Friday, February 27, 2004

Whatever your views on The Darkness, this weeks issue of the NME makes pretty depressing reading. The story is this: NME misses the boat on The Darkness, goes grovelling on their knees for forgiveness, band relents, NME writes unjustly snide piece, band rejects the NME's advances, NME throws toys out of pram.
So, this weeks issue sees the logical conclusion to all of this; there are thinly-veiled derogatory references to The Darkness on almost every page. It's childish and utterly stupid.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Another night, another to the academy for the Jet/Snow Patrol gig, i'm DJing the Aftershow party. Tonight is one of those nights when i'm utterly exhausted; hopefully a bit of loud tuneage will sort me out. A nice steaming bowl of Congee has certainly helped.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Ordinary Boys? well, they're The Chords, but seeing as that'll mean virtually nothing to most of you.........
Good little band actually, the version of "Maybe Someday" was blistering.
Keane? I'm not swayed. Yet. Sounds a little bit 1987, Danny Wilson, Deacon Blue, Hue and Cry to me. But, undeniably, the public are going to lap 'em up. Lots of people there, including little Cawood, which is always a pleasure. I'm going to force some tunes into my ears for about 30 minutes, then hit the hay. G'night all.
Back up to the Carling Islington Academy (sheesh-rebranding..) for The Ordinary Boys and Keane; should be a good 'un, reports later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Music that i'm rocking at the moment? Last Days of April, sort of swedish emo....and Team, intense but poppy at the same time..........
Add on a healthy dose of Dancehall and some Wim, i'm sorted.
Well, i'm sure you know I love 'em, but what a band. Great gig, atmosphere was amazing, a couple of beers with good friends, who could ask for more? And now? Even the website snores; that tells you all you need to know.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Off to see Lowgold tonight, in a strangely sober frame of mind. Will temptation win? We'll see....

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Well, the cooking lager was a success: perhaps too much of a success, i'm feeling a little frazzled this morning. It's time for me to de-clutter the flat today, lots of boxes of CD's to return to the playroom down in Brighton. Thinking about it, it's virtually everything i've put on the ipod- and I need a Car to take it home. Can you see why Ipods are popular?
In other news- feel like some cooking is in order tonight, need to rattle those pots and pans. Can't justify carpaccio tonight, but maybe some sort of pasta? with lots of garlic and truffle oil.
Right, better have some breakfast.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

About to head off for another night of DJ-ing. I feel ludicrously relaxed tonight, a long soak, some cocoa butter on my tired skin, Wim Mertens on the stereo...but ahead of me lies some musical fun and my latest obsession: cooking lager. All that guff about premium beers, "reassuringly expensive....left to mature.....blah blah blah" Five pints of Stella and i'm on the floor. What I want is the lager equivalent of the cheap cooking wine you save for the stew: hence, cooking lager. You'll be still standing when others around have fallen. Let's put it to the test shall we? Mine's a top, cheers.
Thoroughly dope guide to all things dance, from horror-core to illbient, it's all there.
Vis-a-vis the increased power I'll be needing to start running all that music creation software: I'm heading in the direction of Fujitsu at the moment. Whatever happens it's always reassuring to know I'm getting twice the laptop for less than the cost of the one it will replace. Modern life is definitely not rubbish...
Holy shit. Take a look at the list of tunes that legendary drummer Hal Blaine performed on.....there's certainly a difference between being a run-of-the-mill session musician and being a performer...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

It's games all the way at the moment, all of 'em emenating from Japan. Check out GROW, it's a wonderful little flash game which manages to be calming an frustrating in equal measure. Top score possible is 20,000....took me a couple of days to work it out, can you do it any quicker?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Crikey, this site is awesome. Playing it as we speak...
Warning: it's a bit of a huge download, but this reggae mix is top quality's nice to see some dancehall getting the space it deserves, instead of the usual mash-ups. Been somewhat busy of late: had a meeting last night to ponder the future of the band, which went rather well- we appear to be working towards the same goal. Also, i've been debating a return to actually making music, for me, that's been about a ten year gap. I think it's time to do it again. I've got myself a sampler, a sequencer, so i'm just a midi controller away from doing it. Mind you, i'd need a nice new laptop to handle all the processing, but i've been looking for an excuse...
It's a drizzly morning in Shepherd's Bush, must rouse myself and toddle off to the gym.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Tonight is nice and quiet. I'm sitting here thinking about charity, about goodness and piety. I'm listening to Nick Drake, watching the candle flicker in the corner of the room. Even the police sirens outside seem to be passing with less frequency than they normally do at this time of night: maybe everyone in London feels this way.
Now, if you have any interest in reggae whatsoever, this slice of dubbed out brilliance is essential. I think it's the epic scientist production that does it: he was really on top of his game in the 80's... However, the thing that seperates this from the chasing pack is a three-note b-line of simple genius from Aston Barrett; RIP, Family Man.
I'm finally over the Jetlag, so back to business with the blog. Miss me? Oh well, never mind. The computer problems which arrived in their legions after the instillation of BT Broadband are nearly sorted, there's just a couple of strange quirks to iron out. There's the bewildering failure of XP to shut down properly and the strange , niggling thought that there's a virus on the system, when there isn't.
Other news? Currently rocking a number 3 crop, which I love: low-maintenance haircuts are the future.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Okay then, here's part two...............

Konnichiwa Tokyo, We’re Jesus Jones…and we’re back.Oh great. Another four hours of fitful sleep should stand me in good stead for the rigours of another day in Japan…The day starts with a brief stroll around the Akasaka area: it’s changed a great deal since we were here last, lots of new development, most of it connected to high finance. It’s an area of Tokyo which equates quite nicely to the City of London, wide roads, office blocks and tiny pockets of shops to provide for the legions of salary men. The place is also ludicrously clean: not a speck of litter in sight. Our bus journey to the gig site is another chance to marvel at the sheer spectacle of Tokyo: the buildings seem to be so much larger- both in size and spirit. This is a place that has a great deal of confidence-and it loves to make that point clear. This confidence never seems to border on the arrogant though; it’s done with too much pride.
Tonight’s gig is an even bigger “barn” than yesterday, with a slightly different set-up. In Osaka, the two stages were at opposite ends of the venue, here; they are in the two corners on one side. It all means we set up whilst Pleymo are absolutely rocking it about fifty yards to our right. Pleymo are a bit of a revelation for me; I’d never heard of them before but resolve to seek out some CD’s. They seem to be French, yet the singer has a fluent command of Japanese- this enables the band to connect with the audience and fire them up. Yet, even with this rabid reaction, there is still the silence between songs. Now I realise: we have to get the crowd going, make them go crazy- whilst understanding that the silent reaction is just the way they are. But this knowledge might not be enough to secure a good gig: we’ve got major problems with the computer. All of our samples, which once meant we carried a huge flight case around, housing a huge bank of samplers, can now be fitted onto a laptop. We’ve got a laptop on stage to provide all of the samples…and it doesn’t want to work. It’s crashing repeatedly. Looking at our watches, then the crowds, we realise that in 30 minutes, 20,000 people might be forced to endure a dramatically shortened set with no big tunes (Right Here, Real, Who Where Why) and other crucial samples missing. Sean and Maki look on, powerless, as Mike and I struggle with the problem. With 20 minutes to go, I have a tiny thought: try loading the set from last night, which was shorter, but loaded fine yesterday. It Loads fine again. Then another thought: well, if a shorter set loads, maybe it’s a memory problem. I run and tell Mike, who at this point is trying to warm up for a disastrous gig. We sit and divide the set into two smaller chunks to see if it will help. Hallelujah! The set loads. We must have been about 500kb into territory where the program was beginning to disintegrate: dividing into two has solved the problem. We look at each other and laugh out of sheer amazement: a second later, we’re in each other’s arms, hugging tightly. The relief is a palpable feeling.
Time to get changed. Time to rock!
The gig is great from start to finish…I was right about the audience; they just needed firing up a bit. So, from the outset, we’re bounding around like loos, clambering over the PA (me), letting out huge rock screams (mike), and scaring the beejesus out of the camera crew (oh, that’s me again). The film of the gig (which we watch afterwards) is awesome; hopefully it’ll end up on the band site at some point in the future! It’s a complete contrast to yesterdays gig as we walk off stage in a state of near-euphoria.
We were planning to leave the venue about 30 minutes after the show, a decision reached after reflecting on last night’s events. Now however, the agenda has changed somewhat. Time to drink some beer. Limo, Kim and Megumi Dan have made it to hostility (that’s hospitality, folks) so we wander off and say hello before finally collapsing on the bus about 2 hours later than planned. After watching the video (phew, no major gaffes) we plan tonight’s activities. Jez wants to stay in and eat spag bol, his hotel meal of choice, the rest of us have different ideas. A quick shower, then it’s down to the bar. Plans are eventually hatched to go get food, we find a restaurant that serves a Japanese approximation of tapas: lots of little dishes to explore. We get some yakitori, noodles, agedashi tofu, Kara age and oknomiyaki. This last one I’ve had before, it’s a Japanese pancake made with egg and vegetables- but tonight’s comes with flakes of tuna on the top. These dance and move in the heat and make it look as if they’re alive (which they aren’t); I’ve always aid that there’s one thing a day in Japan which will freak you out- moving food is definitely it for today. We return to the hotel for a nightcap but they’ve shut the bar: we turn 180 degrees and head back to whence we came. Our final night in Japan sees us toasting the success of the weekend with cassis and Ume (Japanese plum wine).
I wake at about 6am, with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. It takes me a little while to work out that this time I’m really going to miss this place: we haven’t really been here for long enough. Another bus ride and we’re back at Narita Airport for the flight home.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Right..........Time to fill you all in on what I've been doing.
Wednesday Night/Thursday Daytime.
Thirty thousand feet over St Petersburg.

Well, where do I start? it's now Friday, not Thursday as it should have been. The flight was delayed by 21 hours, due to a light dusting of snow on the wings. We arrived at Heathrow sometime yesterday afternoon, Jez, Al and me in a cab on the Hayes Bypass, driving at occasionally ludicrous speeds and catching sight of our 747 as it floated down to a chilly runway. Little did we know exactly how much time would actually be spent on the selfsame plane over the next 10 hours or so. After a stress-free check-in, we drifted amiably through duty free, fielding anxious calls on our mobiles and looking out at a cold but snow-free airport. As we finally got the call to progress to the gate, the weather had changed dramatically. Snow was swirling around the planes as they squatted behind the huge windows of the departure lounges. We wandered onto our flight as the temporary blizzard was abating, with a warning about the possibility of a delay while we waited to be de-iced. While we waited, the delay stretched to an hour. The crew were told to serve dinner and, against all regulations, serve us alcohol as well. And then? Well, thats it really. We drank and waited. Waited and waited. Departure time was 6.15pm. When 11 rolled around, we knew it was all going slightly awry. The rest of the night begins to unravel at just about that point. The crew finally left the plane at about midnight, having told us we could sleep on the plane if we wished, then again, the departure lounge could also be used as a makeshift camp. By this time we were all in a kind of hyper-excited party mood, good vibes flowing with the Asahi, bands bonding and all of the standard rules of engagement vanishing into the icy blackness outside. I can vaguely remember dialing directory enquiries at two in the morning, trying to reach some sort of customer service department: I needed to vent my spleen, despite secretly having a quite exquisite time. I can also remember going to sleep in Economy and waking in Club Class- how'd that happen? At 7am, some 14 hours after walking on to our Boeing Bedroom, they finally roused us from our otherworldly dreams and turned us out into the lounges. A deep and powerful hangover settled over us like the snow on the wing and we went in search of Breakfast. Clutching the vouchers, which JAL had tried to placate us with, we piled into the full English as if lives depended on it. Actually, they probably did. The next four hours passed at a crawl, we eventually decamped to a corridor outside gate 4 where we attempted to relax and unwind, whilst simultaneously trying to maintain straight faces as Tony appeared to be in danger of soiling himself. As the flight actually got inexorably nearer, I actually got a little's been a couple of years since I was on a plane and some of my old fears momentarily bubbled to the surface, no doubt buoyed by the dull tired ache that was gnawing at my bones.
But fly we must. JAL 422 eventually departed Londons Heathrow at around 2pm on Thursday, some 21 hours late. The moment when the cabin crew announce the flight time was particularly annoying, the realisation the it would be another 12 hours before this journey would finally end: 48 hours in the clothes we were wearing. After dinner and some Vodka, I grabbed another couple of hours sleep: roughly my sixth hour of sleep in two days. Kansai, here we come.
Getting our Kix at last.JAL 422 finally touches down at Kansai International Airport (or Kix, as the locals call it) at 10.30am Friday morning. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, melting away some of our frustrations as we leave the terminal building. Makiko, or Maki, our translator for the weekend, meets us. With typical Nipponese efficiency we are shepherded onto a bus and whisked away to the festival site; by now we're running so late that sound check is already upon us. After all of the privations and problems of the last 48 hours, the very least we expected was a nightmare of technical difficulties and appalling sound- not a bit of it. Onstage, everything runs like a dream. We play four songs and leave with big grins on our faces.
Backstage, it goes even better: the catering is a revelation with chefs on hand to ply us with foody comestibles such as Nigiri Sushi and Chicken Yakitori. Best gig catering ever!!
Another bus takes us away from the Osaka Intex Arena to our hotel in downtown Osaka. Rather confusingly, there appears to be two downtown areas, we're in South downtown, at the Osaka ANA hotel. After a long shower slowly removes some of the grime of our journey, jet lag bites me on the arse: I lie on the bed and fall instantly asleep. However, this being jet lag, I wake an hour or so later to vivid hallucinations, I can hear people having conversations about me, despite them being on totally different floors of the hotel. It's now 6pm, we've agreed to all meet up and go exploring- there's just one problem: everyone is still asleep. It's just me, Sean and Maki who venture out to see what Osaka has to offer the weary traveller on a crisp and clear Friday evening.
Osaka is a vibrant and exciting city, its bustling heart of fun food and frolics is Dotonburi and its to there that we head after exiting the subway. We ooh and aah at the neon and smile at the giant mechanical crabs that festoon the buildings, then start our search for Beer and nibbles.
First stop is the Kirin building in the heart of Dotonburi: they brew on site, which means the Weiss beer we order is incredibly fresh and even more satisfying as a result. We chow down on some spicy shredded Korean squid, watch the world go by and hatch our plot for the night. Basically, we intend to wander around and eat and drink whatever takes our fancy. Luckily for us, Maki is a local, so we are treated to the best food in town. First, some gyosa delicately drizzled with shoyu sauce and accompanied by Kim chi pickle: it doesn't get much better than this. Hang on a minute, it does; next stop is a tiny Takoyaki restaurant, the tiny little balls of savoury octopus are as light as a feather and unbelievably good, i'm in food heaven. A final nightcap of Corona beer and a shot of Old Parr, then it's a cab ride back to the hotel.

Gig Day. Birthday Day. Whatever Day.
The day starts with the rather odd sound of Alan celebrating his birthday with a vigorous early morning workout in his room, next to mine. I can hear him huffing and puffing his way through some sit-ups and what sounds like skipping- either that or he's disco dancing. I grab Al and Sean and we head off to Dotonburi again for a stroll and Breakfast. Upon our return, Jet lag rears its ugly head once more: I fall into a fitful sleep, hallucinate for an hour or so, waking up feeling somehow even more tired. Bah. We drive off to the Intex arena and await our first Japanese gig in nearly 10 years.
While we wait, we play what seems to be the latest fad in Japan: musical PS2 games. There's one in the arcades, which seems to involve playing some sort of giant mandolin, but the game that is most popular is a Drum game. The rules are simplicity itself: the game controller is replaced with a scaled down ceremonial drum and you play along to the song on screen. There are different drum strokes to play at various points in the song: rolls, rim shots and a flourish where you slam both sticks on the drum at the same time. Oddly, it seems as though i'm a better drummer than our own drummer, Tony, which is a little worrying. So at last, it's time to play. We're shit. No really, the gig is awful. It's all a bit bewildering, seeing as the sound check went so well. Some of the blame must fall on our own shoulders: we're tentative which means there's lots of niggling little mistakes, Mikes tuner lead gets pulled out in the middle of the first song: I could go on, but won't. But what also throws us is the audience reaction. For most of the set it feels like they're ignoring us. Applause fades about three seconds after we finish a song. As a confidence boosting experience, this gig is a non-starter. The mood in the dressing room afterwards is heavy, despite Maki making the effort to get Alan a birthday cake. We were planning to spend the time between the gig and our departure to the airport getting stuck into the backstage bar, but our hearts aren't really in it.
Our flight from Kansai to Haneda airport in Tokyo doesn't leave for a few hours so we sit and listen to the other bands. Evanescence are second headliners and seem to be having the same audience reaction as us. Could it mean that it's just the way the crowds are at gigs like these? Hmm, we'll see, I guess.
By the time we leave for Kansai, we've drunk more wine than we perhaps should have; our spirits rise just a little. The flight to Tokyo is great- 50 minutes, no one on the plane; we walk into the terminal about five minutes after landing.
Our base for the next couple of days is the Capitol Tokyo Hotel: it's a traditionally styled Japanese hotel, which means lots of muted beige and screens instead of curtains: it's an oasis of calm, which is just what I need. It's also in Akasaka, which is the district of Tokyo, which we first stayed in, some 13 years ago. Relaxed, and on "home turf" it's a good omen.
In the lobby are our old friends Kim (in fine form and 8 months pregnant!) and Limo. They want to know if we're off out for a drink or some food? Well, it's midnight, we're knackered and pissed off, but you know what? We do want to go out, actually. Jez and Al hop in a cab and read for Roppongi, the rest of us go looking for ramen. Maki finds an all night noodle bar that supplies me with a great bowl of char siu ramen, and then all we have to do is find Jez and Al. We end up at an Irish pub in Roppongi, watching Liverpool versus Everton, drinking cooking lager and laughing at Jez dancing. A glorious end to a day that looked like it was beyond hope.

...So, people: that's part one of our adventures. Part two arrives when I can write it all down.