Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Laverite origins, part 2

I wasn't about to go traipsing around Tokyo gathering ads and getting low returns again, so I planted my fat butt in front of my compy and started scouring the internet for listings there. I got what was somewhat of a repeat performance: few responses, those that did seemed hesitant about hooking up with a foreigner, etc. Also, almost every single posting mentioned that they were "serious" about wanting to become major. (Obviously! Those who aren't don't have the forethought to search very hard!)

One band got back to me five minutes after I sent the email. A few emails back and forth about basic information and then we started talking on the phone. It was Ryota, asking me questions to get a feel if I'd be all right. Not once did he bring up my foreignness, and he never had trouble understanding my Japanese, nor I his. "We don't have a drummer right now--is that okay?" "I want this to be a one-guitar band--is that okay?" I pretty much said yes to everything, as nothing really raised a red flag and I just wanted to be playing music with people. He asked to see a picture of me. We figured out a time and a place to meet up and that was that.

I got to the place and Yue found me and introduced himself. I suppose I'm not that hard to spot. He was very polite and soon enough Ryota showed up; we took our seats in Denny's and sat around snacking and mostly drinking an endless amount of tea.

The conversation revolved around our respective musical histories at first; achievements, affirming each other's tastes, whatever; I was being honest but I was also trying to win them over. I had been mulling over, in my head, a big speech about how I had a good long visa and I was going to be here for the long haul, depending on how well music worked for me, and etc etc, and basically it was going to act as the climactic, swelling moment in a scene from a movie where a guy has to scrape just to get anywhere--

"You're in," they said.

"...wait, what? But my speech!"

Yes, just like that, they wanted me. They were pleased with what I had said about my own experiences, although they hadn't heard me play a single note yet. Sometimes you can just tell from the way someone carries themselves or how they talk, I find. Ryota handed me an MD player and some headphones and had me listen to a few tracks. The ones I heard I either liked or felt had good potential. Either way it certainly wasn't music I was averse too, having previously been a huge fan of Malice Mizer-ish stuff years back. And, stylistically, I didn't mind momentarily looking towards older, lighter VK if it meant avoiding the slew of drop-D Japanese nu-metal copies of any band that happens to make it to the cover of a vk mag.

Ryota slid a minidisc across the table. 3 songs; learn 'em, he said. We then just started shootin' the breeze about any ol' thing. I remember actually getting a phone call about a photoshoot in the middle of everything; I didn't end up getting that job but they were impressed by the mere fact that people call me and offer me jobs like that. But like I've said before, it's really more of a curiosity than it is "cool". :-P

Then we went to the Lawson close by and Ryota made copies of his hand-written band score musical notation for me. We parted ways, and Ryota told me to contact him when I'd learned the 3 songs and then we could go into the studio.

The 3 songs on the disk were "Sephirot" and "Kamen Butoukai" (the first two in our first setlist) and then another one. The next day I called Ryota and told him I'd learned the songs, then we made a date for the studio. I had followed the notation closely enough but also added in my own pieces of flair.

In the studio, Ryota really dug some of my changes but didn't like some other ones, which I totally respect: he had a vision for the songs but wasn't about to let a cool bit from an outside source slip through his fingers. And some of my changes didn't fly because they didn't work rhythmically or some other such thing and he was right. Luckily my changes get approved of more often than not.

Ryota gave me another MD with 11 other songs on it. I learned those in a handful of days and we went back into the studio and polished them up.

Rehearsals are fairly serious business for us, which to me is so refreshing because while certainly every practice needs its bit of fun or humor injected into it, I've never been a part of a band that didn't seem to horse around too much. That, I think, is one pitfall in doing a band with your friends. I didn't start of as friends with these guys, so the dynamic was great.

Then it was time for me to go back to America for two weeks. The only band-related thing I did there was buy that wireless thing (it works beautifully, by the way!!) and bring back some costume pieces and boots and bass strings.

Once I got back, then things really started picking up.


Xio said...

They seem like nice guys, and very professional even, which you usually wouldn't expect from fresh bands like them.

Oh, and I love how detailed you're writing these. I love little details like what happened in e-mails and such, it gives a better picture of how these things work to people like me who've never experienced such XD

mrvolt said...

I agree with Xio: the details totally make these pieces. And thanks, Elec, for sharing them publicly, especially given the fact that you're bound to attract a certain amount of jealousy from the sour-grapes faction of J-rock fandom.

Lemon said...

I agree with xio in how impressive your band-mates' professionalism was. Very cool! I also know what you mean about just seeing how some carries themselves or just talking to them allows you to know immediately. That's how it was with my band-mate. And I also agree about band-mates not being previous friends; it works infinitely better.

I was wondering what you could tell us about the concept about Laverite (I'm assuming there's something on the site about it but alas my 50-kanji knowledge doesn't suffice in reading anything outside of Japanese class), or were you waiting for the next installment of "Laverite origins" to talk about it?

M. said...

You know what my favorite detail was?

The bit about Urawa station and the Denny's. I was all like, "hey I've been there!"

gordon said...

my favorite detail was how Japanese musicians are still using MD players to play their songs for potential band members... and it's cool that the wireless unit is workin'! When will we see video of you jumping the Narciss stage "fence" and moshing it up in the "pit"!?! :D

Anonymous said...

awesome stuff dude, congrats.

i hope this won't change your blogging habits too much, and i'll definitely try and get out to see you guys before i leave.

oh, and out of curiosity: as far as you know, are you the first foreigner to make it into visunavi?