Sunday, March 30, 2008

Live Report 3/29/08, Urawa Narciss: LAVERITE, Byakura, AibeLL, OZxBONE, Diablo, Velllapis, Cloche, Saimon


I was the first Laverite member to arrive at Narciss, and all of Byakura was already there. We made the requisite greetings, and then an expression of recognition crossed their faces. "Jimi! Isn't it a little early; what are you doing he--...Ohhhh," they said. That was a really good feeling; they were glad to see me and Omi talked to me a lot about band stuff.

We were scheduled to go in the dreaded position of last; this is not a preferred position because your time in the lobby with the fans is limited or nil, and before your set you have to bring all your crap down from the dressing room to the basement. Also, the rehearsal order is the reverse of the performance order, so our rehearsal was first.

Ryota was running a little late--the roads were really congested. At first I thought that he had overslept or something, as the previous day he had been to the X Japan concert.

(As a quick aside, here are his impressions: While it was certainly a moving experience for him to see X finally, and how emotional it was to see Hide's clips, he couldn't help but feel that no one other than Sugizo was at the top of their game. Ultimately, his reaction was "bored": the 2-hour delay, plus some less-than-good performances, as well as Yoshiki's ostentatious
pretend-time, led him to think that they are perhaps far more than past their prime.)

So Ryota shows up and we all have the meeting: there are eight bands so we're on a tight schedule. We jump into our rehearsal and the PA guy was someone I've always known to be trustworthy, and indeed up until now this was our best pre-live rehearsal. I marked down my levels and we departed the stage; Byakura went up for their rehearsal.

It was only, like, 12:30 by the time we finished our rehearsal. The house opened at 4, and we weren't scheduled to go on until 8:35. We were sooooo bored. Our staff girl fixed some of the worse parts of Yue and my costumes, we went and grabbed food, and apparently I didn't grab enough because I steadily felt worse and worse as the night went on. With 8 bands and about half of all the members being smokers, there was just so much smoke that my head started to hurt.

Finally 8:15 rolls around and we bring our stuff down to the basement and backstage area... and the 6th band is still going.

Diablo came off-stage finally, and Byakura went up. As Diablo was packing up, their vocalist and bassist struck up conversations with us. Really great guys; easy to talk to. There's a cute girl in the band, too, and I ended up finding some equipment they were having a hard time tracking down. I handed her the case, and she took it but neither of us let go; she smiled at me, and, finally realizing I wasn't Japanese, said "Thank you" in nervous English. "You're welcome," I said, equally nervous. "You're good at English," she said. "It's my strong point, yes," I replied. Finally I let go of the case, and the rest of the band called out for her to bring the stuff to the van. She looked back at me.


Maybe it was the fact that there was so much pressure from going after Byakura, or the fact that it was already past 9, or whatever, but I was strangely nervous. We went up on stage, the curtain opened, and I could barely hear myself. This occupied most of my thoughts for the first song and a half. I had put all my levels at what I'd written down, so I didn't know what the deal was. Whenever I had a spare moment I bumped my levels up a little bit. I don't know what the deal was. There weren't that many people there for us at all, but people seemed fairly into it. We siphoned off a few Byakura fans that I recognized, which was nice.

Ryota did a great job; Yue was having a lot of fun and our big ol' jump during "Criticism" went of fine, but I don't know... something about me was off. We got off stage, changed, and got our gear in order.

There's a dance club on the second floor of the same building as Narciss, and there was some sort of dance battle going on. There were tons of people in the garage area practicing, as well as in the surrounding area near the convenience stores. All of a sudden, my choreographer showed up! I didn't expect to see him out there so we chatted for a little bit; that was kinda nice. Still, as he went off to dance battle or whatever, I went back and nursed my headache.

Thinking a bit of demachi might do us some good, the three of us went out to meet the fans. Almost immediately, Ryota's fans took him aside to give him presents and chat him up, and a couple of girls took Yue aside. I kind of just stood there for awhile, unsure of what to do. Thankfully, and bless his heart, Omi of Byakura was also alone and approached me to talk a little bit more.

When it came time for us to make our payments to the office, we found that fewer people had come than we'd expected and we had to pay more than I'd have liked. Also, usually I like the advice the staff always gives us at the post-live pow-wows, but I hate to say this one may have cramped my style.
I wear my bass high, because I like to be able to play my parts proficiently and be a good player, first and foremost. In this genre there is a direct relation between bass height and talent. This is fact and it is backed up by me and my observations, gosh darn it. I was told I'd look "cooler" if I wore it lower. I understand where they're coming from but I like being able to play my parts well. At the time, I was thinking "hell no," but for now I'll lower it just a tad and see how that goes. I'm not pleased about that, though.

Diablo's vocalist invited us to open for him at their shusai event, which I thought was freakin' awesome of him, even if we can't do it because we don't have a car.

Now I could barely function I was feeling so sick. Ryota had his little group of fans and I think Yue went home with someone, so I came back home and just craaaaaashed. It wasn't a bad live by any means, but I was feeling too ill not to ignore the little frustrating meaningless things and focus on the fun.

You'll notice I finally got my hair to do something relatively non-boring! My hair refuses to stand up.

Next one is on 4/19, with WHITEBLACK, and I promise I'll stay healthier and in much better spirits. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I hang out with Swedish metal dudes



So for the past few weeks, Samuel Persson, guitarist of Ghamorean, has been chillin' in our building, and we've been talkin' and hangin' out and mostly drinking. He left this morning, but last night he finally showed me his band.

"The Imperial Eye"

This isn't music I normally actively listen to, but if it's good enough I can appreciate it. They sound pro and they've got a slick video and at any rate they're better than Laverite. :)

When not being shirtless and scary, he's really chill and funny and good-looking and... you know what, screw the Swedes, those cool jerks!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Taiban news


Those of you who've followed my live jaunts will realize how nifty it is that I will soon be sharing a stage with a band (Byakura). It's also cool because they're releasing two singles on Sequence Records in May and June, and it's nice to see progress.

Add another one to that list: on our 5/31 live we're playing with Vagu Project, which I'm super excited about. Looks like they're finally looking for a live drummer and guitarist too; those of you who can read Japanese check out the amusing section about that.


That day, we're also playing with Mamono. I'm scared.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Updates and Wishes


Last week in the studio we had our first 'band fight', which struck me as kinda cute in a milestoney kind of way. It was incredibly innocuous, but given how our rehearsals have either been cold and robotic or only slightly silly it was fairly 'exciting'. Mostly it was the other two passively-aggressively disagreeing on the vocal performance of a particular song that it important to its writer (with an emphasis on the 'passive' part), and I played peacemaker because I am oblivious. It was over quick and they made up and the rest of the rehearsal went swimmingly.

I have received exactly 3 messages at my fanmail address. The first as from the aforementioned staff girl asking to swap cell phone contact information; the second was from one of the students I taught when I went up to that high school in Ibaraki, and the third was from an American internet buddy. I'm grateful for all the sentiments therein, don't get me wrong, but I'm sort of inwardly smiling that my status as Laverite's least popular member is evidenced by the hit count on my personal Laverite HP, mixi stuff, fanmails, the conspicuous white void on questionnaires when it come to the personal message to Jimi section, etc. To most people this might be a bit discouraging, but for me it's actually pretty cool for the time being: while not exactly invisible, I feel much more comfortable simply being able to watch and learn--to be an apprentice in this scene, if you will.

More studio time today: I think work on the next single a little bit, work up the set list for next Saturday (which is our show with Aibell, Cloche, Diablo, Saimon, Velllapis, OZxBONE, and Byakura), and figure out what that 2am phone call was all about. (There may be a Hillary joke in there somewhere.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Live Report 3/5/08, Urawa Nariss: LAVERITE, Mei, Antikythera, Phantom Avenger


Phantom Avenger were really young dudes, Denial were tightly-controlled, well-played 7-string heaviness, and Mei was Osaka-funny, with the singer going out into the crowd to have a smoke during a prolonged instrumental section. Antikythera I didn't see, because WE WERE NEXT.

For free lives at Narciss, order is decided by a combination of rock-paper-scissors and drawing straws. Among us, Yue lost so he had to be our representative. Each of the other bands' representatives got around and decided the order to draw the straws with janken as well. Yue won this time, so he got to pick first, and he picked number 2. As long as it wasn't number 1, we were happy.

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We pulled in twenty or so people who came just to see us; of those, six were my crew. There were three people from my house (two who had also come to my first live), two girls I used to go to lives with whom I hadn't seen in quite awhile... also, Inertia came but I was such a jerk and forgot to put her name on our final yoyaku list!! >_< Yami Yume also dropped by after a long hard day of actual work and ended up missing our set for reasons outside anyone's control, but still I was very glad to meet someone new and thankful that she and of course everyone else took the time to come out to see me.

As for the show itself, we were so much better than the first show. Ryota moved a lot more, Yue's personality started to show, and I was groovin' as usual. We had three full rows of people in the very front (not counting the people standing in the back who were also doing the hand motions that are a sure sign that they're enjoying us), and they were going pretty wild, especially for Ryota.

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Tonight, Ryota got a new nickname: Ryoko-tan, which is of course a play on Shoko Nakagawa's nickname, 'Shoko-tan'. Ryota's a fan of hers so he rather likes it. He is far and away the most popular out of us three: even on several of the questionnaires, there would be no messages written in the spaces for Yue and me, but lots written only for Ryota. To be perfectly honest, I rather like it this way. Yue can chat people up very well so he plays mock-wounded that Ryota gets so much attention, and I'm still too busy standing wide-eyed at our table, absorbing all the craziness.

My favorite questionnaire of the night was Inertia's, by far; she said she enjoyed the set as a whole (god bless her) and that of course there's room for improvement and listed some great things we could work on. The other guys were pleased that we got something like that: too often those that write questionnaires for us are die-hards so I feel as though I am being given little indication of what we're doing right or wrong. I mean, I like all the fluffy nice messages, too, but y'know, I like to know how to suck less. :)

Ryota's a huge Lareine fan, as is Inertia, and after we got offstage, Ryota looks at me and says, "That girl! On your side! Who is she? Is she a friend of yours?!"
Me: "Calm down, man; yeah, she is. Why?"
Ryota: "I've seen her at Lareine events and stuff! I wanna talk to her!"

So I introduced them and then Ryota totally clammed up because he's ridiculously shy but was clearly happy to be talking to someone that shared his interests (he wrote about it on his blog too).

The whole evening had a very good feeling. After we cleaned up, changed, and packed up, we went down to the office to take care of money stuff. Free lives are really pricey for the bands, but lots of people come and apparently they're highly desired, so they can be difficult to book. The Narciss staff was really impressed at the fact that we had the most fans come out that night, surprised at their reaction, and surprised that they were all so pretty. They also said that LAVERITE fans have the best manners. :)

And then they finally noticed that maybe I'm not Japanese, and Yue told them that I'd done some modeling (an over-exaggeration if I've ever heard one), and they looked at me and just said "ah, yappari". Whaddya mean?! >_>;;

Our fans are an attractive bunch, though! Although our fans are Ryota's fans, mostly. He's our draw. That's fine by me! I kind of like being in the background right now... I still need to observe, and learn, and listen. I'll be making minor adjustments to my costume in the coming weeks, and I've GOT to do something non-crappy with my hair, and work on makeup, and basically suck less as a whole.

Next live is 3/29... EIGHT bands, with Byakura and us being definitely the biggest reasons to come. ;)