Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mid term corporate report from the Japanese market

30 copies of the "TBM" seven inch single were lovingly carried out to the far east from their Krommenie homebase. Last night Dino played a sold out show (1700 people) in Tokyo at the Shibuya Ax. I put the singles up for sale at the merch desk with a description of the music, which our Japanese hosts kindly translated into Japanese and pinned next to the goods on offer.

At the end of the night, our translator came into our backstage room and without any warning held up a wad of cash for me and announced that all our singles had sold out! In one night! In Tokyo!!!! 30 lucky Japanese kids are now the proud owners of a cracking slab of vinyl. Why oh why did I not bring anymore out here?! The sales at this one show have smashed all previous records....and we didn't even play!!! We could be HUGE out here!!!!

Lets hope none of them bring them back tonight expecting their money back at the second night of the 2 dates here in Tokyo.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Andrew *Plug*Lazonby is a friend and a mover and shaker in the Tokyo_Japan musicworld. Some thoughts and reflections*

1) Why did you move to Japan?

london sucked.
i`d harboured a personal interest in certain japanese electronic artists at that time, and i met a lovely girl.

2) was it hard to move into and live in Japanese society?

yes. but if`d reached a point in your life where you felt uncomfortable listening to the station announcer at east croydon threatening to kill the man on the bmx (who was bored), simply because..........
all things are possible.

3) Did you ever play in a group/orchestra/combo before you moved to Japan?

yes, i played in very absurdio rhythm & blues bands, dance orchestras, big bands, then once i`d spent a certain amount of tax cash i studied as an orchestral percussionist. this lead to the answer to the Q
bbc philharmonic, symphony, philharmonia, london philharmonic and if i managed to miss it out - the essex philharmomic.
various degrees of the good, the bad, the indifferent and the downright arse.

4) When and if did punk rock hit Japan?

within a 6 month radius of it breaking mainstream attention worldwide.

5) Is there a junk food culture in Japan?

yes, haven`t you noticed?

6) Are the free thinking, progressive bands in Japan treated with respect and due accalim in Japan as they might be in the *West*?

yes by the people that`ve heard them....
ignored politely by the populus
aren`t the free thinking, progressive bands in Japan good..! vintage obscurity.,

7) Does the Japanese music world/scene support /subsidise the free/impro scene in japan?


8) how does a band from outside Japan try and get their records distributed in Japan and come and play shows over here? Difficult / easy? Where/how/when/with whom?

with great difficulty

9) how do we persuade *The Fall* to come and play in Japan?

i was going to ask you the same question..

10) Japan in the World realistic are their chances?

same as england

11) what is the difference between Japanese music fans/record buyers/gig-go-ers and westernites?
driven by a different kind of hype.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Oi! Oi! It's DinOI!saur Jr. time again

sooooo.....start of a season of adventures which will take me to the start of the World Cup. Its time to man the sound board for veterans of punk disorder : Dinosaur Jr. I left home at 5 am and flew to Los Angeles via London. Tomorrow morning I fly onwards to Japan with Lou. Hats off to the management and travel company team who came up this genius bit of travel planning! Those airline companies really do take the piss. You end up in cramped seats, herded in like sheep (or add in your favourite farm animal instead of sheep), fed microwaved E numbers and carbohydrates in your trough, have to pay for any alcohol, and get scowled at if you decide to walk down the aisles to stretch your legs during the course of a 12 hour flight! Not to mention the fact that they charge exorbitant prices for their tickets.
But enough of that blubbing. I'm here at Lou's house in LA with his wonderful family....Kath and Hannelore (his daughter who is 1 year old).

I'm going to see "Mice Parade" at the Echo Lounge tonight. For those who haven't heard "Mice Parade" before, you should check them out. Adam Pierce is the man behind the music and he has conjured up some magical albums over the course of years. (They are on Fat Cat in Europe and Bubblecore in the USA). An amalgamation of shoegazing, dub, tropicalia, freejazzimpro styles, they remain a rich source of surprises.
I'm taking 30 singles of The Bent Moustache to sell in Japan, Australia and New Zealand after each Dino show. Corporate reports will be posted to inform you all as to how these markets are responding to our continued push in these unchartered territories.
Peace out

Monday, February 20, 2006

Evan Parker + Mischa Mengleberg : Bimhuis 18 Feb 2006

2 sets. Each lasted about 35 mins each. Each set played without a pause or gap or dropouts. 2 players completely in control of their respective instruments. Both played wonderfully off each others free compositions. It was great to hear Mischa playing solidly for 35 minutes at a time. The last few times I've seen the old fart, he's been happy to mischievously tinkle the ivories for a couple of minutes, drink his coffee, and then sit back and observe the world around him like an elder stateman. Evan Parker is quite simply fantastic. I can listen to him play all night. What he manages to achieve from his playing is always inspiring, pushing barriers forwards.
These guys are punk rock! Like so many of them who have been doing this for years with not a hint of fame related gains in their minds, they have been pushing the boundaries of free music just like the punk rockers did in the scuzzy world of rock and pop in 1976.
I used to own a copy of "The Topography Of The Lungs" featuring Derek Bailey, Han Bennink, and Evan Parker. Brilliant record. Some git stole it!

Friday, February 10, 2006

In the Arctic Circle with the N.R.A.

I am in Tromso, Norway, which lies within the Arctic Circle. A beautiful town by the sea, surrounded by mountains. Snow everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It's a wonder that people can live up here. The sheer beauty of the place must offset any lingering thoughts people must hold of leaving this place. I met a young man last night who said he was an 'apprentice chef' and he told me that his family lived in the 'long dark alley' in the north of Norway. Even more remote than Tromso! What did his family do up there I questioned the young pup? His father was a farmer. He had 12 cows and a few sheep! He would milk his cows at 9am and be finished by 10.30am. Fantastic I thought. More time to practice on the snooker table or at the darts board the whole day long. But no....his father took on more work outside of his farm activities. Building houses, construction work, and the like. Crikey o'reilly....these people are slaves to the labour system. they should be out enjoying the nature and bear watching and not putting up another shopping mall. He then began a rambling account of how his father drove a big American 4 wheek drive gas guzzler and his mother rode a fat ass Easy Rider motorbike. Surely a dangerous pursuit in all this snow? Yup...his mother had totalled the motorbike a week before slipping and sliding in the white stuff. How the days fly by up here.

so...I am here hanging out with the N.R.A. That's the Norwegian Rock Association as I call them. I am here with 'Serena-Maneesh' who are playing at 'byLarm'...the Norwegian pop and rock gathering. Like CMJ or SXSW, but in a prettier setting. Lots of bad haircuts, surly attitudes, industry filth, crap bands, laminates worn like medallions, and power meetings a go-go. Hey....but i did meet Don Letts today. legendary DJ at the Roxy in the poonk days, film maker and member of B.A.D. who really were BAD!

In seems that anyone in this country can get space in the newspapers even if they sneeze. As a country with a small population, they hold onto any form of celebrity quite dearly. So any pop bands that make inroads into the industry, very quickly get column inches (or pages) dedicated to them. So for bands like 'Serena-Maneesh', column inches appear quite regularly. Its a bit disconcerting to play a show one evening, and then get a review printed with photos the next morning. It feels like many people are watching over your shoulders the whole time. You have to be able to distance yourself from the reviews otherwise you get sucked into a vortex of paranoia if the reviews are bad. I have seen this happen to another Norwegian artist I toured with once, where his day was made or broken by the reviews / interviews he would see of himself. He would carry grudges for days / weeks and work himself into a tizzy, thinking the world was against him. Very sad.

I'm off...gotta run the board in a couple of hours. Better go and work out and do some exercises before the show!!! Mine's a Guinness.........

Jocky on the OCCii

after the Melkweg, we played in the OCCII (Binnenpret) in Amsterdam 3 days later. 2 chalk and cheese. The glitz of the famous Melkweg aligned with the scuzziness of that pop temple the OCCII:
I really really like the OCCII! There I said it.
Glitz and glam do not make a venue. The OCCII has a heart and soul which I appreciate. Everybody who works there does it for love and not money. Sjoerd, who ran the club for the night and did sound as well, was there from start till end. Aad, who cooked put alot of love into the collective meal that we ate, although a bag of salt should be bought to put in the OCCI kitchen!
500 people attended the Melkweg show and about 20-30 people were at the OCCII show. But it didn't matter. We played a very good show...tighter and yet more free than the Melkweg...and the public really responded. It was great to have people so close to the stage, and I was happy we were not 6 feet above the audience, but at eye level.
The Croatian band that played after us had to leave after the show and drive back to Croatia...non-stop!!! 1700 kms!!! Holy moly! Lets hope they made it back safe and sound! Poonk fuckin' rok!

Its been an interesting experience playing these shows one shortly after the other. There is a confidence within the band that we are onto a good thing. We are planning to record again very soon, and will hopefully have another single out in a couple of months time. Meanwhile, we are also planning to organise a mini tour in the first 2 weeks of May. Oh lord, now I REALLY have to start working on this band thang for real!

Peace out

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Arab Strap apology....

what I meant to say in my last missive was that Aidan is a fine wordsmith and Malcolm a champion guitar player. I wrote my last blog at 1am......the brain was slightly scrambled at that point. Although I hasten to add that I bet Malcolm has a fine way with words and that Aidan can make his guitar gently weep too!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

"It's A Heartache...."

I finally returned home from Serena-Maneesh sound duties and plunged myself into family life and the band! Ah yes, the band! How good it feels to be involved in making music again! I say this without the slightest hint of irony by the way. Making the 7 inch single and playing shows again after many years has been the most rewarding, uplifting and joyous affair. It has felt a great relief to be involved in something that I have done for a large part of my life. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to express yourself, and I see music as the highest form of expression there is. Anyone, anywhere can relate to it and that is what characterises its greatness.
So we rehearsed again, and came up with a new number. It sounds like a slab of Motown mixed with The Contortions plyed with a slice of Can. It swings like a mutha. We debuted this particular number on Thursday 2 February at the Melkweg. This was the occasion that we opened for "Arab Strap" in the small hall. I really like the Melkweg as a venue and am particularly attached to the small room. Despite the Melkweg having to bow to commercial concerns (The Max!....Pep$i uber alles) it still retains a charm of its own. The small hall was witness to hippies in the 60s and 70s dropping their mattresses on the floor in the venue, lying down, turning on, tuning in and dropping out (literally zzzzzzz) to whatever band was twisting their melons....MAN! However, with 500 people in attendance for this show last Thursday, there was little space for sleeping bags never mind mattresses.
On the day of the show itself, I got that tingling sensation you only get when you know you have a gig that night. Pick up the van in Koog a/d Zaan from De Kift, load up at our practice space, drive into town and to the venue, unload, sit around and twiddle your thumbs! Well actually, we didn't sit around this time; we had an appointment with Greg Neate, a fine photographer from England, who agreed to take some portraits of the band. Like stiff mannequins, we stood and posed.....unglamorous to the hilt and unashamedly unsexy.
Arab Strap are a fine bunch of people whom I have met several times on my journeys to Glasgow. This made the run-up to the show much easier. I think most of them thought that I was doing the live sound mix for The Bent Moustache, and didn't actually twig that I was onstage this time until showtime!
Our show went really well. No nerves, no slip-ups (well none that were too bad anyway), and no breaking of strings. We were joined on a couple of numbers by Bob (on bass) and Ditmer (on saxaphone). Amsterdam audiences are notorious for either talking throughout the entirety of a band's set, or giving no response whatsoever to a band at the end of a song. This, however, was not the case when we played. We were very well received, and the general reaction after the show from audience members, that I met, was extremely positive. We sold a bunch of singles too.

Arab Strap are a fine band : Aidan can make his guitar sing and Malcolm has the all the attributes of love reigned in with his fine choice of words. But even they had the Strap chinstrokers in the Melkweg bowled over for six with their rendition of Bonnie Tyler's "It's A Heartache"! I looked into the audience, and many of them were amazed that Malcolm had the lyrical depth to come out with a song so great as this. "Where does he find those words from?" they thought. If only they knew.........

Tomorrow (Sunday) we play in the OCCII. This is like being on tour!!!!

Top Tip: I just finished reading Simon Reynolds' "Rip It Up And Start Again : Post-Punk 1978-1984". A FANTASTIC book. It reminds you of all the great music that came out of that era, the spirit of adventure and idealism that infused it, and also that politics mattered as a way of life and this was reflected in the music. Reynolds has written this with great passion and insight, and his analysis of the way the musics of this era came about are never short of enlightening. Buy the book, and then buy the records he writes about.