up in doughy balls, very oishii!
cuz of potential noise issues, the gig starts early, like four and a half w/kuruucrew. whoa, what a train ride - really driving bass, drums chopping up in the wake w/guitar and sax like static electricity tearing up the sky, blasting blisters - my mind's blown, yeah! lite comes on next, again cuz akinori's work - hey, his wife nami and her sister are here too... I wish I could visit w/little haru again, beautiful aka-chan. they charge hard, hard and tight but w/passion-blastin' and it's righteous. I notice in the crowd a lot of gaijin (foreigners), like at the super-deluxe and o-nest gigs. the vibe in this space is so good, the spirit so way up there... I'm really into it. 2up sets up, just drums and guitar. when I first got here they asked me join in for their last tune, a cover of the minutemen song "nature without man" and of course I was very honored, even w/not having played it for at least twentyfive yeras. guitarman tet asks me to sing it too - hmm... what are the words? d. boon of course sang that one and the words were from chuck dukowski... what the hell, I'll try my best. they want me to jump right on so the only place I can really do that from is behind drummerman nakano. tet wears an airplane pilot hat (old style) that has headphones but soon that falls off his head... this band is wild! kind of arto lindsay in the guitar playing but still way tet's own style, very original. speaking of falling, drummerman nakano fall off his throne when the legs collapse - I catch him just as he hits the deck and him back up. there's another throne too but that's fucked-up as well so I say to just use one of the older wooden chairs cuz it's probably safe. I love how I can get into all these bands and they're all really themselves w/their own sound. this is a great band. my turn to play w/them when nakano-san says first I play one of their songs w/them... what?! ok, I'll go for it. man, these cats have so many stops and changes - I have no idea where the tune's going... I'm trying to learn by doing - whoa... that was a trip! the minutemen one is next and fuck if I don't screw up the second verse (I forgot where it came in, forgot the fucking words even w/tet telling me before we started "the boundaries, the borders") but I go hang w/them as much as I can. yeah, they're good! much respect for them having me aboard. ok, here comes melt-banana... incredible this band, a total trip. fucked-up for me, the fucking zipper on this god damn week-old park is broke and I can't get it off, I have to climb out of it but kazuto helps me un-jam that bastard finally by around the fifth song and I share standing on a chair w/brother jun and get some pictures of the banana not melting itself but all us in their blender world... I'm way into it. these cats are always floss for the brain cobwebs in me, the grease gun blasting a lube job on the reality bearings, so much respect for them. even w/the tiny p.a. yaka's voice is much much power hachidori drill bit meaning-multiplier. I give that her the grip that says "fuck yeah" and tell her "sister" to make sure, a power grip to drummerman yuki for moving the beats sumo flurry rapido jackhammered. I tell my stage partners everyone has set the bar high and we gotta leap, that's what I'm thinking. we set up, leaving the drums where they were for melt-banana... shit, I'm thinking I wish I could use the amp miss rika worked and maybe borrow some of what she's got but brother jun left me some of his in his so "boys in this line, girls in this line" - like we got screwed w/in grade school, right? it's trippy. I borrow mister jimi also to get us off the ground and whoa, the vibe/spirit thing for sure ain't been spent cuz its flooded out all over from everywhere. what kind people. some keep saying they're digging rilakkuma sticking out of my shirt pocket (first time I wear a short sleeve shirt - a plaid one from this land w/purple in it!). man, I wanna work hard for these people, I really do. I go for it but put in some valley-dynamic-dimensional shit too. believe it or not, that takes work too - count on it! ok, forget the buddy rich act (I'm trying to but slip up some near the end)... hey, I wanna make samm's two women in his life glad they lent him out for these gigs, I lay out for kramer before we let on the lite brothers. second night for samm the drumming singingman firing off the funanori.
what happens backstage will always pale in my mind to what I get from folks on the other side. I get to do an interview I thought was gonna be back but turned out to be front - some cat named vincente from washington d.c. asking about what emma goldman and raymond pettibon has inspired and taught me. I get to thank everyone I can for letting me in their lives, in their scene here. I get to talk bass w/miss rika!!! I wanna be better on pick (w/pick?) - I wanna be part of a good part for the new funanori tune! I know: I want I want I want. believe me there's lots of level of contentment to go along w/the shitbucket after shitbucket of doubt I gasp and pin some hope on. big respects to the 2up crew for letting this gig blow up at their pad, MUCH RESPECT!
jun gets me to his pad but first makes convenience store stop - yeah, they like saying "convenience store" here which I guess is better to stooping to brand named real life referencing, huh? anyway, they got heads in these pads (it's a 7-11 or "7-i holdings" - there's a sign for each out front) and damn if it ain't w/a heated seat like lots of shitters I've found here... I went to give it a fingertouch to find out, seeing all the controls. hell, I thought I was gonna get to show jun how someone in pedro works a piss bottle. his ma gives us this righteous "cream stew" that's got pork and shrooms in it she made and we talk a little before worn watt konks where he did the first day he got to this land. arigato brother jun and your ma.
sunday, february 17, 2008 - hachioji
ok, jun gave me the word before konking if I was gonna hoof early maybe hold off on coming back 'till ten and a half cuz his pop was "going travelling" so when I pop and am out the hatch at seven and a half (fuck me disturbing anyone - just get out the hatch) I remember my first morning popping here at jun's w/me and him going to nearby hikarigaoka park (yeah, that's the name!) and retrace the short route to get there... from all the touring I've tried to remember landmarks so it ain't so easy to get my ass lost. it's chilly but bright sun makes for warmer if out of the shade and there is only blue in the sky. it being sunday, I think of my ma and sisters cuz this is when I chow w/them - well, the little one (fortyfive years) ain't chowed w/us in a bit - but us other three share sunday's shovel w/a chow fixed up from my ma. now if it was a u.s. tour, I'd call her to let her know I was ok and see how her and my sisters were doing. all these tour all these years must worry the fuck out of my ma - hell, they worry the hell out of me! still though, I'm driven to do them and believe it is my calling, to work the towns 'pert-near like my pop was in a way, a sailor, a funanori. the park is beautiful. I don't have to hoof on cement and it's soft on my feet. in fact - this is trippy - the dirt has kind of a frost w/it so there's a crunch as you step, like a thin crust kind of crumbled by each step... I can dig it. baka watt though - forgot to dump shots from the camera to the 'puter so I only got space for twentyfour but fuck it, I take mind ones, nose ones and ear ones besides what that machine can capture. of course I'll space on the shit and who knows what will remain or if it does last, how it'll get mangled. I'm think a lot about life mission this hoof, sometimes I do that. I think number one right now is get more works built so my units got more of me to get w/and work the room. actually I've been thinking about this a bunch. I gotta get w/figuring out good bass to other's works to and have been getting that happening but the main point I think is it can be just performing - I gotta give birth to more tune aka-chans, you know? even lame ones that'll surely be soon tossed. this might sound a little reductionist and folks w/other lives would say "you mean that's item number one, motherfucker?" but I think that's where I gotta be at to get a real focus on, for me, for watt. I will put in my time in other's tune classrooms as well and of course I will shovel chow, pedal bike and paddle kayak... work rooms w/current routine as far as slinging low flow live. I need more personal manure to grow gig crops from though, to share it w/my guys. there's a part of the park that leads to mersh shit like malls w/crapdonalds and kensucky fucked shittin hanging out their shingle so I swerve to avoid and trip on the crows. they are huge in this land, as big or bigger than our ravens in my town and I follow this one around and make eye contact several times, do his song (my attempt) on him as well - he don't seem to wanna let go. can he figure my eyes of soft and would be good for pecking out? probably big time but maybe their lit up like crazy eyes and he'd rather step back from that shit. no risu (squirrles) I notice - maybe too cold? back to the crow: I think I vibe him off - it's me that won't let go... yeah, watt not letting go. there's an archery part - there's all kinds of different parts to this park but working my watch w/my route the archery part is the last for me to pass and I remember a realization I once had... it was in australia but it was about italy, about putting one and one together, you know - figuring it, no, finding it out. finding? figuring? I know I wondered long after... I wonder now, what a wonder... I see the young arm pull back the bow, the arrow sails... remember, watt - see now... not eveything gets spaced.
I get back and jun says his ma was worried. I'm sorry to have put that on her, damn. I think it's maybe four past ten and a half but maybe she didn't hear what jun related to me, I just wanted to do right. I'm sorry. last night too, she worried about me doing fourteen gigs in fourteen days but then again, she doesn't know my history. I very much appreciate her concern and ask jun to tell her in their language I promise to be careful. she has onigiris for us, good ones! arigato. chimp diary while jun does his - he calls it "blog" - I hear this word all the time but I find my diary like diary and not blog... why do all the "blogs" have same look, like they've been branded, part of some stable? my shit's just text put up as a simple text html and made to part of my hoot page. jun has some pictures and movies... yeah, maybe I should add more pictures, huh? damn though, it's a lot just getting the chimping going but maybe I could try. jun inspires me, twentyseven years younger too. he likes learning my slang.
we ride in his toyota previa (a kind of a minivan... georgie - minuteman stickman- had one of these) to get nobuyuki and kramer. just outside tokyo is hachioji but it takes a couple of hours. up on the highway, I'm hearing the motor of this boat kind of in a runaway spincycle... on many revs are we doing? I look over at the tach and it's 'pert-near five k!! it should be around two and three - jun, are we in a low gear? yep, time to put in 'd' maybe? whew, a few minutes more of that we would've blown something up for sure, no disrespect to my bass brother. we're playing above a great record store (no nonsense records - the nice cat behind the corner has us sign his guitar where he did a townshend and now only the body's left) at a recording pad called rinky dink studios. trippy but the second recording studio on this tour. there's a vending machine w/beers in it (yeah, they do that in this land) so maybe there's gigs here a lot? like everywhere, the people are real nice. I meet the folks in the opening bands, everyone very kind and ready to play hard. we have a little soundcheck, I'll use jun's marshall again to keep things simple. I talk to brother nez, he's read the diary cuz I finally got it up on the hoot page yesterday and he says it's good I'm letting folks know a little bit in my illiterate way of the japanese underground music scene... he's very generous w/his kindness! I do wish I could better share my enthusiasm w/what I've experienced here but I'm just a fucking stumblebum w/chimping thoughts and experiences/reflections as words (speaking them too). shit, I try.
I don't go forage for chow and instead just shovel from the sack of dried ika (squid) jun gave me last night (I put some of it in the cream stew along w/habanero sauce he said his pop had gotten overseas and that kind of tripped him out - I like mixing shit, you know? trippy "symphonies"). the first band goes on at five pm and they're called we are!(sic - that means "that's how they put") very emotional singing, heartfelt playing. malegoat is after them and is smokin' - again emotional singing but w/a lead guitar going 'pert-near the whole time in a kind of melodic almost african thing. wild drumming too, I bet he could do more keith moon but there's still lots of fills. lite is next, they gotta be early cuz of akinori's work again. they play a few new songs from what they were finishing w/recording when I arrived. these new songs are great and after eight gigs how more taunt can they get w/already starting off so tight. pretty much of a mindblow, I'm very amazed. herpiano (again sic) is after them, kind of moody. hey, I meet fumild, the bass player for the no people, a great band that I met when they played in my pedro town - the first time I saw a band from tokyo in those parts! the guitarist jin has a label called secret government I gave a black gang song to for a compilation - my first indie release in japan! he'll be at the gig thursday. this place is packed, has been but I say cuz the folks are inches from me which is scary cuz I wanna do good for them but neat too cuz they're like right w/me. samm wails on right out the gate and charges hard, I try to keep up w/him and do ok but in all honesty, I did better last night. there's a lot of gaijin (foreigner) here like at that one but tonight they're much more vocal. I met one before we played, a cat who saw me in england during fIREHOSE days, a very nice man who's now a dj here. we do about the weirdest version of "little doll" I think I've ever been a part of - last night I didn't sing at all (there were only two mics w/samm singing through one and the other on his kick rum) so I thought why not... I think samm thought I was ab libbing some kind of scat thing maybe! one of the gaijin hollers "play the bad one" and I'm thinking that might be the title of one of kramer's older tunes cuz he goes right into some riff after saying "I forgot it" but later I find out that wasn't the case - he doesn't have a song called that. again we do akinori-less "lazy and crazy" w/the lite guys (first a little bit panic time - will kouzou's amp work???? yes!!) but when we finish, folks want more so I say I'll do one off a minutemen lick ("political song for michael jackson to sing") and jun jumps back on his bass so him, samm and myself doing it up wild, whoa! me and jun have been trading solos in the funanori song but this is different - no one's on guitar. much respect to brother jun!
gig done, kramer tells me he thought the floor was gonna open up cuz of all the bass! many of the folks wanna take pictures w/me, all the opening bands - how very sweet of everyone. there's a band back in the u.s. called the engine room and I played one of their songs on my radio show and here's a guy living here now that knows them he's putting together a band, he tells me very passionately, "mike, the scene for me starts now!" whoa, that's intense. "punk is whatever we made it to be" - that's what d. boon said. jun introduces me to his girlfriend yuko and she's give me and jun each a rilakkuma cookie/cakes she made herself, very beautiful.
I'm gonna go konk w/kouzou so that'll make everyone in lite where I've konked at their pads... so much kindness from the lite brothers for most MOST grateful watt. for the first time this tour too I get to ride the train, me and kouzou will take it to where he lives in the kichijoji part of tokyo but first he wants to shovel some chow - I do it cuz I'm w/him... I try to hold out for morning when I can either hoof (when on tour), pedal or paddle off the cals. I chow a bowl of tonkatsu-ramen, yeah! we get on the train and whoa, three gig-goers who were at our show are sitting right across from us! very nice trains in this land, very together. a half-hour to the stop for his hood and then ten minutes of hoof to his apartment through some trees... a park maybe? an apartment building holds his pad, a tiny pad - like the hatch is right to the six foot square kitchen (sink immediate starboard, head port), a curtain and then the "room" which is like six by twenty. I think the books I got in pedro would fill this pad to the brim but then maybe I got a fair number of them? this is very nice, kouzou's very kind... I imagine he heard some couple minutes of on-the-deck jijii muttered-babble before that turned into ibiki.
monday, february 18, 2008 - kyoto
last night kouzou told me we pop at six and half bells and so he sets some kind of alarm but my body one rouses me at six. for chow he gives me tiny-sized doryaki and a banana (also tiny) but that's ok. we gotta roll early for seven hour hellride from tokyo to kyoto. kouzou's got a trippy tub, maybe four feet cubed but of course open at the top for you to step in. I guess if you were gonna soak in it, you'd have to have your legs pulled up to your chest. I just stand next to it and use the nozzle w/a hose on it (or hose w/a nozzle on it? probably). I am aware and mix sure my clothes ain't soaked like in yamagata - nothing on the deck! it's beautiful clear morning again - more february luck for watt in japan - but even luckier is another park hoof, yeah! not a three hour one like yesterday but there's a small park w/a pond, ducks swimming about it and lots of trees that most of our walk takes us. the sun coming up through trunks and branches then bouncing spangles off the water is righteous on me, love it. we leave that nature for a little road to get to the main street where I'm to be picked up in the hiace w/masa - brother masa has once again joined us to work the mixerknobs, I love this man and much respect for him, like all the lite cats but masa's a little different in that he's closest to my age - he's forty instead of mid-twenties like everyone else. that makes only ten years difference w/me! each one of them in the whole team is distinctive though, the common ground being they're very much all righteous dudes. one way nobuyuki is distinctive - and probably one way no one would wanna be is that he's sick w/flu and hurting much. he's in the boat w/us in the back (yeah, they got a tiny armchair in the equipment bay behind the bench seat) and man, do I feel for him. our route takes us back into the mountains. one piss stop finds at a chow pad area where I get a hot dog - I wanted to check one out from this land and it's kind of small/skinny and the bun different. also there's cheese melted on in drizzles, a little like ones I've chowed in france but in minature. there's an observation town I stumble onto and climb up - whoa, what a view of mount fuji, oh my god... whoa... intense on me. as we get closer to nagoya (first we pass through tajimi) I can see snow storms up in the mountains ahead of us. it's not a bad ride though, the snow is light. oh yeah, the sign for gifu prefecture (prefecture is like a u.s. state) has a cormorant on it - tons of those back in pedro and man, they're great swimmers. oh yeah... man, do we talk about the weirdest shit in the boat (by the fucking way!)... but please don't worry too much about hell on the others cuz I had my ultimateears things stuck in where they go (in the ears) and heard the funanori tune (quicktime has a loop option) the whole ride so when I did speak (in between either diary chimping or picture snapping) it was probably like hollering, you know how it is w/those things or even earplugs. that "toumei sunday" song goes perfect w/what's coming through the windows and then inside me through my eyes. it is nature, their nature. it makes me think of the nature in my land, not to compete w/it but to be mindblown w/the awareness. I duck the memories though to be in the moment as much as I can cuz these moments will pass, like summer into fall... it's hard to explain - fucking baka watt, slow learner.
kyoto was hurt very bad by an intense earthquake, very sad. you can't see that now though. it has lots of nature compared to the other towns I've been in and many jenjyas and just an older feel. we get in a hour or so early so we visit the kiyomizu temple which is amazing. the road leading up to it to has the little shops w/all kinds of trippy stuff: some touristy kitsch but then lots of neat shit you can buy too. I get some pickles called oshinko and they're the best. the temple is on a hill and you can look down on the big cement town part of kyoto. to look back and forth between that and the temple w/tress about it is such a contrast, dizzying - well, maybe I made myself dizzy by turning my head back and forth so many times - back and forth, back and forth - trying to get a handle on it, some how. I wish I could whip it up like a dervish and get ecstatic and lost in the trip of it all - us humans reconciling it w/out thinking a thought or... I'm sorry, I can't speak for everyone, that's ridiculous of me... I got a problem, the problem is me... walk the hill road down from the temple and wonder about it - if it was a morning hoof, I'd wandered while I wander but... what's that starboard as I near the end, a "famous" old road? look all the angles, all the twists and turns - man, I wish I could pursue that path but load-in time is on us. I will abandon the being (the physical) but not the thought. the pad we're playing is called urbanguild, up on the third floor of a building but is much different than the other live houses on this tour, looks like it's a blues club maybe. nothing shiny but not all painted black, there's benches and long tables for chowing as well as a space in front of the stage for dancing/standing. they got chow here too. I get a bowl of this soup w/pork belly and vegetables in it, mmm... good.
the first band on is a kyoto band called ultra jr and they're a trio w/a cat from the old days name hide on bass. he's a great cat - he offers us his pad to konk at so we don't have to drive to osaka after the gig. there's jj on guitar and reo on drums (she's got three ponytails - one on top!) - they are wild and play great... really good energy, really good spirit - fucking crazy! I love it. here again w/us is 54-71 next, whoa... singer bingo comes out from the crowd to intro himself. brother nez is really into these guys but this is his first time he's seen them live - he doesn't want them to stop and neither do I. the bobo-san/sensei kentaro rhythm is plowing a grand canyon groove that's gonna split the earth w/punch and rumble... incredible. bingo directing focus, using words, using body/gesture. takada chopping in and out w/the guitar, this band is a blast! lite brothers next, I know this is a hard gig for nobuyuki but I'm pulling for him. he does great fight. I can tell the fever's on him. hell, I've been there - how many times? what's gotta happen is he's gotta whup it up and push hard enough to kick the adrenaline and that'll make him oblivious to what's gotta be big time aches in his fucking bones - damn, do I hate that shit. he does his guys proud though and I myself am very proud of him. brother's sister's daughter now for the last time as samm-kramer-watt and it's some struggle for me, maybe a creative struggle though? not a struggle to create I mean but rather something creative coming from the stuggle? I don't know, I'm too close to the shit. I can just try and relate some personal feelings and probably even fuck them up in someway - what? it's a dance, a stumble - I'm pouring out the feelings, no hurts in my body to get in the way of that. no eyes from samm, I look and look for them... then again I wish I could be as intent w/my own eyes when looking at the folks. fuck, that pisses me off - gets me angry w/what I feel is a major shortcoming of me performing, worse even than fucking clams (fuck ups w/playing). at one point I ask kramer and samm to "play a beat you guys" like and let them play together for a while, play for the whole tune they've made together and stay out w/my bass - I watch and listen instead. we did do two stooges songs tonight, seems samm wanted them both, "little doll" and "fun house" w/very much emotion from me, what I try and learn from iggy but I can only shake my body and not really dance and leap it around... I wish cuz I surely would if I could. fun doing the funanori w/the lite guys but I think I was out of tune w/them. akinori back on drums, samm singing out front. good joy. no encore after that, I think that's a good capper, playing w/the lite brothers like that.
before we played, I talked w/some gaijin, australian and new zealand and here after is some france and whoa, donald from three day stubble, a texas band that went from there to l.a. to s.f. and now he's here cuz of the language - that's what brother jim o'rourke said that drew him too. I talk w/many gig-goers and share the happy vibes they're so generous w/flowing, arigato. we go to hide's pad not too far away, donald joins us for a while. him and samm talk about the visa dances that have to be done to live here. I am too afraid to leave my pedro home but will always visit other lands and pads (so SO lucky to have this kind of work) to try and learn from them and their people. hide is great, many experiences under his belt, very interesting, smart and funny cat. much respect to him. he helps me konk really happy w/excellent spiel. yeah.
tuesday, february 19, 2008 - osaka
pop at seven bells and look out porthole... once again blue lit by yellow, clearness is the skies. I move the 'puter to the kitchen along w/a chair and luckily see the one-cup filter holder to make coff and even a sack of such beans right close... takes a few minutes to figure out electric range - that reminds me of how much I like better cooking w/gas over electric but maybe that's cuz I has a shitty kind of electric one back home, made in the 60s. man, it is the worst - part of those "medallion homes" of that era where they were designed to waste power (tinyass water heater, heater elements in the ceiling, etc.), total bullshit. the pad's got room though and more important, lots of window and sliding glass door pointing east to let in the morning sun. I chimp diary, getting up from when I first posted to yesterday at my hoot page. hide is the first other human up and he tells me about some of his old punk days, when he was in brooklyn and paying $125/month for rent! he had a band called ultra bide back then (went back to late seventies) and it's still going now, he says he has seven bands currently. he has also has a little studio called "fake river" up stairs that's recorded twentythree bands. he plays me his cover of the stooges "I wanna be our dog" that he mixed w/pink floyd's "interstellar overdrive" and actually has changed everything to make it his own trip and I dig it. I chow a couple of plum onigiri he gets me from the convenience store around the block. samm's last for hug for watt 'till thursday, he's taking the train back to his family in tokyo.
we shove off around two pm for osaka. before I know it, we're on the outskirts of osaka w/all the trees of kyoto and the surround land replace w/cement and sprawl. I think about last week and seeing that huge (more than a hundred feet) statue of the buddhist goddess kannon towering up by the side of the highway on the way to niigata and crossing back and forth across the shinano river (their mississippi) - I think the heart of the japanese people is really w/nature and all this other industrial/commercial nightmare some way to deal w/the weight of the modern world, to compete w/it... a strange duality. maybe it's a dilemma all us humans face whether we admit it or not - where is our soul? I think it's a misconception that everything in this land is imported or imitated... maybe some surface stuff but not deep down.
no piss bottle culture w/these guys I'm touring w/so that's one thing alien for me cuz there's always a piss bottle at the ready in my boat. kramer said he's gotta go and 'pert-near is ready to use a can or something from the gomi (trash) bag but masa gets us off the highway in time for him to use a restaurant and damn, what a surprise - where we're at tonight is across the street! this pad we're playing is called bears and is owned by seiichi yamamoto... I'm surprised to learn he's gonna play w/us - wow! I thought he was gonna do his own set but he's getting on board w/the brother's sister's duaghter boat. also on board for these last three gigs is the drummer I thought of first when kramer asked me about coming over playing w/him - he said I should find a drummer that lived here and the only one I really knew was one I also very much admire and respect, ms yuko araki. actually kramer wanted me to find two drummers so it would be a four-piece but I thought her alone was worth two drummers and it'd be less of a burden on a lite brothers also, not having to schlepp two trap kits - more econo. the problem was she couldn't do all of it so kramer gave me some names I ran by sensei nels cline and he said to go w/samm so that's what I relayed back. so good to see her and hear of her recording in new york city (she just got back) w/miss yuka and petra. she shows me a book she's writing poems in, she shows me this poem she wrote:
if the power of my spirit is being tested
most subime for me, I am quite humbled and in thought about it. when something like this is shared w/me, it is very profound on watt, very intense and he's shook from w/in and way WAY down. it is a reality further than any taught sense of knowing or even understanding in the man among men world I've beaten into goose-stepping to and pretending it's all about my own choice. I mean, I will say that if it's about my behavior cuz I feel it's important I take responsibility but this, this is something else and I am given to ponder.... not typical ponder, you know? oh, ms yuko... I know her through a band called mi-gu she has w/her husband mister shimmy (beautiful man who I respect much) that I actually found out about from a young man named dorian who I get to meet for the first time in person instead of knowing him only through email. he's from tennessee and has lived here for six and half years, married to a lady of this land name amy. eiko came from her tajimi town too, brought me my favorite japanese cookie called bisco, not that I'm much of a cookie person but I love bisco. this are tiny ones and different flavors: apple, banana and chocolate. after soundcheck, all of us go chow at a noodle house kramer said he found. I get katsudon which is pork cutlet over rice w/egg on it, yes! very oishii! damn, I spaced and left my 'puter sack but the folks working there saved it from a donate and got it back to fucking baka watt... very very grateful to them watt, most grateful watt.
back to the club to catch the 54-71 brothers just before they go on. the blast the little bear room into the stratosphere and then shovel it down under w/kentaro's mighty bass weight, crimony! they set it up nice for the lite cats who do real good to my senses but nobuyuki says maybe it was their worst gig of the tour - what? well, he said he had a mighty head-pound of a headache thumping on his focus, busting up hi concentration. our turn: I tell the folks "here we go!" and ms yuko lays down what we all follow... the trippiest guitar from seiichi - whoa, is it a trip! he mixes things up, traditional japanese scales but w/what I hear as country-western spun w/acid rock wail - very interesting spaces and rhythms as well. the jams are wheeled out into permutations of motifs... for me it's very natural to feel ms yuko's time, her sense of the one is a solid thread weaving a net to catch me if I begin a keel-over and not to say it makes me play safer but just the opposite, I am less afraid to chances and springboard expressions/exclamations, melodic "statements" (what a fucking corny way to put it) even. it works me hard, I sweat the most intense I have all tour. there are times when my legs tremble when I relax them a bit. there are some calmer times but sometimes I have trouble w/the harmony, overtones or whatever are confusing me, it is a little challenging but that's ok looking back on it - it's in the moment when it's a potential pants-shitter. near the end, seiichi puts down the guitar and grabs a mic and starts w/spiel, really loud - I'm digging it. we bring out the lite brothers for the funanori tune and ms yuko's on tambouring, seiichi still w/the mic - he don't the words or the tune but he improvises great on it. alrigth, whew. a little out of breath for me but grateful for kind people.
back to hide's bad in kyoto for konk - hell, I konk on the way though it ain't a long ride w/traffic being nil. that's a good thing! akinori's the wheelman and he's got the heater roaring but fuck, this shirt's soaked w/ase (the word here for sweat) and so maybe that's good cuz I can take it off - I do and it's ok. I'm really sore, I pushed hard - I felt pushed to push hard... arigato, ms yuko! swollen fingers, swollen joints but it goes w/the struggle to make most alive, heart/mind united... somehow. thank you, gift of music. some spiel w/hide and then I join the lite cats on the deck... moments later - konked.
wednesday, february 20, 2008 - nagoya
I pop - am first to pop - not unusual. I have shower w/hot water - yatta! last night I tried but problem - had 'pert-near heart attack as millions of tiny ice sickle slivers rained upon me hard cuz of malfunction. I tried to endure but was not strong enough, like at akinori's last week. hide is up next and we spiel - like yesterday! he is very interesting man though and it is not just chat and boring. much respect to him. he goes to the store and once again brings me ume onigiri, two of them. I chimp diary and wait for others to pop. ms yuko has sent me email, part of it says:
I will try harder tonight.
"try harder" ??? ok but wow, was she wailing on it last night, incredible. I think I know what she means though cuz I think about gigs a lot that way too: try harder. I believe it's good philosophy. maybe more dynamics tonight, I think about this... I tell kramer when before we shove off, more "soft and gentle" and a little less "rough and wild" maybe? he's on board w/that. for sure let her poems be heard, soft voice but like she said: powerful. let up on the power-drive some and let the room breathe. this is a good plan, I think. she is wise. samm is smart w/music like that too - these are "big picture" minds and I learn from them. I believe sometimes I get caught up in "little picture" and am too close to see how it's all fitting (or not fitting!) together. I will try harder tonight, try harder to relax... think of rilakkuma (his name means "relax bear"), that is why he rides in my flannel pocket.
great weather as we shove off coming up on one. yes, I get to meet hide's ma and pop! much respect. bye byes and thank yous - safe seas... yeah, the weather - so good this tour. ok, you need to keep warm but that's it cuz lots of sun and dry skies. three hours to nagoya, into (acutally through - so many tunnels) some mountains and w/snow in patches but none falling. "toumei sunday" coming into the ear holes on loop, fingers chimping diary. we make piss stop and it turn into a chow stop. I get a kushi-tako and a kushi-katsu, the former is four breaded octopus balls on a stick and the later a breaded pork cutlet the same way, on a stick... apply habanero and oishii! back on the road... it's takes us about three ours to get to nagoya. they got a card in a machine onboard to do the tolls, this one's like twentyeight bucks u.s. - these sure ain't "freeways" - travel is very expensive in this land. speed limit's about the same though, sixtytwo mph (100 km/h). the club ain't too far away from the highway either, a very nice one called tokuzo that looks kind of hawaiian in a way but it looks like they do or have done a lot of blues music here. it's probably one of the bigger pads on this tour but that doesn't mean it's huge but that it's not tiny. I put on new strings for soundcheck so I can stretch them some. we jam soft for soundcheck and I talk w/ms yuko. she says I should do some songs "loud and happy" along w/soft ones. ok, I tell her I will follow her direction, follow her lead. she says she will give me more me (pronounced "may" and their word for eye) which I'm grateful for - I was learned big time by the porno for pyros guys when I played w/them. I go w/akinori, jun, nobuyuki and nez (damn, didn't even get to talk to him much yesterday) to find chow. nagoya is know for several of their own specail chows so at a noodle shop in a underground train stop I get miso-udon which is thick udon noodles w/an egg and fried tofu floating in a steaming hearty broth. I have to wait a little for it to cool down. there's a tv going (fuck) and the news is on. a new japanese navy ship hit a fishing boat and both father and son on board were killed very sad. then there's another story where some old guy in a suit is pushing cameras away, pissed off. I ask what's up and am told this guy conned a lot of people w/a fake medicine - I explain english slang word "snake oil" to my friends. nez is from ireland but he's hip to a lot of shit and helps some - he's got one of those translator machines mister shimmy has but the other way more. I try to learn these guys as much slang as possible cuz it's trippy. I don't know if it'll make communicating for them any easier (except maybe me!) but they can have some fun w/it.
we return to the club and it's stuffed w/folks. I'm in the back by the hatch to see 54-71 cuz it's the only place I can find. I'm find myself right next to bingo as he comes singing through the crowd and onto the stage. masa is doing their sound and it is really fucking amazing - cuz of him and cuz these cats are fucking and totally w/it - smokin', really on fire and boilin' up blazes! whoa, what an act to follow but the lite brothers don't cower and in fact it feels like they're inspired to give even more the all than they're already giving a hundred percent each time I see them. the nagoya crowd has great energy to give back too, not passive but reflective, much respect. ok, I've seen two great sets and now I gotta deliver. I did have a little rumor of some tiredness running around and trying to hide inside me but all that shit's stomped down. ms yuko leads the wind-up, ratcheting up the coiler w/swing-fling and pocket. I watch her a bunch, listen more but feel it the most... I get more brave but bring on the restraint thing, that idea I was thinking about earlier - the powerful quiet. I got let it out for the stooges' "little doll" though - even using no bass and just emoting w/scat/breaths, abstract manifestations of emotion, you know? you'd know if you saw it, I think... much shaking going w/the body. I work the strings too, damn if wasn't yankin' on them to high heaven. I wanted to pour everything I had into that tune - not just the moment but all the years, all the years... here I am in the moment. I wasn't afraid - that's a trip... I wasn't afraid. I start laughing after that, laughing in the tunes - like riffing on that "I'll take you there" trip or "uncle mike" (one of my own - I get real real tiny) plus lots of invention and just going w/it, ping-ponging w/the drum syncopations - riding the ladder up, riding it down. I think kramer wanted me to vibe on ccr's "born on the bayou" so I get to that but do it in 'a' - what? I blow some clams maybe? no, it was morphing it into "big train" and trying to get that train whistle thing I wrote to chip and tony dil's chugachugachug. the poems are beautiful, I can hear them tonight and I'm glad the folks who paid to see us did to. it's a great great gig for me. I think I'm better for samm tomorrow - whoa, I thought of that like that and we still had the funanori song to do w/the lite cats. it's always fun w/them, always - every gig I've done on this tour - I love everything about it, just do. encore? encore? kramer wants me to go play solo but I get ms yuko and bass brother jun to work out on that minutemen thing - where did I do that last? anyway, I like sharing this w/him - d. boon sharing it w/us.
whoa, so sweaty, so drenched but it's ok. eiko came to the gig and brought her ma and brother - whoa, he's as tall as me! they're beautiful people, very kind to me. they probably thought what I just did on stage was insane but I can't really talk w/them much (though I try communicating the best I can) cuz I'm too fucking baka to know their language, it is a problem but the spirit they share w/me comes through. her ma gives me a big box of doryaki as a present, so kind (ms yuko gave me a box of bisco cookies at soundcheck - ahh, I spaced on that). that's neat eiko got to see brother's sister's daughter play three times too, three different ways. it's the last gig w/54-71 so the lite guys and myself rap w/them, have some beers. nobuyuki's cold is finally letting go it's grip on him and I'm so glad. drummerman bobo-san (always giving him big hugs for big beats!) says the band is going to chicago to record at electrical audio, steve albini's place and where the stooges did "the weirdness" last year. somehow it gets to books and reading - damn, if 54-71 boss kantaro fucking up on all that, philosophy too! much respect to him, much! he likes faulkner, yeah. I ask him about haruki mirakami and he says "fake kafka" and then asks me "you wanna see real japanese?" and I nod so he then stands up, pulls the front of his pants w/one hand while w/a lighter in the other he starts setting his pubic hair on fire! whoa, kind of a bad smell a little bit but I think he did what he had to do... I'm sitting across from lite bassman jun and in my head I'm thinking I wanna make a band w/this guy! I'll find out the word for three in the language here and ask jun tomorrow if he'd be into doing a three-bass-only band and if he is, I'll run it by the man who had the lighter in hand.
I get to konk w/the lite guys at a friend of there's named kaori (yeah! - same name but a man) who's a really nice cat w/a label called collage collective and we have a good ol' time w/him w/everyone on the deck around a low table (very common here) and even a little bit of tequila down the hatch! it's just so good to be w/these guys this whole tour - the realization of tomorrow being the last gig makes me already start to miss them. I spiel and laugh harder to make up for that and not let it drag me down... I think I'll tell them tomorrow that it won't really be a stop as much as it is a pause. I konk very happy and grateful this tour came to be, I think about what d. boon would think of them and how he'd be digging big time. trippy how I always think about what would d. boon think, huh?
thursday, february 21, 2008 - tokyo
I have a nine bell bob cuz of last night's konk at three. last gig of the tour tonight, kaori's got a shower w/hot water! I hose off and put on the same green flannel I wore for the first gig - full circle time. we drive north to tokyo, some of it on the east coast of honshu (the big island of japan where all the tour's gigs have been - in the future I wanna also play kyushu and/or hokaido/shikoku - all four and plus if I can have my big dream: okinawa!). once again clear skies and mount fuji much in view ahead of us as we roll. at kikukawa city, outside pass by rows and rows of tea fields, incredible. there's not a lot of flat land so the way every bit that can be utilized is planted up blows my mind. we stop for gas, piss and trough. I shovel katsucurry and my brothers laugh cuz I wanna use hashi (chopsticks) instead of a spoon like everyone else but I tell them I need the prac. it's a good shovel, finally I have curry on this tour. further down the road there's a boneyard jun wants to stop at. him and akinori's buddy aie-chan rests there and always watches mount fuji, across from the fujikawa river. cancer took him from his drums so young. I join jun in silent prayer when we get out and walk to where the view is righteous. jun plays this cd by z-hununhum-mouse on the keys jun called there is never goes out over and over but that's fine, it's like a mantra.
I haven't really gotten into the tolls but it is expensive to use japan's highways. from nagoya to tokyo, it's about $67 u.s. getting into tokyo has some jutai (traffic plug) but not as bad as other times we've crawled through this tiny burg of twelve million. we head for shinjuku and the live house katzuto runs called marz, a pad I visited on my first night of the tour... everything full circle, kind of - tonight we'll have five folks for brother's sister's daughter: kramer, myself, ms yuko, samm and mister shimmy. only one opening band too, the lite brothers and they'll play an hour, their longest set of the journey. ms yuko brings me a sack her ma had sewn together and in it is a bunch of migu soaps. she's sent me many bars before, different kinds like ushi and shimmy soap but this sack has a new one: sunrise and she says it's for me! her soap partner is there and I thank her. she does english, maybe she's helping ms yuko learn more? at soundcheck hide from kyoto shows up w/my shaving sack which I spaced and left at his pad which is a good thing - not for shaving cuz I ain't doing that this tour but for the deodorant ("old spice" kind) and mercy for those being near me. big thank yous for hide but he can't stay - he's got a gig tonight in here in tokyo too - much respect! miss sakura comes too, she helps migu much and knows english most excellent.
no chow, I chimp diary 'till lite comes on and dig much the last time I get to see them play this trip. masa has their sound really good though under the balc in the back is a bass trap so I find solution: move. they work hard to bring joy to everyone through their playing, every gig is like this - no whining ever from these cats to do the do it took to make this all happen, much much respect to them. their character shows in the fabric of their music. they like t-shirts on stage, everyone in a different one each set though nobuyuki's been rockin' the funanori one much, like tonight and maybe the last four or five. they play lots of tunes from the record they start mixing tomorrow... both old and new, I dig all the tunes. we set up, samm between me and yuko but out front some w/a lap drum that sounds arabic/india and a synth pad called a wave drum w/way-wack sounds. I guess it's just kramer, ms yuko and myself though to start things off. hmm... just before we're to go on, I head upstairs to play the new funanori tune cuz I wanna use the scales in the first improvisation. even w/all the listens, it's hard to get the blues and country licks that have ingrained themselves in my baka self. jun's there w/me and probably tripping on me putting what I hear to where I think they go on the bass neck - I ain't copying the song, just making available the vocabulary of the scale for me to riff on. I didn't tell anyone in the band, it just came to me as a natural way to interpret the beginning of the last gig together here. I do keep the key though, kramer seems to like things in 'a' anyway. I morph it around ms yuko's drumming, we explore possibilities 'till it's time to bring on samm and mister shimmy, alright. I think total we play over seventy minutes, our longest set of the tour. I found this room resonated at certain keys better than others at soundcheck adjust accordingly. lots of motifs take form and melt into the next... I hear mister shimmy do kind of like jimi and so return to a lick I've used a bunch this tour, "machine gun" but later I'll regret not merging into a motown thing after hearing ms yuko's double time drum take on it - aaaarrrggghhh, baka watt. the other regret I have is not going straight into the crowd after funanori tune everyone but kramer joins in on for the tour's last tune but instead go up to change out of my sweat-soaked flannel so as not to get sick. up there I get waylaid by well-wishers who are very kind - earlier I had met yuki and now she has a cd for me, I've played her music on my radio show. she's in a band called yucca that I'm surprised to find out people here are surprised that's the name of a cactus back home (speaking of spanish, the word here for bread is "pan"). no people bass player fumild comes to say hi and he's brought jin, his guitarist... damn, I wish I had more time to spend w/them! next time... mister jin wants me to come back and produce some bands for his underground underground label. believe it or not, I met him when the no people played harold's in pedro - ain't that a trip?! speaking of coming back, mister shimmy suggests maybe I come and record in person the spielgusher stuff we're working on together w/miss yuko, putting music behind richard meltzer reading poems he's written. whoa, already possibilities to return soon, most lucky watt.
it's sad but happy, tour had to end but the great folks I met. kentaro and bobo from 54-71 are here, much respect! brother jim o'rourke had much work so understand him not being able to come but I was thinking of him much. brother nez holds court w/me and the lite brothers plus their friends yukako and pinayama (yukako gave me the rilakkuma I've had in my pocket for in matsumoto) for a final spiel/after-gig chow. I get tonkatsu-ramen, almost finishing my bottle of chili on it. I rationed it good to make it last the whole tour. konk is at jun's pad so we get dropped off there and soon I'm out on the deck I first wailed ibikis from the night before fourteen gigs ago.
I pop friday at nine bells and spend the next two at the hikarigaoka park. beautiful clearness again and even a little warmer w/the weather, man, how blessed this tour for that. I listen to these two older cats teach themselves harmonica, each one at a different time in a different part of the park. maybe one day it'll be time for me to do that. it's beautiful here. the only lame thing is the bird sanctuary ain't open, damn. I go back and chow gyudon w/jun that his ma made, very good. he teaches me what I've been hearing akinori say before he shovels, a chow prayer: itadakimasu and then an after chow one: gotisousamadeshita. thank you, brother jun. today me and him do an interview w/bass magazine, it goes for three hours! translatorman george did really great cuz he had both much patience and a really good grasp on what I was saying, knowing where I came from and even able to deal w/my retarded slang - much respect to him. I really dug the fact it was both me and jun, old and young, united through bass. I think it's a happening thing to share w/the other bass cats who might read what we spieled. we join the other lite cats and brother nez at presence studios so they can mix the first two tunes of their next album. on the way though, we stop to shovel some okinawa chow, yeah! I get lafty soba which is a most oishii noodle trip I empty my chili bottle on. they got music playing here that's righteous - I've heard this kind before... sanshin and whistling - yeah! at the studio in between the lite bros working w/their mixerman, I do an edition of the watt from pedro show, doing spiel w/them (and brother nez) and playing tunes they pick. man, I should've done more shows here but it's good at least I got one on the last day. mix all done, more chow! can you believe it? good thing it's not bloat-filler, none of anything I've shoveled all tour is anything like that. I chow kamatama w/tampura pumpkin and tampura onion - first tampura for me this tour cuz I was scared of grease but I find it pretty calm on that. cold undo is new for me too. I am beat. konk at kazuto's pad in saitama for my last night in japan. kazuto's ma I think is making him and jun more chow (man, can these cats shovel!) but I am way tuckered and must embrace the same space of deck I did after the kumagaya gig.
saturday and eight bells - only four konk hours but yet another bright sun morning won't allow me anymore (spaced and have no konk-mask this tour) so I go downstairs intending to hoof but find kazuto's pop and we spiel much as his ma fixes us made up sausage and mustard, miso soup, egg pieces, chili on leaves, fried chicken pieces (no bones), rice, a pickled herb she herself grew for breakfast. he does pretty good w/english even though he learned it many years ago. it helps me I think to explain things anyway, try and get a handle on my own fucking self. ten bells and it's airport time. kazuto's ma gives me a little jacket her ma sewed, tiny and not something I can wear but can have at my pad forever for righteous memories. she gives me a sakura mochi too, it's wrapped in a cherry blossom tree leaf and is oishii in my mouth. she tells me it's for hinamatsuri (ladies day) which is on march third. kazuto's pop gives me some scarves or something like that decorated w/their writing and designs, also a listing of sumo wrestler standings! beautiful and most kind folks, I've been so fortunate this journey to have them in my life and am most grateful. thank you kazuto, thank you. jun and kazuto take me to the train station and we pick up akinori. we then head for narita airport, some forty miles away but the traffic is way light, yeah! we pass a town called sakura and akinori says that's where he's from. at the airport, my friends park and wait for me to get my korean airlines boarding pass - yes, we can have one more chow together - katsucurry for me! we chow it outside where there's big wind but it's outside and we're together one last time. it's hard for me to say bye to them when boarding time comes closer... yet I have to and already I miss them, eyes welling up... I board the plane and now the rain comes, I see it out the windows as I work my way towards aft to where the salt lick is stationed. it's not enough rain to keep us from taking off though and as we do, big tears in the eyes of the silly old punk rocker in row fifty of the 777 flying back to cali and his pedro town... so many reasons, such thick salty tears though some crazy laughs too. to think about it all, to remember, to dream...
this page created 15 february 08