j mascis and the fog
j mascis - guitar, singing
watt - thud staff (w/ kathleen hana)
george berz - drums
(left to right)
noel ford - soundman
tim "dancer" herzog - helper man
eric fischer - tour boss
(left to right)
steve kaul - the man outside the van
thursday, february 8, 2001 - grand rapids, mi
pop and watch the bad weather from the window, no condition to hoof. chow some cereal and wait for the rest of the crew to make the ride west across michigan to grand rapids. I've only played this town once before at a pad called the reptile house. when we get to tonight's venue, _intersection_, I ask about it and am told it got closed by the health department. damn. this pad has been open only a little while. nice cat named jason to help us out.
while george sets up drums, I forge for chow and find a mediterranean place and have a falafel, mmm, good - especially w/lots of dave's insanity sauce. it can be cold outside but inside now my blood is rushing hot, hair full of sweat and eyes watering. I love it. I feel alive. even my joints don't ache w/the damp. the magic of chilies. I get a quart of pear juice too, love it. back for soundcheck and then down the block, upstairs to some neat little record store. cool folks, dave and andrea working there. there's a band from now days that j likes, _love as laughter_ and I get that and a ccr cd, "chronicles," which is a collection of their chart hits. I gotta start getting there stuff on cd for tour, vinyl is just for home. what I really gotta do is get a burner and just make them myself so that prick zantz don't get any more $ from me. I think john fogerty would agree w/him. I wear these flannels for him, you know. speaking of shirts, my bag is stuck in truck so I have no button shirts, still this long sleeve hockey t from cleveland I've been wearing after sweating the gig one. I can't go on stage w/this and dave is gracious to give me a button one he's got in the back room. sort of like a hawaiian shirt but it has 7" record big hole adapters printed all over it - funny. no flannel but at least it has buttons. thanks dave. j wants to play "big train" so andrea goes home to burn it eight times on a cd for him and george to learn. thanks andrea.
the rest of the crew goes to shovel some indian chow somewhere but I go back to watch the openers, _teenbeaters_ and _elf power_, they're both w/us the whole u.s. part of the tour. the singer for the later, sir deamon brown has a sight w/some hard to find watt mp3 stuff. he's cool peeps. I talk to a lot folks in the crowd while I'm watching - kelly, who came to ann arbor, comes again. too bad no ron asheton. oh well, I do hear though he's coming to play w/us in austin during that clusterfuck festival they have every year there. it'll be my first time. ron and j on stage again will be great, can't wait.
we're up and the gig goes good though the p.a. is pretty toy, especially in the monitors - damn, total placebo. I also feel wrung out for some reason, kind of beaten up. what's up, I wonder? life is like hills and valleys, I guess. makes me kind of frustrated. george is doing better and of course, j is a roaring kali w/the six arm stringer. the crowd are good folks and give us much support. thank you. we get done and true to form, I totally stench out the loaner shirt w/sweat. dave gets it back in a bag so as to become filthed by it. again, thanks dave.
we load up, make like road apples and hit the trail. to the ho and then to the deck, konksville, the night's final destination. thanks deck.
friday, february 9, 2001 - champaign, il
pop and we bail kind of early, sort of a hellride to the next gig in champaign. we gain an hour though going across a time zone in indiana. I get some 'dines and crackers, dave it up and I'm digging the ride. these 'dines are in mustard sauce too, I dig it. not really into the ones packed in oil. I'd rather get the ones in spring water rather than those. I like saltines too, fuck the ritz or any of that flavored cracker crap.
champaign is a twofer town coupled w/one called urbana. it's home of the university of illinois, what you call a "college town." I've played here many times, the last one was pretty much a cave. big difference this time though - it's packed. I know the boss, ward from his days at the blind pig (in this town, not ann arbor), this is his latest pad, the _highdive_. he takes me to the laundromat so I can do the first stench scrub of the tour. nothing in the world like clean levis and flannels. little white suits too. I get back and it's just about gig time. good timing.
much high energy from the crowd, a great way to deliver a happening set, thank you good folks of champaign. j gives right back and me and george make much eye contact to insure the shit is tight. the fog is delivering for mr. mascis tonight! make watt proud. seems like were on stage only a couple of minutes, that happens a lot playing w/these cats - I'm enjoying myself so. as different as the night before in grand rapids where I felt fatigued bad after the first couple of tunes, tonight I have energy galore. I think I was glowing w/it. the pad was stuffed, lots of cigarette smoke in the crowd and the pad's a long narrow room so it's channeled all up our way. it was like looking over a bowl of soup and the broth was just steaming up! it was funny, I could taste the soup too! can you believe it? made me think it was a broccoli something, I couldn't tell what, really. I kept wondering about it while we were playing, what a strange thing to think about w/the matter at hand (j's gig), huh? I kept trying to figure out what the soup had in it, what it was exactly. I could imagine the broccolis in my mouth but I wanted to know what they were soaked w/and it was kind of driving me nuts a little. somehow though, I kept good focus and only a couple clams ensued - only a few.
show done and lots of good spirit from everyone. success tonight. only fiftytwo fridays in a year! get to the ho after going the wrong way on the freeway for a while ("no loop w/out a blow-by") and I'm pretty talkative for a while. I don't quit 'til like four, I'm motor-mouthing it so heavy. fuck, did that gig fire me up. finally, the fuel tank runs dry and the rocket sled skids to a halt. not even a sputter, just deck and konk.
saturday, february 10, 2001 - chicago, il
funny how I don't konk that long into light time, even w/the mask. I pop and do cof and chimpin'. there's sun out. it's cold but there's sun out. let's hoof some... then we gotta wail. got some spiel to do before hand and even get a performance recorded.
bright sun through the windows. I seem to always be in the front passenger's seat. good fortune: some "reed's" left from the gigs in the back of the vehicle, all cold from sitting through the night - righteous. gurgle one along w/some daved-up 'dines in mustard sauce - this is a good ride! like I said, crisp clearness and chicago's a trip, riding into it. lots of rust'n'rot held sharp in the serious focus of this sky, quite an illuminator. lots of beat-down on the town. lots of plug, too takes forever, l.a.-like.
finally, we get to this little studio to answer some questions and play some songs. nice young folks there. I use a bass 100 w/the trippy 4x12" cabinet. the speakers in this box are mounted so they tilit in towards each other. I play a p-bass. we do the spiel and then play four songs. it's scary but fun to do for these cats, goes by w/more sweat than shakes though I don't know how. still sunny outside. next, we head over to jbtv w/jerry who pretty much does what he does w/me and I'm laughing much. kind of wears j out, I can tell and george is in on it too, I can see he's having a good time. public things are awkward for me, playing is awkward for me - being fucking alive is awkward!
over to tonight's pad, _the double door_ for soundcheck and it starts getting rough. windy and wet. cold, stinging windy. I get a burrito at flash taco across the street, near one of those multi-point intersections that's all over town. it's a good one, and improve it w/some dave's - good defence against this weather is chili in the bloodstream - tastes and feels great. yep. mocos is coming out the nose fast. gotta wipe them off in here so they don't freeze out there. such it is for a pedro dude. back to the pad.
from the old days, springa! he gives me a ssd cd - thanks, springa. the cat is wrapped, must be several layers. that's chicago style. he's been here for years now, from boston. asks me some funny stuff. says he's bringing phil n phlash later. last gig w/_teenbeaters_ and _elf power_ is tonight. they've all been nice people and easy to get on w/so this is a kind of sad parting. I'm very glad to meet all of them. quite a trip to meet sir demon brown (check his web site: http://www.elfpower.com/corndogs.html regarding corndogs - some watt spiel there). thanks guys from both bands.
our gig is a strange affair. it's a sell-out but it's kind of that iced-over thing at the end, sort of like last tour's seattle gig. you're putting out and putting out and it just seems like the life-suck has been applied to you and all might be squandered. I'm not saying it is cuz that's a state of mind and that state is a mindfield for self-beats and the like. I was conceived in this town and draw on that. there's birth power here, a birth power here - I draw on that. I try and visualize that when I play and I see myself drawn up into a big fruit, a big fruit flower - up to my shoulders. nectar is run in my mouth, gushing out the sides. it's so smooth though, and thick like peach slices that have been sitting in their syrup. cool, smooth peach slices in my mouth and breath syrup, eyes coveder in it, seeing orange. that was trippy to think of in a gig. I kept coming when I was confident in a song and could let go a little. the sweat becalms me, the heat swims off the shoulders.
we sit in this dressing room a LONG time after the gig. I mean hours. dancer is upset and nothing is getting done right. he has an romantic past lady here and it is a bad night for him. this is not the night however, of all nights. it's the night before our leaving for japan. springa is back down here. he does bring phil n phlash. I'm given this bracelet w/what I'm told are bones made w/it. it came from tibet. I put it on along side my watch on my right wrist. maybe it'll temper the neighboring machine. finally, we can bail - this has been a long time. even springa's gonna bail. we watch him wrap up the layers. we get to the ho really late and yet we still try to stay up so it can be a good konk on the plane hellride tomorrow. dancer's in the room w/me and george. where's eric? why's dancer here? that's two too many questions, my eyeballs are itching bad, pleading w/me to give in and allow the konk to come. I relent and let it be so.
tuesday, february 13, 2001 - in the air between the u.s. and canada
whoa, only a couple hours of konk but that's part of today's strategy. we're leaving for japan just before noon and it'll be fourteen hours ahead there. more intense than that is the almost thirteen hour flight! aaaararrggggghhhh. dancer's in the room w/us. usually it's george, me and tour boss eric - both of them cats in beds and me on the deck but last night dancer made it stereo for deck konking. it was a weird situation for sure. eric came in and spit on the konked dancer, telling him to do the dance. dereliction of duty is a heavy offense on a tour, very unprofessional. I love the dancer but he was wrong here. I know his mind (and heart) were in a crumbled state but you can't let the folks your w/down like that. somehow maintain some integrity. we'll survive it but damn, is that lame. I could really feel for him though, it was breaking my heart. everyone's been there and yet it's still not an easy answer. what's clear to me, however, is your word to a commitment you make cuz one day you're going to ask the same of someone else. dancer's a conscientious cat though and deep down knows this. enough now, watt.
we get to o'hare airport and it's easy sailing getting the shit checked in - no big lines, the plane not crowded - great! what's even better is that I'm in a seat by the emergency exit so there's no seat in front of me. my knees have been spared! thank you, whoever! this is such a gift, I can't tell you. I read the ny times as we take off and by the time we reach cruising altitude, I'm konked deep. really deep - I'm out for like eight hours!
monday, february 12, 2001 - tokyo, japan
that's right, eight hours! then some more reading and diary writing. looking out the window is a trip, alaska w/glaciers and huge mountains, a little part of russia - all first time shit for me. there's a map that shows where we're at on our flight so this how I can tell what it is I'm seeing. we come over japan and it's a trip, sort of like holland where every piece of land is being utilizing. if there isn't a farm, there's dwellings. we come into an airfield named norita, maybe fifty miles from tokyo.
here's watt's first steps on japanese soil. customs is really nice and smooth, thank you, japan. we get to the terminal from a bus, the plane doesn't pull up to a gate. what happened to sunday, february 11? we crossed the international dateline on the flight and it's gone! we come through w/no hitches, thank you again. people from the production company, h.i.p., come pick us up w/no delays. the drive into tokyo is intense, takes a couple hours to make it in. they got freeway signs that show where the plugs are, drive on the wrong side like england, and the cars are a trip. lots have televisions on the dash w/either movies or navigation gps displays, license plates w/illuminated numbers. high walls on the road sides so you can't really see a lot of where we're driving. I can see some bullshit disneyland stuff, damn they're here too? there's some sort of eiffel tower structure lit up orange. we get to the ho, capitol tokyu hotel, by the place where there's lots of foreign embassies, akasaka.
not much time to spend here, we've been invited to see _le tigre_, kathleen hana's new band. the cab ride is something else, no walls and I can see everything - I take lots of snaps w/the digicamera. no graffiti but advertising everywhere, tons. lots of neon all around. this club is up many floors in a mall, you have to enter through some clothes stores and take an elevator. who's at a table selling t-shirts when we get there? this great band I played w/on the last pliers tour, _melt banana_! so good to see them again, especially rika - what a bass player! so funny, I'm using a pick for j and I show her. she's a monster w/a pick on the bass, you have to see her work. incredible. such a shame we missed their gig, they opened. the pad is packed and we're up against the wall in the back. le tigre goes on. very polite crowd, silent as a church except for very loud clapping and screaming for just a few moments after each song. kathleen is great, what pipes! neat slides behind them too. then adam horovitz's side band w/awol, _bs2000_ goes on. fredo's on drums. both adam and awol's working what looks like casio keyboards. we're invited backstage and say hi to kathleen, she hasn't seen me in a while and is kind of tripping on the color in my face. pedaling gets you a lot of sun. then adam's finished and comes backstage, happening to see him again. I'm kind of famished and ask to chow on some of their dressing room stuff. maki - stuffed rice rolls wrapped w/seaweed, these are good. jet lag is hitting, even w/the good sleeps and it's time to bail. get back to the room at the ho and take my place on the deck. neat carpet, like a big cloth triscut cracker. I'm out like that, blink.
tuesday, february 13, 2001 - tokyo, japan
I pop like at five in the morning and make tea w/all the bags they got on the table here in the room. green tea and some that's called 'roasted.' good stuff. I go use the 'puter in the lobby to write email to love ones - four fucking dollars for every ten minutes! real quick it's eight dollars worth - I'm out of there. what a clip joint! next surprise - I open up my ibook and whoa, the screen is cracked! how did that happen? I can still use it but only about the upper right forty percent maybe. damn. should be grateful it works though. george comes to my room and we go outside to explore. j called earlier and told me there's an am/pm (or what I like to call them, "amp 'em") next door. it's in the basement of the tall-ass building next us, sanno park tower, where the subway trains are. wow, the symbol for the one line is the germs logo, that righteous blue circle, what a trip. the name might be am/pm but everything inside is japanese - no dung bags here, instead sushi! mobile phones too and you wouldn't believe how tiny they are. one's the size of a fat ballpoint pen, damn! some other ones have color monitors. intense. I get some tako (pronounced like taco, the mexican food), dried octopus, for three hundred yen (about three dollars). this stuff is really tasty. I boil octopus and chow it at home all the time. we venture above ground travel the hitotsugi area. lots of little alley-like streets w/all kinds of stuff, from chow pads to offices to stores. hard to know that an elevator ride up can bring you to whatever, not much to tell you at the street level. then again, we can't read japanese. there's some western stuff like subway sandwiches, mcpuckalds, the fucking colonel and tons of starbucks - george goes and gets some coffee there. there's lots of stuff unique though to this land like pachinko parlors (gambling w/machines that manipulate ball bearings), fugu (blowfish) eateries, noodle stands and 'love' hotels (rent by the hour). everything is pretty clean and there's not all the smog I was dreading. not the cleanest air, more like l.a. maybe it's worse in the summer when there's more sun. like l.a., there's a marine layer that makes everything gray and hazy. can't find any postcards however. we check a few bookstores - man, are they packed, cats like to read here - but can't find any. damn, I want to send cards back to the u.s. I got a bunch of stamps at the post office, seventy yen to send one back. no problem w/the language, almost everyone we speak knows some english and in fact is happy to use it. much courtesy and a very civil feel all around, no heavy challenges or affronts from anyone. these folks make you feel really comfortable. thank you, japan.
it's getting time for soundcheck so we head back for the ho. we play a venue tonight called _on air east_ in the shibuya area of town. it holds like nine hundred, one big black box, looking from inside. a local band, _number girl_ is opening up for us, they could sell out this place themselves. they're doing us a favor and are very nice. we'll play w/them again saturday. they sound kind of like the pixies mixed w/some sonic youth. the bass player has a germs shirt on and plays a mosrite bass like dave alexander (stooges' original bassist). the fender people have offered to let me use a sunn 1200s amp (like the one I got in the u.s.) and three 2x15 cabinets. george is using a rented dw drum set. he digs it much and wants to get one. that's what perk plays. j brought his amps and is using rented cabinets. the fender folks are letting him use a fender tone master but its sound is pretty beat up. j uses it for a monitor anyway.
sushi in the dressing room, whoa - I dig the soosh. we do a tv interview and it's a mindblow to see the interviewer, who's american switch back in forth between english and japanese, just like that. it's almost like it's dubbed in like a movie, quite a trip. bob teagan, my detroit friend, shows up w/his video camera - he's gonna shoot the show. he was gonna come anyway to capture sonic youth's show next week and decided to come early to do us. all right, bob.
number girl goes on and has lots of the crowd pogoing. they're good. our turn and in the middle of the first tune ("mike's house"), my amp starts failing. by the time we finish, it's gone. damn! only the first tune! we try another song but I'm only in the house through the direct box, thank god we got that. such a huge stage too, what a time to have to mime it. eric gets the bass amp from number girl and I go through that. it only last a little bit though and then it fails. double damn! what's important is that I'm out front for the kids. it is hard on the confidence, however. I can't hear anything I'm playing, it's total mime. aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh. finally, monitor cat gets some bass in the sidefill and at least I can tell what note is playing. I'm dying a thousand little boy deaths. my first gig in japan and this happens, what a life. I think I'm supposed to learn something here. j is cooking though, and this is who people came to see. I really blow on "the wagon," then re-group and get it together. gotta maintain some sort of professionalism (that sounds so funny in my head to read it back). can't say it strong enough to express how relieved I am when we get done. one of the encore songs is the stooges "no fun" and I try to communicate those feelings there. I feel like the hugest bozo. funny thing, when we get to the dressing room, bob teagan couldn't even tell anything was wrong. I've got to let this experience teach me. I feel I let j and george down. at least the momentum wasn't totally killed and the ball kept rolling. it's hard for me to face anyone. I sit in the corner of the dressing room feeling tinier than the tiniest. fuck. these things happen thouth and one life is made up of many gigs. I keep telling myself that over and over. as we pile into the van to bail, I'm asked to sign some autographs, very nice folks. I wish I could feel worthy. I'm given a tiny "gahzirha" (godzilla). the oaf watt is touched. I bow as deep to the knees.
the boss of the label wants to take us to chow. I'm so ashamed, I want to bail and then realize that would be a big respect to these folks and reconsider. I can't get so self-absorbed and somehow try to let it go. we go to a chow pad and what are we having? more soosh! other stuff too, like cut-up chicken gizzards (I eat these whole in pedro) and tiny crawdads, the size of a quarter. there's tempura too and the cartilidge part of the chicken's back (that's a trip). it's all delicious. massy is a great cat, all the folks at the table are. the number girl folks join us too except the singer, who's feeling sick. we have some great talk about what a dick kenny g is (massy said he asked herr g who his favorite saxaphone player was and this doof said it was himself!). he said elvin jones was at his pad a couple of weeks ago, damn! he says he likes the italian in me (my ma's roots) that lends me to say what I mean w/no holds barred, all fiery. we talk about gardena, an old japanese community just north of pedro in l.a. then I whip out the dave's insanity sauce and it's mano y mano w/that shiit for everyone. these cats are not afraid and step right up to the plate. I can see their eyes tear up right away, we're all having some great fun. wasabi (the hot radish stuff you chos soosh w/as a garnish) is sort of like this but that's more an aromatic burn. these chilies go right into the blood and heat the shit up quick. here I thought I was just going to push a little chow around my plate and be so down and everything turns out happy as hell. what a great bunch of cats, much respect to them. very warm feelings - even warmer w/the dave's! a big "domo arigato' (thank you) from watt. what a righteous cure for depression.
back to the ho to konk. this is a fancy fucking ho too. dancer feels weird about pads like this, so do I. damn, I just feel lucky enough to work here so I can visit and learn - i don't really this. the toilet has some auto butt-washer that hoses you down somehow. I never investigate it far enough to try. there's pictures near the buttons though to give you an idea though. I'm beat and bent up in the head, the gig starts coming back to me so the konk that soon comes is such a salve. domo.
wednesday, february 14, 2001 - nagoya, japan
pop at five and make some tea. good shit. this time, I write my email on the ibook and put it on a floppy. then I just paste it to the letter when I use their machine in the lobby. first time I've used a floopy w/windoze, what a fucking kludge. wish more folks knew how much more elegant the finder is on a mac, bill gates would have start selling asshole door to door if folks knew the truth about what a piece of shit (even w/all the things they've ripped off from apple) os that microsucks pedals. bogus.
then I'm out the door to get some more tako (octopus) and hoof. still gray and a little chilly but I just keep my senses open and try to take as much as this new-world-to-me in as I can. some folks wear surgery masks. I hear this is not to protect them from sickness but it's because they're sick and don't want to spread shit around. I can dig that.
eric, noel and dancer have already bailed to tonight's gig town, nagoya and our turn is at eleven. one of the h.i.p. people (the production company handling the gigs here), julie, is taking us. we're taking a bullet train. damn, seats like an airplane but w/tons of space and leg room. huge windows too. I take like a hundred and fifty shots w/the digicamera. so smooth and boy are we flying. sometimes we're right on the coast and I can see the pacific ocean - the same water that laps on pedro! I think of my town for a little bit. we're heading south and the clouds break up to let the sun in. tons of tiny farms in between living places and wow, are they into driving ranges for golf here! you see the netted places all over. there's heavy industry in places too, belching all kinds puke into the air - shades of hamilton, ontario and a buttload of the same in the u.s. a heavy price to be 'modern.'
the ride takes two hours. we go straight to the venue, a pad called _quattro_ and it's inside a mall, up many floors. everything's inside this mall, chow pads (all displaying what they serve w/that plastic chow modeling), stores, hotel - you name it. eric got me a new amp (an ampeg svt-III) and though it don't sound that good, at least it works. we do a long soundcheck to both test it out and teach george "big train." j wants us to play it. he want's to do minutemen too. maybe next gig.
a young cat from here named kenji who emails me. wants to meet me. he's got a drawing he made for me of my head w/a geard but the face invisible. it's beautiful. he brings a buddy too but I can't understand what his name is. their pronunciation thing is kind of tough for watt. they're so nice though. they help me find some postcards in the mall. it's a trip about the stores, all the u.s. influence, especially w/the clothes and stuff for kids. I can't even find japanese-like postcards, it's all rock and roll or cinema oriented, stuff you'd get back home. lots of english words too for trade names. what an influence we have on these cats. it's kind of embarrassing. I wish the culture thing was more of a two-way street, I know there's tons we could learn from them too. I wonder why things are this way? it makes me think outloud to kenji, he doesn't know what to say. I make a retarded ambassador from the land of whatever.
no opening band and we're on at 7:10! now, I can dig that - early gigs! I would like to see a nagoya band though, too band there's no support act. j's kind of sick, that airplane ride socked it to him. he soldiers on though and plays tough. amazing to swim in his sound on stage w/him. my amp holds up, thank you, bass forces that be! we do more than twenty songs, j wants us to play two hours, seeing it costs like sixtyfive bucks to get in. I support him. we even do "I've had it" twice! it's only a minute long and the guitar was kind of gurgling the first time through. we try a new song for me, "keep the glove" a simple little ditty that's fun to do. j tells me to do a freak out like the meat puppets would do at the end. "the wagon" brings some pit action. I ask dancer to do the spiel for "just like heaven." he's got only one outfit - his bag got left in the truck back in chicago. bob teagan once again films the gig. sometimes I see him filming the crowd for an entire song, he's into it. these folks are a pleasure to play for, believe me. when we get done. kenji brings me some postcards, a couple of tiny rubber sooshs on keychains and some stickers w/"mike watt" phonetically written in a version of their language called katakana - thank you, kenji!
outside to the car and some autographs. one girl has a camera/cell phone wristwatch! damn! she takes my picture, looking sort of like dick tracy. some electronic innovation here, that's for sure. what a trip! the ho is a hilton, more bourgeois shit - I wish they'd save some ducets here. my room is way up high and the view of the town wails w/all this neon and light. I try to get some shots but the window's too fogged up. only 10:30, alright! george wants to go chow but I try not to shovel after gigs and tell him thanks anyway. hell, I did it last night. want somehow to get svelte, supple and willowy and I ain't gonna get it doing that. I'm tapped anyway and konk in moments after yanking the lights out.
oh yeah, it's valentine's day and during the gig I dedicated j's tune "thumb" to everyone who's under someone's. I don't know what gets into me to share such gentle thoughts sometimes.
read week 1 of the tour diary
read week 3 of the tour diary
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