And so on to Japan.
We head out from Heathrow’s Terminal 3 on the 21st July. Grant and I had exit row seats, to stretch out our long legs. Well, my long legs, haha. We got chatting to the steward during take off who’s from Manchester and she turned out to be really funny. During one particularly rough stint of turbulence, everyone had to buckle up including the staff. She got a call from the captain and looked at us really worried, and said jokingly ‘we have 12 minutes before we hit the deck!’ Now, bearing in mind Grant hates turbulence this didn’t go down well. She is of course, a northern lass. Later she brought us down champagne and slippers from 1st class. I duly passed on my ‘Shampoo’ (as it has become known to us) to Taka who was over the way with his kids, to help with the pain of his butterfly, rock star stitches. I watched 21 (5/10), Street Kings (3/10) and started reading the Kite Runner.
It’s the 22nd.
Jet Lag is such a strange beast. Not surprising given that it’s name is an oxymoron in itself. I feel totally manic, yet lethargic at the same time. Very odd indeed. There is a line in my favourite movie (of all time Great Mates) ‘Withnail and I’ which is ‘Speed is like a dozen transatlantic flights without ever getting off the plane. Time change. You lose, you gain. Makes no difference so long as you keep taking the pills. But sooner or later you’ve got to get out because it’s crashing. Then all at once the frozen hours melt out through the nervous system and seep out the pores.’ Sums up jet lag too. If you haven’t seen this movie yet you must, it has the best script ever. Other gems include ‘I don’t advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight,’ and ‘If you’re hanging on to a rising balloon, you’re presented with a difficult decision – let go before it’s too late or hang on and keep getting higher, posing the question; how long can you keep a grip on the rope? They’re selling hippie wigs in Woolworth’s, man. The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over. And as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.’ Amazing.
I was so sleepy during dinner and of no use to anyone wishing to have a conversation. I went to sleep at 2 and woke at 4am, 5.50am and 6.30am at which point I gave up and went for breakfast. Tick tock tick tock tick.
I was sent a great article on the BBC news website (thanks Abs) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7518888.stm
Calling all footballers. Drogba? Roll over you over-paid lady boy and get yourself a man’s job!!!
A full day of press on the 23rd. Photo’s, TV’s radio, Rolling Stone magazine, a new label to get to know and lots of raw fish and soba noodles to eat. It’s so hot here and it’s not even August. The summer sniffle has arrived as a result of going between cold air conditioning to hot and humid and back again, all day. Par for the course here in summer.
I returned to my hotel and went online to pick up my emails before retiring, when all of a sudden a felt a tremble. It got more intense and more intense and it wasn’t until looking out of the window that at last I realized I was sitting through an earthquake… on the 14th floor! I could see the hotel shaking and swaying quite a lot from side to side. I didn’t care that these structures are built to take really vicious tremors; at that moment I found it difficult to stand.
For 10 minutes I was a little unsure of what to do. Not having experienced this before I was quite nervous and at one stage wanted to leave the room. The thought of getting in the lift during an earthquake though was even scarier. So I stayed put. It lasted about 20 minutes and I went back to my computer. It was then that I spotted something on the wall. It was an emergency torch. ‘IN CASE OF EARTHQUAKE!’ it said on the label.
In the morning I read the paper, ‘A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck the Tohoku region early Thursday, injuring at least 88 people and cutting power to more than 4500 homes. According to the Meteorological Agency, the quake, which struck at 12.26 a.m., measured upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Hironocho in Iwate Prefecture and lower 6 in Nodamura in Aomori Prefecture… the jolt was felt along a large section of the Pacific Ocean coastline. The focus of the quake was about 108 kilometers underground…’
Taka just said ‘Oh yeah, it happens all the time. Like rain in England’ and Grant didn’t even feel it he was so engrossed in band business. Well you can’t fault his dedication. Is that the distant, ghostly trumpet of Roy Castle I can hear?
And so to Fuji Rock Festival.
Thursday 24th. Staged at a ski resort on Mount Naeba, it is a 3-hour drive from Tokyo. It is the most stunning of all festivals and I should know having done the lions share in my time. It is the cleanest festival in the world. Everything you buy or bring here can be recycled; the plastic for example goes towards making the following years rain coats and the leftovers used for compost. But the fact that I have never seen even a cigarette butt on the ground is the most amazing part of this incredible festival. Where in Europe you can barely see the grass for beer cups, plastic and dog ends, at Fuji Rock, those that smoke carry their own small, portable ashtrays that seal in the ash, the filter and the smell. These are emptied at smoking points around the site. It really is something to behold and even Glastonbury, with its attempts this year to recycle is falling a long way short of the standards set so beautifully here.
When we arrived at 4pm and I went straight out for a two hour walk around the as yet empty site; past the Red Marquee where we headline tomorrow night, into the Oasis (a huge circle of food marquees) where everyone had gathered for the opening ceremony. There were fireworks galore and some kind of game show! I carried on walking through to the main arena of the Green Stage where I played with Skunk in ‘99, across the huge empty field past Kids Land (a haven for parents needing a crèche for a few hours) and on to the White Stage where we played last year. At this point I turned onto the boardwalk through the woods to the Orange Stage and Organic Arena. I went through the most amazing piece of art called ‘Mirror Ball Wonderland’ which as you can imagine was hundreds of mirror balls but in the woods and all spinning and lit up. It was really beautiful (man)… I walked on to the very end to see the Stone Circle (hippy’s with drums) and the Doggie Wonderland (to leave your dog for the weekend!!) and all the way back taking different routes through to see the Gypsy Avalon Stage and the New Power Stage. I had a look over the river at the Palace of Wonder, Crystal Palace Tent the Rookie A Go Go stage and also home to huge sculptures made from recycled car parts. The only bit I didn’t visit this year was the Silent Breeze stage at the very top of a mountain, accessible only by Dragondola cable car. It was amazing and I built up a huge appetite so I was happy to see the food Oasis again! I can highly recommend the shrimp curry. Yum. The crew arrived at about 8 and I did the whole thing again with Dean T (including the shrimp curry). We couldn’t find the others but it later transpired that we walked straight past them in the Oasis. There was forecast of rain but so far so good. Just hot sticky mountain air.
Friday 25th and press time.
I didn’t sleep well but had to start press at 1pm after which we had a signing and I managed to catch a bit of Gossip who were amazing. Beth is just such a presence on stage. We should be grateful for all the greats who throw off their inhibitions and put two fingers up to everything, isn’t that what music is all about? Sticking it to the man?? The Vines rocked too. Craig is another great front man.
Our gig came around and we walked out on stage to a raucous reception only to be faced with no ‘Feeling A Moment’ sample, so while 10000 punters (but what feels like the world) stood and watched us do nothing, CC wished the ground would swallow him up. It’s his rookie year at this level so we have to cut him some slack but we are teasing him about it. 60 seconds is a long time onstage when you have a problem. To make matters worse it was so hot inside the Red Marquee that I was soaked after the first song and got cramp in my forearms. I hadn’t drunk any water due to being pre-occupied with the press. So I had to change down a couple of gears for a few songs until they loosened off a bit. By ‘My Perfect Day’ I was back in top gear. It is a good way to loose some weight and exercise so it’s all good. We played well enough but I would have like to have given more. It’s also a bit weird on hired equipment, as good as it is, it is not ours, so although we bring guitars, pedals, kick pedal, sticks and cymbals it still feels a bit alien. Circumstances are the same for everyone however so it’s best to just get on with it. After the show we have to race back to Tokyo as some of the boys wanted to have a wander around Shibuya before we left for the airport. We got back around 3.30am and could I sleep? F*** this jet lag man! Sheeeet!
Around 7am (Saturday 26th) I had been asleep for around 3 hours and then ping! I joined the wide-awake club. I met a few guys downstairs who were also fully paid up members and we all went for a potter around. Believe me ‘potter’ is all you can do in this heat and we find ourselves in all sorts of shops just to get out of the sear. Its not even the hottest part yet. In July the average high is 29˚C and august it’s nearly 31!
At 6pm we flew to Seoul Inchea Airport, Korea. Only Yarron had been here before to play the Pentaport Festival so none of us knew what to expect.
Sunday 27th. We needn’t have worried. Pentaport was a ‘mare for the crew (well done boys, this is the Asian Italy) but the crowd were spectacular. The area was nothing to write home about. It was kind of like LA but more spread out and more industrial but the crowd energy was mind blowing. Amazing from start to finish. There were a few ex-pats who knew the words but the locals didn’t care. They just went nuts from start to finish and left us feeling well and truly f*****! Grant, Taka, Dean and CC all had technicals. In-ears didn’t work/blew up, keyboards went down and the monitors were apparently out of phase, blah, blah, blah. The crowd lifted us way beyond any misery that we were suffering because of any gremlins. I was lucky, my s*** was on spot on. (Cheers Si). It was immensely memorable. I’d like to come back. Please?
The bar was buzzing with Hard-Fi, Kasabian and Tricky who all stood at the side and loved the show. Tricky was apparently ‘moved to tears’.
We fly home tomorrow Monday 28th. Mission accomplished. As I write, they are all havin’ it large in the hotel bar. Me? I’m off to bed with a cuppa, a book and the triumphant in the knowledge that we kicked Asia’s arse.
See ya in October.
By the way, the Kite Runner is a must read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A very good insight into the recent history of Afghanistan and a moving story to boot. You could watch the movie (I saw it when I got home on Sky Box Office) it is a very good film too, but as always the book kicks its celluloid arse.