Saturday, December 27, 2008

Notes on Christmas


December 21st.

-After months and months and months, finally re-connect with college friends and have a great time.


December 22nd.

-Enjoy some great Christmas cake with coworkers.


-Go to my boss's daughter's piano recital. Adorable.


December 23rd.

-Hizaki invited me to the Versailles tour final at Shibuya Kokaido, which will always and forever be a way better name than "C. C. Lemon Hall". That name is the worst. I let him know I would be bringing Ryota as well.

-The show was great--the stage had FIRE and EXPLOSIONS SORTA and stuff like that. There was a huge tiered stage that Yuki was up on, and periodically Teru would scramble up and down it. The performance was spot-on as usual, although at one point I remember thinking that I really didn't care for the song they were current playing. I turned to Ryota and asked what song this was. He said, "Princess. I don't like it much either." Ha.

-So Versailles is going major in June and that's pretty cool and I'm happy for them. They're also playing 5 days in a row at Rokumeikan. That is insanity. Kamijo told me that originally it was going to be 3 days, but Hizaki pushed for 5 BECAUSE HE IS RIDICULOUS.

-At one point Ryota went to the restroom, and when he came back he hurried back to my side and said, "I just peed next to Shinya." I patted him on the head. "Good for you."

-After the show, people without guest passes were ushered out, and there was a short short after-party on the 2nd floor lobby with everyone. Matenrou Opera was also there, and I randomly ran into people from Hear Japan and J-Rock Revolution as well, so 'sup guys. Also Noriko Shouji was there and she is the VK grandma basically and she is tiny and really sweet.

-'Zaquitos had me come to the final uchiage, and there we talked a bit of business that was quite neat indeed. Basically it was just chillin' and maxin' and relaxin' with Versailles, Matenrou Opera, Dollis Mary, Shinya, and then a small handful of roadies, hair/makeup staff, and then their management and recording engineer.

-I never, every thought that my path would cross with Dir en grey in any capacity, but sure enough Shinya told me that he and Die were learning English but that he wasn't advancing as fast. "So you want to practice right now?" I asked. Nervous and embarrassed, he refused, very Shinya-like.

December 24th.

-Spent the evening with the regular crew of Masaki, Yanagi, Keita, and a nice handful of others at a really relaxing darts bar in Shinjuku. Yanagi is currently in the band SwallowtaiL, and their other two members Rai and Ryuji were also there. Ryuji sang Ayaka's "Mikkazuki" and... I am not exaggerating; Ryuji may very well be the best vocalist in visual kei that I have ever heard. He nailed that song in terms of both technique and soul.

-We did a gift exchange, sort of white elephant style, and pretty much everyone did a great job of gift-giving. I don't think I'm very good at gift giving, so the reaction everyone had when my gift was opened felt pretty good. The one I received is sort of an O. Henry situation; one of our friends is a tattoo artist and part of his gift was one free tattoo. While I am far too fickle to get a tattoo, nor have I really thought about ever getting one ever, I appreciate the gesture and loved the rest of the gift. :)

December 25th.

-I met up with Reina, who had gifts for me from people, and that was great. We headed to Club Quattro in Shibuya, which was smaller than I expected. I got my pass from Ryo and in we went. The crowd was diverse, with lots more foreigners than I'm used to seeing in one place, and a healthy number of males. A few girls there were in those Santa dresses and that was cute, and some of the stage lighting in the beginning felt Christmas-y, so that felt appropriate. :-P

-It was my first (and last, obviously) time really seeing Rentrer en Soi, and it was neat to see them. They seem to have a more relaxed, swaggering energy. Banter is minimal, but when Satsuki did speak he chose his words very carefully. Quite a long set; several encores, and in the 2nd one there were a lot of old songs, which I liked.

-After the show the guests went down to say hello to the guys, and Jasmine You showed up, which was good because otherwise I really only know Ryo. Ryo was excited to introduce me to the rest of the guys, who were friendly and talkative, particularly Mika, and Satsuki was friendly as well. Ryo gave me a really cool business idea so I hope I can find the time to put it to work. :)

December 26th.

-I bought an mp3 player that is modeled after SOUNDWAVE the DECEPTICON TRANSFORMER and it ACTUALLY TRANSFORMS, and I subsequently win all y'all so flippin' hard.

I had a very unconventional Christmas. I'm excited for the developments and happy for the experiences I had, but I wouldn't have much of a problem trading it to spend some time with my distressingly awesome family. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008


Merry Christmas to me! This has completed my life. I win, guys. Just give up.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tommy Heavenly6: "Unlimited Sky" PV



Some notes:

-We filmed this the same day as the "Papermoon" video, near Mt. Fuji. It was my first time seeing it (the mountain), so that was neat.

-I don't know if you can tell easily but the band is the same as the first video.

-The drummer is wearing my shirt and tie, and the jacket I am wearing is one of hide's. (This was the secret; sorry it's not that amazing... didn't realize the lengths to which people would fantasize! :-P)

-Finally, that guitar solo in there, as well as most of the lead guitar parts, were NOT in the mix that they gave us that day, which is why no one is playing it! It came out of nowhere for me on my first viewing of the finished product. :-P

Also how do you guys find my stuff before I do?! You are the best, seriously.

Massive props, thanks, and kudos to sneakglove. :)

Jimi interviewed by: Toaster


This time, Toaster gave me a big ol' list of questions, and if you make it to the end there's a surprise!

Toaster: What exactly happened after you declined to renew your contract? Did they cancel your visa too or did you find another sponsor? Sorry, I'm not too familiar with all the visa and paperwork stuff since I'm quite young but it gets rather fuzzy after you declined to renew your contract! And how did you find work after the declination?

Jimi: After I declined to renew, all I had to do was move out of my apartment and sign some papers with the board of education. They didn’t cancel my visa, but as I understood it when I talked to immigration people I had a few months of leeway to find a new job/sponsor. This ended up being a good thing because I changed my visa to the much more versatile Humanities visa from merely Education. I’m still not sure precisely how it all works; I just talked to immigration people and my employers on both sides. I did need to get a certification of completion from my BOE.

After I quit, my first order of business was finding a new place. Once I settled in, I started the job search via various sites and the power of googlin’. :)

Toaster: Would you advise foreigners to do freelance translating if they cannot do English teaching for some bizarre reason? Or find some other job?

Jimi: I don’t see what would prevent someone from finding a relatively decent job teaching English, but let’s say that was the case: I would recommend doing freelance translating if you can find the work that pays, and good luck with that. I have no interest in translating anime or video games, nor do I have the patience to handle the more technical stuff. Maybe when I settle down. In any case, you’ll still need a documented job to get a visa, I imagine. I have a non-English teaching job, and while it does require lots of translation and interpreting, it isn’t freelance.

Toaster: What do you think of the idea of a Korean teaching English to Japanese kids and being in Japan in general? It may seem trivial, but since I'm Korean, you may know about how Korea and Japan had really tense relationships after Japan took over our country and killed a bunch of people, burned down our historical treasures, and raped our women. Do you think there will still be tense relationships/racism involved? I know there are still some Koreans out there who still feel pissed off about the invasion and would love to get their hands on a Japanese person's neck.

Jimi: There were lots of Asians in the program. I think the only tense relationships would be among a tiny handful of middle- or old-aged jerkbutt loserfaces. The younger generation is, thankfully, largely ignorant of history and really chill with each other. I know a few Japanese people who speak Korean because they wanted to learn it, or are dating Koreans, or are Zainichi Koreans. It’s all pretty chill, honestly.

Toaster: In Japan, do you survive on combini food everyday or go out often to eat? Or do you go out to the supermarket and find fresh produce?

Jimi: Given my current schedule, I don’t have a lot of time to do any cooking, nor do I really have the energy. I eat lunch with my babies and in the evening I usually grab something with co-workers. When I did cook though I relied on simple Japanese dishes, as the ingredients were far cheaper and at the time I lived alone so I didn’t mind experimenting with ingredients I was unfamiliar with and following recipes to the letter of the law.

Every time I think maybe I’m hittin’ the combinis a little hard, I remember that I know Japanese people who rely on them far more than I. :-P

Toaster: Was teaching kids English really hard/stressful? I enjoy kids 90% of the time, and I'm sure you do too, but they must've given you some hard times, right?

Jimi: Every situation is going to be completely different, depending on the school, the board of education, the main teachers, the students, and even you. My kids were always awesome. The kids that gave me a hard time were the kids that gave everyone a hard time, and in a few instances once I got to know them it was easier to influence their behavior. Really, teaching kids at the age that I do now just means that I get to play with them all morning AND be the boss. :D

Toaster: What exactly do you do for work now? Is it a part-time job? I know that you've said some odd jobs, but may I ask exactly what? And how did you find such a flexible job that allows you to play in a band and what jobs would you recommend for a person who wants to be in a band and work at the same time?

Jimi: Band dudes don’t usually reveal what kind of work they’re in, but I will say that I work two part-time jobs. In the morning I play with babies, and in the afternoon and evening I am a manager at a modeling/talent agency for foreigners. Occasionally, as you’ve probably read on the blog, I actually get to do some modeling/talent jobs myself. I am not very useful apparently, though, as I am not really the “type” of foreigner that gets cast in many things.

As for a job I'd recommend, some places will give you flexible hours, so if you're really serious about doing some other activity too then make that a priority. Just be prepared to not be a salaried worker, probably.

Toaster: How much kanji do you know? How many would you recommend to know for surviving in Japan and any tips on kanji in general?

Jimi: I know, um… there comes a point when you stop being able to quantify it. I think maybe I know 1500 comfortably, if not more, and that’s not counting a bunch of obscure junk I learned through my studies of classical Japanese, incidentally through Chinese, or from music. (In particularly VK, where ridiculous kanji is par for the course.)

Toaster: Ok, now let's go into the VK scene. Are there lots of bands looking for members or is it an incredibly hard feat to find an open band?

Jimi: I just plugged search terms into google. There are plenty of bands looking for members at any given time. I had this devious idea that I’d ride the coattails of some established band, but in the end I’m glad I started out at the bottom all over again. Besides, the established bands looking for members are typically going to look from among their peers at a relatively similar level.

My worry was that it would be hard to find someone willing to take a non-Japanese, but actually very few people seemed to care or even notice.

Toaster: Do bands really have high expectations for new members? Do they want another Sugizo or are ok with the average player? I'm guessing it depends but any info would help!

Jimi: I feel like this question is leaving out the middle; there are plenty of talented musicians around me, and while they’re not Sugizo or anything, I’m more than proud to play alongside them. In a genre like this I think bands are generally looking for a little oomph to make up for it if you’re maybe not a great musician. Charisma, looks, character, stage presence… Being a nice guy counts a lot; the Tora Sky Walkers crew told me some stories and gave me some great advice on the level of tolerance you should have for a good musician who isn’t a very nice dude, and that is very little.

Toaster: About how much money is needed to invest into a VK band? It'll be more expensive with all the hair and make-up and costumes but if I ever wanted to try out for the scene it's better to know how much money I'll need to scrape up!

Jimi: Actually, hair and makeup costs were the least of my worries. Costumes will run you pretty high. I paid about $100 for the basic materials for our costumes, had an acquaintance make them for us for free, and to be frank I wasn’t 100% pleased. But getting them made with a degree of competence and flair of design would have been exorbitant. The photo set was up there too. There’s practice studio fees, equipment maintenance (like, I have to buy a lot of 9-volt batteries, for instance, and then 5-string packs are significantly more expensive than a pack of 4-strings), and finally there’s the pesky matter of being able to get enough people to come see you so that you’re not operating at too much of a loss. Which I did, up until Yue’s last show when we finally made money. Same with the session night.

Bands with a little bit more momentum save up to buy an equipment van, and then of course if you want to make an actual studio recording, just sell an organ.

Just as long as you have a relatively steady income you should be fine. :) Or an inheritance!

Toaster: Do you think that the 99% male VK bands would accept a female member? There's of course cool all-girl bands like Exist Trace and Danger Gang and that female guitarist Koro, but the what do you think are the chances of a foreigner Korean girl with not 200% knowledge of Japanese getting into a band? I know you did it, but I don't know about me!

Jimi: I still don’t know how I did it, but then again, I haven’t “made” it like the bands you’ve mentioned have. There are far more women in the scene than most Japanese coverage of VK would lead you to believe. (At Juka’s live, one of the bands had a really talented female drummer and she was so ridiculously darling and pretty and I fell in love for a little bit.)

I know Miyavi’s part Korean and Intetsu (Ayabie)’s family is Taiwanese, but both of them had the advantage of being born and raised in Japan. Still, surely I cannot be the only one who’s tried this, right??

That said, just focus on your ability to communicate and don’t for a minute let your ethnicity or citizenship be anything but an interesting bit of trivia.

Toaster: What bass do you play? I know you have a 5-string Ibanez but which model? And Ibanez rocks, by the way.

Jimi: I play a 5-string Ibanez Soundgear 305. I can mess around a lot with the tone, and I’m in love with Narciss’s Ampeg cabinet so I get a pretty good sound. Ryota complimented me on my sound when I played with TSW. :D

Toaster: If a person knows how to play their instrument decently but has never performed live, do you think that this will greatly lower their chances of getting into a band? It probably will, but who knows?

Jimi: I don’t think it really will; if I were putting together a band I’d take the guy who could play over the guy who sucks no matter what their stage presence. With someone who can play, that can be developed/encouraged later. The other guy will rarely be motivated to improve.

Toaster: If you don't know how to use Pro Tools or recording inside out, do you think this will affect you greatly too? I'm just a newbie, so hopefully in the future I'll be 100 times better than right now!

Jimi: I have a secret; I know absolutely nothing about MTRs, DTMs, Garage Band, Pro Tools, Fruity Loops, anything. Even though I used to be a keyboardist I have a very weak understanding of how MIDI works or patches or really anything that has to do with a high degree of specialty in modern technology. I want to learn at least how to operate a mixer as soon as possible. I might have to intern mahself with the PA guy to do so.

Toaster: Do you actually know your band members' real names? Do you know Ryota's real name or Yue's? Or you just call 'em Ryota-kun and Yue-san?

Jimi: Of course! It’s on our membership cards at the studio, and on the morning of a live we have to file paperwork with both our real and stage names on them. We call each other [stagename]-kun all the time though. (Although I get “Jimi-kun”, “Jimimi”, and in Masaki’s case “Jimiiiiiii jitsu wa James”. He says this every time we meet up.)

If you think about it, most dudes’ stage names are just some alteration of their real first or last name though. Ryota’s real first name is Ryota, obviously, but in a case like Yue’s, his stage name comes from his hometown and has nothing to do with his name. In my case, I just slapped some kanji on a variation of my first name that I hadn’t gone by until I got to Japan.

Toaster: How many rehearsals does LAVERITE usually do in a month, or week, or etc.?

Jimi: Laverite as a whole tries to get into the studio once a week. This gives us a couple of rehearsals per show, and we go in for about 2, usually 3 hours at a time. For us it was almost more time than we needed, but better safe than sorry.

It’s standard practice for session bands to only go in once or twice before their show. This is because 1) the session is usually decided fairly last-minute, and 2) the set is most usually all cover songs that everyone knows or can easily be given a CD-R, or sent through email.

Thanks for the interesting questions! If any of you have any others, send 'em my way!

And I promised a surprise so here it is,

the surprise is a penguin i made in ms paint

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last studio 2008


Yesterday Ryota and I (and maybe a third person who may or may not have been there just sayin') went into the studio.
It was a lot of fun and I'm really excited.
Now to find a drummer.

I am not, however, excited about the next costume, photography, etc. process. >_<

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Live Report, Urawa Narciss: Tora Sky Walkers


Last night was a great, great show!

First, we met up at 11am at Narciss and rehearsed for a couple of hours. It was the first time I'd met our lead guitarist, Kuma, from AibeLL. Kuma is a fantastic guitarist who got his own ESP model made for a hefty price. It's vaguely strat-like but quite an amazing guitar. He has extensive experience in BeaU as well as some non-visual bands.


The rehearsal went well, and it finally got me comfortable with the songs to the point that I was no longer worried about screwing up too badly or forgetting where the songs went. The songs were standard old punk fare, but sometimes the songs did some interesting things that were a bit uncharacteristic.

Kayuki, vocalist of Homura, was borrowing their guitarist Mitsuru's red Gibson SG and effects pedals. Kayuki is more of an acoustic guitarist so he was quite nervous, but I think he did a good job. Mitsuru also manned our merch table for us. He's a very small shy dude so even I took part in playfully teasing him. :3


It was also the first time in a long while that I've played with a live drummer, and I can think of few other drummers I'd rather play with than Yuichi. He keeps time very well and doesn't rush, and I like the way he mixes things up. He makes playing bass very fun and easy to play around with. Yuichi is G.O.Z VII's drummer, and he also does support for all the other Narciss-label bands with drummer problems.


After the rehearsal, Hidetora still had to work in the office that evening, so he turned us loose and just said to be back in the dressing room by 5 for hair and makeup, as well as photos. I was thinking of going home and taking a rest, but the other four of us ended up going out to lunch and then shopping at the Parco that was recently built on the other side of the station. Kuma in particular is very keen on clothes shopping, and Kayuki, Yuichi and I were glad to come along. Kayuki is a huge Gundam and Kamen Rider nut and excitedly questioned if I liked any of that. I had to admit that I wasn't terribly familiar with Gundam, which he seemed saddened by, but I said I do remember Kamen Rider being broadcast a bit when I was little. He seemed glad about that. It was pretty adorable. Hidetora and I talked about Voltron and Transformers a bit too, because that's more his generation.

At the music store in Parco, I sat down at a piano and played a little bit, and they other guys whipped out their phones and snapped pictures. Kuma put a pic of me playing up on his blog.

We did hair and makeup with the staff (well, Kuma and Hidetora did; Kayuki, Yuichi, and I all did our own) and then took polaroids. We signed them and then shuffled them all together.


At the merch table, which our hair/makeup staff and Mitsuru were in charge of, there were mirrors, towels, and a small handful of t-shirts with the T(S)W logo on them, as well as current CDs from AibeLL, Homura, and a few leftovers from G.O.Z VII. Finally, for 500yen, you could pick one of the polaroids, but which one was decided vaguely lotto-like.

And then it was time for the live. And then the nerves struck. But all that quickly melted away as we took the stage. Now, Hidetora, Kuma, Kayuki, and Yuichi are all signed to Narciss's label and work for their offices, so they're fairly well-known. I was the nobody. So people were surprised when I came out. I stepped up onto the block, threw my arm up and struck a rockin' pose, and the crowd response was really loud. I heard a loud chorus of shocked "Kakkoii!" and wondered if they weren't talking about someone else, but Yuichi was already at the kit and Kayuki hadn't come out yet.


Hidetora's on-stage banter is top-shelf stuff. All his jokes revolved around the idea that were were coming to the tail end of a ridiculous world tour; when Kuma was out of tune at the beginning of the song and asked to start over while he fixed it, Hidetora said, "I expected it from Kayuki, but not from you! Last night in Moscow it was Kayuki out of tune all night!", "Tomorrow night is the last show of our career, at Tokyo Dome", and "We picked up Jimi a few days ago at CBGB in New York". He was able to create this crazy Tora Sky Walkers mythos in the 30 seconds between each song.

He also took the time to let the audience know what bands each member came from and what was coming up for them; he told them that Laverite was on hiatus for now but that in the mean time they could catch me in various music videos. Which also got a huge response. And then he said Tommy February instead of Heavenly. :3

Before our set people had bought the towels and were waving them around for most of our performance; it felt like a Japanese reggae show. Another thing that I noticed was that with 5 people on a stage, things get cramped! Ryota was awesome and came to see us and came back to the dressing room afterward and said, "you didn't move around as much as usual." WHAT D:
If I moved to the right, I'd hit Kayuki; if I moved to my left, Hidetora was guaranteed to come body-check me out of sheer exuberance; if I stepped backward, I'd be accompanying Yuichi on drums with a Cobain-like crash. My options were limited, although I did have a couple of well-timed jumps with Kuma.

After our last song, the call for an encore came IMMEDIATELY; unfortunately we'd exhausted our repertoire. In a last-minute decision, we played the first song again, this time with "Urawa Narciss" in place of "Hibari Hills" in the chorus. (They rhyme in Japanese. I promise.)

The energy was just right, the members felt good, and the crowd was just so wonderful, with quite a lot of them calling my name by the end. :D It's a very strange feeling since I'm so used to, and comfortable with, sort of hanging out on the fringe or background.

At the merch table, they were selling the pictures we'd taken, and Mitsuru told me that many were aiming to draw mine. Several girls who got mine approached and asked if I would sign them. Despite my pointing out that they were already signed, they wanted me to sign the back as well. O_o Lovely girls, every one. Just such positive energy.

The other 4 guys are part of the Narciss label so they were guaranteed a tiny percentage, but that night they treated me as if I was as well and let me in on the cut. We easily oversold the base amount of tickets, and that, combined with the merchandise sales, gave me quite a bit of take-home money. So basically I decided I should keep doing high-profile sessions!

I was lightly mobbed as I tried to leave that night; I had made many new fans and they were all interested in trying to talk to me. A small handful attempted some English, which was sweet. I left like an hour and a half later than I had intended, though!


Basically these dudes are the best and I'm so glad I got to pump out some jams with them. They all were eager to tell me that if they ever need a bassist for anything, they'll give me a shout. This is what playing in a band should feel like, and now I think I have a better bead on what I'm looking for.

Tommy Heavenly6: Unlimited Sky CM


You're all already familiar with the Papermoon video, but also check out the guitarist in the Unlimited Sky promo. :3

When the full video comes out I'll tell you something pretty awesome about it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Egypt is awesome




I suspect that some of you are similar, but ever since I was a kid, I was HUGE into Egyptology. I loved how completely foreign everything about ancient Egypt was, considering my being raised in a distinctly Western manner, surrounded by Judeo-Christian this and Greco-Roman that. Archaeology sounded awesome no matter where it would have led.

In the past few years I've been rediscovering awesomeness about any and all ancient culture, largely thanks to my best friend's endless joy when he talks about great Romans or later Western philosophers. I never tire of it. And hermitic commenter J-Aesthete, to whom I credit nearly all of my nearly two-year journey with Aestheticism, has had me occasionally reading some snippets about India.

Most recently I did some light reading about the scientific climate during the period of medieval Islam, with particular interest in the art of automata. Interestingly Japan also has a tradition of automata called karakuri, which were, like most of Japan's early culture, heavily inspired by Chinese imports.

I read a lot, and while I used to read mostly fiction I've recently become much more interested in the popular science side of things, on a large range of subjects. I have bought and read quite a few books of that nature since I've been here, most recently "This Is Your Brain On Music", which, while it was a fun enough read, I found too simple in many parts and too difficult in some others. I'm interested in this sort of thing because I think it's just so dang cool but that didn't translate into fantastic grades in science and math classes.

If anyone has any recommendations for good, interesting non-fiction on any subject like this (politics is also one I consume a lot of), I welcome any and all guidance in the right direction. I feel bad because I feel sheepish having not yet read what are probably the three most popular popular science books (Freakonomics, The World is Flat, Guns Germs & Steel), so if any of those are must-reads then let me know.

mmmmmmmmmm books

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hidetora session details


Last night was our ONE time in the studio before we actually play live. And one of the guitarists wasn't even there, so I haven't met him!


December 8th (Mon) Urawa Narciss

Vo.秀虎 (Hidetora, G.O.Z VII)
Gu.クマ (Kuma, AibeLL)
Gu.華雪 (Kayuki, 焔 {Homura})
Ba.慈弥(Jimi, LAVERITE)
Dr.ゆーいち (Yu-ichi, G.O.Z VII)

The rehearsal was seriously fun as all get out, though, so I'm excited for the real thing. :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Masaki


We had a nabe party for Masaki Saturday night and it made Sunday very difficult. I guess that means it was a success. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Live Report 11/23/08, Urawa Narciss: LAVERITE, Vagu Project, etc


We'd known that Yue was going to be leaving for awhile, so we wanted to make the circumstances surrounding it as maudlin as possible. If Visual is anything, it is purposefully artificially melodramatic.


I mean, don't get me wrong; Ryota and I are indeed quite bummed that Yue won't be with us anymore, but we framed the whole thing around the concept of "graduation", as most Japanese bands do. And since Yue is against the idea of being in a band ever again, it certainly does feel like "growing up" to him. I sincerely respect this and am in awe at his resolve.


Preparations began last week at our final studio rehearsal. Ryota had prepared a new opening song to play as we came on stage, the incidental music to some old TV drama; and the new free CD was a music-box version of Sephirot. Ryota explained to everyone that it should be like a lullaby: "we'll be gone for awhile, but put this song on, go to sleep, and dream; when when you wake up, we'll be there."

How ridiculous is that? :D


Another thing we'd decided is that frankly we were just done with our costumes. We liked the graduation theme so we decided to wear suits, which was evocative of Raphael in particular. Luckily I was in the market for a new suit so I easily justified the purchase, and even got a discount because I was super nice to the older lady helping me out. (It's amazing how much being personable will get you over here.)


These are the CDs that we prepared; it was the first time we'd distributed something in a standard jewel case so I felt proud, I suppose.


Someone sent us floooooooowerrrrrrrrrrs


I got a haircut & straightening too, again at Harajuku Lipps, which is the place for which I was a dancer/hair model back in April at the Gatsby/Choki Choki event. They always do a great job and are always doing a lot of work for models and magazines. They are STILL giving me a scandalous discount so of course I keep going back. The fact that they count me as a friend helps too. If you click on "staff" and then on "photo" down at the bottom, there are a few pictures from that event.

It's nice to have bangs to speak of, it feels much easier to style, and of course I'm stick straight again. I've had this urge lately to start over and go back to my natural difficult curliness. I will probably regret this.

Yue has a cool hat.


The staff at Narciss has always taken great care of us, above and beyond the care I feel a band like us really deserves. Hidetora, formerly of G.O.Z VII, has been a particular friend of Laverite, giving us great advice, introducing us to great people, and the like. He also was able to get us to go last that night, "seeing as how this is an important night for you guys", and the staff was more than willing to make the schedule so.

Unfortunately this meant an awful lot of waiting. We got to Narciss at 11:30am with the other guys to load equipment into the place and filled out the paperwork for the show (guest list, reservation list, member pass list, song list with lighting cues and PA requests, I think that's it). Since the rehearsal order is the reverse of the performance order, we started setup immediately to begin rehearsal right at 11:50. That took until maybe 10 past, and then... waaaaaaaiting. Foreeeeeeever.


Luckily, Vagu Project was going to go on right before us, so we both had a lot time to wait, so we got to hang out a little bit in the dressing room to pass the time. Keita even came to see me, as I'd given him a pass, and we got to hang out before I had to go down and get ready. That night was also Masaki's birthday party, which I, for obvious reasons, was unable to attend. Keita took a little video message of me first, though, and then went down to watch us.

I was more nervous than I can remember, which is strange, because Ryota, Yue and I all had a beer before the show to prevent that very thing. Ryota barely drinks and ended up not drinking over half of his. Lightweight! Worse than me!

Typically numbers for Laverite are fairly low, but this time there were a staggering amount of people in the place. Inertia was there, Kyu, Bunny, Keita, one of the girls from the Lolita shoot I interpreted for this summer, long-time fans and new faces.


It felt great. Energy resonates back and forth between musicians and listeners and builds to high tension. We played Sephirot, Tenkuu no Kanata e, Kamen no Butoukai, Sexy Dance, and SOLIDARITY. Yue had a nice little MC after Sephirot, and just before Solidarity, we each said a little something. I thanked everyone for supporting this silly little group, and then switched to English to thank the large number of foreigners there that evening.

I love the new suit, and with the new hair and slightly different makeup I felt more intense in my performance. Yue was on a roll, and while Ryota would tell me he made a few mistakes (typical Ryota grumbling!), I thought he was fantastic.

During Solidarity, I was beaming like an idiot (standard fare), when I spotted one of the girls in the very front row with an inexplicably forlorn look on her face, and man I had to look away or I woulda started looking equally sad.

And then it was over.


We went back, the curtains closed, and the album I always hear at Narciss, Abandoned Pools' "Humanistic" (which the PA guy always plays when we're there because he knows I love that album), come over the house speakers, and we paused to let things sink in. We heard typical post-show chatter from the fans through the backstage door. We, however, were silent. "And that's it," said Yue.

And then, "En-co-re! En-co-re!"

Wait, what? Us?

The backstage phone rang. Yue answered. He listened, then said, "Yes, we'll do it."

The chanting continued, and real quick we three just said, "Criticism? Yeah, we'll do Criticism," and one of the stagehands came back and said, "whenever you're ready."

I went out first, and then silence, which is the reaction that tends to accompany me. Ryota and Yue followed and a fan in the front row got Yue's attention and gave him a bouquet of flowers. It was seriously all Elagabalus up in there with all the flowers.


Then followed the wildest performance of Criticism we've done. It felt good. It does not feel good, however, two days later, and it especially did not feel good the day after either. I am in paaaaaaaain. Good pain. (Just kidding, pain is pain.)

Then a quick jaunt out front to greet fans, then back inside to clean up and talk to a potential new singyman maybe don't hold me to that, and then cleanup, which also meant taking home the huge bouquets at the door. At the demachi we went around to every girl waiting out there in the cold and gave them a flower.

So Laverite is on hiatus. I plan on doing sessions and other stuff and mostly just taking a break I guess, but Laverite isn't quite done yet. Things look moderately up in a lot of respects.

One is a session band with Hidetora (Akira, G.O.Z VII), with him on vocals, Yuuichi (G.O.Z VII) on drums, Kayuki (Homura) on guitar, and me on bass! That'll be December 8th at Narciss, so come check it out!


Yue will always be a friend; he is a genuinely good guy. I'm glad he's happier these days. ^_^

Thanks to everyone's well-wishes and support, whether you came to see us or not, we three were able to have a really neat year together.

What am I going to write about in the meantime?? :-P

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Night Before


It's the night before our final show. My new suit is hanging up ready to go, my new makeup is packed away, and am very glad I got my new haircut. We're playing with Vagu Project, we've got a sizeable reservation list. I'm very proud of the CD we're giving out, paltry though it may be, and I am in LOVE with the new song we take the stage to. I have a very promising meeting afterward with the Narciss staff as well.

It's more appropriate for my home country, but I really feel like hugging Yue and Ryota.

if they cry i am going to laugh at them and then probably cry too D:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jimi interviewed by: Kate


This time, Kate asks me about giiiiiiiiiiiiiiirls

Kate - the girls at lives seem really young. how do they act around you?

Jimi - They are indeed quite young. Most of them are in high school, so between 15 and 18. Of course there are quite a few girls in their 20s that come, and then a small handful of older and much older, but most of them are in that high school - to - mid-20's range.

Most of them act shy and nervous and it takes them a huge amount of courage to come up and talk to us or ask to by pictures or ask us to sign something, and I think that's adorable, so I really hope they had a good time. Some of them can be a little bold, but so far I haven't felt uncomfortable or afraid at any moment around any of them. And then of course lots of them don't pay me any mind at all! :D Or I'm just oblivious and can't tell.

Jimi interviewed by: Fuzzurin


Today, Fuzz and I are going to talk about touring and friends.

Fuzzurin - I had a question about the "scene," as well. How does touring work with VK bands and bands in general in Japan? I read a Dir en grey interview once where they were quoted saying that they don't actually travel around in a bus, they fly to each location, then go home, and fly to the next place. Are things like this common?

Jimi - Japan is roughly the same size as California, but it's not nearly as easy to get around by car as it is back in the states. (And I know L.A. traffic is rough, but I'm not from L.A.) A bus would just constitute an 8-hour drive to Osaka overnight, and that sounds horrible.
I'm only a dinky little band dude, and really I shoulda asked Hizaki or Ryo how this all works, but there are quite a few smaller airports around the major cities where bands like Deg play when on tour, so I can only assume they ship the equipment ahead of time and then catch up with it on a plane. I can't really say if it's common, because most bands we play with drive around in their vans and don't go much farther than Shizuoka or Nagoya (if they ever leave Kanto, that is), which isn't a terrible drive. I'm going to have to say that I'll get back to you on this, as a simple phone call could clear all this up.

Fuzzurin - Also, are bands usually close friends in VK bands in Japan? It seems as though most bands in America are like a family, but I've heard that things can be more impersonal in bands in Japan.

Jimi - All my bands back home felt like close friends and family, but that was because we were all still in school, saw each other every day, and generally had tons of free time. Here in Japan, I found the Laverite guys through a classified, so we weren't friends before and had no other purpose than doing the business of making music together.

At first I found this new arrangement thrilling; there was no time wasted during rehearsals, preparations were made quickly, efficiently, and economically, which was a stark contrast to the lazing about that plagued some members of my previous bands.

But the fact that I wasn't friends with Yue and Ryota felt weird. We didn't hang out outside of band stuff. Sure we were friendly in the studio and at lives, but other than occasional emailing there wasn't much non-musical communication.

As we went on some of that changed, and in fact the whole Yue leaving thing has brought us closer and tighter as a band and as friends than we had been before. Ironic I know but whatever.

Still, I am much closer friends with dudes in other bands than I am with my own band members. This is because when you play shows together, conversations flow a lot more naturally in that setting than in the deep thinking of whether someone will work in your band or not. My first conversations with "bigger" names in the scene were much less awkward than my first conversation with Ryota, and I honestly believe it's simply a matter of why we're even talking in the first place.

I understand what you mean by impersonal, but I want to stress that readers should take any negative connotations from it.

If you wanna ask me anything, send me an email!

Live with Becca, Shibuya 109


A coupla weeks ago, I played a showcase live with Becca in front of the 109 building in Shibuya.
There had been a TV filming in Osaka to which I had been unable to go, so that morning when I went into Becca's makeshift dressing room to make the requisite greetings, she hugged me and said "I'm so glad we have you back!" and it was really neat to feel like I'm an important little cog.
I look bewildered here because no one has pointed out my Yes shirt yet.
Security was out in force and it felt crazy to be treated like that. I almost didn't like being rushed from one place to another, or getting screams from the crowd almost as excited as the ones they gave to Becca herself. Come on guys, this ain't my show, it's hers!
This crowd extended pretty far and security was trying to keep them within a barricade so as not to block off the street or at least a small walkway.

All these pictures were taken by La Carmina, who unfortunately is no longer in the country, but back home finishing up her book. Due to security and the fast-paced nature of the whole thing we didn't get to speak much, but I thank her for coming out all the same!
Okay fine I'll look like I'm enjoying this! (hint: i was enjoying this)

And I guess you've gotta have a shot of the artist in question, right?

We played 3 songs; the song from the video, one of her other singles, and a Cyndi Lauper cover. Once at 2, once at 4. Some friends had come to see me as well and I made sure to give them a heads up while I was up there. Masaki and Keita came to support me and were making fools of themselves waving and cheering to get my attention. I adore those two.

Afterward, I came back down relatively disguised (per advice of security) and called Keita to see what he and Masaki were up to. They were playing pool nearby, but he told me to wait in front of 109 and he'd come get me. I was definitely spotted a couple of times by stragglers and asked to take pictures with them, which I don't mind doing at all but it just all felt so strange. It was almost too quick a jump, from lame VK band of questionable popularity to being filmed by the media and squealed at for being someone's fake guitarist. Not complainin' at all, just... a lot to process.

And luckily at the end of the day, it was just me playin' billiards with some buddies, going home, and trudging to work the next day like normal. I think I can only manage playing dress-up a coupla times a month. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jimi interviewed by: Xio



This time, Xio had some questions about the "scene"--WHATEVER THAT MEANS.

Xio - 1. Is there a social stigma around the visual scene? What does the general public think of the scene? Also, how well-known is it among the general public? Does most any young person in Japan know about vkei or is it only really known by people who follow music closer?

Jimi - From what I gather, most people are at the very least aware of the term. Most music-savvy people will be able to recall a few much older VK bands from that boom period--Luna Sea, Glay, Shazna, and the like. If it wasn't hugely major then no one knows. In terms of any social stigma, I feel like it's viewed, on the surface, as a superficial genre of boys with egos putting looks and popularity over musical ability.
I'm going to agree with that sentiment, insofar as I think that myself and the several earnest fellow VK musicians I've had this discussion with are merely trying to put on a good show and help some lost lonely young people have a cathartic experience and make some friends in the process.

Some people will certainly turn up their nose at the mention. I mean, there certainly is a lot to make light of. I know one girl who saw X on TV when she was a small child and they scared her and she just can't view Visual positively. That's fine.

And in any case, even the "bigger" VK acts we think of in today's scene--Nightmare, Gazette, Alice Nine, et al--are still only really known/paid attention to in the visual scene.

I think I'd sum this up with: those who know about it, know about it.

Xio - 2. A silly but popular U.S. fan rumor/speculation is that some of the bigger people in visual kei are actually associating with organized crime. Is there any backing 'yakuza-like' or 'under the table business' support going on with the bigwigs in vkei, that you know of? Or is it just fans overthinking all the scene heirarchy or, in KENZI's case, taking his image too seriously?

Jimi - I have actually never heard anything about this until recently, and even then only from one non-Japanese. I don't think I'd have gone this long and made the contacts I have without hearing at least a hint of something like this if it were true. And since Kisaki got caught I hardly think it was *organized*, har har!

Again, to many non-Japanese peoples' dismay, I know next to nothing about Kenzi, so.

A lot of money does indeed flow in strange ways but I don't know I'd call it shady or anything. but I think it's just becase I'm not used to how business is done, and indeed I had not come this far in bands back home.

Being completely amateur and indies, I can't really comment about any actual business or being on a label or nothin'. :(

Xio - 3. In relation to the first question, is there a social stigma around *foreigners* in the visual scene? Is it simply the language barrier that puts them off wanting to work with gaijin, or is having a gaijin in your band considered risky business at all?


Jimi - If you're asking about being a foreigner in Japan and going to shows, so long as you're a nice person and you speak Japanese well enough, I think you'd just be a minor curiosity. As for actual working in the scene, the language barrier is HUGE. Almost no one on the Japanese side knows English as well as foreign fans seem to think, and while I admire and appreciate a lot of the effort put forth by organizers and people on the non-Japan side of things, there are many who I think are promoting themselves as though they were actually band people "in" the "scene" as well.

And as far as I'm aware, I'm only the 2nd or 3rd foreigner to do VK in Japan with Japanese people. I can see it being risky if they foreigner didn't speak Japanese (sorry, "music is a universal language!" ain't gonna cut it) or if they didn't play their instrument well enough (a low standard, I realize). But Ryota and Yue hardly gave it a second thought when considering me, they confessed.

Japanese people have been much, much cooler about my foreignness than I had originally expected. And while I have so much great support from all y'all readers, by far the meanest/silliest comments have come from the foreign community.

My big revelation is that, despite differences and misunderstandings, once you get to know people as people and not just their language or their country or race or orientation, things like that suddenly become incredibly unimportant.

Xio - 4. Have you met any bands/artists that weren't exactly the friendliest people? Any dirt at all you can spill about anyone in the scene in particular?

Jimi - Haha, I don't know that I would ever spill dirt, but yeah, you learn funny things about people for sure, most of it rather harmless. And in terms of people who haven't been cool, well, I'm obviously not going to name names. But when we first started out and we had a staff girl working for us, there is a band that's no longer around that was very rude to her. And we briefly had a misunderstanding with another band that got smoothed over quickly and painlessly. Ryota and his former bandmates in various bands still have some hard feelings, but then again out of all the people I've ever played with I can think of one or two I wouldn't like to run into again.

So I'm going to answer the opposite! If I've written about them here before, they've been truly wonderful to me. If they weren't, it would just look like name-dropping. And I can't stress how great of a friend Masaki (ex-Sulfuric Acid) has been to me. That's him, me, and Keita (ex-DieLa'Vice) playing billiards in Shibuya after they came to see me when I played with Becca in front of 109. Carmen was there too and snapped a few pictures which are on her bloog.

I hope this answers your questions! If I have not and only brought up more, then ask those! :D

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jimi interviewed by: Lemon


Here are some general foreigner-in-Japan questions from Lemon! I'm going to answer them broadly and not direct them just at him, because I realized that I just wanted to sort of give my advice to a faceless "all y'all".

Lemon - What is the best way to gain Japanese fluency? I'm on my 3rd year of Japanese currently, but I really want to know what the best path is to pursue from there. Is simply living in Japan the surest method?

Jimi - If you're not currently in Japan, I sure hope you have Japanese friends who don't mind talking with you. I would try to be prudent on this one; a lot of Japanese exchange students want to speak English all the time and ignore any Japan talk; others will sort of retreat in fear with other exchange students and speak Japanese exclusively. Try to set up an exchange if you can.

If there aren't that many Japanese speakers around, go for reading fluency first. Get good at being able to gloss over large sections of hiragana (useful for gleaning verb endings when you're skimming) and get your katakana straight: mind your 'so's and 'n's (and your 'shi's and 'tsu's). And finally, DO. NOT. NEGLECT. KANJI. And do NOT trick yourself into thinking it's really really hard. This is the one thing about learning Japanese I have been unable to relate to others with: I have had no problem with kanji and it was certainly one of the aspects of learning the language I enjoyed the most. Do whatever you can to find a kanji learning method that is best for you. Also, don't ever use romaji ever again. :)

Okay, once you've learned a couple hundred of those then I'd suggest listening fluency. The best way to do this, I've found, is to watch a lot of bad Japanese comedy TV. One, because at least it won't be dry, and two, because Asian TV tends to subtitle everything in wacky lettering. So if you can't catch everything going by so fast with your ears, at least you'll be able to see it on the screen. And then your reading fluency comes into play.

For me, personally, I watch the dry, boring news programs, because now I need to learn all the legal, political, and economic jargon that comes with the language of news. I also read newspaper articles on the brief occassion I can sit down and willingly focus enough to make sense of them.

Watch Japanese movies with the Japanese subtitles. Watch Japanese movies with no subtitles at all. Watch some cheesy dramas. Don't watch anime because that's not real and no one talks like that. Listen to music and try to write down what you hear phonetically. Double check it with the Japanese lyrics. Writing fluency? Keep a diary, mixi, livejournal, anything, in Japanese. Keep it simple.

Speaking will come last, as it usually does in language learning. Force yourself to try, if the opportunity presents itself. Do not be afraid to make mistakes or say something silly on accident. Laugh at yourself. Try not to "sound" so "foreign"--when I was a teacher, many of my students asked how they could fix their English pronunciation not to be so "Japanese". The best way to do this, when learning any language, is to over-exaggerate when you repeat the sounds you hear. I encouraged my students to respond to me as if they were "mocking" me. Actors who have had to do diction or accents or musicians (trained vocalists in particular) get this faster than others.

Obviously, the best place to do this is in Japan, as there is no dearth of material. However, I have several non-Japanese acquaintances who have been here for 10+ years and still do not speak Japanese, or vastly overstate their ability. You have to actually TRY to be that bad, so just keep your ears and eyes open at all times and let your tongue be loose. It's sensory overload but it's a good kind of exhausting.

Lemon - Secondly, what opportunities are there for foreigners in Japan to gain some sort of occupation to support themselves while living there?

Jimi - Teaching English, pretty much. That's going to be it at first, and you'd better be willing to stick it out as long as your contract is. I originally came to Japan on the competitive JET program, so you ambitious currently-in-college people should look into that. I did that for one year, and when they wanted me to renew my contract, I declined, and it was a huge gamble. If things were going any worse than they are now I don't think it would have been worth it, honestly!

And then there are of course any other number of eikaiwa. Now that NOVA is bankrupt I don't have to write a zillion paragraphs about how horrible it is, so poke around and see what you like.

The thing is, you'll most likely have to get the job BEFORE coming over here--and along with that, the visa. Even if you come over here looking for work, many jobs want you to already have a proper visa lined up.

I no longer teach Jr. High School English; I do some pretty strange work I suppose. But that's all been luck and talking to the right people. English teaching is in high demand and can pay rather decently.

After that, depending on your Japanese skill you can try your hand at looking at translation/interpreting work, but other than freelance you're looking at stuff in the growing IT field. I gave up looking for work in that field because I just don't know anything about that, and I don't have the drive for freelance translation. I occassionally do freelance interpreting but only when it falls into my lap.

Lemon - and thirdly, are there any opportunities for higher education in Japan for freigners? And what about those that don't have complete fluency?

Jimi - I never did it, but there are study abroad and transfer programs through many universities. Many of my friends who did the year-long or semester programs had a great time and really extended their language skills. I had already done an unrelated internship at Japaanese orphanage, so I felt that I wanted to do the rest of my education back home, but I do by all means recommend it. In the end I think I would recommend doing the majority of your higher education in your home country, but if you can find a good 2- or 4-year program here that does what you want to do then by all means go for it.

A final note: On your own time, by all means study the things that interest you. For people reading my blog and in this scene, that's probably obscure VK bands and random stuff like that. But in conversations with regular Japanese people, try to stay abreast of everyday, normal conversations. For example; not talking about anime all the dang time! :)

And in general: ask people for help. Ask your teachers to point you in the right direction; ask friends for advice; use the guidance of the people around you to acheive clarity on your path. Most of all, stay positive.

LAST THING: If you've got any interesting questions or things about the scene you want answered, let me know and I will pit your questions against each other in a battle to the death!

Jimi interviewed by: Klisk


A couple of weeks ago I got a great email from Klisk, filled with some cool questions, and I thought I'd answer them in an actual post.

Klisk - 1) So in Laverite I noticed that Ryota plays a Jackson guitar, which I think is utterly awesome since it's not the usual fair. But that ties in to my question: Is there no longer a huge emphasis on VK bands nearly 'requiring' to play a Edwards/ESP/Killer/Fernandes/Etc style guitar, and it's more flexible now? Because lately I've seen a lot more variation, whereas in the years prior there was a huge brand-loyalty thing within the VK scene specifically.

Jimi - Glad you noticed that Ryota plays the Jackson; he's a fan of Randy Rhoads and I'm not sure but I recall Mayu of Lareine also playing Jacksons. I wouldn't say there's a "requirement" to play ESP and the like at all; that "brand loyalty" we seemed to see was all about endorsements. A band gets big enough and they'll enter an agreement to use those guitars/pedals/cymbals/sticks exclusively. It's a huge for a company like ESP to make a big deal out of, say, displaying Nightmare's dude's new guitars at their shop. ESP guitars cater more toward that sound so it's a logical connection. I would argue that any tiny little band spending that much money on a guitar without sponsorship is being foolish, though.
And personally I play a 5-string Ibanez. :)

Klisk - 2) When you guys are prepping for a live, what seems to be the most common way to cover up post-shave-beard-shadow amongst everyone, if waxing or plucking isn't an option? Just concealer? Or some sort of powder cover up? The answer to this has always alluded me even though I'm sure it's a pretty simple makeup trick.

Jimi - I think my facial hair is pretty thick, but still, I simply let it grow for a few days and then shave the morning of the show and just throw on my regular foundation (I use M·A·C). Yue and Ryota pluck, but Yue had sort of been letting himself go for the last coupla shows which was why he still looked stubbly! Ryota is like a naked mole rat. My beard is too thick to pluck and waxing sounds out of reach.

Klisk - 3) I'd assume that pretty much all the bands use whatever in-house amplifiers are provided at the live, if not only for ease, but because it would probably be pretty impossible to haul around amps as an indie band in Japan. Plus I think I read that most people use modeling amps at home simply because it's tough fitting an amp into common living quarters. Which is really different from the US, where we're almost always expected to lug an amp to the gig, at least in all the bands I've played with.

Jimi - I use the in-house Ampeg that Narciss and Area have, and I love Ampeg so I ain't complainin'. However, they charge you a tiny fee for "equipment rental" based on how much in-house stuff you use. Some bands want to minimize that cost altogether and will bring their own wireless mics, amps, and most of their own drum kit. This makes the whole place really crowded if you've got a night with like 8 bands and more than half of them are standard 5-pieces. Even Ryota's equipment (Digitech pre-amp, Marshall power amp, digital tuner, wireless, and random useless chameleonic neon light thing) seems like a lot. The only thing I bring with me is my Line 6 X2 digital wireless, which is seriously wonderful. I don't have the money or the space for my own amp, and we have no equipment truck to lug all the junk around, so this will have to do. The equipment fee also feels nominal when lumped in with the price of all the unsold tickets we have to pay for anyway.

Back in my home country when I'd play guitar in bands, I had a Line 6 amp that I'd lug around, and when playing bass I had this deceptively small amp whose brand I forget, but it was extremely powerful for its size. I used to run direct through the PA and use that as a monitor, which I would also trick the PA with because I rarely trusted their management of the bass sound in regards to the space. I learned this from my father the musician.

In both cases, I always had a car or at least a ride, so lugging junk around was never a problem. My drummers always had a van and plenty of band members willing to help load/unload.

As for Japan, most bands do have their own equipment vans, but it makes me nervous. I don't have a Japanese driver's license, and I don't recall if Ryota does. I know Yue does. The parking spaces are tiny, the roads are narrow, and the loading areas tight. It seems like more of a necessary evil than anything.

Klisk - 4) What's more common for effect pedals? All-in-one boards like the Line 6 Pod XT Live modeling board, or the Boss GT-8 board... Or are individual stand-alone pedals on a home-made pedalboard more common? Or is it totally a mixed bag and depends on the specific guitarist? I've found it's a pretty mixed bag with everyone I've played with, so it's another topic that pops up in my mind often enough.

Jimi - Yes, it is a mixed bag. I have seen home-made pedalboards that look like a shoegaze band got lost in what they were doing. Rarely do I see individual stomp boxes, however. Most of what I see, and indeed what Ryota uses, is, if not the Boss GT-8 exactly, certainly a very similar Boss board. He has two; one is a much older model he uses for our studio rehearsals, along with his black Fernandes guitar, and the sleek black Boss for the actual show. I love them and I'm saving up for one. Wish I still lived with my parents so I could use rent money on it! It'd be nice to have a Pod, too, to play around with.

Many of you have asked great questions in comment threads, shoutboxes, and other comments, and I would love to give them a voice on the main page. If you have something about playing in a band, Japan, the music and/or VK scenes I'm involved in, send me an email! I'll put the best questions and their answers up here!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008



We (I) at Rock Japan Elec-tric hereby endorse Barack Obama for president. All American members of Laverite are also overwhelmingly supporting him.

oops i think im a little late

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tommy Heavenly6 - PAPERMOON PV


A wonderful guest in the shoutbox found this before I did! How do you guys DO this?!

And thanks for all your comments. I hadn't been aware that Tinman and Lion were pulling such funny faces! Love it.

There's yet another surprise coming up, vaguely connected to this one.

Also, today in Shibuya in front of 109, I'm playing guitar with Becca, so everyone should come out at 2 and/or 4! 'Booya, 109. Got it? :D

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Live Report 10/19, Urawa Narciss: LAVERITE, OZxBONE, CKroll, etc.


For our 2nd live in October, we all decided that we'd wear something a little different. We only had two lives left for our current lineup, so we didn't mind experimenting.
Yue went with a black zippered vest, Ryota went with his old black costume, and I went sans white jacket, darker makeup, and much bigger hair.
The show itself went very well, but because the set list was all our more energetic numbers, it felt like it was over pretty quickly. And then of course was our big announcement.
Just before our last song, Yue told the audience that our next live, 11/23 at Narciss, would be his last as Laverite's vocalist.
I always used to sort of scoff skeptically whenever I read that a member was leaving a band because of "musical differences". However, when Yue mentioned for the first time that he was thinking about leaving back in September, it was clear that he was having a very hard time reconciling how much he enjoys playing with Ryota and me, and the kind of music he would actually like to do.
It was clear that he was struggling with it, as he and I had grown pretty close and were better friends than ever. He thought that I would be sad or upset or angry or something, and while I was indeed surprised, I tried to look at it from his perspective. If this sort of Lareiney, Malicey music isn't what he would really like to do, and we keep playing with a handful of bands who are doing what Yue would actually like to do, he would just end up resenting our music and his fellow bandmates. He's had too much of a good time up until now with us to throw that away by keeping his head down and plowing forward with a style he's not that attached to in the first place.
He and I talked a lot about it, and I tried to encourage him. Even if he just stuck it out for a full year, I said. Finally, he broke the news to Ryota, whose usual taciturnity was thrown by this announcement into something that resembled a vow of silence. But they talked a lot as well and there are absolutely no hard feelings.
I know that may seem hard to believe, like we're trying to put up a brave face, because airing intraband grievances publicly, which I have seen a few Japanese and Western bands do, is supremely tacky. But it's absolutely true. I think everyone's looking for that group of guys and that style that just locks into a groove for them. Most times you find one and not the other. Sometimes the pros outweigh the cons and you stick with it, but I think Yue wanted another shot.
The first live we played after Yue had told us officially, we played with a band called Ray. Ray was going to lose their singer, and their drummer and Yue became friends. They were being produced by a former member of GOZVII, whom Yue had loved and respected. The drummer asked Yue if he would be interested in joining.
Long story short, Yue decided he would join that band. But it wouldn't last very long. Rehearsals were far enough away to require a trip by shinkansen, and because there was a label and actual studio recording/CD pressing involved, not to mention talk of buying a van, the amount of money he would have to invest just to get things rolling was absurd to the point that he would have had to take out a loan. And it just wasn't worth it. He was having a rough time, until he finally had an epiphany one day at rehearsal after talking to me. He quit the new band that day, told me he wasn't going to do music anymore, and seemed very, very happy.
And you know, I'm happy for him. Because now he's returned to the Yue I remember up until he started thinking about leaving this summer.
He made a promise that we were going to make the last few shows great, and so far, we've lived up to that promise. The last several have been quite good, and I'm excited to play our last one.
What will happen to Ryota and I? Well, Ryota's tracking down a drummer first, and then we can worry about vocalists. Hidetora and Narciss are committed to helping us out, and they're suggesting certain bands and certain guys we should chat with. I am grateful for their intentions.
So in the interim, session bands might be in the works. We'll see. That I shouldn't really talk about yet.
Kyuketsuki & friends as well as Bunny came because they're just way too awesome friends.
La Carmina came again, and this time took wonderful 70's glam/80's goth-esque black-and-white shots.
And once again, here's a truckload of shots I couldn't narrow down because there were tons and I liked a lot of 'em.

Last one with the "original lineup" is 11/23 at Narciss, and there's a free CD for anyone who reserves a ticket through our website, so I'd love to see you all there!