Tracer AMC News
alex’s dj set at no dancing, belfast, on the 1st of may 2011. bringing back the nineties…
chris brokaw – king ferdinand
desert hearts – not a car
efterklang – i was playing drums
panda kopanda – a humble god
shellac – billiard player song
pj harvey – a perfect day elise
fugazi – the argument
backwater – your prerogative
blonde redhead – futurism vs. passiesm part 2
cashier no 9 – to make you feel better
alasdair roberts – lord gregory
three tales – the things that we know
vic chesnutt – flirted with you all my life
kowalski – get back
clone quartet – pss-80
13&God – own your ghost
sonic youth – sunday
tortoise – gigantes
amazing pilots – dirty love
tiler – server
jim o’rourke – halfway to a three way
yann tiersen – tabarly
steve reich – electric counterpoint
bjork – hyperballad
yo la tengo – night falls on hoboken
papa m – turn turn turn
low – something’s turning over
seriously? late april? the first website update of the year?
Well, there are two rock shows coming up – Belfast this Sunday in the Black Box, supporting Chris Corsano, at night time, for eight pounds.
Next month we are off to Dublin to play a rescheduled date with our more intricae friends and so i watch you from afar. It will cost some Euro and also happen at night time.
In other news, Heliopause (featuring Mike) made an EP at Start Together (where the first fragments of Violence were miserably put together all those months ago), and Mike and Keith formed a new band called Not Squares, who have a whole heap of shows coming up.
Tracer AMC action year 2008, coming soon, hopefully
our first two albums are now available worldwide for download from your preferred download shop of choice,
while the third has polish and guitar applied to it.
meanwhile, three tracers are playing with julip and one is playing with heliopause next sunday (2nd december) in lavery’s in belfast.
expect amc live action early next year
We are leading up to a 96 hour period of using Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast to record next week on the 26th October. We have been buying some fancy microphones to add to our collections and borrowing a couple here and there. jonny is masterminding the cable situations and stands in our kitchen talking about bringing a guitar signal traveling through a multicore to a re-amping box before and after the 143 guitar pedals int the computer and keeping it in a different room while the guitarist can be playing in the control room… or something… it blows my mind..
as a band we have been practising intensely for 2/3 months working on new material. most of this material has matured to the point where we can fine tune and rearrange, but some is still downright bloody childish. This weekend will aim to bring these bits through puberty and make them men or women (either is fine) with enough substantial life experience to at least get the drums. ‘Get the drums’ is a phrase which crops up and is, in my opinion an unfair pressure on the drummer. However, back to current times, tomorrow/sunday and monday will be our final set of whole practises before going in to setup to record our third album. It will have special (and violence) written alllll over it..
went really well, it was full of people and had big bright projections on the walls and a smoking terrace which could hold (and did hold) hundreds of people.. Team AMC played well with a 56 minute rendition of their new 8 song.. people roared with delight when it was finally over.. one girl kept lying on the floor and spinning around while drinking buckfast.. nice
krw logged in as ncbh
a pause until i figure out how to get a picture in here… ah thats it up there, i love how it is too big for the window and requires scrolling… that should please everyone
jonny’s blogging up a storm over on the myspace.
it’s mostly my cack-handed attempt to document last summer’s wonderful UK tour but it’s good for a laugh.
meanwhile, alex made this:
and basically it’s all go.
GET OUR NOISE
and so: the exciting, maybe strange rockshow is in the catalyst arts centre on saturday 25th august. it’s an all ages show, at 3pm, which is pretty exciting.
support comes from the wonderfully named Das Sexytime, and David Holmes is DJing. yeah, the david holmes!
it will cost you a fiver, and there is a barbecue.
everyone loves barbecues.
+ TRACER AMC
THE BUNKER, BELFAST
SUNDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER
4 POUNDS / 830PM
the show with lite on sunday 9 september is actually in lavery’s bunker.. whoops!
should be able to confirm the third band tomorrow.
it seems i’m not the only one to make obscene gestures at the back of photographs taken in the shibuya o-nest at the end of a japanese tour of an indie rock band in 2006!
my shame is lessened.
p.s. i like how arab strap only let westerners backstage..
the next gig is on sunday 9th september in the limelight.
excitingly, Lite are playing.
we played with them on the first night of the japanese tour.
(i say “we”, but actually i was asleep on the stairs due to crippling jetlag, so i can’t say if they’re good or not.)
after the show, they said that when they were in ireland, they drove around with gaju listening to tracer amc, which is pretty weird.
i don’t know who else is playing this show but i’ll let you know when i do!
fans of keith’s dancing could do worse than checking out this clip of desert hearts playing ‘dsr’.
will he reprise those moves tomorrow in auntie annies?
time will tell.
p.s. the songs last saturday were: in rivers, elmwood avenue, [a new song], and snow.
you can now stream some full-length songs at team amc’s last.fm page, here. enjoy.
i think we did something else productive yesterday too, but i’ve forgotten it..
p.s. the tshirts are only £8 including postage in the shop. they’re going pretty fast so get yours now!!!!
p.p.s. no they aren’t
alex and i made a tracer amc advert in the pub last night (no dancing on sundays in katy daly’s is really good – they play great music and there aren’t very many people there, which is good because people are rotten, of course). so, i felt a little of my soul die, making an advert and paying for an advert, but it’s only on fastfude.
and it was as much a way of supporting fastfude.org as selling t-amc albums.
(also, there may well be a startlingly attractive picture of keith, along with an interview, in the belfast telegraph on friday).
someone’s commented on the youtube video of paper machete in osaka, wishing it wasn’t so dark.
to that person, i say sorry: that was my idea. i thought it’d be really fun to turn the house lights down to near total darkness for the amc rock show. i can’t remember why, but it’s an idea that’s widely accepted as having been rubbish now.
by the way, i am spending today watching t-amc on youtube. sucks to be me.
it’s now marginally easier to buy tracer amc stuff by clicking here and there on the myspace (myspace.com/traceramc). it’ll probably get easier again soon, and you’ll be able to buy tshirts and eisberg & resnick albums and god knows what.
don’t be forgetting to be at the rock show on saturday:
there’s now a wikipedia entry for tracer amc here.
i made it by mucking about with the entry for pay*ola.
probably they will read this, and flick cigarette ash at me again.
it’s not as if i don’t deserve it.
hey, it’s not long til the next gig – saturday 14th july in lavery’s. julip playing too. and heliopause the day after. hurrah!
jonny and niall will be playing as eisberg & resnick on sunday – details here
hopefully see you there
Tracer AMC + Avast! + DJ Junior Otamon
Saturday 19th May.
the VIC, Glasgow.
£3/£4 on the door.
interesting interpretation of amc’s paper machete here
weird weird weird. found by king steven.
since monday’s encounter with the mystery bearded fan at aldergrove, we’ve been inundated with literally two photos of people wearing amc shirts. here’s one, for no good reason:
so it’d appear loads of people bought them at the limelight show. if you want one, you can either go here or just ask someone using email@example.com or the myspace.
in slightly more relevant amc news, 75% of them will be appearing with Julip on saturday in the black box (an early show, 2pm or something) and again on monday in the custom house square marquee (7.30pm).
read about what alex is up to in japan, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into:
finally, if you haven’t got islands yet, or flux & form for that matter, go to the shop, or if you’re lazy, go here
i found this guy at the baggage reclaim in belfast after all tomorrow’s parties (i’m only guessing that he’d been there, but i’d say it’s a fair bet)
where did he get it though? we’ve only sold two, and it’s not them, because here they are: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/iden.green/twofans.jpg
on saturday, tracer amc & loved ones (that’s annette, anne, misa and.. er.. me) decamped to the docks in east belfast for a ‘photoshoot’. only one thing was missing – a photographer. consequently there are roughly 400 photos of tracer amc and the only good ones are of mike, jonny & keith (that is to say, alex took them).
still, there’s time yet. photographs will be useful only when album #3 is nearing completion, and i begin to whip up a media frenzy. that’s my new thing, media frenzies. just you watch.
i guess some of them will make it to alex’s flickr. you don’t need me to link you there.
featuring traceramc at the end of it, and oppenheimer most of the way through it. still. set for life, probably.
p.s. in other traceramc news, the next two shows are in glasgow on may 19 (in the art college i think) and in belfast on july 14 (no idea where this one is but don’t panic; it’s ages away yet. it’ll probably be the bunker, anyway)
(i am playing at that one, too!)
p.p.s. congratulations for still reading this blog. dedication!
in fukuoka i got an email asking if tracer amc were available to play a rockshow in the spring & airbrake. i don’t know why people ask me if tracer amc can play rockshows all the time, it’s not like i get 17.5% or anything.
anyway, after some merriment and debate, it was decided that the spring & airbrake is awful and it’d take something special to persuade team-amc to play there.
i replied saying “thanks but i don’t they are looking for any gigs around that time. good luck!”
they show is going ahead sans-amc, two days after the 65 days of static show. still, the poster they’ve done for it says “ROCKIN’ DRINKS PROMOS” at the bottom, so maybe it just wasn’t meant to be, eh?
65 Days of Static, Tracer AMC, And So I Watch You From Afar
Queens University of Belfast Students Union
Thursday February 8th, 9pm
Tracer AMC, The Winding Stair, And So I Watch You From Afar
Thursday March 15th, 9pm
See you soon.
one jar of co-op fair trade decaf instant coffee
doesn’t taste much like regular co-op fair trade instant coffee, apparently, but this might be no bad thing. modelled here by keith and jonny.
anyway listen up.
there’s a belfast gig in march.
here’s what you need to know:
also: The Winding Stair (who i once supported!!!)
and: And So I Watch You From Afar
and it’s on 15 March in the Limelight.
this is possibly a WORLD EXCLUSIVE!! which you deserve because you still read this blog.
finally, here is a picture of keith tending to the leak in his ceiling the other day, for your enjoyment
Not really, of course. Tracer AMC are an instrumental rock band and would never go around being so uncool as to wish people Merry Christmas on a blog.
Still, as some sort of christmas gift to you, we will save you £3 or so by posting a link to Alex’s flickr, where you can read my japan tour diary thing wot got published in this month’s alternative ulster magazine.
if you are stuck for a gift for a special someone tomorrow, you will probably be able to find a petrol station which will sell you a copy.
p.s. they edited out some of the very funniest bits, and some of the best pictures; and that mistake (where it says “islands” instead of “flux & form”) is not mine. probably.
Heliopause (y’know, featuring one of the guitar players out of tracer amc, and me) will be playing LIVE! this Sunday 17 December, supporting Cashier #9 (who are wonderful), in Auntie Annie’s in Belfast.
Given that you almost certainly either live with a member of Heliopause, are a member of Heliopause, or otherwise intimately know a member of Heliopause, this blog entry is unlikely to be of much use to anyone. But i didn’t want the dear place getting rusty.
See you on sunday
As you’ll have probably read below, I got a bit poorly as the tour ended and failed to finish off my diary entries. This short post is designed to wrap up the tour until such times as I sort my way through the 2000 photos we haven’t put online and write up everything that didn’t make it the first time.
The 2nd show in the O-nest was even more fun than the first. Everyone was in a bit more of a party mood, we played well and met more lovely people post show. There are a bunch more photos on flickr if you like… [speaking of which, check out the map function on flickr… I have roughly geocoded some pics to give you an idea of where we went on the tour.]
Goodbyes were said to all after the show and one final ride in the tour van saw us back at the hostel in Minowa for a short nights rest. Jonny, Michael, Annette and Niall (reluctantly) caught the Skyliner to Narita Airport the following morning. Keith and I were travelling back a couple of days later.
Monday lunch was a fantastic Udon and Tempura feast had with Masami, Teru and co following my trek across Tokyo (with my equipment – a preview of what would follow on Wednesday). Tuesday evening Keith and I, accompanied by Mayumi, Tim, Ingy and Misa went out for eats to celebrate Ingy’s birthday.
Travelling from Yokohama to Ueno Station on a train at 8.30am (with guitars and tour baggage) is not fun… I have never felt more crusshed in my life! Alas, we made it to the airport and that is where I will leave this post. The flight and the days that followed are something I want to forget about!
Finally, and we cannot say this enough, thank you to Miaou for inviting us on tour, driving us everywhere and treating us so well. We had an amazing time! どうもありがとうございますて!
so i made it home tonight.. from the tour, via edinburgh.. unexpectedly..
my last (and recently most haunting) memory of anything Tracer AMC is from 2 days ago. I was sitting in-between our bass player Alexander Donald and a young japanese girl whose name i don’t know, for the second time in the middle seat (muffled rage).. It was a 12 hour flight, the girl to the right of me was sneezing wildly into her white mask she was wearing, while Alexander continually writhed in some sort of performance art-worthy imitation of being killed slowly by a very thin snake.. everysooften he muttered something about being dead or that he can’t hold water down because he keeps throwing it up so maybe he should try and get some lucozade.. i advised against the lucozade and proceded to turn the volume up on my inflight headphones to try and drown out the groans, while staring straight ahead__ mentally fighting the invisible virusses..
[girl to right devours the disgusting beef dish like a velociraptor]
6 hours into the flight the ampeg composer’s situation seemed odd as the alexander had been bright and even chirpy in Narita airport; he had duly informed me he had consumed a cheese and tomato pizza and notified myself and Misa of the wi-fi’s signal strength in certain areas of the departure lounge.. however the transition to the aircraft must have triggered some kind of internal viral threat which had been lurking deep within the man.. the plane-flight continued to crush his soul, he barely even had strength to ask for some water,
[hmmm, the fruit tastes better than KLM’s yet the two companies Air France and KLM have amalgamated, different fruit sources? ]
the chair in front of me leans all the way back, i react with a violent tap as if this is somehow an injustice and no-one should do this to me.. however the real reason i am scared is because of the leggy, awkward and downright rude french man sitting in the seat.. his tone to the stewardessess repulses me in only the way that french pomposity can.. but the worst thing about him is the dandruff which i estimate is about 35 cm from my eyes and face.. it looks like someone has sprinkled african conflict diamonds in his balding crown, the glisten and shimmer of fresh flakes slowly breaking off from the hardened puss trenches dug into his scalp.. even worse is the young nephew figure sitting beside him who just looks annoying.. a big fat scottish guy sits next to the flakster picking his nose and laughing at some low-level hollywood comedy (it was pretty good), as he picked his nose, he would subtly hold up the offerings to the light to inspect what had been retrieved..
[japanese girl accidentally touches my leg for the 3rd time and now our knees are touching.. shit.. gotta move my leg away in a motion which doesn’t mean i hate you, just… getting back to the way things were..]
huh, so after some chat with a crazy 17 year missionary kid who just loves jesus and sake and ireland and has a kanji symbol for peace badly shaved into his hair.. the flight finally ends.. alexander is coming to the end of the performance with an award winning rendition of ‘i have a desire to reenter the womb at all costs’.. he still wants lucozade.. sharks galore airport will probably not have it though.. we get off the plane into a large stream of disenchanted people who don’t care about each other at all.. i lose alex in the foray and thats it.. i look for him at all the departure terminals especailly the ones which say dublin but no sign, i wait at the edinburgh terminal for a sign of life, but no show, i look in all the toilets but all i find is a chinese man smoking so i decide to stay there and have a cigarette with him..
we talk about tokyo, china, cigarettes and laugh about what will happen if we get caught, then we make the urinals flush in a kind of alternate breathing pattern to wash away the ash.. i say goodbye and get on a plane to edinburgh,
i wander around edinburgh as a ghost, actually i did feel like a ghost but that was mostly jetlag and good gear, i stayed in a flat for the whole 2.5 days.. the proudest thing is that i still haven’t washed since tokyo which feels silky and great, mother said she could smell me as i got into the car..
now.. to the shower and bed..
noone else is going to tell you about this, and you probably wouldn’t have read it yourself, so i’ll keep justifying my position here as blogger by posting it here for your enjoyment.
At just under an hour long set, Tracer AMC played four songs; ‘Machette’, ‘Flux and Form’, ‘Copenhagen’ and ‘You Follow The Snow and Are Wasted’. The four piece from Belfast are a purely instrumental rock band made up of twin guitar, bass and drum. All the songs are loud and bold, with the use of electric pickups, foot and effects pedals. It’s the kind of music that lifts you up on a slow memorizing (sic) high. An unsuspecting sound from Northern Ireland.
Machette was especially interesting, starting slow, picking up in the middle with high octatne drumming and the two leads playing in harmony, which not only looked but sounded amazing.
Although a bit disappointed by the stage presence, (I had three guitarists with their backs to me at one point), music of this calibre tends to have that ‘zoned out’ effect. A real rollercoaster of a set ending firstly with a burst of energy then to a slow cradle of silence, leaving the audience in awe.
forgot a song there, L, but sure. you were probably zoned out 😉
(P.S. i know it has nothing to do with the japan tour, but i had to circumvent alex’s computer trickery. victory is mine!)
let the records show i fully regret the rude gesture i’m doing in this picture. there’s no need for such yobbery, especially in japan where everyone is polite.
Yesterday was a long day. Literally – it lasted 33 hours. Jonny, Michael, Annette and I are home in lovely northern ireland after an amazing two weeks. It really couldn’t have gone a lot better – getting called back on for encores and playing to a sold-out tokyo crowd was incredible.
Dear AMC / Miaou:
Thanks for making sure i didn’t die or get too horribly lost! Thanks for letting me into the shows for free. Let’s do it again.
See you then,
Back home in Tokyo as you know. Alex and Mike are being interviewed by someone, Jonny didn’t want to do it as he thought they’d ask questions like “why are you an instrumental band?”
I was up for it but apparently they didn’t want to talk to the band’s official blogger (who never blogs) and merch-man (who hasn’t sold any merch since dublin) and roadie (who’s hardly carried anything for days).
Last show tonight then. It’s all gone pretty well so far (save Tokushima which i didn’t see and the Apple Store which doesn’t count), let’s hope they go out well.
Let’s hope tonight’s openers, DaN and the iDIOt, get the crowd nicely warmed up. Hm.
P.S. last night Keith had his collar felt for drinking Shochu in the street. I said to the policeman “it’s ok, he’s with me” and the fellow let him go.
P.P.S. Alex can you engineer a function so at the start of the posts i can say “mood: emotional” and have a wee emotional looking character beside it? Then this will be a proper blog.
Doing interviews sounds a bit wick to be honest. Once i’m famous i’ll complain at length about the interviews i have to do.
WHERE IS JONNY?
Tonight we do it again.
Quick update. We’re back in Tokyo after roughly 17 hours and 1200km of driving. Last night we stayed in Yugawara and today we arrived at the O-nest. Miaou are soundchecking now – the venue is sounding great, as are Miaou. This is the first show since Shinjuku Marz that they will be using the Fender Rhodes. The show tonight is sold out.
We’ve met up with Ingy, Tim, Niall and Annette again. We’ll all go for food post soundcheck.
The past few days have been class. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Fukuoka likes to party
2. Fukuoka likes post gig parties
3. Tracer AMC and Miaou like 10 pin bowling
We got up early this morning to make the most of our time in Fukuoka. The city has around 1.3 million people and seems a manageable size. I go looking for T-shirts and find Graniph; unfortunately all the shirts are pretty crap. Fukuoka Rooms is, as you will know from Niall’s post, a pretty class venue. We rock. We rock more than we have rocked so far on this tour. Fukuoka loves it. We love them for it. Post gig we go for food and drinks. It too is rocking. We meet many new friends. There is much laughter. Randomly, mid conversation about something entirely different, Jonny is told by a pretty girl that she likes him. Much laughter. He replies with ‘you are my favourite’ in Japanese (hey, it was the best I could do!). Much more laughter. Niall gets some more Japanese lessons from Miaou. He forgets them quickly. We walk back to the hotel in high spirits.
It’s pissing down. Niall and I make breakfast. I then go back to sleep. We meet Keith in a coffee shop. Then we head to the Apple store where we will later play a few songs. It’s okay. We grab some free internet, soundcheck and kind of rock (as much as you can in a shop) in Fukuoka Party Town. People seem to like it. Jonny hates it. Keith hates it. Post show, we have some pizza. Then we meet Miaou for 10 Pin Bowling. It is rocking. Team AMC vs Miaou. We get beaten. Naruki didn’t tell us he was a bowling ace… it was still amazing fun. Photo booths and drum bashing follows.
15 hours of driving are required to get us back to Tokyo. We need sleep. My alarm is set for 7am. I will leave this entry here and tell you there are more photos on my flick page.
apple store.. sucked us all into a stinky void of leaking drain water
Blogging from the Apple Store where the rockshow is about to start. Jonny`s pretty certain it`s all evil. When he tried to go to microsoft.com it redirected him to some apple site. I`m starting to think he might be right. No free ipods or anything. There are big screens at the back and i want them to show the “Fashion is Me” picture but no.
I`ll let you know how it goes. Very weird atmosphere. It`s pissing with rain outside too. Only doing two songs and possibly mixing them into each other.. were in Starbucks earlier and Alex wants to go bowling later. Had a mcdonald`s yesterday so jonny reckons we should just buy some BP petrol and pour it in the street.
Oh! We bumped into Keith in a cafe earlier just by chance. It was pretty weird to be in this massive city and happen to be in the same place (he went partying last night and never made it home).
Rockshow starting. I will write back soon.
It seems the guide book was spot on. Fukuoakans *do* like to party. Again initial scepticism has turned into delight and joy.
On getting here we thought the place was potentially a bit grotty. Even once we got into the centre of town it just seemed a bit like.. well, like abbeycentre. But we turned a corner and suddenly it was the greatest city we`d ever been in. There`s an amazing building in the middle called ACROS Fukuoka which has many purposes (just by the entrance there`s a “cultural information lounge” and concert hall) but the excitement is to be had outside the building. Here it is. On the stepped part there are hundred of trees, right up to the top, and a waterfall. From the top you can see right across the city and it`s pretty breathtaking. Like everywhere else here it`s surrounded by proper actual mountains and seems to go on forever. I`d never heard of Fukuoka before I heard the AMC were playing a rockshow in it and still it`s far bigger and more exciting than belfast.
The venue, Fukuoka Rooms, was pretty much the coolest one yet (apart from its lacking a lift for carrying the gear up and down..). It was just a big, simple space with a decent bar, decent lights, decent seating and a great stage. Jonny`s guitars have been giving him a hard time of late so we took them to a guitar shop (called something like Super Rock Shop) and had them seen to before soundcheck. The sound was a bit weird but I played guitar for a bit and it was pretty much perfect after that.
We wandered about a good bit, taking photos in Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton (or whoever), Armani and Tiffany`s; and went to check out the Apple Store (which is due to have its ass rocked off later today which should be.. interesting).
Miaou played first and were followed by a pretty quirky twosome- a chap with a laptop making really great clicks and squeaks and a lady playing the piano. I must confess from the soundcheck (and from my description) it sounded utterly horrible but by the end of their set i was really enjoying them.
Thing were running a little late and t-amc ended up dropping Some Electric AGAIN (they haven`t played it since, what, Kyoto? I can hardly even remember Kyoto, damn it!) but went on to play one of the best sets i`ve ever seen, despite (or possibly because of) the, er, well, the beer. Even Alex drank beer, although he claims he didn`t swallow. (By the way, dear Jonny`s mum. Jonny does not have a tattoo really. At least not one i`ve seen. It was only a wee lie so he did not have to get nudey with other men.)
Really though. After the laptop man and his friend had packed up, it looked as if people were leaving. I figured folk were out to see them as they were local and the gig was put on by a local label / promoter. But once Tracer came on AGAIN the whole place magically filled out. And everyone seemed to know all the songs! Even the old ones which aren`t for sale in Japan (i`ve been looking in various record shops and nearly every one has had Islands, or a divider for it). It was crazy.
We keep noticing the ways in which the people or atmosphere are different in each city but one thing`s been pretty constant – the audiences have been really polite. Even when an encore was called for on the first two night, it was called for pretty civilly. But last night the people went beserk. They whooped and cheered every change in every song, before they happened. To me anyway t-amc are a totally different band when people are paying attention and enjoying it. That was pretty much the reason i came out here, and last night again my decision to plunge myself horribly into debt in order to watch the same band ten times was vindicated. The positive feedback from the audience (most of whom Jonny photographed on their way in for some reason) made for one of the best shows they`ve ever played, despite Keith`s, er, idiosyncratic drums here and there in Copnhagen. He was pretty lubricated though.. Again they were coaxed back out to play Nineteen and everyone was just slightly dazed. They even looked like rockstars last night – drinking beers on the stage, nodding to the crowd, and lit up all proper like.
Right that`s enough gushing. Safe to say you missed out though. Cannot wait for the Tokyo shows now. Expectations are pretty high but Toe might not make them look silly after all.
There was a theory that we`d brought “whoop!” to Japan. Noone “whooped” in toyko despite it being a great show (they enjoyed it, and called for an encore, but never “whooped”). So we made a concious decision to “whoop” Miaou (when they deserve it) and it seemed to catch on.
Keith designed a poster for last night after soundcheck and we went and got it photocopied a few times and stuck it up around and outside the venue. We coloured it in with marker pens and Miaou liked it so much we`re doing one for the first Tokyo show even though it`s sold out (yes, SOLD OUT!).
So it`s good here, is what i`m saying, basically.
After the show we went and partied in some bar / restaurant with Miaou for the first time. It was a lot of fun, we were in a were section where you sort of sat on the floor and there was some sort of trench for your feet. Lots of Japanese food and beer got brought to us and i was a figure of fun yet again. Something to do with beards. Pretty much any time any of us attempt to say anything in Japanese it has everyone in hysterics. We aim to please.
[writing as we drive from Tokushima to Fukuoka]
For the second night we stay by the sea in Tokushima. Post gig we watch some TV and play Mario Kart DS. I have my ass kicked again. We sleep well and depart around 1pm. This is the first day on the tour when we’ve not had a show – however it involves the longest drive we have yet encountered and a taster for what we will do on Friday on the drive back to Tokyo. The scenery has been stunning and we have crossed many bridges and travelled through many tunnels. All around there are signs of the islands volcanic past. We stop for lunch along the way after crossing a huge bridge whose name i don’t remember. Little Chef this is not. We have a fantastic feast followed by ice cream and then it’s back on the road and we drive toward Hiroshima.
[writing in the hotel room, Fukuoka]
For the first time on the tour I am driving the van and Michael and Naruki are up front with me, Guther and Karate on the stereo. Automatic cars are really strange to drive… there is something uncomfortable about not having a clutch for the left foot and a gear stick… anyway, I put in a couple of hours at the wheel as we pass Hiroshima handing back to Naruki at Yamaguchi in time for the complicated navigation required to get us from Honshu to Kyushu. new Super Mario Bros Mini games keeps Mayumi, Michael and Myself occupied until my battery fails.
We’re booked into a hotel in Fukuoka for the next few days and we manage to check in around 10pm. We’ve spent the best part of 9 hours traveling today – on Friday we will do around 15 on the drive back to Tokyo.
Up early tomorrow to go exploring in Fukuoka, upload this entry to the website and a bunch of pictures to Flickr… then we rock in the Fukuoka Rooms.
we have arrived in Fukuoka which is supposedly the coolest city in japan.. it:s got all the hip young kids apparently.. we are playing two shows here and staying for 3 nights, should be good. the travel by car is long and draining, but you get to see the landscape which is unbelievable.. tall spikey mountains with huge bridges between islands and huge cities which just creep up you as you carve through them over the motorways.. the lights of the cities at night are spectacular and the telecommunications over the landscape matches any stereotype you`ve ever heard of about japan.. long tunnels through mountains, little light reflectors which have brushes on the front of them which spin to keep the reflectors clean.. they think of everything here..
the service stations have 10 times more vending machines than the normal `1 vending machine per 10 people` which would make the service stations ratio `1 to 1` which is about right.. jonny struggles to find orange juice in any of them, he mentions it alot..
the music responsibility is going well except last night in Tokushima where we played the ugliest show so far, it was a lead balloon. we played, it was awful. all went wrong. felt like death. jonny`s guitar ceased to work. we started the snow song about 5 times before finally finishing it.i filmed everything from the drumkit. (it will be in the forthcoming documentary) we still got thanked for playing… neurotic behaviour .. chaos reigned supreme.. 25 minute sets are a bad idea for tracer amc..
the audience kind of laughed with us but it should have been at us for it was appalling, we have some making up to do..
we meet niall and annette in Fukouka who inform us of the 1 litre cans of beer, alex talks about adaptors and more photo shoots in the `creative suite` as posted.. michael is slightly offended as last night i turned head to toe in my sleep beside him because he started to sing in his sleep, think it was along the lines of `shiny shiny.. shiny bag of keith`s` since he was asleep i covered my ears and tried to ignore him.. tracer amc sleeping in a tiny confined room 2 floors above ground all in a row together is a reasonably fresh experience, especially when the night before i woke up to alex straddling me to put his plug in the wall socket.. the day before we were all naked in the En Sen (public washing baths) except Mike and Jonny who were afraid incase the japanese were offended by their tattoos,
[writing post gig in Crowbar, Tokushima]
Internet has been very intermittent today; I have things to upload but we can never pick up a signal for more than a minute at a time so I’m not sure when I will get round to posting this.
We slept well last night in Tokushima – probably the longest sleep we’ve had since the tour began. The morning starts with a visit to an onsen. Jonny and Michael decline attendance; Jonny by saying he has tattoos, Michael by saying they don’t like hairy backs. The onsen was a bizarre experience. Basically, you shower and clean yourself before bathing in one of the many pools they have. The water is extremely hot but when you leave you feel very refreshed. Outside I eat ice cream as we sit in the sunshine.
After the onsen, we go and get Udon noodles and tempura. I have a some vegetables and some fish. Jonny challenges me to eat the fish tail I don’t. The food was great.
We arrive early to the Crowbar. It’s a small venue, basically a square soundproofed room, stage at one end, bar at the other. In fact, it is so well soundproofed that you wouldn’t know a band are playing inside. We load in and then sit around trying grab some internet. There are 5 bands tonight, we have a 25 minute set. Soundcheck is very short and seemed fine. Then we wander around Tokushima. Amusements, arcade drum bashing and a really great bakery follow. We have the worst gig Tracer AMC have ever played. My pedals fail to work so I start without my distortion. We can hear little on stage. The tele cuts in and out on Jonny throughout Copenhagan. In the middle of ‘Snow’ everything fails on Jonny so we stop. Eventaully, after a few minutes we get his guitar working and start again… it lasts about 20 seconds. Finally, we manage to play the rest of the song. I figure the input on the Roland Jazz Chorus is a little dodgy. Anyway, a poor gig, we are all pissed off. Tomorrow when we arrive in Fukuoka, we will go in search of guitar shops to carry out repairs to the Telecaster… probably replace my distortion pedal and buy a few spare cables.
we`ve arrived in fukuoka ahead of the rockstars despite leaving long after they did. god bless the shinkansen!
i will check if it`s ok to tell you here what an awesome time we had in hiroshima because this is supposed to be a blog about rockshows and not my holiday.
instead i will leave you with this nugget: the guide book says fukuokans `like to party`, and we got direct evidence of that about 12 seconds after leaving the station when we came across a vending machine with half litre cans of beer.
i`m off to get one and wait for the rockstars to tell me how their last rockshow went so as i can tell you.
Almost exactly a week ago I was standing in Waterstones in Belfast buying my guidebook and realising that i was off to japan in a few hours. Today I used the book to decide to visit japan`s most splendid castle at Himeji, and now I`m in a hotel in Hiroshima. Crazy times.
Good luck with tonight`s show traceramc! We shall meet again in Fukuoka.
EDIT: damn the guidebook! we were suckered into coming to Hiroshima by its promise of 4000 bars but it turns out EVERY SINGLE ONE is the sort of disreputable joint in which we were forced to sing and eat shitty food the other day. We had the devil`s job getting drunk and had to do it in mcdonald`s. ah well.
trekking round shrines tomorrow and going to see the a-bomb memorial stuff before catching the train to meet the rock stars. sounds like tonight`s 25 minute rock show was not the best yet. they need us.
FACT NUMBER ONE!
in japan you need to stand really close to automatic doors to make them open.
FACT NUMBER TWO!
people love my “radiohead crew” tshirt. miaou said it was cool so i told them that tracer amc thinks radiohead are shite. i hope i`ve not caused a rift.
FACT NUMBER THREE!
said tshirt is smelly as i`ve been wearing it for days. all my stuff`s in the miaouvan on another island. whoops.
FACT NUMBER FOUR!
do you think we should have a suno wrestling tournament instead of miniskills? i do.
FACT NUMBER FIVE!
that wasn`t even a fact. i`m away to bed. seven cities in as many days i think. more. yikes.
[writing post soundcheck in Osaka Rain Dogs]
So as attempts to play Catherine Holly in soundcheck fail miserably, mostly on my part, we abandon plans of playing it anytime soon. The show in Nagoya was opened by PsysEx who plays wonderful glitchy electronica with minimal visuals and it’s all pretty great. For the first time on the tour we are playing before Miaou. The set goes well. I say some things on stage. People laugh as intended. We talk to some people after who were pretty pleased to see us play.
Miaou headline for the first time and play really well. After we head out for food in a Jazz cafe where there is much laughter before driving to the Osaka Plaza Hotel… I’ll not explain the next bit but I felt really awkward about lots of things; some of us have little sleep and we all feel suitably awkward the next day.
The drive to Rain Dogs is short. I travel in the car with Jonny for the first time… and spend much of the drive playing DS with Yoichiro. Jonny, Miaou and I head out to a traditional Japanese restaurant for food… Keith and Michael are making their own way to soundcheck. Keith arrives on time… Michael gets lost for 2 hours in a rainy Osaka. Miaou soundcheck. The venue has two levels; we are playing on the floor with people looking down on us from above. We are essentially playing off amps with just a little PA to pad the room out and the sound is really great… Michael eventually arrives wet and tired… after soundcheck Jonny and I go wandering in Osaka and buy an extension cable as we need to borrow one every evening. We find a bakery and buy lots of nice bread and quiche. On the way back to the venue we bump into Keith and his friend Misa. I suggest we head into the arcades and have our pictures taken in a photo booth. So much fun! The sad faces in the first photo are because we lost the best picture ever when the machine crashed… Jonny Rambo! Anyway, just look at the pictures.
[At this point the first band take the stage and I go to watch]
[Back again to this post. It’s now 12.30 am and we are driving to Tokushima after stopping for food just across the big bridge we crossed to get onto the island.]
The gig tonight was a lot of fun. The band that opened played lovely melancholic music on electric piano and accordion. Yasushi Yoshida followed and played a wonderful set. I’m poor at describing music though so I’ll not try. It was slow instrumental post rock… Niall bought both the cds. Miaou played next and were a lot more energetic than they have been on previous nights. Yoichiro’s guitar sounded really fantastic through the Ampeg amp he was using this evening. We follow, a little behind schedule, with a shorter set that previous nights. Some Electric is dropped in favour of extending the end of ‘Snow’ a little. It works. ぼちぼち gets a few laughs again… I dunno what to say tomorrow night.
By the time we come to load the vehicles for the drive to Tokushima, the weather is really pissing down. I load the gear in a t-shirt much to everyones amusement. Once it’s finished I swap my to for my (still dry) jumper. We say goodbye to Misa and her friend and Niall and Annette head off in the direction of their hotel in Osaka. We jump in the vehicles and start driving.
I’m now back to where I was when I started writing this post. Tokushima is a little closer, Michael, Hiromi and Mayumi are asleep and Tatsuki is doing a great job driving us to bed in the rain.
We have loads more photos that we need to get up on Flickr, hopefully, internet connection permitting, I will do this soon. In the meantime, I’m off to sort through the photos.
It`s really misty and rotten today (and threatening to rain) so we`re thinking of giving Mt. Fuji a miss today and swinging by on the way back up to Tokyo instead.
Got to find something else to do instead though! We might go watch a post-rock show in Tokushima. All depends on whether we can work the buses here. It`s not as if there`s a shortage of things to do, mind you.
I`m concerned that we still have not scheduled Tracer AFC vs Miaou miniskills. Where can this happen? A garden in Tokushima? Somewhere in Fukuoka? Are there perhaps dedicated miniskills arenas in Tokyo? WHY ＤＯＥＳ MY LONELY PLANET GUIDE ＮＯＴ ＴＥＬＬ ＭＥ ＴＨＩＳ？
Ｙｏｕｒ ｆａｉｔｈｆｕｌ ｓｅｒｖａｎｔ，
P.S. before any Belfast folks get smug about our day trip getting rained off, you should be informed that it`s generally been gloriously sunny and warm. Ｓｕｃｋｓ ｆｏｒ ｙｏｕ！
it is a bad idea for tracer amc to book `japanese style` accomodation, as the repeated removal and replacement of converse shoes is troublesome.
we`re in osaka – the band are en route to tokushima but annette and i think life`s too short, and we`re probably going to party it up on mount fuji instead. rock!
went looking for miniskills this afternoon, hopefully miaou will be up for a game in fukuoka or tokyo. else tim & annette will have to play in tokyo somewhere. i bagsy jonny! he has mad skillz.
the gig tonight was pretty great. i had a genius idea, which was to have the lights down low the whole time. consequently the photos and video of the show are rubbish and if you weren`t there (and let`s face it, you weren`t) then YOU MISSED OUT. osaka is great, i want to live here. it loves me like i love it. the tower records store prominently displayed `islands`, next to tortoise`s TNT (tracer amc were scientifically proven to be better than tortoise in a recent study). the two support bands were sensational tonight, i loved them dearly. i bought cds so you can come round my house and you can love them too.
Kyoto is described in the lonely planet guide as “invariably disappointing at first”. how ominous! i set my expectations to “low” and still managed to be anything but whelmed, at least at initially. The venue was pretty easy to find – get off train, go upstairs. Yes, team-amc rocked in a train station. Sort of.
The venue was one of the oddest i`ve ever been in, the layout inside was crazy (i know crazy when i see it). However K & M the archi-nerds were happy, and if it`s good enough for them, it`s alright by me. Keith needed rock supplies so we set off to find a rock-supply emporium with the help of two Miaous. In the rock supply emporium there was a poster for the gig! And the rock-supply staff wished team amc a happy gig. This was pleasing! Also ｐｌｅａｓｉｎｇ ｗａｓ ｔｈｅ ｇｕｉｔａｒ pedal called “Ego Booster”. jonny wanted one but it was 200 snoops in real money.) I was still pretty underwhelmed by most everything as i`d had a banana and lettuce sandwich for dinner (and lunch and breakfast).
The crowd looked a little sparse before tracer went on (doors were 5.30, the gig was at 7pm!) but just before they played the place really filled out. The audiences have all been pretty amazing so far – getting called back out for an encore on the first two nights was incredible, and while there was no encore in Kyoto, i think it was the best show yet.. possibly i just enjoyed it more as i just stood at the front having a nice time instead of helping the soundman (tokyo) or sitting down with mike`s dad (nagoya – really!).
Afterwards Annette & I got the Shinkansen (bullet train - wow) out to osaka to try and find the hotel, and to try to get a room in it. Our first goal was achieved relatively painlessly but the second was impossible so we just got drunk instead. I thought I`d found an irish bar (there was a shamrock in the logo. i think) on the top floor of some sort of entertainment complex, but WHEN we got inside it turned out to be a tiny, tiny room with just four seats at the bar and a sofa in the corner, and one customer, a creepy old man with a quiff. My first instinct was to run away, but it was raining outside and we feared death and Annette`s first instinct was to drink whiskey. With some dificulty we got two Santorys and coke from the terrifying barmaid. When she plonked a bowl of really foul savory snacks in front of us, i realised we were going to get presented with a silly bill at the end. Our bequiffed friend got up and started singing some japanese song on the karaoke machine we`d failed to notice. Oh dear. Before we knew it there was a massive karaoke directory in front of it (as well as some particularly revolting microwaved crap) and we were being urged (in body language) to pick a song.
“But we don`t speak japanese!”, we protested. The book was duly opened at the back, at the english section. Drat. By the way, there was a belle & sebastian song in there! And loads of other indie nonsense. Anyway, as you know we sang “heart of glass” by blondie, and we were fantastic. I hope to reprise this event for the delight of tracer amc and miaou in tokyo.
With *incredible* difficulty we met up with everyone at the hotel crest. It seems there are two hotel crests, one either side of the train station in ibaraki*. Cue loads of “i`m at the hotel crest!” “no you`re not, i am!” style mayhem. Anyway, AGAIN as you know, there was no room and we slept in a van etc etc.
*ibaraki thinks it`s a city. every collection of highrise buildings here thinks it`s a city. so technically we were in FOUR cities yesterday. nice. they are all ridiculously big and make belfast look like a campsite. i`m really scared of osaka. it`s pretty disorientating.
i`ve forgotten loads of stuff because of stupid tiredness but as ever, i hope the blog entry finds you in good health. i shall blog later about whether Rain Dogs (tonight`s venue) gets its ass rocked off, and about how and whether annette and i manage to find tokushima (population 277,000) on trains. and about cultural differences, do not let me forget that one.
i`m sorry this is so rubbish. if my blogs continue to be so poor i`ll probably come home. it`s my only useful function.
PS word of advice: if you really like a band you should probably rave about them on the internet and book public transport to follow them around on tour. it seems they will then sleep in beds with you, make sure you don`t die, get drunk with you, and let you post on their website.
PPS i have also raved about tracer amc in print! specifically, in friday`s belfast telegraph. did anyone get a copy? i said that `a satellite wish` changed my life (!) and i think there was a wee picture of me, and something to the effect of “niall harden is an idiot and has spent roughly GBP1000 following them about on tour”
I write from the Hotel Raizan in Osaka! It is not the most modern hotel I have been in but I love it nonetheless. The man on the desk is the most helpful man in Japan (he has just about set up this computer so I can type in English but it was a struggle).
My room is “Japanese-style” which apparently means that instead of a bed, I get a weird pile of bedclothes with which to fashion a bed, but I am more tired than ever before so I shan`t complain.
Yesterday we were in three cities! We woke in Nagoya, ｇｏｔ ｔｈｅ ｔｒａｉｎ ｔｏ Ｋｙｏｔｏ， ｒｏｃｋｅｄ Ｋｙｏｔｏ， and ｈｅａｄｅｄ ｔｏ Ｏｓａｋａ．
Ａｈ ｆｏｒ ｔｈｅ ｌｏｖｅ ｏｆ Kｅｐｌｅｒ， ｔｈｉｓ ｋｅｙｂｏａｒｄ‘ｓ ｇｏｎｅ ｗｒｏｎｇ ａｇａｉｎ．
Ａｌｌ ｙｏｕ ｎｅｅｄ ｔｏ ｋｎｏｗ ｉｓ ｔｈａｔ Ａｎｎｅｔｔｅ ａｎｄｉ ｐｅｒｆｏｒｍｅｄ Ｂｌｏｎｄｉｅ‘ｓ ”Ｈｅａｒｔ ｏｆ Ｇｌａｓｓ” ｆｏｒ ｔｈｅ ｄｅｌｉｇｈｔ ｏｆ ｏｎｅ ｐｅｒｓｏｎ ｉｎ ｔｈｅ ｗｅｉｒｄｅｓｔ ｂａｒ ｗｅ ｈａｖｅ ｅｖｅｒ ｂｅｅｎ ｉｎ ｌａｓｔ ｎｉｇｈｔ．
Ｉ ｗｉｌｌ ｕｐｄａｔｅ ｐｒｏｐｅｒｌｙ ｏｎｃｅ ｉ ｌｅａｒｎ ｈｏｗ， ｏｒ ｏｎｃｅ ｉ ｇｅｔ ｍｉｋｅ‘ｓ ｌａｐｔｏｐ ｏｆｆ ｈｉｍ．
Now i must sleep.
Ｔｏｎｉｇｈｔ Ｏｓａｋａ ｇｅｔｓ ｉｔｓ ａｓｓ ｒｏｃｋｅｄ ｏｆｆ．
Ｉ ｓｌｅｐｔ ｉｎ ｔｈｅ Ｍｉａｏｕ ｖａｎ ｉｎ ｔｈｅ ｈｏｔｅｌ ｃａｒｐａｒｋ ｌａｓｔ ｎｉｇｈｔ ｗｉｔｈ Ｍ ＆ Ａ ａｓ ｗｅ ａｃｃｉｄｅｎｔａｌｌｙ ｆｏｒｇｏｔ ｔｏ ｂｏｏｋ ａ ｒｏｏｍ． Ｗｅ ｒｕｌｅ．
Niall C B Harden
Tim joined us for the first few days of our tour with Miaou. He has uploaded some pics to his flickr page.
I am writing this in the early hours of the morning in our hotel in Nagoya after the 2nd show on the tour. We’re having a lot of fun and we’ve seen some really great bands so far – more on this later.
Guitar case in the left hand, guitar case in the right hand, bag with some clothes on my back. Dublin airport 4.30 am, Tokyo International Airport 9am the next day (midnight UK time). What follows is a brief account of what has happened so far… or the bits I remember anyway.
Day 1. Narita to Ueno.
Tracer AMC and all of our gear crammed onto the limited express on the Keisai line from Narita to Ueno Station and on to Minami station – This would be an early test for the much more packed journeys that would follow. Finding the hostel took a while and our hands, necks and backs hurt from carrying all the gear. Around 1pm, Niall and Jonny roll into bed, Keith and I head out the door.
I’m off out in search of 9 volt power adaptors, towels and some food. Train to Akihabara for a first look and then on to Ginza; food in the Muji cafe keeps me right and Bic Camera provides the first of the plug adaptors. A stop in the Apple Store lets me send some much needed emails and I arrange to meet up with Tim at Akihabara Station later. Music Vox provided us with 4 boss adaptors, good to see they are much cheaper here than at home. I take Tim to Super Potato (nintendo, sega, neo-geo graveyard shop!) and we eat pizza before a bit of wandering around the city. Back to the hotel by around 10. Sleep. Up again the next morning at 8am for a trip to Ueno. Picked up the towels we need in a 100 yen shop. That’s 50p.
Day 2. Show 1. Shinjuku Marz
Sore, we carried the gear back to the station and onto the busy JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku. Moving guitars through Tokyo on a busy underground is not easy! I saw Miaou in Marz in April so I knew exactly where to go. When we arrived at 1pm the venue staff were setting up. Loaded in the gear, filled out our spec sheets for sound and lights and had a rest. Miaou arrived shortly after. [at this point I retire to sleep, the rest of this entry is written in soundcheck in Kyoto].
Introductions followed. Miaou are Mayumi, Tatsuki, Naruki, Hiromi and Yoichiro (who we are to call Yo!). Takuya is driving one of the vehicles and selling the merchandise. Tim arrives down to the venue and soundcheck happens in a timely fashion. Naruki, Yo, Tim, Fang and Tracer AMC head out to eat… Jonny’s first chopsticks and Japanese food. Refueled we head into the Kayabucho and take some photos. Jonny and Keith briefly visit Mens Hot box before being asked to leave.
Shows in Japan tend to start around 6pm to allow people to get the train home. Folk Squat open up the show and are followed by Lite (who some of you will have seen in Dublin playing with Gaju). Lite played a great, energetic, show while Miaou were fantastic. The sound was huge and really well layered. Live Mayumi and Naruki share bass, keys, fender rhodes, guitar and glockenspiel duties, switching almost every song. I really enjoyed the show and look forward to seeing them on the rest of the tour.
There were a few technical difficulties right before the start of our set but Miaou came to the rescue with the lend of some distortion pedals. The audience in Japan couldn’t be more different from a typical UK audience; complete silence during the songs and *everyone* listens so attentively during the set. Nineteen was not planned but played. We really enjoyed the show and we will hopefully get a little video up soon.
After the show we chatted to everyone for a couple of hours before driving to Yugawara (c.100km from Tokyo). Driving through Shinjuku and Shibuya at night is quite a sight. In Japan, roadwors only take place at night. Drive down the same road during the day and you’ll never know they were there the night before. We got pulled in by a routine police check – the tinted windows in the van allowed me and Tim to hide. Due to the weight in the van, Naruki stopped by his house and four of us travelled on in his car to Yugawara. The house in Yugawara was lovely with stunning views out over the bay. There was plenty of food and some interesting TV that involved ‘school girls’ wrestling each other. More chatting and then off to sleep.
Day 3. Show 2. Nagoya Tokuzo.
After a good nights sleep we leave Yugawara for the drive to Nagoya. Weare back to traveling in two vehicles for the rest of the tour. I’m riding in the van with Mayumi, Hiromi, Tatsuki, Naruki and Tim. Four of us play Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS against Yo! in the other car. Plenty of fun. We make the journey to Nagoya in good time and arrive at Tokuzo to meet Michael and Annette who arrived there on the Shinkansen. Tokuzo is a fantastic room with a bizarre wooden wall on the stage.
Skrew Kid who opens the show plays some lovely tunes… very quiet jazzy music based around his acoustic guitar. I buy the cd and can’t wait to listen to it. Lullatone play next. I loved them when I saw them in April and I love the even more now. The new songs sound fantastic. If they were sweets they’d be Jelly Tots. They have beautiful visuals and throw balloons out for the audience to pass around during the songs. Miaou play another great show. The sound was perfect and the audience loved them. We fix Jonny’s pedal problems from the night before and the set goes pretty well. I mess up a couple of times, Niall doesn’t notice. Jonny makes me provide an English translation for everything I say on stage. Attempts to make jokes in Japanese fail.
After the show we stay in the Plaza Inn in Nagoya’s bongo district. Niall and Keith wander the streets til 5am. The rest of us grab some much needed sleep.
Day 4. Show 3. Kyoto Metro.
Driving down to Kyoto saw more DS action; this time Tim and I are beaten to a pulp by Mayumi and Hiromi in Tetris. Even with Naruki on our side we still failed to win!
Miaou are soundchecking now. We are discussing the possibilities of playing Catherine Holly for the first time in years. Let’s see how it goes.
Ma ta ne.
I asked Mayumi a few questions about Miaou before we went on tour. I’m only getting round to putting these up here now but have a read… thanks to Mayumi for answering these.
Can you introduce yourself and the band.
I’m Mayumi, I play bass guitar in Miaou with Tatsuki (guitar) and my sister Hiromi (drums). Live, we play with Naruki and Yoichiro.
Can you tell me a little bit about the history of Miaou – when did you meet and what made you want to play music together?
Tatsuki and I met when we were students at university; shortly after, we played some shows together. When we wanted to start a new band my sister Hiromi joined us on drums. At that time we played the music like Sonic Youth. The band and the music evolved and now we play melancholic music together!
What influences the music you make and how do approach making a record?
We are influenced by many artists for example Sonic Youth, Tortoise, Tristeza, Telefon Tel Aviv and I think these bands may influence the sounds in our songs.
Tell me about the new e.p. It was recorded by Takaaki Mino from Toe? How did the collaborations come about?
Takaaki has recorded and mixed all the Miaou records- he really has brilliant talents, and we always trust him. He knows the sound that we are looking for and he helps us make it. I think he is indispensable for the miaou records.
What is next for Miaou after this tour? Have you plans for more touring or another record?
Well, I don’t know yet, perhaps we will start to make a new record and of course there will be some more shows. We hope we play outside Japan in the future…
Have you plans to release your albums outside Japan?
We would love to have our music released and heard around the world and we would love a label to be able to do this for us. It’s not easy though but we hope that it will happen…
In Northern Ireland, the music scene is quite small and mostly centered on Belfast. What is the music scene like in Japan and is most of the focus on Tokyo?
Yes, I think most of the Japanese music scene is focused on Tokyo; it has a large population and there are a lot of styles of music… But this means that not all the music is good.
In the UK, Radio 1 and in particular John Peel, are credited with supporting a lot of new music. The same can be said of The Wire or the NME. Are there any great radio stations or magazines in Japan?
I know about these magazines and radio shows and it’s wonderful such support exists. However, in Japan there are no such radio stations and magazines.
Can you suggest a few bands for anyone wanting to explore Japanese music a little more?
Well, all bands that play together on this tour are really wonderful. (see tour dates for link to the artists) Also, the Catune label has a lot of cool bands. Please check it out!! (http://www.catune.com/)
What albums have you be playing on the stereo / ipod on this tour?
Some electro music and the new Cornelius album “Sensuous”!
Thanks for answering these questions. Hopefully some more people in the UK will be listening to Miaou. Have you anything else you’d like to say to make them click this link to your website?
If you are interested in miaou, please listen to our music! You can listen some songs in our myspace (http://www.myspace.com/miaoumusic) and also www.miaoumusic.com
Nagoya has no ass left, it was rocked off. For the second night the AMC were called back on for an encore,which is pretty mental!
We’re installed in a really horrid hotel,i am on a pay-per-minute internet machine andmust leave you now.
Jonny has his own floor and must be protected.
there are three hours til mike’s battery gives in so i will do my best to briefly recount the madness wot has gone on. yesterday morning we all woke at crazy times because of jetlag and such, and some went out exploring early morning tokyo. we visited toko’s oldest public park in ueno, where there are exciting ponds. cats roam the place and there are two museums. mike and keith are both arch-nerds and take that kind of thing seriously, i just thought they looked like buildings, probably the ulster museum. turns out this was not far wrong.
we checked out of the hostel at about 1059 and hung out in train stations for a bit. keith met a girl he knows called Fan who helped carry his stuff, providing an amusing photo oppurtunity (keith and fan, etc etc. it’ll probably get to flickr eventually). the gig was in a venue called marz in shinjuku, which was the first we’d really seen of cool, exciting tokyo. you know, the famous bit with all the lights and everything.
alex found the venue using expert skills (it was very very near the red light district, i don’t know whether these facts are related). marz was very similar to junktion 17 where the gig in nottingham in summer had been. that is not interesting to you as you were not there. sorry. right.
gigs here cost a hell of a lot more than they do at home.
(side note: people kept warning me before we left that everything is much more expensive here. as long as i keep getting into the shows for free, and i hope to, i will disagree with this. everything’s been somewhere between reasonably priced and downright cheap so far. i will blog further about cultural differences another time)
anyway, the upshot of gigs costing a lot more is
1) they are better
2) people pay more attention.
four bands played at the first gig:
Folk Squat, Lite, Miaou and the AMC.
i shan’t start trying to review every single band that plays on the tour, not least because my critical powers are pretty limited (‘they were good, aye’, and such insights). miaou really really impressed me, though, and while it’s hardly good form to say how good tracer were on their own website, the tour got off to a pretty good start.
the famously polite tokyo crowd called for an encore, which is something of a rarity. in fact, the lights had gone up and people were leaving when the manager came into the dressing room and asked them to play another song. tracer amc hadn’t really practiced any more songs. they played nineteen anyway and it rocked everyone’s asses off. there was talk for a while that we might be able to get digital video tapes of the gig (it was filmed from three angles) but it looks like that won’t happen. drat.
ANYWAY afterwards it was agreed that Lite would come play in belfast (they’d played in dublin with Gaju and confessed to having listened to Islands while driving around, mentals) and we all had a jolly time.
i’m partly here as ‘merch man’ but last night i wasn’t needed for that (my japanese is somewhere between nowhere and pish) so i helped the soundman out. it was the first time i’d actually done the faders, rather than just asking for a little more of this or a little less of that, and it was a lot of fun (and, i think, beneficial to the gig). jonny played through a marshall stack, which was pretty controversial but it made for a good photo ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/setinhelvetica/299287904/ )
later on two unnamed members of tracer amc were removed from an establishment called Hot Men’s Box, but not before finding out there was a floor inside it called Sexy Pub. i pretty much need to get in there, but they were removed for not being japanese, so i might have a problem there. BAH.
we drove 100km or so to our friend’s house after the show, he has a second house out in a town called Yugawara. they’d laid on loads of really nice food for us and were absolutely lovely, apart from taking the piss out of me for.. well, for loads of stuff. it’s been a bit of a theme.
so now we’re in Nagoya having driven here this morning (it took around three hours i think). the venue tonight is called Tokuza, and the motto is “good booze, cheap foods & hip music”, pleasingly. fingers crossed all of these turn out to be accurate.
there’s loads i’ve forgotten, it’ll come back to me, but here’s a funny thing:
mike and annette went to a cafe called “coffee and cake” earlier, which sold coffee. and cake. sadly, though, the lady who worked there didn’t understand the words “coffee” or “cake” when they tried to order. it seems the language barrier is becoming more of a problem the further we get from tokyo.
can’t wait to get back there next week and explore properly.
grub’s up. type at you sooon
1. Check Niall’s tour diary posts.
2. I have uploaded some photos from the first few days to Flickr.
We will keep these updated internet access allowing.
ah, it’s 4 in the morning here and i’m not one tiny bit tired. jetlag tomorrow then. bring it on.
where was i? oh aye, paris. can’t be bothered describing sitting in an airport any more than you can be bothered reading about it, to be fair. mike thought it was the one from the U2 video and he was probably right. that’s pretty much the most interesting thing that happened at paris.
m&a had phoned air france to arrange that i’d be sitting with them on the flight, but for some reason this didn’t happen and i was on my own. the sensible thing to do, obviously, was just to sit with them anyway and hope for the best.
the girl who was supposed to be there was very pretty (unlucky mike!) and thankfully didn’t speak any english, so she was unable to complain when i put my boarding card in her hand and shrugged my shoulders. she had to sit beside a greasy man with a pony tail and bad personal hygeine. ah well.
we were pretty excited about the inflight entertainment – a wee personal screen each and a nintendo-style control pad in the armrest. there were games and films galore. i was also looking forward to reading george monbiot’s heat – how to stop the planet burning on my first ever long-haul flight. how ironic! sadly there was a power cut in our row (and a few either side of us) so we had no screen and no lights the whole time. gutted.
the food was pretty great – in fact, i said the three meals i had on board were the three best i’d ever had – and we had free drinks the whole time (champagne!). basically, air france are pretty cool.
12 hours with little entertainment wasn’t as horrible as it sounds, really.
i still don’t really believe i’m in tokyo. the airport wasn’t that unlike most i’ve been in, what i saw of it. so far everything’s basically bilingual. the train system inside tokyo is pretty manageable too. the real pain in the arse comes once you’ve got to find something for yourself. normally the best plan is to let alex do it, but this is not always successful.
the hostel is odd. we’re on the top floor- jonny, alex, keith and myself; while m & a have a room downstairs somewhere. our room has two bunk beds, we’re not allowed to wear our shoes in it. there’s some amenities here and there, and a tv. we only seem to be able to get a few channels and they were pretty stereotypical – incomprehensible shouting by people in coloured costumes, a news lady getting really excited about a baseball man (she was really really excited and he’s all over the newspapers too.. no idea why) and.. sumo wrestling. the promising sounding Channel Wowow isn’t working, sadly. there’s a selection of DVDs to rent but they are pretty rubbish.
there’s hot food available but everything is curry. i went and got us all mcdonald’s and got laughed at by some japanese cool kids for being useless at their language.
so at 11am we’ve to check out and amuse ourselves til soundcheck which is at lunchtime, ish, in shinjuku, which apparently is not so far away. i am pretty much done with carrying stuff about the place in a city which doesn’t care for street names.
after the show.. actually, i can’t even pretend to know what’s going to happen after the show, but when i find out, i’ll let you know
okay look i can’t promise that this will be all that exciting!
i’m in my pyjamas in toyko international hostel (i think) on wednesday (i think). everyone’s in some state of tiredness and this is my answer to it (there is a bar but i don’t understand the door. really). another excuse i’ll get in early is that it’s very hard to type on this keyboard, not because it’s in japanese (it isn’t) but because it’s an old crappy pc. ah well.
right, so a brief and dispassionate recounting of the last few days:
on sunday i cycled to the black box for a “holy-shit-we’re-off-to-japan-tomorrow” meeting and tracer amc rock show (three tales were very good! t-amc were hampered by shitty shitty sound). on monday i went to town to get yen (in M&S – these aren’t just yen, they’re etc etc) and panic a bit. i bought a guidebook and only then did it hit me that i actually really actually am going to japan TOMORROW. it was much easier to tell my mum i was going once i realised it myself.
as it happens, i needn’t have worried so much – she hardly batted an eyelid, as if marina and i go jetting off across the globe every few days. “you should have enough socks”, was about as interested as she got. fair enough. at about 1730 mike picked me up and we went to castle alex. mike made me drink beers, he’s a bad influence. jonny, alex & i got the bus to dublin airport. it smelled bloody rotten and stopped in lisburn and ballysomething and all sorts of godforbidden places. i drank more beer. the driver was a grumpy kepler. we got a taxi to the travelodge and checked in. none of the staff batted an eyelid to three guys checking into a double room.
we got up at 0410. i wasn’t actually supposed to be on the ridiculously early flight with everyone else, but came along for a laugh (and to save the taxi fare), and ended up wangling my way onto it.
i’ve bored myself into feeling sleepy now, so i’ll pick this up in paris cdg
(don’t let me forget to mention all the grumpy keplers who worked there, and the fact that it was my first time out of the uk in 12 years, and the fact that i started speaking ridiculous gcse french at everyone (and i have not stopped))
so for the first time in some years i did not buy the guardian today, for a variety of reasons, not least my being in bed in tokyo (which i am).
i also have a pretty limited grasp of what day it is.
the flight was tolerable but not helped by the powerout where mike, annette and i were sitting, so we missed out on the exciting entertainment on offer, and on, er, any light. ah well. there was champagne.
i’m sorry, i can’t especially remember the last 48 hours or so. i’m sure it’ll come back to me.
We have arrived in Tokyo. Jonny and Niall are in bed, I’m off out to get 9 volt power supplies, plug converters, towels and a few other bits we need for soundcheck tomorrow. Akihabara should see me right.
We leave for the airport in just a few hours.
Luggage (or rather guitars and a carry on bag) is packed and sitting at the door.
The first show is on Thursday in Shinjuku Marz – for more information see the main page.
We hope to keep this up to date while we are away, remember to check our you tube page, my space and Alex Flickr account for all manner of photos, videos and ramblings.
Ma ta ne
TRACER AMC JAPAN TOUR 2006
Tracer AMC will be playing 8 shows in Japan with Thomason Sounds label mates Miaou in November 2006.
The shows will see both bands playing in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokushima and Fukuoka. They will be joined on some of the dates by Toe, Lullatone and Nuccini.
26th November 2006 (Sun)
“Hue & Thomason Sounds Night”
w/ Zucchini Drive (from Belgium/ Sweden), Nuccini! (from Italy), miaou,
Shibuya O-nest, Tokyo, Japan
open 18:00 / start 18:30 adv ¥2,800 / door ¥3,300
See you in Japan.