Tuesday, December 16, 2008

osaka. get at me....

i love this town. it's not quite matsumoto. but i'll take it any day over anywhere else in jp (except matsumoto...)

it's so good to be back. i'm so lucky i've gotten to return twice in one year. all the school kids were freaking out on the airplane looking to their left to see mt. fuji, one of their teachers tried to get my attention....i put him in place with perfect japanese: i can't be bothered, Suwa Lake is out the the right side. and i point. he goes: ahhhhh, suwa lake. as if he went there yesterday....but i know he was floored.

it cracks the promoters up when i order shouchu with hot water, the wheat kind. it drives them up the wall when i request sake from the brewery down the street from my old house...masumi, check it out, it's exported, it's that good. all vegetarian onigiri's please!

but osaka....osaka is all business all the time. money money money and business. the scientists say the people of osaka have the fastest walking pace in the world. they are all walking very very fast to wherever they make their money. and i dig it. 'cause the workday wraps and these guys know how to party.

Shinsaibashi has got to be one of the largest entertainment districts in eastern asia, square mile after square mile of ground to roof-top bars and restaurants and lounges and karaoke joints.
and our hotel is right in the middle of it.

as soon as we check in, i take jon and mike down to dotomburigawa to see the bright lights and the ferris wheel, and clubs. dotomburigawa. the first song i ever wrote/sang with mycar was about dotomburigawa. we walk the pedestrian street and the shopping arcade and the boys snap photos of funny ads and ufo catcher and goofy statues. we're surrounded by thousands of people popping in and out of the crab restaurants and takoyaki stands and yakitori bars. all hustle. all bustle. and then we duck down an invisible alley and everything gets real quiet and we're standing in the midst of one of jp's most beautiful shrines and its dark and the people pray and this has always been my favorite spot in the city.

i guess the story goes hundreds of years ago, two fisherman pulled this god up from the bottom of the sea. they sat him down and the people worshipped him. and osaka's wealth exploded. to the merchant capital it is today...or something like that. still today the locals toss water on him to keep the moss growing....like their money. the photo above does not do it justice. the ambience and atmosphere are totally lost. but i dig it. not 50 feet away there's 5000 people chowing on crab and grilled chicken, and here in ther dark of the alley the noise all falls away and a handful of businessmen throw coins and clap and ring the bell and light the incense and an ages old god from the see grows moss.

i fucking love this town.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

knee deep in new york city.

today we're back in NYC. bowery ballroom. doing this invite only party for a very large corporation that sells high-class luxury goods. it's the real deal....red carpet, limos, B-listers, C-listers, and Kevin Bacon....it's been, uhhh, an interesteing day.

the bowery ballroom....i gotta say, i'm not in love with the venues in this town. the production teams are always great to work with. but the buildings themselves don't do it for me. i've seen shows all over town, done shows all over town, know people that run clubs all over town...and none of them really do it for me. but bowery ballroom...you're probably my favorite.

that said...i haven't done T5...or hiro ballroom. hiro ballroom. i was put on this earth to do a show at hiro ballroom. were i to ever open a club...it would be a very solid mix of the the paradise in amsterdam, and the hiro ballroo- aesthetically. wide, spacious, balcony, red velvet booths....

i've only ever been there once. back before my music days. when i was still trying to break into it all. i was volunteering at CMJ 2006 for the week. i got out early enough to book it to hiro ballroom for erase errata and deerhunter. the line outside the door was insane. i wasn't gonna get in even with my badge. so i got smart. leesah had always told me when we were younger that there was always a way in. and it didn't involve blowjobs....i made my way around back, found the alley door to the kitchen...ran my way through some access tunnels, snuck up some stairs, took a wild guess, jumped through a door, and found myself in the hallway to the hiro ballroom bathrooms. and i was in. erase errata was great, the sound in the room sucked. the drinks were too expensive. i stayed for deerhunter's first three songs, and decided to book it to brooklyn, where i met my friends shellshag at a secret warehouse gig they were playing....and we all got kicked out by the police halfway through their set because the building was condemned and fire hazards and no liquor licenses yadda yadda yadda.....

so yeah. it's a beautiful room. i wanna do it someday. even if troubles me like all the other gigs in town...sorry new york, just can't give the love....

(this is the only decent interior shot i can find, and that is Nada Surf on stage, i guess)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Toulouse Pt. 2

also....pinball. Medieval Madness is my favorite pinball table ever. and i haven't seen one in about 6 years...normally i prefer bally games, but this one was made by williams, you storm the castle and kill trolls that pop out of the floor. and also....this table is located literally 6 feet from the bar, under the stairs in the main room at Bikini. if you play during the show...you can see the stage reflected in score screen....

fitting. france, with it's poor internet connections, faulty wiring and bad cell reception still frequently feels medieval....sorry. but it's true....

(photo courtesy of Owen "Mac Daddy" Holmes)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Toulouse Pt. 1

and so wraps another one.

Tour concluded tonight with the last of four shows as part of the Les Inrockuptibles Festival in France. from what i can tell, Les Inrocks is similar to Reading/Leeds Festival, or Summer Sonic in Tokyo/Osaka; in that many bands are on the bill, but 4-6 bands play per night in each, and all bands rotate between cities playing different nights. so everyone ends up playing everywhere...Lille, Paris, Nantes, Toulouse...

our bill was pretty cool: Late of the Pier (UK), Black Kids, Cajun Dance Party (UK), the Ting Tings (UK). with Soko (france?) on several nights to shake it up. it was strange going back to being a support band...it was not the "us" show anymore...hurt my ego/pride just a very wee bit...but the band got huge responses from the french crowds....and the Ting Tings are our US label-mates so i guess it was kinda like family?

Not to mention 10 minutes before the band goes onstage...Paul and Wade from the Virgins (and their euro TM and new drummer, sorry, forgot names!) storm into our dressing room to say hello. big reunion blues all around. The Virgins supported us for a month on the US tour and shared the bus with us. we hadn't seen them since wrapping US tour 4.5 weeks ago....but they were in town to play the festival tomorrow night and decided to swing by the venue to see us all. which was cool.

we leave for the airport in 3 hours. my flight is at 6:AM...and that hurts. direct flight from amsterdam to seattle...that's 3 bad movies, a two hour nap, and maybe 30 pages in Umberto Eco's "the mysterious flame of queen Loana" if i'm lucky...i like it a lot but it's a bit dry. Eco tells his "autobiography" by reconstructing his childhood through books he finds in boxes in the attic of his family's country home to overcome amnesia post-stroke....imagine a 400 page college syllabus of foriegn literature you will never ever read for class....the best kinda book for the road...'cause ya read it so damn slowly...

this time tomorrow i'll be flipside stateside back home on the west coast. can't wait. can't. happen. soon. enough. this tour was a really great run. but it's time to go home...

(photos: Reggie Youngblood on guitar, soundcheck. Mike (of US hardcore band, Giving Chase)-our MOST excellent guitar tech and stage manager, and Simon (of UK metal/hardcore band In Me)- our kickass drum tech, pointing with glee at 4 bands' worth of gear at load-out...)

Thursday, November 13, 2008


there amongst the polders and the dykes, low between fields of tulips and wind turbines, huddled shivering on the reclaimed coastline, lies the town at the end of the world. Amsterdam, with it's house boats and canals, dutch masters and tattoo parlors, smiling happy socialist hooker-fucking, pot-smoking heineken swilling party loving pickpockets and bike thieves.... amsterdam, i love you. those damned canals of yours take me and my ipod and my hands in my pockets elsewhere.

and there in Amstel town is the tale of two clubs....testaments to the houses of rock. rooms witness to years of music magickry. deep inside i harbor sinister desires towards rivalry. i wonder if the lines are drawn and the banners strung. neighbors turn against neighbors and partnerships shatter. the collective staffs at the Paradiso and the Melkweg don flak jackets and gas masks and take to the streets with bricks....but i doubt it.

the paradiso. melkweg. i ask the question to everyone....most people go misty when they talk of the paradiso. it's vibe...history....architecture.

and i don't give a damn. I'm a melkweg boy through thick and thin. i've done both gigs. and i know where my heart lies and who i'll be fighting for in the details of the war...

i've done more gigs at Melkweg than any other gig in the world. the only exception being Madison Square Garden. but that doesn't count....
and walking through the doors is like stepping into home. familiar faces, my office, the restaurant in the back, the canal under the bridge at the entrance....and i'm welcomed everytime. the staff here is kickass.

last night was the first time i ever did a show in the small room. it was like opening boxes in the attic, a whole new world discovered. i don't even know who was in the main room last night. they better have done it justice.

while touring wears and tears and grinds the bones to the core, the pros far outweigh the cons. and while i miss the time i could be spending at home and the loved ones there, it blows my mind when i wake up half-way across the world and get to spend the day with friends in distant cities i'd never see otherwise.

totally kickass. dan regan met me around dinner time and then he and i geeked out in the dressing rooms on our computers....catching up, joking around, talking smack, argueing about the industry, all the while typing work emails.... he's up for dutch manager of the year (sorry dan, gotta blow your shit up!)

Then em white and her bro jesse show up as the band hits the stage. i meet them at FoH and we bug out during the first 3 cuts. em and i met in boston while we were both in school. i've managed to bump into her in more places around the world than all the time we spent in beantown while living there....

after the show i'm selling t-shirts and kathi shows up with her friend jill from glasgow. we all head backstage and party 'til they kick us out of the club. which they do very gracefully and very late, because it is the melkweg and the melkweg is tits.

we let jesse take us to an indie/metal/coverband bar down the street that he knows 'cause he's studying abroad here and i'm jealous. lather rinse repeat, we kick back the brews and do it up until the wee hours.

everytime, amsterdam, every single time. magic town.

(photos: em and i talking shop at webster hall- she maps the fate of the universe, i whistfully peel beer labels. fiction plane doing it up for 1500 in the main room at Melkweg, last winter.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

and so it begins....Brussels....

the writing. writing. i looked around and realized i hadn't posted anything anywhere in months.

and it bummed me out.

surrounded by creative people all the time, and i can't find or muster the energy to bother anymore. admittedly the road sucks all the drive right outta me. everything is so 24/7 all the time...hard to focus or find the time to contribute.

so i thought maybe a new venue might make a difference. will see what happens.

European tour has been going awesome. one of the smoothest tours i've done i think. it's been three weeks now, we are on the last leg.

we just wrapped two days in Brussels. this was my third or fourth trip to Brussels in 2 years...but this time around i actually got to see some of it. talk about something to talk about. the town center is amazing....

and to kick it all off...the above photo was taken in Brussels at the Forest National arena. i was there with Snoop Dogg/P Diddy, winter of 2007. the venue was a dive/maze of twisted corridors and access tunnels. but immediately behind stage were 3 corridors covered in 40 years of tagger paint and gibberish...I made the runner go out for 6 cans, the crew and i did it up all over the walls after load-out.