Looping Tour of Japan Diary

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scroll down or click here for diary entries: May 18 | May 19 | May 20 | May 21
Japan Diary Part 2, May 23-25 | photos (opens in new window)
Otoya concert mp3's | my goth/darkwave mp3 and the KUF poster

some Japan tour links:



May 21, Kobe Underground Festival

We start the day early........an hour drive to Kobe and we are off to a late start with bad traffic. We have the first soundcheck and there is momentary panic when we cannot find the AC converter that Sunao has procured for me (which I am using currently to type on this Mac laptop.) It's in the car as it turns out. We have a very, very brief soundcheck and I cannot get my sound......I'm getting a tremendous amount of feedback with both my condenser mic and with a dynamic Shure. There is no time though so I am praying the sound folks get it together by tonight.

Aci sends me out for green tea and japanese sweet bread at the local.........you guessed it, 7-11. They are everywhere here and they look identical to ones in California.......a little depressing except that everything they sell is completely incomprehensible to me. I find some good rice in seaweed with a delicious mayonnaise kind of dressing dollop in the middle. I can't speak Japanese and the Japanese clerks can't speak English so I haven't a clue about how to order Japanese sweet bread, so I buy the closest thing I can figure. LOL, it's not right but Aci likes his French-style pastry that I buy him.

Well........that leaves me till now. I've been typing backstage with all the friendly Japanese goth bands (who all smile and bow a lot and who I can't converse with at all). Immediately in front of me is a table with two beautifully decorated gothic transvestites. I've been watching them put on their meticulous makeup for over an hour as I type.

Sins of the Flesh, the headliners, are checking next so I'm going to go watch. Mimetic has already checked. We're getting close to the start of the show......just another three hours.........lol.

The show begins promptly at 6 p.m. and goes solidly until 6 a.m. tomorrow. These people do not fuck around. They are all seriously ready for a party and the costumes already are just amazing. I'm liking this Japanese goth scene a lot and am also conspicuously aware that I'm the only one wearing dayglo green accents. Every one is in black, red, or grey. Lots of very cool dyed hair but mostly blonde or white or, a new one for me, young women with bright GREY hair. It's cool looking once one gets away from the obvious aging association with grey hair. It all makes me wish I had makeup on, but I have a really cool outfit with a really cool headpiece designed for me by BluGirl at Foxylocks.com. It has black wool dreads with dayglo green tubing with wire in it wrapped around like candy canes and various straight tubing just sticking out. It is all mounted on a black skull cap and starts on the back half of my skull, like some kind of raver Samurai warrior headdress with a black scalp.

I will go offstage after the 2nd song of Phatasmagoria's (for which I will be doing mostly vocal sound effects and faux industrial beatboxing), to put on the outfit and emerge to sing my song with Aci backing me. I'm having a hell of a time remembering my lyrics and I finally decided, instead of having a shame attack about it, to make huge cheat sheets that will be on the stage in front of me so that I can put more energy into performing. I'm nervous but I'm doing it damn it and I feel so lucky to be here.

May 21, Kobe Underground Festival, part 2

What to say about his incredible event? It was just huge in scope: bands, jds, video artists, fashion designers, drag queens, all performing from 6 p.m. until the sun rose at 6 a.m.

I produce a large multiple-day festival every year (the Y2K? International Live Looping Festival), so I know how hard it is to be in charge of everything and Aci and Sunao did an amazing job, assisted by 4 wonderful, hardworking students of Sunao's who were there at 8 a.m., after a 10 a.m. call 22 hours before.

And the Goths...man oh man, these Japanese goths take creative costuming incredibly seriously. I sat next to two transvestites backstage who took 3 hours to put their makeup and costumes on. When they were done I got one of my favorite pictures ever standing between them.(www.looppool.info/gallery/ )

It's hard to talk about all the musical acts because they were so numerous, but all were really pro and entertaining. The Japanese goth scene is far more inclusive stylistically than the American/British/European goth scenes, probably because the scene is much smaller in terms of actual numbers (Osaka, as an example, being a huge city of 3 million plus people, doesn't even have a weekly goth club----Tokyo only has one as opposed to the 5 clubs that are active in the Californian Monterey and South bay scenes alone). There were bands in amazing goth costumes and makeup that played theatrical punk rock, blues based rock and roll and even cabaret styles of music. There were noise bands and quasi-industrial bands. I loved that there was such stylistic diversity in the scene and everyone seemed to have an incredible sense of solidarity and all of the members of the bands were just ridiculously friendly and supportive.

The leader of every single band on the bill came up to me personally to tell me that they enjoyed my short solo set and the goth single that I sang with Phantasmagoria. It made feel really amazingly good because I did a mostly all vocal blend of faux industrial beatbox and avante garde extended vocal techniques which I had fears were outside of the purvue of the event.

Most impressive to me were Auto Mod, Sins of the Flesh, Mimetic and Psycho Dream ( I won't include Phantasmagoria in this list only because I performed with them but I loved what they did as well), but the other headlining bands Agent Murder and Chrono Trigger were also excellent.

Auto Mod is from Tokyo and includes perhaps the most famous Tokyo Goth, Genet, who as well as being the dynamic and theatrical lead singer and songwriter, also produces the Tokyo Dark Castle which is the largest annual goth event in Japan. More about him later......I completely bonded with this immensely creative musician and look forward to collaborating with him some time in the future. Auto Mod also featured my good friend Sunao Inami who, along with being probably the most notable live looper and producer of live looping festivals in Japan, is also an incredibly versatile keyboard/laptop musician who has his own recording label in Kobe. I've seen Sunao play abstract electronica gigs, live looping gigs and even a couple of really fascinating live dance oriented techno gigs during the tour, but here he just was a really fantastic synthesizer backup musician.

It was really cool to see just how versatile he was. I've been a rhythm section member all of my professional career at one time or another and it is a thing of beauty to see really accomplished musicians who have the ability to reel in their respective egos and justreally support a lead singer well. It's a rare quality in my experience and is such an understated occupation that I think that unsophisticate listeners can miss how good someone really is. Sunao is a total pro----tasty as tasty can be in playing his parts.

Auto Mod is very theatrical and has a strong BDS & M theme in their live shows. Genet is impossible not to watch. I'm very critical of performance artistry and he is a really accomplished and riveting performer, using a beautiful woman backup singer as his theatrical foil...see the gallery for pics of him in concert.

Sins of Flesh were really the headliner of the night and are led by sole songwriter and lead singer Jude, who is a British ex-pat living in Osaka. He plays a more old school (with some modern synth goth flourishes) style of goth that is really rock based as opposed to a lot of the more modern sounding bands that are more EBM or synth goth oriented. He assembled a really good band with two musicians that he flew in from England (!) at his own expense (a totally pro lead guitarist and drummer), and two excellent Japanese musicians (an incredible bassist who told me that he had played professionally in 30 bands already, and a laptop keyboardist who were really good and, again, extremely kind and friendly to me). Jude really puts on a show and works with a beautiful dancer/vocalist/performance artist whose name is Elizabeth Rose (?), who interacts heavily with Jude and the other wonderful and dynamic backup singer Mik (who really helped me out the whole tour before and after because of his excellent translation skills). She changes costumes several times during the show and plays out devil, virgin, and fury roles silently with Jude. This band had perhaps the strongest energy of all the bands. They were really powerful and professional and have a good shot at going places internationally.

Mimetic, aka Jerome, is an abstract electronica/groove EBM artist from Geneva, Switzerland, and was one of my great inspirations on the tour. His music is somewhat reminiscent of some kind of combination of mid-career Autechre and perhaps someone like Mick Harris' Scorn on steroids. His music is entirely about rhythm and I just had the best time dancing every time he played . (I was on the same small tour along with Sins of the Flesh, Mimetic and Psycho Dream as it turned out so I got to see himthree times, but more on that later). His choice of groove and sounds was really original and I just loved his live shows. I usually don't even get off that much on pure laptop music as I love a certain amount of performance energy which I find lacking with a lot of laptop artists. Getting to know Jerome a little bit was great because he is a drummer like me.

Not to be too narcissistic here, but I have spent the last five years of my life moving away from my career as a drummer/percussionist.....experimenting more with melodic and chordal instruments (keyboards, wind instruments, guitar and bass) and found sounds, and experimental textures; but three things happened in this tour that were an epiphany for me regarding my own relationship to drumming and groove: One was listening to how compelling Mimetic was.......how fun it was for not only me but all the Japanese goths to dance their asses off to his music despite the fact that it was almost entirely devoid of melody. The rhythms and especially the sound design and timbres of the music were very musical though, and never once made me miss the melodic harmonic content in the music (there was some of course).

Two was a comment made to me by Genet after I had played my own set: He said in halting but excellent English, "Do you have a strong African influence in your music?" I was stunned because I would never guess that someone could tell (especially from the goth scene) that this is true, and we both had a very lively conversation about our mutual love for African rhythm. I'm totally inspired to revisit my African, Caribbean, South American, Celtic, Balkan and Middle Eastern roots in rhythm in my own electronic music now that I will be home soon. This is a huge paradigm shift for me. After 25 years heavily ensconced in the World Fusion movement I had self conciously moved away from this world because I wanted to be challenged by new things musically. I realize that all of this is part of my being and that there really is no need to subdue it. I have had fears that newer genres of electronic music would not tolerate the stylistic diversion but I think this is just fear-based thinking (of which I've had a lot in my life). Hell, the whole reason this tour occured is because I purposefully decided to do the thing that scared me more than anything in my life artistically. Namely, writing lyrics and singing lead on a pop song (well, a goth/EBM/industrial/electronica tune). Sometimes I have to talk myself into doing what scares me, even on a daily basis.

Thirdly, was Psycho Dream's beautiful incorporation of live metal percussion with their guitar/electronica based goth pop. Each member of the band had stations on stage that had drum sticks and pieces of metal: cooking pans, hupcaps, and metal plates where they would periodically stop playing their instruments and play minimalistic taiko-esque industrial percussion. More on this later.

This whole evening was memorable for me because I got to sing the first song I have ever written as a lead vocalist. Indeed, as I said earlier, this was the reason I made the tour in the first place. I submitted my first ever foray into writing an entire pop/vocal tune, and it was miraculously accepted on the Kobe Underground Compilation, which is the official CD for the Kobe Underground Compilation and, as such, is the biggest goth comp to come out in Japan. A few days later, Aci and Sunao sent me my round trip plane fare to come perform my song live, and then a week later, Aci told me that Phantasmagoria had learned my song in rehearsal and wondered if they could back me in my performance........I was floored............I cried to be quite honest and said YES!!!!!!

Anyway, tonight was my big debut and I couldn't be more nervous about it. I kept having trouble remembering my lyrics, amazing to me because I had literally spent hours on the long plane flight over trying to memorize them. It mystifies me that I have literally hundreds and hundreds of rhythms from all over the world in my head as well as thousands of pop songs from my many years (as a substitute drummer for over a hundred bands in a hundred mile radius from where I live) but I have a really hard time memorizing lyrics. Oh well, I was well prepared and I played vocal and found sound percussion for Phantasmagoria's first few songs and then went off stage to change my costume for my big debut. I wore my cool dayglo green/cybergoth headress designed and sewn for me by Blu Girl of Foxylocks.com and hit the stage running.

And, much to my utter astonishment, the audience really like it a lot and gave me a heartwarming ovation at the end of the song. Then Aci introduced me and I did an industrial beatbox/extended vocal technique peformance as the entire band left me alone on the stage. Again, the audience really enjoyed it and I got another rousing ovation as I finished. Now you have to understand that two years ago the thought of hitting the stage with nothing other than a microphone and my dsp/looping gear scared the living shit out of me. To suddenly spend 20 minutes in front of a big Japanese goth event audience with only a microphone in hand was just an epiphany to me. I was soooooooooo happy!!! I had fears that what I was going to do in my solo show would be pale compared to the heavier bands that I was sandwiched between, but they were really groundless.

Afterwards, many musicians came up from the different styles of bands and said they really enjoyed my performance. It was one of those days that some native Americans call " a good day to die'. Phantasmagoria came back on to stage and we finished up the set. One of the main vocalists for the band was sick and unable to attend. Haru, consequently and very nervously , had to do all of the lead vocals for the band. She was amazing and I hope she is encouraged to sing more and more lead vocals. She has a wonderful presence onstage!!!.

After all my nerves preparing for the show and the long long hours of waiting (I ended up finally being awake for 25 1/2 hours, including cleaning up the venue strenuously for the last two hours of the morning) I really wanted to unwind so I had a few drinks and danced with my new French friend, Fred, who is employed with Japan Airlines and a fantastically fun guy to party with. There is a photo in the gallery of the two of us hammered out of our minds and just blissfully having fun. He is someone that I want to get to know better and he is planning to come visit me in California.

....................Bozin, whose wonderful bar I wrote about, was the architect of the mindblowing and disturbing finale to the whole festival. He had people cover the entire stage in black plastic and then brought out huge slabs of pig meat attached to meat hooks. There were vats of pig blood on stage and several dancer/performers, both scantily clad and naked men and women started a ritualistic enactment of bondage and discipline.........submission and dominance as Bozin cut through a huge pigs head with a chain saw and grinder. There was blood everywhere and the vibe was very sexual. All this was accompanied by very heavy EBM music. As provacative and shocking as it was the audience was very passive. At one point I looked out over the audience from the front of the stage and everyone was in mute, non-moving rapt attention. I've never seen anything quite as over the top in the United States or Europe, although I'm sure such enactments must take place in specific B&D scenes. It didn't really shock me very much but I could tell it shocked a lot of the people there. It was, at the same time, really beautiful and really ugly and the actors and actresses threw themselves into the performance. They were exhausted afterwards and I got that the sexual vibe of the performance was not just acted out but felt.

.....That ended the festival and then it took a couple of more hours to clean up the venue completely. I was so exhausted but I threw myself into helping the incredibly dedicated young staff clean up. The sun was up and we drove the hour back to Osaka to get into bed and to sleep by about 9:30 in the morning.

Hours later we woke up and spent the entire day like zombies doing nothing. I was so thankful that there was no gig that day. I'm not sure I would have made it.

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May 20, Osaka

Today is one of only two days off on the short tour (5 dates, 8 days) and Aci takes me out to sushi with his buddies from the sanitation company where he used to work. They then take me (on a really hot day) to an amazing Buddhist temple nestled in the mountains at the edge of Osaka.

One of Aci's friends, Taku, speaks really good English and peppers me with question after question about all kinds of aspects of American life. I really like him a lot and he gives me a good intro (in English) to Japanese culture. Aci's other two friends (Ken and Tomohiko) are very sweet and speak virtually no English. Tomohiko is a total crackup.........it turns out he's completely into smoking dope and taking psychedelics, both things I did a lot 25 years ago and no longer do now in my life. I regale them all with an English lesson on all the different ways of describing stoners, kinds of pot,?street slang about pot, etc., etc.

This is particularly hilarious because most of this conversation occurs at this Buddhist temple along with the hushed whispers of older people who are there to pray. I feel like we are a bunch of bad boys at the zoo..........it's really fun and innocently sacreligious.

Next, Aci takes me out to Osaka's only goth/occult store, run by Mr. Taiki, who is the acknowledged father of the Osaka goth scene. His store, Territory, is very heavy on the occult with an emphasis on Satanism. Mr. Taiki himself has sharpened vampire teeth and is a very intimidating, vampiric-looking man with no eyebrows, who is very sweet after my initial intimidation. The store's vibe is very dark: darker than I like my goth to be frank, but he is a true gentleman and gives me free stickers and posters of his legendary "Black Veil" concerts. He brings many of the top goth bands to play in Osaka. I see that Das Ich, one of my favorites (listen to the song "Distillat" to hear a perfect example of industrial gothic dance music) will be here one day after I fly back to California........damn!!!!!

Finally, we go to rehearse with Phantasmagoria at a rehearsal studio in the middle of downtown Osaka. I am very nervous as I have never sung lead in a band in my life and tonight we will play my new goth single (the reason I have been asked to Japan in the first place, as it has just come out there on the excellent Kobe Underground Compilation CD).

The lead singer of Phantasmagoria is sick and misses the important final rehearsal, so Haru steps up to the plate and sings all the songs. I love her voice, it is innocent and singsongy but not in any kind of cloying way. I think she does a fantastic job and we all have a really good rehearsal.

Next we pack up and head off to one of the coolest bars I'm ever experienced. Called "Babylon", it is in the bottom of a dark and dank tunnel (there seem to be a lot of bars like this tucked away underneath the streets of Osaka) and is run by an amazing man, named Bonzin. Firstly, Bonzin is beautiful and exotic to look at. His whole body is a testament to a very intelligent tribal gothic aesthetic with tatoos, more piercings than you can count, shaved eyebrows (a lot of this here) and a really cool hairdo that is part shaved skull and part Rajasthani dreadlocks, dyed jet black of course. It is hard not to look at him because his whole appearance is really beautiful and artistic. That's just where it begins, however.........He is a top tattoo artist and piercer............a plump young gothic lolita in picture-perfect anime clothing is having multiple piercings put into her ears as we arrive and sit at the very small bar right next to where Bozin works. Suddenly, he gets up in the middle of his work and takes off his meticulously sterilized mask and rubber gloves and comes over to serve us drinks behind the bar. The bar is dark and surrounded by beautiful dark fetishes including a lot of H.R. Giger toys and posters. I expect Bonzin to be dark and brooding, but like a lot of Japanese goths, he is just really shy and is very genuinely a beautiful sweet soul.

I'm further impressed when he starts Djing both vinyl and CDs in abstract electronica and synth goth. It is tonight when I hear the brilliant double CD by MIMETIC for the first time. High-priced Japanese CDs be damned, I vow to buy this amazing record, which is reminiscent of my favorite phase of Autechre's career but wholly original at the same time. It is very beat driven.

At the end of the night I am even further impressed by the fact that Bonzin will play tomorrow night at the Kobe Underground Festival using a real chain saw and heavy duty metal grinders..........true industrial music.

It's late and off to sleep, and Haru and I both fall asleep on the way back to the apartment, which is a long drive. Osaka is really huge and spread out: a city of three million people. Aci is a star, doing all the long driving for us. We leave the equipment in the car and head upstairs to crash at 3: 30 a.m. We have an 8:30 wake up for the long day of the K.U.F. festival.

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May 19, Otoya club, Kobe

Mercifully, I am greeted by the grinning face of Aci (pronounced Ay'-shee, which is the letter 'H' in Japanese), who has come to take me all the way to Kobe (about an hour) just so I can have a sound check. I've never been happier to see someone in my life and we chat away in our limited English/Japanese. Aci knows 10 times as much English as I know Japanese which doesn't say much so we point and grin a lot.

I get to the club, Otoya, with one hour to spare before the show starts.

Like a lot of Japanese bars, it is very small and has a phenomenal sound system, maybe the best I've ever heard in a small club. It's blisteringly loud and clear as anything for the whole mini-festival, which has mostly noise/electronica/avante garde musicians from as wide a range as New Zealand, Taiwan, Switzerland, Japan, and me, the token American.

It's amazing that all of these truly fascinating and accomplished musicians from all over the Pacific Rim are all gathered in one place with a very appreciative, albeit small audience of Japanese and Gaijin (the Japanese term for any foreigner). I am called the Genki Gaijin, or crazy foreigner, probably because I have learned that all of my Japanese friends who I cannot communicate with using language love it when I do weird impersonations and strange voices and animal sounds. It's actually really fun and primal communicating this way because all human beings love humor and caricature, which I love to do. I particularly bust up Aci and Haru every time I do my impersonation of a policeman on a 2-way walkie-talkie, which I have down........(blushes at the thought of how much time I put into that impersonation). It makes me think that my brother would be a star in Japan because he is one of the funniest natural comedians and impersonators I know.

The show is really fantastic. Sunao Inami, my dear friend who has headlined two looping shows in Santa Cruz already, has a trio with Tadatsu Atsunobu and Kazuya Ishigami, avante noise musicians who really are listening to each other. They sound well-rehearsed, but I find they are improvising everything!

Next up is a Japanese artist, Funaman, who uses a lot of found objects (which fascinates me as I rarely encounter musicians who are interested in this great passion of mine). Using contact mikes, his set his loud, abrasive, challenging, formless and fascinating all in one breath.

Next is Yingfan, a very interesting musician from Taipei, Taiwan, where, he tells me, there is a very established noise scene. He reminds me of Matt Davignon in that he is coaxing incredibly interesting and complex sounds out of very, very cheap digital processors, including a cheap Zoom drum machine (one I actually programmed rhythms for when I had a brief gig with Zoom), a cheap Zoom multi effects pedal, the beloved Alesis Ineko, an Air Fx and some cheap and crude sampler. I really enjoy his set.

Yikes, I'm next and I've already had two large beers and am just a bit tipsy and moderately jet lagged. The whole evening has been very aggressive, loud and abstract so I decide to give the audience some comic relief and for some inexplicable reason I'm just really in the zone. I'm so happy because this ranks for me as one of the best gigs I've ever done in my life. I'm in command of my equipment, which is always a little problematic I'm afraid to say, and I douse the house lights to reveal my two cheesy blacklights and dayglo green instruments. I'm also in a very light, slightly tipsy (I never, ever, ever perform high so this is rather novel for me),very funny mood and I use a lot of physical comedy in the show and get the audience laughing right away.

One of the bookers for one of my subsequent shows is watching and I am very aware of impressing her. I feel embarrassed to admit that but it's simply true. At one point someone in her party laughs uproariously just as I make a vocal loop and the laughter features prominently in the loop. I love this kind of serendipity and call the audience's attention to the rhythmic effect the one laugh has on the loop........getting them to "learn" the rhythm and melody of the laugh just through conducting hand gestures.......sure enough, they start to laugh perfectly in unison with the laugh and I overdub them every time they do....making the laugh become more and more prominent in the loop. Of course, this produces more delight and laughter and by the end of the piece I feel in command of the performance and also really in a blissful state of trusting that whatever happens in the show will be great.

It's always difficult in pure improvisation, particularly with somewhat formless musical forms, to really give yourself to the moment (fears of sucking, et. al.) but I just let go and surf it and it becomes a thing of wonder. The audience and I are in the same zone and I finish to really wonderful applause. Many people come up and in halting English thank me for the show. Hell, I even sell two CDs and make 2,000 yen for playing the show (about $20).

Next is a beautiful and very serene set by the New Zealand artist, Richard Francis. I almost fall asleep listening to it and it is very beautiful and lulling......almost pure noise.

Mimetic ends the evening and he is just mesmerizing. He is from Switzerland and I am delighted to find out that he and I will be on the same bill for 4 shows on the tour. Since I will be travelling to Zürich to be a featured artist at the International Live Looping Festival that Benhard Wagner is putting on, I'm going to try and hook up an improvisatory duet show with Mimetic in Geneva while I'm there.

His is literally one of the most enjoyable electronica shows I have seen, which says a lot because he is doing everything with a laptop. I frequently have a hard time with laptop performances because there is nothing to watch. The Chemical Brothers were good a few weeks back opening for a much more dynamic New Order but one can only see so much fistpumping in the air as the filters sweep the breaks in their dance mix. Mimetics set is just beautiful and really, really funky. I especially like that the lack of form of the earlier artists is broken by his excellently programmed abstract beats. At one point, I throw caution to the wind and grab two drumsticks and start jamming along on the back of a wooden chair. Exhilirating!!!!!

Exhausted, Aci and I pack up and he takes me to the best noodle shop I've ever experienced on the way back to his apartment in Osaka. Damn!!!!!!! That's as good food as I've ever had and that's not hyperbole.

We get to Aci's apartment and he apologizes for how small it is................ I just love it: it is tiny but really cozy and wonderful and has a gorgeous 7th floor view over the rooftops of Osaka. The weather is warmer than in California, close to 80 and humid during the days and still warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt in the middle of the night. I adore weather like this. My Japanese friends complain that it is too hot, but I'm digging it. Aci's wife Haru, backup singer for Phantasmagoria, is there grinning, hugging me and welcoming me.

The Japanese have a delightful custom of taking gifts to people who they visit. I have thought a lot about it and have brought Aci and Sunao both "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" t-shirts. And, for all of them, beautiful custom soaps that my good friend Rodent, from the Santa Cruz goth scene, made for them, replete with customized labels with their names emblazoned on his Santa Cruz Soap Co. logo. Then some Santa Cruz saltwater taffy, and a bobbing-head goth girl and small goth book for Haru, and we finish up our mini-Christmas. It's always important to bring someone something from your home town, no matter how corny or trivial. It is very symbolic and I really like it.

I discover that Aci will put me up for the entire tour and drive me to all of my gigs. This is an amazing relief and I realize that I will not go nearly as far into the red on the tour as I had feared to begin with. Sunao and Aci, as producers for the Kobe Underground Festival, have paid for my round-trip plane fare so I am really in their debt.

My room is great and I have an AC adaptor and wireless connection so I am set for communication.

My only mild concern is that Aci and Haru have a beautiful young cat. I'm highly allergic to cats and I wake up the next morning with a wrenching allergy headache. (The next night I try my newfound anti-allergy measure, which consists of heating the blankets, sheets and entire pillow in the dryer. The dander of cats has microscopic dust mites whose bite causes the allergic reaction that people mistake for an allergy to the cat itself............heating in a hot dryer kills all of the mites, so even though the hair and dander are still there, nothing bites you----amazingly, after an entire lifetime of struggling on tours, staying with people who have cats, and all the attendant headaches, I have just learned this one and it works like a charm: the next morning I awaken completely refreshed and raring to go).

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May 18, San Francisco airport

Off to a rocky start: I used faulty logic and determined that if the East Coast was three hours ahead, then Japan would be several hours behind, being to the west of California.


My plane ticket said, "leave 18 May 12:35 p.m., arrive Osaka 4:20 p.m." What it didn't say was that the arrival is on the 19th of May at 4:20, not the 18th of May. Consequently, I got a panicky phone call from Aci and Sunao saying they were at the airport and where was I??? Yikes!!!!!!

So, I will arrive and have to take a bus immediately to Kobe, where I will miss the sound check for my first live looping performance.

I've always traveled overseas in a group or with my wife Chris as my intrepid tour manager/roady, and this time I'm on my own so I have a bit of anxiety about navigating with heavy rack cases in a country whose signs I cannot read and whose language I cannot speak.

Thank heavens for my gracious hosts Aci, his wife Haru, and Sunao!

Well, my nerves about excess baggage are put at ease and they didn't bat an eyelash at the almost 70 lbs per bag that I hefted onto the weighing stations. That's a huge relief. ? ? The budget of my tours is always miniscule (I'm trying to make a living as a live looping musician after all.......he he he), so I'm always a bit worried about excess costs (expensive airport food, excess baggage). I'd been warned that flying to Japan could really be costly but I got a non-stop United flight that was a bit pricier but had a large baggage limit.

Is this too much minutiae? ? LOL, It's my reality right now as I wait to have my weird bag of found-sound instruments torn apart by airport security.

Getting a surprising amount of strange looks for wearing dayglo lime green, a Looper's Delight shirt and black fingernail polish, but if it's good enough for Steve Lawson, dammit, it's good enough for me.

May 18 | May 19 | May 20 | May 21 | Japan Diary Part 2
photos (opens in new window) | Otoya concert mp3's| my goth/darkwave mp3 and the KUF poster

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