a word's-eye view from mike watt
on the first three gigs ever done
by the stooges in japan
wednesday, march 17, 2004 - osaka, japan
I pop at four am. feeling a little tingle in my left forearm - man, have I been working her hard though these last few weeks. after flying over my bicycle handlebars the day before my birthday ('pert-near eleven weeks ago) and hurting it bad, I'm sure grateful healing's finally come around for me. had to do the whole "the secondman's middle stand" album in some sad shape... however, I replaced the bass parts as I got better and it turned out better than I thought it might. I just couldn't wait any longer to do "the sickness piece" and that's the state fate had put me in to do it so I just had to bear down and plow. these last couple of weeks the forearm tendons were finally getting strong enough to let me prac w/my guys as much as I wanted to which was a bunch cuz come march 27, I'm playing the entire "...middle stand" piece for the first time in front of people at the all tomorrow's parties festival in camber sands, england w/the secondmen. I'm actually playing twice that day cuz the doug mccombs from one of the curator bands, tortise, asked me to also bring along tom watson to do a mike watt + the jom & terry show set besides the secondmen one w/pete and jer. this means practicing w/two bands everyday and this did much to build up strength in an arm that atrophied much while I was letting it heal. let me tell you that middle-age (I'm fortysix now) brings about much slower mending than when I was a younger man! one lesson I think to be learned by me cuz of all this is too much more vigilant when I'm pedaling - no so much spacing out and day dreaming! the crash happened when I was racing to catch a righteous sunrise in my town at the crack of dawn and I hit this huge bump in the road while not holding on tight enough and got launched. damn. could've been much worse though so I thank my lucky stars.
anyway, back to the now - this moment: time for some more gigs w/the stooges - yes! we're playing three of them in japan and I fly this morning (tuesday, the 16th in l.a. time) out of lax, first to sfo in san francisco and then on to osaka, japan from there. I make myself up a huge bowl of oatmeal and then chimp out my last emails before I bail - I get so stressed each time I have to leave my pedro town, this is something that never changes. sometimes when I'm chimping these last emails I think to myself that maybe they just might be my LAST emails ever... I know, sick thinking but it would be total denial not to admit to these feelings. I have to say I'm not the most secure of people and have to rally myself much to get my fucking shit together about these kinds of things. my sister melinda's coming to get me at six and bring me to the airport. she's always been so kind to me about this. I say bye to my books and my kachina dolls and sally forth from my pad w/small clothes bag, the little gibson eb-3 bass and for the first road trip for her ever, my new tipurse (new for me, I got it used) - an apple g4 powerbook that's a couple of years old but in righteous shape. no way to really do email w/her over there but I'm gonna chimp diary and bring my little digicamera (first tour for her too - a minolta dimage xt that's about the size of a pack of cigarettes but thiner) so I can dump shots off onto the tipurse hard drive. I got a new way of carrying the tipurse too - a backpack 'puter bag from belkin (forty bucks) that'll help keep my hands free. "the future belongs to the effiecient," right? sure (oh boy).
whoa, is it foggy but to my surprise, my flight on united takes off on time about an hour after melinda drops me off. while getting some nuts to chow at one of the airport shops, I see this book called "the dante club" by matthew pearl and just have to get it - the title slayed me! it looks like it's some kind of murder mystery but I'm a sucker for that kind of shit - anything relating to dante (I paralleled the "commedia" w/my sickness piece) - even though I already brought a book to read, milan kundera's "immortality" - one kristin gave me a few months ago. I'll probably have time to read both, seeing the hellride to japan is like twelve or more hours altogether. there was some ticket screw-up and henry, the stooges tour manager, got an upgrade for me so I'm in the business class - first time for watt that way. lot more space for the legs and w/my bad knees, that is definitely not a bad thing! one hour later, I'm in south san francisco at the sfo airport and I take the shuttle bus to the international terminal for my next flight. no sign of steve mackay, the stooges sax player - hmm... he lives up here and we're supposed to take the same plane over the pacific to japan. I start reading the kundera book and it's a trip... the small gesture of some lady waving to a life guard sets off a whole gigantic spiel on what love might be, what art might be, what fucking even consciousness itself might very well be - pretty much a mindblow and I'm into it. it's noon and time to board - there's steve, big hugs - great to see him again. we're a row apart in the business section of a boeing 777 and we ready ourselves for eleven and a half hours of breathing farts in long metal tube. the time difference between the u.s. west coast and japan is seventeen hours so its already wednesday, the 17th before we take off, damn! I make a couple of calls on the walkie-talkie before lift-off (they don't work in japan - different system) to columbia, my record company - they're getting a plan together to release my record, thinking maybe april 27th. I delivered everything done myself, just like the old sst days and much respect for them helping me as much as they do w/no bullshit or nightmare. thirteen years now being part of their team - a trip, huh? again, much respect from watt.
the trip goes smooth except for some head-pounding brain pain - I think it's from my sinuses cuz they feel all clogged up and putting pressure on me. I eat aspirins but what really helps is diverting it w/keeping my head buried in the kundera book. thank god it's a great read - so much so that I'm underlining shit that strikes me so, as if to study it later for a test! yes, I am that ridiculous but what can I say? they chow us w/some kind of japanese kind of beef, salad and shrimps. last week, a friend gave me a bottle of wine and said a little bit each night before konking would be good on my heart and help w/stress so I've been trying that - I have a little glass w/the chow here. the whole alcohol thing is kind of scary after being a whisky bourboned-out drunk for so many years but I've been strong enough to drink only a small bit of wine and then no more. maybe it's cuz I never really drank wine before - I had some when I was helping the porno for pyros guys w/tour years ago cuz perry would give a glass of the bordeaux he'd have right before we'd go on but not much else besides that. maybe cuz I was swallowing so much whisky - my pop used to tell me, "grape w/corn - pain in morn" and I think that might've kept me away. I don't know, I love whisky though - man, do I... that's why it got to be a problem - a fucking big one. anyway, the chow helps a little w/the head-thumps some but fuck, it's almost overwhelming me - I've never had flight trouble like this before. somehow I make it though and when we land at kansai airport in osaka at around five pm their time, all that hurting seems to magically fade immediately, whew! alain and chris from smash! (the company promoting these gigs) are here to meet us as we clear customs (which was righteously quick and easy) and this cat named kenji takes us by minivan to the osaka hilton ho which is like an hour away. the weather is gray, like morning time in l.a. and not cold at all, pretty mild. on purpose, I made myself not konk on the flight so I could get on easier w/the way time is here. I'm feeling fatigue but am determined to stay that course. in the ho lobby, we're greeted by ric, the stooges sound man who I dig much - big hugs for him from watt! saint pat's day and he's got a green shirt on - damn, I'm just remembering now cuz I spaced and am w/out the verde... well, I do have a green lighter!
I go up to my room and immediately get the tub going for a watt soak. oh boy. a narrow tub but a deep one and I soak good and thorough. henry comes by and I give him a firewire cardbus I picked up at a store in so cal for him - his onboard firewire burned out and he's unable to do backup to an external drive - pretty risky shit for a tour manager or really anyone w/a 'puter w/data they care about on it. the exchange rate here is 104 yen to the dollar and he gives me the per diems for the tour but at a 114 yen rate - thank you much, sir! I go downstairs to hoof outside and range for chow. trippy how the streets here are 'pert-near alleys - I mean, the main roads are like ours in the u.s. but lots of the pads are on these tiny narrow jobs and then upstairs lots of times. I find a noodle pad behind a pachinko arcarde and get some sprouts and spinaich mixed up w/some fried pork for five hundred yen. it's good - especially loaded up w/chili I find in a little jar on the table. there's all kinds of "salarymen" chowing here - drinking and being all loud but that's ok. when you can't understand the language, it kind of sounds like some kind of music and is not that annoying. I'm a guest here anyway so why should I complain? the whole thing is a trip and I'm trying to soak as much up of it as I can, in a passive way. god, I know I stand out big time - not just the face and the tallness but this yellow coat my ma gave me and the blue of my shirt and levis - everyone here 'pert-near is in suits and the ladies are really all done up. this part of town is probably like that though - not like all of osaka is. I do see some young people and they're dressed pretty much western contemporary young people way - funny how that is. media lets everyone everywhere know we all look like and I guess we all choose to look not too different. I hate to see a world full of mike watt clones though but there's not too much to worry about that - either here or the u.s.! I'm treated very nice by everyone, even w/my limited language skills here (I know two words: "thanks" - domo and "sorry" - gomensai) so much respect for the hospitality by the folks here.
after hoofing around, I return to the ho to see the rest of my folks: stooges ron and scotty, tour helperman eric, roadman jos and guitartech chris. good to see all of them! ron and scotty are both in leather coats and they look great! they were delayed a couple of hours cuz of snow in detroit. everyone trips on my little digicamera - it is pretty neat. we sit around and spiel for a bit and then they all want to go drink and chow but it's after nine so now's maybe a good time for me to konk. I go up to my room on the twelfth floor and before you know it, guess what? that's what in fact happens.
thursday, march 18, 2004 - osaka, japan
I pop at five am. soak in the tub here - no bars of soap, you pump out a liquid kind that smells like green apples, trippy! I set out to hoof after scrubbing my mouth w/a toothbrush. rain's coming down but not too hard. nothing open 'till seven so I explore. hardly anyone out and I can dig that. lots of bikes here in japan (all of the have baskets too) and most folks ride them on the sidewalks so you have to be ever vigilant. damn, you'd get a ticket for that back in the u.s. anyway, another trippy thing about this land is the vending machines - they're everywhere and sell lots of stuff, from beer to cigarettes to canned coffee. they also got 7-11 like stores open twentyfour hours so I go in one and some kirin coffe and milk. back home you can kirin beer but here they got all kinds of kirin stuff. so much cement everywhere but I do find some flowers planted in pots by the river (can't figure its name out from the sign) and take shots of them. I'm snapping all kinds of stuff w/the little digicamera - so funny in a way cuz the old stereotype of "the japanese tourist" is a cat w/a camera and that's just what watt is here. I find this twentyfour hour chow pad (can't figure it's name out cuz of the native writing) and decide to shovel. what you do is pick out what chow you want and then put money in a vending machine that gives you a ticket. you then hand this to the cook and they serve what you ordred. I get this meal that has a bowl of miso soup, a salad made of corn and cabbage, white rice, tea and this salisbury steak kind of meat topped w/a fried egg sitting in gravy. it's a good throw down the gullet. I finish it around the time a pad selling coffee opens and get some of that. better than that cold kind I got in the bottle - that seemed like is was mostly milk or whatever. I go back to the ho and a newspaper's been shoved under my door so I read that. new fighting in kosovo, fuck - very depressing. there's an article on katakana - the folks here have a way of writing that's just for stuff foreign, trippy. they don't try to find a equivalent in their own language like us or even the chinese do but have this whole other "alphabet" to do it. one of the many neat things about going to different lands is learning stuff like this - so lucky that working the bass has afforded my opportunities like this. more depressing stuff w/world violence in the paper's pages so I decide to hoof again. this time I head off in the other direction and go by the train station. man, is it wild they way things are here - lots of folks just moving, moving, moving. probably similar to a nyc thing but you know how being a foreigner changes your perspective. I'm almost hypnotized to see this exotic (for me, anyway) "dance" they do here - the way the streets are laid out and the way stores and stuff are organized - quite a trip for me and I try to absorb is much as I can. no one's in a yellow coat w/a bright orange knit beanie like me - I don't know what I'm so aware of that but it plays on my mind constantly. it's ok cuz I don't mind as long as it doesn't appear threatening. nothing wrong w/goofy - I just don't want to frighten anyone. if I can bring folks a laugh - hey, all the better. I do have the wide open stare going though cuz it is a mindblow to try and take all this in. I dig it.
back to the ho and chimp the previous day's diary. man, does this room have a lot of mirrors - what's that about? I don't have many in my pad - I get enough watt... I have to live in his fucking head! I look at the funny mustached man in the mirror and wonder a bit - these chuck taylor shoes from some cat at a gig in canada, levi jeans from my sister for b-day, a blue pad shirt from a cat at a gig in madison, this yellow coat from my ma for xmas, this orange hat from pat in pedro, this belt from brice at the 688 snowboardware company, the anchor around my neck from some cat after a gig in cambridge, the clothes bag from raymond pettibon's pop regis, the purple bass case from j... 'pert-near none of it is from me. I can dig it though, seems like I'm some kind of a quilt of sorts, huh? I open screens that cover the window and there's a huge cylinder for a hotel maybe a block away. it's like a huge dome-less silo w/window all around it and right at eight, I see a few curtains open up (obviously some alarm clocks just went off over there) and cats are starting at the window - staring at me staring at them. weird but I don't back off, don't know why but eventually, everyone of them ends up closing their curtains while I stand their stoic in all my donated stuff. trippy for me cuz in pedro, we don't live like this - kind of like a nyc thing, huh? the public and the personal collide! didn't mean to be weird. I read this kundera "immortality" book - damn is it intense, pretty profound on me. I like books like that, not just events shackled together to arrive at an ending but a whole slew of roads and alleys going all over the place and then meeting up again (sort of maybe - up to you to make the connects) - something purely literary and nothing you could ever make a movie out of which is ok. movies are movies and novels are novels, right? fuck the reductionist shit that tries to make everything banal - life is for living (or according to kundera: being) and not pinning to a board like a dead butterfly that's been collected no matter how much easier that might make the marketing. I take the little gibson bass out of the case and tune it up. I love working this machine. after a bunch of scales and then playing different stooges parts, I get so caught up in her that I just run my palms on the strings, up and down the neck... I really love it and it makes me giggle like a boy. her wood and everything, the smell even... I gotta get a pettibon picture to put on her. which one, I wonder... for xmas, raymond painted me this righteous one so maybe I'll snap that one w/the digicamera and shirnk it dowb to fit. I think it'd go great w/the other stuff on it: john coltrane, d. boon, the compass...
at 3:30 pm, us stooges people meet in the lobby to go to prac. the pad we're doing it at is by the water which is happening - man, to breath in sea air - like back home in pedro! there's some sandwiches w/the crust cut off (that's a trip) and I chow a couple of halves - egg salad. I show knobman ric some stuff about his powerbook, then ron goes out to show me this new tune him and iggy worked up a couple of weeks ago, something called "my idea of fun" - I can dig it. the room we set up is huge - bigger than lots of pads I play on a u.s. tour, whoa. the two ampeg svt amps I got are kind of beat up but they'll work. this room really makes ron loud but I can dig that cuz sure do dig his playing. jos is in a back room, rigging up these light strings to make a stooges backdrop for the stage come showtime. good job. iggy comes in at six and we go through the set we're going to play tomorrow night. feels so good to do stooges songs w/the stooges - what can I say? I'm getting a little more confident but damn, this is the stooges! I focus hard but yet shake like a dervish, this music grabs me so hard deep inside. so glad my forearm has healed lots since I last was w/these cats cuz that was fucking tough back in michigan at the beginning of february. and I'm not just talking about the snow and cold either, I was 'pert-near a cripple. we go through the set song right after song, bang-bang-bang - the band's in good shape, yeah! there's mirrors all along one of the walls but I keep my eyes closed or when I do open them they're to look at scotty or ron cuz ig's in front of them and I can't bear looking at goofy watt. iggy steps me through the new one and has me revise my part in "skull ring" to keep the tonic more in play - good thinking from him, like usual - he's a great cat to take direction from, much respect. we finish up and ron gives me the jim cole john coltrane bio I spaced and left at his pad when I was staying there last month like a fucking airhead. much respect to you too, ron.
we head on over to a chow pad where ig and neena are already shoveling. a look at the menu is heart attack time - fucking eighty to a hundred and fifty dollars a meal - holy cow! ron and scotty say they'll springboard for me but I'm just don't have the nerve to load up on them so I just get abalone. the cooks right there at the table (it's part grill) and cooks me up maybe eight slices - fifty dollars! ay carumba!!! can you believe this shit? much respect to alain and chris (the promoter company cats) but maybe this was not the pad for watt to do trough in, huh? the chef cooks up a live lobster right in front of us and scotty can't really stomach (ron says a "please forgive me" prayer) it so he has me mouse on what he don't take down but that's still tiny - good thing I had those pieces of sandwiches earlier. these asheton brothers are true gentlemen, I love them dearly. iggy tells me he likes some of the notes I got going in "little electric chair" - says they help them w/the singing and that makes me feel good too. I am a lucky man. the chow pad is close to the ho so we hoof back. they rest of the guys want to go back out but I am very much beat and head for my hold and hit the deck quick. hola, sleepytown - here comes sueno.
friday, march 19, 2004 - osaka, japan
I pop at three-thirty am, damn! maybe it's cuz finally today is the day of what I came to do: play a gig w/the stooges! I don't know. what am I gonna do now though? read! oh - about this book, "immortality" - kundera sure has some fun w/me. wednesday, I wrote something to describe his work and today as I get near the end, I read him write "what is essential in a novel is precisely what can only be expressed in a novel. if a person is still crazy enough to write novels nowadays and wants to protect them, he has to write them in such a way that they cannot be adapted, in other words in such a way that they cannot be retold." so there - I fucked up by trying to explain something about so you'll just have to go and read it! you might dig it though cuz it's intense. it catches you unaware and slowly builds into a truly mindblow if you have the patience to hang. if you're gonna read novels, you gotta have patience - healthy to learn, at least for me!
seven am rolls around and I hose off and then hoof for chow at that same pad I've been having breakfast at, it's called matsuya (they slogan: "watashi wa buta meshi wo aishitemasu" - "I love pork and rice"). I couldn't write it yesterday cuz I didn't know what the word was in our alphabet. that's a problem for us not from here - not only are the words different (obviously, they're japanese) but they don't use the latin alphabet - they use kanji or for foreign words, they use katakana. it's a trip but I love finding out about it. anyway, the chow is good and fills up me up fine. I then go get coffee and hoof around a bit. the sky is righteously blue w/out a cloud in it and there weather fine. funky to find my nose and the bridge around almost scaly-like, I think the rooms at the ho are way too dry - no way to open the windows and get any fresh air in. pretty weak. this is the case w/a lot of new buildings - fucking hermetically sealed-up shit and the don't "breathe" natural. I don't dig it. I'm not too much thinking about this though cuz my head is pretty much filled w/ideas fired up by that kundera book and I go back to read more... 'pert-near done w/it now. can't recommend it enough - check it out.
10:45 am and time to go to the venue to do soundcheck. where's henry (the tour manager)? after twenty minutes, we leave w/out him. seems he got three sheets to the wind last night after the chow last night - muy borracho ("yopparai" in japanese). our hearts go out to "the hen." this pad is by the water and called the atc convention center. man, would my secondmen guys like it around here cuz it's a container terminal, like the one we got back home (and where they work). trippy to see maybe the same cans (slang for cargo containers) that maybe they unloaded at one point! some of the same companies have facilities here like on terminal island: evergreen, hanjin, cosco, tex, mitsuki - stuff like that. the pad we're playing is huge w/a giant ceiling but it looks like they're gonna hang a big curtain in the back to help w/the acoustics. jos does the vocals (iggy never does the soundchecks, saving up his stuff for the gig) as we run through "no fun," "little electric chair" and "I wanna be your dog." knobman ric tells us the sound is "giving him wood" so I guess that's a good thing. jos tells him back, "well, get your knob up here on a monitor so I can stand on it." funny hearing english cats talk - probably the same for them w/us as well. ric tells me it was "quite cheeky of getting invited to a expensive place to eat last night and getting told it's on us" - "quite cheeky," something I've only heard in movies! ric's great. he tells me it's a little discomforting to hear me refer to my town as "pedro" (pronounced "pee-dro") cuz it sounds to him too much like "pedo," which where he's from is short for pedofile. the world and it's words are a crack-up, huh?
back to the ho and at two, my friend eiko comes by from nagoya and gives me a miniature set of tako (octopus) sushi - complete w/tiny chopsticks and a cup of green tea. I also get a real set of chopsticks and this ceramic egg filled w/charcoal that's supposed to be good for your health. on it is printed "soothe your mind!! you may put it on anywhere. on the dining table, or on the tv monitor." that's a trip - thank you. she takes me near the train station to have some "japanese pizza" - okonomiyaki. this stuff is wild, no dough crust or tomato sauce involved but rather sobe noodles, shrimps, scallions, pork and egg cooked up on a grill right in front of where you sit to look like a pancake-sized round omelette-like thing. man, does it taste good though - never had anything like it.
time for the gig and we head for the venue again. steve's friend lauren's here - the cat I rode the bus from detroit to chicago w/when that blackout shut down the gig back in august and american airlines was grounded. what a trip he's out here - a true stooges freak! we're on before primal scream. alright, the first japanese stooges gig ever! we start off w/"loose" and the set is on! I look over portside and who's watching right in the wings? bobby, the singer from primal scream so I give him a fist in the air and he gives me one back, alright! iggy is spinning/dancing/leaping all over the huge stage and is wild beyond belief. my eyes are locked him but I do sneak a quick peek at the crowd and notice they're really young. we blast into "down on the streets" and then right into "1969" - I gotta a gray tshirt on w/blue lining on the sleeves and collar that juan rosenfelder gave me (tore the "champion" patch off though - he'd probably be bummed about that but it was only a tiny one) - I've learned my lesson - you won't see watt w/orange shirts or smoking cigarettes on stage w/the stooges anymore! "I wanna be your dog" and then "tv eye" next. I shake me self senseless for these, I've been working up to it all though but now I've finally reached the stage of abandon where I can really go off. woooooo!!! "dirt" comes up and we do it this new way where it's abbreviated after the middle jam which is a smart call by ig - good editing. next is "real cool time" and halfway through, iggy stops us to get a handle on some crowd issues. he hollers, "look, security asshole - leave those kids alone!" he brings us back in right on beat and we continue. for "no fun," he invites folks on stage and it is insane! ron gets his pedals knocked over so there's no guitar for a while but me and scotty keep the tune going as steve mackay helps jos out w/keeping iggy from being totally dogpiled on. jos looks like a cat from that "twister" game - he's arched up on all fours, acting as a canopy to shield ig - too much! I've got kids inches from me w/my back to my amps but there's not a speck of fear in me cuz I'm cracking up so at like five young japanese cats playing "air bass" in front of and w/me! all of the sudden, this guy (who's not japanese) pops out from the side, grabs me by the ears and pulls my mouth to his (I keep both hands on my bass to keep playing - gotta pull the duty, you know) and kisses me! no tongue getting thrusted in but man, what was that about? he laughs and then leaps away. some people are way wack, huh? so many tiny performances for me, kids taking their turn jamming there best few beats for me... camera's too being snapped from like inches away - it's a crack up! there must be 'pert-near seventy people on stage but when the tune is done and jos directs them off, there's no problem at all. he's gotten way better at not fighting people or choking them out and really, he doesn't have to cuz everyone's very together about this - even w/the crazy vibe. much respect. "1970" let's me let it fly w/more shake than I thought possible, even for a spaz like me - like I wanna shake this skin/bone/clothes thing right off my spirit! "fun house" next and some great, great dancing from ig, damn! "skull ring" follows and what's this? I get some monitors to hear my only vocals of the gig, backing iggy on the choruses - crimony! I can dig that. I make sure I'm in tune before we start cuz this has been a problem w/me freaking out in the "l.a. blues" part of the "fun house" ending and pulling the 'e' string out of tune. much respect to guitarhelper chris who yanked the strings good when he put on a new set too. "not right" is a tough song to play in this part of the set for scotty - I kind of think we should move it to another spot in the list, maybe somewhere earlier. he does good though, like he's been doing all set - slammin' and groovin' big time! much respect to scotty. the only other tune I get to start out besides "fun house" is "little doll" and scotty lets me have twice the intro I usually get. I move up closer to the front of the stage and try and personify the very essence of saint vitus' dance - I really, really dig this tune. iggy chops it down to just him and the drums two-thirds of the way through and boy, are things getting tribal w/the belly-dancer beat! we finish up w/two new ones from iggy's latest album, "dead rock star" and "little electric chair" - then we're done. whoa! seventy minutes and it went by, just like that! lovin' it! man, is my outfit sweated-out though... that's ok, smash! man alain gives me a gig tshirt - maybe the first one ever that I wore that says "rock and roll" - ha!
iggy has a after gig talk w/us and it's good. he brings up some great stuff that'll help us w/the next gigs. man, do I dig how somehow he's both totally gone but then also fully aware during these things - it's wild! man, do I wish I had a mindcamera to capture this and show others cuz it's that intense. we're all happy w/the gig - damn, it's the first one since november and we did good! I see a few primal scream tunes but I'm too weak to barely stand. henry rousts us and we pile into the van for back to the ho. the soreness is starting to really sink now on me and I'm so very glad to be able to kind of hold at bay via a quick konk. amen.
saturday, march 20, 2004 - chiba city, japan
I pop at seven to get hosed and suited for a hoof to that same chow pad though this morning will be the last time for me here in ol' osaka town. I throw that same chow I've been having down (cabbage salad, miso soup, rice and that salisbury steak think w/the fried egg over easy on top) and then get a coff to fuel another session at the tipurse to chimp in the last day of tour stuff. there's gray and rain out but not too heavy. what's coming is a bullet train ride to tokyo to play the other "magic rock out" festival gig of this little trip here in the next prefecture over, chiba.
lobby call and we load up in the van for shin-osaka station, where we'll get on the train. japanese train stations are intense but then maybe ours back home are too (at least like the grand central station one in manhattan is) - I think being even more of a foreigner magnifies it that much more though w/cats jamming to and fro. there's these great motivational posters every w/"salaryman" types running w/trains w/the slogan "ambitious japan" - the trains even have that message painted on their sides. the souvenir shops are filled w/neat kitsch but damn if it ain't way fucking expensive. ron says that's the only thing that keeps him from saying it'd be great to live here - there is pretty steep toll w/the money thing. since the train ride will be a few hours, I get one of these bento boxes, a sake kind ("sake" means both the rice wine liquor and salmon in japanese) for the trip. you could think of bento to be like these cats' version of our "lunch box." we get up the platform and everyone's got the camera to capture the arrival train which is pretty wild, looking 'pert-near like a wingless jet plane fuselage, especially the front crew car. these are electric trains and they sure jam and talk about quiet - nothing like this back home. we'll get a chance to see some nature, something kind of missing in the almost total cementworld of the cities. the seats are like airliner ones for business class and are way comfortable. I sit next to steve mackay who's always got some infos of some sort to pass on - he calls 'em as he sees 'em and if he doesn't see them, he makes them up. the point is he's got something to say always coming. he's a good cat. however, after a bit, I konk - waking up just in time for the train to get to tokyo station. I did get a ton of shots out the window before sueno took me - sights of what might be consider "burbs" for osaka, kyoto, nagoya, shin-yokohama and finally tokyo as we worked our way north to here. seems every square inch of usable land is in fact used, right up to the mountains - intense! what's trippy too is their versions of boneyards - little patches of posts w/thier writing on them, planted in gravel or cement. these things catch my attention back home on tour so maybe why shouldn't they do the same here. it reminds of the last tour I got to do w/d. boon - our final minutemen one. we passed a boneyard and me, being the younger idiot I was then said, "man, what a waste of land, huh?" and d. boon totally surprised me w/his reply cuz I never heard much religious from him ever - he said, "I don't know about that - it must serve some sort of purpose." I was startled so by this that I let it stand w/out a response... I still think about him much and these boneyards here put that incident there up in my head again.
there's a bus waiting and a van waiting for us and us band guys (who are the cigarette smokers) go in the bus while they crew cats (the former smokers) go in the van. oh yeah - I forgot - I chowed that bento box food before we docked and it was good. anyway, plug-time for tokyo in a major way and we're slowed to a crawl as we make our way to the ho, park hyatt tokyo, in the shinjuku part. inside a part of the road that travels under the town, there's an accident in the next lane over - a crazy one cuz it seems it happened just cuz someone was spacing out and just plowed the cat in front of them. damn. luckily, it doesn't make our nightmare of a drive even worse, whew. we pass a small anti-war demonstration. you can see where the little troop is march towards has paddy wagon buses waiting - sure hope they don't get used cuz there's nothing violent or crazy about it. we pass the emperor's palace - pretty impressive. some cherry blossoms are on the trees, beautiful. the rain is just a drizzle now as we get into this ho - crimony, what a pad! the lobby's on the thirtyninth floor and when I get to my room on the fortyfourth one, I can't believe it - bigger then my apt in pedro! ...and the view - ho dear, my mind is blown! tokyo goes on for miles and miles - I can't see the "tokyo tower" (an eiffel tower clone we passed on the way) but there's a map that says mount fuji straight ahead when the sun comes up. the bathroom itself is as big as my living room and there's a huge plasma tv w/a nature scene of snow coming down on evergreen trees. this has got to be the most extravagant place I've ever stayed in, I don't know what else to say but damn! I find out I fucking spaced though and left the little digicamera's battery charger at the osaka hilton - "baka" (japanese for idiot). a big thank you to eric for calling them cuz they found it and are mailing it so I get it monday. eiko takes me to chow some kind of soup/chop suey dish that's really good, especially w/this mustard I dump into it - tastes loaded w/horseradish-like whatever.
no soundcheck for tonight's show but the venue, makuhari messe, is about an hour away to the northeast in chiba city. we bail at nine. I brought this purple shirt lisa roeland gave me in s.f. during a tour w/j mascis - just a simple thing but kind of trippy cuz it's some kind of synthetic material w/tiny pinholes all over and have it on under a flannel (I brought the flannel cuz last night I had no dry shirt after the gig). ig comes over to our room (actually, we're in the same room but there's a big partition cutting it in two) to discuss tonight's plan: a slight change in the song order, two breaks put in the set for scotty to get some breaks and "watt, retire the vocal in 'skull ring' so you can focus on helping ron make the sound big." ok, will do. he asks if I got another shirt besides "the mike watt one" (the plaid one) and I take it off to show him the lisa roeland one and he says, "lookin' kind of purple" so off it comes - luckily there's a gray-black one for tonight's event so I put that one on. I ask ig what shirts are appropriate to play in and he tells me something black or gray... even white w/other colors on it - just nothing w/a solid primary color. that's good to know cuz I'm always worried I might be fucking things up w/the wrong shirt - I admit I don't have a lot of experience w/tshirts for stagewear cuz I'm usually in the flannels I put on when I wake up so it's great to have this kind of direction to take from and act on. shit, I ask the guys in my bands to do things for me so it's only fair I do things of me asked here - it's no big deal. I just want to help the best I can and feel very honored I'm here to do the best I can - wearing the right shirts included. the co-promoter of these festival gigs, a very nice australian man named ray, sits next to me and somehow we start talking about stuff from the pop group, a great band from the late 70s. turns out ray has a label that's been re-releasing pop group material here in japan, amongst other things like mark stewart's solo work (he was the pop group's singer) and adrian sherwood. he knows jah wobble, the kraftwerk cats, new-ager steppers, magazine (so sad to hear guitarist john mcgeegoch died last week), slits, brithday party - it's a mindblow all the connects he has w/all this - wow! I think it might surprise him how much I know too! much respect to ray here - he really gets me fired up to play tonight, that on top of it being a stooges gig - one of the most intense things for me ever!
we head for the stage and mani from primal scream hugs me up much, whoa. stage left now and ig tells, "let's go!" and the gig is on. "loose" is first and in the first minute, my bass cuts out - one of the lines from the direct box wasn't pushed in all the way - aaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhh!!! jos has back in quick though and all is ok. "down on the street" and we're down and away! like ten thousand cats in this pad and they're into it big time. when iggy jumps on my amps to hump them, I get down on my knees to pay respect as I play my brains out. bobby's at the side of the stage again as I look over before we start "1969" and he gives me a good fist in the air for inspiration. I shake myself silly. "I wanna be your dog" followed w/"tv eye" when something happens w/ron's guitar - he's out of the race so it's just me and scotty holding it down behind iggy - scotty is really slammin' hard at this stage of the show, mercy - you get build a brick shithouse on this groove being laid down! "dirt" to take a breather and then ig calls out for the kids to join us on stage for "real cool time" though having them bail before "no fun" - scotty taking a breather while ron jams some neat stuff on his own and then hollers "it's in 'a'" - cuing me to join him w/some bluesy kind of trip. then "1970" blossoming up big time in the outro w/steve mackay blowing some righteous sax - it's here where he joins us for the rest of the set each gig. iggy's changed the set a bit here though - after "fun house/l.a. blues" (I put some of coltrane's "love supreme" riff under the freak-out coda tonight!), we play the three from ig's new album in a row: "skull ring," "dead rock star" and "little electric chair" and then he has us off the stage. the crowd is way unreserved for what we're told japanese audiences are usually. much respect to them, they're great cats to play for. iggy says to us to go on w/"little doll" when we're ready so right away I run back up and start the tune up. scotty and ron let me have a bunch of bars of that and then join me. usually, I play right in front of my amp, real close by but for that little I moved up to the front of the stage, just to be a little trippy - like, "who's that nut up there w/this intense band?!" we then finish up w/a reprise of "I wanna be your dog" - funny, ron said we only did that tune twice cuz our first gigs didn't have enough tunes in the set yet we have plenty now and still do it so I'm led to believe iggy just digs doing that song twice - so do I! we blast it out w/fury and then we're off.
up to the dressing room and I am drained - so much so that I can barely speak and just sit on the couch, trying to get it back together... man, that was intense! a young man I met last time I was in japan (also the first time - w/j mascis + the fog), kenji, comes in w/his friend haro and I'm at a loss to talk much cuz of my state but am really glad to see him. he gives me a japanese music magazine that has an article of the first stooges reunion gig at coachella, domo arigato kenjisan (thank you, mister kenji). I'm then left to further rest and after a bit, iggy comes over to me and talks about the gig - he dug it and has some ideas about putting some further rest spots for scotty, like maybe having me do a little bass thing between two of the tunes near the end and I tell him, "sure!" it means so much to me to get good words from a man I get so much inspiration from, much respect to him. later, some cats from the band the went on before us, the distillers, andy and brody come up to talk to me. andy's the drummer and only twentyfive but says he digs the minutemen and especially our "what makes a man start fires?" record. he's very nice and talks about inspiration from old punk rockers (this one here sitting next to him!) and I tell him we're all links in a chain - I tell him about folks who inspired me when I was really young, like john fogerty, james jamerson, john entwistle, jack bruce and of course, the stooges. I tell him lots about d. boon too. I think it's good to acknowledge stuff like that cuz like john coltrane said, "music's a big reservoir." it's after two am when primal scream finish and though I didn't get to see them tonight (just too wrung out), kevin shields comes down to talk w/us which is great cuz I really, really dig him, he's always been such good people to me. maybe one day I'll even get to make music w/him - I tell him that. three bells now and we finally bail for the return ride to tokyo - whew, this was a late one. konk is mere moments away from me getting out these soaked levis. it was "real o-mind time" for sure. oh, steve mackay said something trippy on the ride back (well, he said tons of things but let ron tell you about that), he said the title of "down on the street" was originally "down on the beach" - whoa! what a difference that would've made, huh? ok, time to konk.
sunday, march 21, 2004 - tokyo, japan
I pop and look out the window - way up here, over four hundred feet up, there's such a site of the town and what's that way off? mount fuji - wow! there's some fog but there she is, all snow-capped and everything. it's quite a site, damn. the sun is out bright too. no gig tonight but eiko said there's a u.s. band playing tonight in the shimokitazawa part of town, someone called ben davis. I chow some cury at a pad called "pot & pot" - japanese style that's really brown w/some rice and a breaded piece of shrimp, another one of those salisbury steak things and a tiny hot dog (no bun) on top. it's got some heat to it too! pretty good. there's some trippy kind of japanese pickles cut up into pieces that are happening too. on the way back to the ho, I run into knobman ric and his girl from ireland, jenny, on the street. she's been living here in japan and so ric's been spending time here too. they're gonna buy a pad in scotland soon though. I chimp diary when I get to my room. alain calls me to take me to record stores but I know I'll foget tons of shit if I don't chimp now. I ask him to call back later but I konk for a bit and don't know if he called when that happened - there's no message light on the machine. he's a great cat and wants me to check out some of the avant scene happening - something thurston and nels would really know about and maybe help if the guys here maybe want to play in the u.s. I told alain last night I would ask nels about that when I get back and he gets back from the sidemouse gig he's just got w/wilco.
at the am/pm (I call them "amp 'ems") they got tons of stuff where you just add hot water and I got two of these cups of miso soups that have tiny little clams in a pouch you take out, squeeze miso out of a pouch and then add the hot water (these rooms have these water heaters for tea). it's good chow. six pm comes around and eiko takes me to the shinjuku train station to get to this club shelter, where ben davis is playing. what a cramfest getting through these stations - tons of folks flooding this way and that. the trains are sort of like the nyc ones but quieter. we get to the pad - all the "streets" in this part of town are like little alleys and it's a mindblow for me when we get inside (eiko got my name on the guest list) cuz it's just one little stairway down from the one pad's only hatch and the place is packed solid w/folks big time. it's about the size of the room you used to play at al's bar in l.a., maybe thrity by forty feet w/a low, low ceiling. at the back wall where the merch is getting sold, eiko asks to let me sit on this tiny chair which is great cuz I'm still sore from the last two gigs and there's four bands going on before ben davis. we came in for the last few notes from the first band so I never got their name. this australian cat named tim knows eiko and she introduces him to me - he's a writer and saw me play the cherry bar w/j mascis + the fog - the gig where we played only stooges songs for and hour and a half. he's here to review the show. then I'm introduced to ben davis, a nice cat from chappel hill. he knows all about me and says tim "dancer" herzog's here - whoa! ain't seen dancer in quite a bit, he was a helperman on the fog tours and I liked him much. turns out he's the bass player for ben davis - what a trip! who would've ever thought. he shows me a cd he got earlier in the day, a j mascis one of bbc john peel stuff and there's songs there I recorded w/j and george berz, righteous. we watch a tokyo band called the shuwa and then the up and coming from kyoto. the sound is being done by a lady in a booth next to me and is really good. the shuwa band sounded sort of like gand of four and the kyoto one was sort of sonic youth sounding. I'm starving and afraid of getting weak cuz of this england trip I gotta do right when I get back from japan here so I'm trying be real careful. dancer gets us passes so we can come back in and then walks us towards some chow pads, telling us all about some of the intense politics around their little tour here - stuff like the promoter and the lable cat having some beef about past stuff but the tour is going good. I meet katoman, the promoter guy and he's really nice to me - well, everyone's digging on the stooges trip but there's lots of respect for my minutemen days too... that and interest and what I got going now and what's coming up. everyone's really friendly, I'm sure glad I came. me and eiko chow at this little mom and pop ramen shop and I have this ramen w/pork, veggies, shrooms and a little bit of corn in a spicy broth. it's really tasty! I've dug all these japanese food, all good eats. we get back just as the fourth band is done - so sorry to miss them but ben davis is up next. dancer's on bass and there's this wild lady on guitar - both of them are great. a lady on keyboard plus a drummer and ben davis sings. they're all really good and the band is pretty smokin' - I dug it much. ben's got a high voice and follows the instruments' melody lines in trippy ways. it's great I got to see them cuz I have to admit I get kind of out of touch w/what's going on music-wise w/the new bands. when the gig's done (five bands played from seven to eleven - no bogarting on the stage here!), I get to meet the lovitt records guy - a happening little label from arlington, virginia plus everyone in the band and they take pictures w/me. matt sweeny from chavez is there too and we talk a little about the sad loss j had w/bob (his bulldog) passing away - it's a sad loss for everyone who knew bob cuz he loved everyone he knew much and it was very reciprocol. damn, I wish I had my camera but it's w/out power 'till my battery charger comes tomorrow.
midnight when I get back to the ho and tiredsville has it in for me bad. it's ok though cuz like I earlier said, I need to be strong so I can do my best w/the debut of my "...middle stand" piece in england next week. man, it's intense how these two little long-distance (!) are butted right up on each other. I look out the window at the night time tokyo view and remember something that australian writer tim told me: when he asked what ho I was, I said park hyatt and he said that's where "lost in translation" was filmed. damn, I knew something was familiar! that's the movie sof made that me and thurston saw the opening at last summer. another funny at that gig was a hand drawn poster for someone called the sleepytime trio cuz that's what time it is for me now.
monday, march 22, 2004 - tokyo, japan
pop and get a sunrise in the window (righteous my window faces right into the east) but not for long cuz a gray haze comes down on tokyo to hide her. I chimp diary 'till a gut w/a need to chow starts to gnaw at me. it's raining now and the ho people give me an unbrella to use while out hoofing - I'm not to used to using one of these. more things to try here, eiko takes me to a udon pad and I have some of that made w/duck. w/it is served a raw egg in a bowl and she instructs me to break open the egg into the bowl, stir it all up and then eat the thick udon noodles after dipping them into it, one at a time. trippy.
tonight is the sole club gig of the tour - just us w/not even an opener. am so glad we're set to be on stage at seven pm - like touring europe used to be in the old days. the club is called shibuya-ax and is pretty big for a club - a really high ceiling w/a balcony and lots of rails down in the pit for crowd control. not a huge barrier from there to the stage though and I know iggy digs that. he hates a giant "moat" keeping him form the audience. we get to the pad for soundcheck and I find jos putting lemon oil on my little bass' neck, on the fretboard. that's very nice of him. tonight we're gonna debut a song iggy and ron just wrote called "my idea of fun" and so we go over that a few times. it's brand new to me though I remember jamming it w/ron when I was in ann arbor last month to do that junior kimbrough tune w/the stooges for a fat possum tribute record. he showed us all a bunch of stuff he was coming up w/and it was great. a few weeks ago he was in miami w/iggy and they were working on songs. I'm excited to play a brand new stooges song to folks for the very first time. hope I don't choke.
after soundcheck, we go back to the dressing room. we're supposed to go at seven pm but iggy pushes it back to 7:15. there's no opening band - sort of like touring europe in the old days. after being up so late last night, I can dig the early gig. iggy's chowing up all these ground-up antlers he's got in a bag. it's nervous time, ron doing his usual pacing while scotty practices drum chops on this pad he ties to his left knee. steve prepares by yammering. sure is intense for watt, that's for sure... time slows way down. iggy comes in and I show him this bass lick - he asked for me and steve to do some fortyfive second interlude after "little electric chair" together but when I play little something (sort of like the bass line in "fever" maybe?), iggy says it's not happening and to just try something after hearing what steve does in the moment. sounds good. I just have trouble reading what would be good sometimes - everything from the wrong colored shirt to what I'm doing on the bass. I'm going to keep trying though and be more aware, more in the moment, more responsive to what these guys got going cuz I just dig them so much. there's kind of a confidence thing w/me (rather more a lack of it) that's seems hard as shit to kick. I guess some of it's maybe cuz I admire them so and their music has been such a big part of my life for so long. I just don't want to let them down but this causes a klutzyness in my ways and being blind to little things so obvious. I gotta learn to relax, learn not to be so nervous. not like taking anything for granted or shirking or anything like that but have a little bit more on the ball and a handle on things. I end up tripping all over myself and freaking out inside to thinking I'm fucking it up bad. this leads to me doing an even worse job cuz it undercuts what little self-esteem I manage to get going. I need to learn this though and not run away like maybe I would in another situation. these cats are so generous w/me and I just want so bad to do them right.
I think I got spooked a little though, playing that inappropriate bass thing. not that I could've known but it's wearing on me and causing distraction. I can tell right off the bat, when we start "loose" cuz I come in at the end of scotty's first fill when it's supposed to be the second one. what the fuck? "get it together, watt" - this is what I keep telling myself. the set is mainly like the chiba one but I find myself blowing some clams (though tiny ones) in "down on the street" too. oh boy. the club is packed and the vibe w/the japanese folks is great but on stage here, it's kind of weird. iggy's throwing the mic stand around pretty crazy and violent like - not on purpose but responding to some kind of frustration - I don't think he likes the sound. I don't like it either - there's way not enough of ron's guitar... what's the stooges w/out a loud ron asheton?!?! I do better w/"1969" - finally got away from this inside looking shit. I even pick it up for "I wanna be your dog" and "tv eye" which are both all the way wild, the asheton brothers are really cooking and iggy throws the mic stand towards my side of the stage - no where near me but just missing eiko in the wings - whoa. he seems driven to get this place lit up. there is a sterile thing about this pad though the kids are way fired up (much respect to them). we slow it down for "dirt" - now w/this shortened version iggy's worked out for us and then blast into "real cool time" - iggy brings the cats from the crowd up on stage and it's go-off time... this one young shirtless japanese man w/a mohawk starts doing push-ups right in front of me, intense! or like they say here, "maji yabai!" the stage gets cleared easy (these folks are very cool) and we launch into "no fun" which is then followed by this great little solo "interlude" ron does on guitar - beautiful. this gives scotty a little time to rest before it's "out of my mind" time w/"1970" which in turn thumps into "fun house" along w/its "l.a. blues" outro where I go off on the little bass like I'm trying to exorcise the focus-stealing demon I felt on my back early in the set. I bite the strings. I get on my knees and pound her silly. time for "skull ring" and I do something I've never done before and don't know why I'm doing it now. maybe cuz I'm spiel-less in the choruses now but for whatever, I slowly march up to the front of the stage in time and when I get to the lip, march backwards to my amp. bizarre, I have no idea what's up w/me. in fact, I do it every choruses - involuntarily. some tripped-out kind of autopilot inside or something, huh? I mean, I'm not in the temptations but I do admit I dig them much. watt doing "steps" - what? "dead rockstar" next, another one from iggy's latest solo record. I'm feeling a little weird - I put my passport in my sock this time cuz it's been getting wet in my front pocket... it's a habit from the old days, always having my passport on me when I'm in a foreign country - even on stage. it's a little distracting down there though. last song of the set is "little electric chair" and the worst happens after the last verse of singing. I don't know what happened but I guess I got lost and rushed ahead the part where ron's guitar solo is. I can't believe I let this happen, this is a major fucking clam and I feel like shit. it's sort of like driving down the freeway and suddenly wondering how you got you where you are - what happened during the last ten miles, were you even aware of what was up? it's a scary feeling realizing your fucking was in the clouds and somehow maybe the car was driving itself?! fucked up, truly. it's not liquor or drogas cuz I'm sober as a judge and you I can't stress how important it is for me to do my best for this band cuz I love these cats so but I have to admit my mind weirded out somehow. I realize things are fucked up and get close on scotty to stay on beat and watch close on ron's hands. damn, there's mainly just two chords in this tune (d and a) and somehow I've managed to fuck things up - idiot watt! we do get it back together though and as the tune ends, I see ig come on over, like he usually does when he wants to dance a little in front of me though this time I can see his face twisted up intense and very angry. oh no, fucking idiot watt. he grabs and puts his arms around me... I can't do anything but let my arms go limp at their sides - I have too much respect for this man to put up any kind of defense, he wobbles me around and then lets go to turn to my amps and shake them up HARD, like he wants to knock them over (which they probably would've done if they weren't belted together w/straps). he runs off to ron's side of the stage and sits in a metal folding chair. I run after him and fall to my knees in front of him, little bass in my hands. I know I've done bad. he says, "you came in early... but the band recovered and that's a good sign." I feel the worst I've felt in a long time, terrible. he hollers, "get me some alcohol" (which is weird cuz he only drinks a little wine after gigs now) and someone brings him a beer. he swallows a bunch and says, "let's go" and I go out and start "little doll" up. I am determined to keep it together but must admit my confidence is shot, I feel like a total asshole. man, the recriminations I'm launching against myself - a total pummeling. I keep my eyes glued to iggy though and maintain my focus. my body feels like it weighs nine tons. my spirit is in total sag mode, what a fucking dork I am. we play a brand new song, "my idea of fun" and though I have a little trouble coming in (I don't exactly know how or when to), I keep up ok. we do a reprise of "...dog" (iggy's trying to pull down one of the stage left speaker columns, returns to the middle of the stage and then violently throws the mic stand ron's way - not on purpose and not too close but you can tell he's angry) and end the night w/"not right" - a perfect note for me to end on cuz that's exactly how I feel about myself right now. you know what though? I think iggy did great and both ron and scotty were really cookin' - this band is wild - steve blowin' his brains out and hard!!! I've never had a jolt like this or a ride - even w/weird stuff in my head, it's like I'm at the gig watching the stooges and getting wailed on, bent up and all that, like a body/mind/Idontknow kind of thing that wrings it out of me clean, and 'torqued' or whatever I try word it out. it's a whoa whoa whoa and a rope tremor though me. this is the stooges, this is the source. I gotta let out some fucking air and breathe... let this head air out! this is me writing this now. I was in a weird shock then. I think these guys were really good tonight and the crowd was way happening too, watt on pluto looking on these two worlds linking up and they both had the vibes singing, the hearts pumpin'. it was a trip to be a part of.
we go into the dressing room and I sit across the table from iggy, my back to the mirrors on the wall. ron's in one corner to the left of me and scotty's in the corner to the right. steve paces near the hatch. I'm quietly waiting to get dressed down (and rightfully so) but instead, iggy goes over the gig the way he saw it - he didn't like this pad. he says he doesn't like the sound in this pad, saying his voice sounded "like pepe lepew." he again says I came in early but it was good the band recovered, "a good thing for a band" and then ron talks about this gig the stooges did in the old days at some fair grounds where iggy was crawling around and ended up between his legs and bit him in the balls during a guitar solo. everyone cracks up and then iggy talks about that gig - how it was the stooges first big out-of-town gig and where he was introduced to "the biggest rock and roll agent in the midwest" - some heavy type, dressed up like a goomba and saying, "kid, you got it but you're a little to ahead of your time." these guys are great, I know it's weird writing this down but that diffused the situation much and I'm very grateful for these three gentlemen, so much so. they're having a great time, playing their w/all their souls out. this is timeless and putting it out. I wear myself out, getting into it so. so great to have a bass in my hand to do it! it's the trippiest way to dance that I get into so! what excellent cats to have the honor to play w/and I respect them much. I will never let myself spaceout like that again I keep telling myself - I am determined. shit, I yell at the guys in my band to keep it together and it's only right I should expect the same out of watt. damn right. so, I am struck thus by a weird night, the situation. it makes me think of times I felt paralyzed in a bizarre way, not just on the bass either! easier to laugh now.
eiko has gotten some of these dough things called niku-man (meat-filled ones) and an-man (azuki bean-filled ones). they're really good. I talk to her about lessons I have to learn from this trip. one of them is definitely focus, something hammered into me by tonights gig experience. I have to see some positive in this so it doesn't totally tear me up - if anything else, it's a wake-up call to learn. I also realize the other thing I've learned is patience. eiko's english is good but she has to take a little while to relate her ideas to me. instead of trying to guess what she has to say, I let her find the words and take her time. she says she's sorry they don't come right away but I tell her it's alright and I'll wait 'till they do. it worth it cuz when she does find the english to express herself, it's great. so both iggy and eiko have taught me some heavy things this tour and I'm most grateful. we have this soup w/fried soba noodles, yakisoba and it's good. it's a trippy that you buy in these convenience stores here where you add water and microwave. trippy.
konk brings the expected persecution dreams I knew were going to come.
tuesday, march 23, 2004 - tokyo, japan
another gray and drizzly morning here in tokyo. cold udon soup for breakfast, trippy but good - from another one of those pads where you buy the ticket from a machine and hand it to the cook. alain, the translator who assisted iggy, takes me to this big building that's a couple blocks away and was in the middle of my room's window - it's called tokyo opera city. what a trip, it turns out this is where my best friend raymond pettibon's first japanese art show ("plots laid thick") was at and I get a catalog of that show which is great cuz raymond wasn't able to bring me one like he usually sometimes can. alain takes all around this area - he went to school in the u.s. and saw me play w/fIREHOSE at whittier college many years ago. he's a great cat and full of insights. he takes me to a little bone yard tucked away under a highway. the names on the graves aren't the names the folks who's ashes there had in life but the ones the priest give them for the period before they're reincarnated. he takes me to a stationary shop where the make stampers for people to use to sign their checks w/cuz that's how it's done here - you don't really sign your name. for "watt" he uses two chinese characters (not katakana which would usually be used for a foreigner such as myself) - one for the "wa" sound and one for the "tt" sound which together mean "place of peace" which is kind of neat. grazie mille, alain. we see some cherry blossoms just starting to bloom and some ginko trees which are trippy. we see a store window w/this big "astro boy" doll in it - something I watched as a boy on tv in the u.s. but I guess it's still going strong here. wow, haven't seen that in ages. a window right near it has a cook skinning an eel in it, whoa. japan has lots of stuff for me trip on, I could spend loads of time here, just trying to absorb it all. alain takes me to a practice pad w/lots of rooms for bands to play in. we see as much as we can in the hours I have before airport time and I thank him much for the righteous insights - he's a great cat. I hope to see him again soon.
I ride in a minivan w/sax man steve and his friend lauren (ron and scotty had to leave a couple of hours earlier) - it's been a mindblow of a trip for all of us and we relate our experiences. it's more than an hour ride to narita airport and there's tons of police cuz of terror threats. we get through the customs stuff fine and I chow some gyoza before I have to say bye to my compadres and get on my plane. the flight's 'pert-near ten hours but cuz of the time difference, I actually land at lax before I took off! I finished the kundera book and that was sure a mindride right there. I think about the great cats on the stooges team: iggy, ron, scotty, steve, henry, rik, jos and eric - I kind of gave eric a little bit of hard time and will have to email him a sorry about that. it's sure is something to be part of this, truly. I think about FOCUS and PATIENCE, two things I just gotta get better at. this was an intense trip - a "real o-mind" indeed.
my sister melinda picks me up (well, she somehow thought I was coming back a week from now so luckily I caught her at her work while she was free so I had a little wait - got through u.s. customs easy though - the officer dug the fact I was playing bass for the stooges!) and I get back home to pedro, only to get ready to prac soon w/my secondmen cuz I'm going to england for the all tomorrow's parties festival in two days w/them to premier my new piece, "the secondman's middle stand" and also do a gig w/tom watson. yep, like twentythree thousand miles in ten days but I ain't complaining - a bass player is here to work the bass!
first though, a soak in my own tub... that feels good.
loop back to mike watt's hoot page