a word's-eye view from mike watt working bass for the stooges on tour
tuesday, july 3, 2007 - paris, france
sunday I pop around noon cuz of the lateness of when I konked. it was good I got the rest. it's after the trough but I'm feeling I did too much chow yesterday anyway so it'd be good to hoof it off after putting my "last week outfit" - fresh socks, fresh levis, skivvies and a pendleton dark green wool flannel (solid - no plaid, no plaid allowed for watt on active stooge duty) my ma gave me last xmas... I head east on rivoli, I'll think I'll go to notre dame. I go slow and take in much w/the ojos. it's very nice weather, not hot and the sky cloudless. that can change easy in these parts but it doesn't. I pass some pad called the "slow club" and that's what I'm feeling like now - go slow for watt. I get across from cite, an island in the seine river that has the palace of justice and notre dame. across the bridge, I come on to an open air bizarre of birds and bird stuff for sale, some righteously colored parrots and cockatoos, whoa. I take snaps w/the digicamera. I move onto to notre dame and the place is jammed w/tourists all out front and inside. I stay as clear as I can from the crowds, they make me insane. there's a huge line to get in so I watch some tour spiel from the open hatches and take snaps of all kinds of parts of the church. there's tons of gargoyles planted all over, either as water spouts or just creepy statues. there's lots of saints holy images too carved everywhere. I go around the back to the flying buttress part - they had to put these in to keep the roof from caving in. I must take like three hundred pictures. I go real slow and absorb what I can, the thoughts inside bouncing off what enters in the eyes make from some trippy mixtures, not a lot of it making much sense so I wonder on those wonderings, slowly on the move, orbiting the cathedral. there's one gargoyle that's way up high in front to the port as your facing the church's bow that's got its chin in his hands, leaning on the balcony rail by the elbows - bizarre... I guess it's some wondering too. I go whence I came, get more shots of the parrots and some roosters too. it looks like more than half the bright orange and yellow parrots got sold. I get a thon (tuna) baguette to chow when I get back to the 'tel - first a soak though for myself in the tub (pretty narrow but not too short) cuz all the hours of hoofing are feeling it some in the knees. I chimp diary and then get on the kierkegaard case again - lots of laughs to myself w/this round 'til I konk facefirst in the book.
monday I popped w/nightmares - a "where the fuck is the boat" one followed by panic after panic over stupid fucking petty shit that made no sense. this in itself was a fucking panic cuz I kept grilling on myself to find out why which only dug a deeper and deeper un-reason hole to get lost and trapped in... slipping and slipping on a bullshit rope ladder made of nonsense I kept trying to hurl over the lip that seemed reachable 'till the rope approached and revealed it had fucking forever to go. this piled me up w/anxiety. free shovel time comes at seven am and I'm the first in line. they got too much milk in the scrambled eggs - did I moan about that before? sorry if I did cuz I chowed them anyway, along w/yogurt on stewed plums and prunes. holly, my old friend from tennessee who's got three babies now has a sister named brenda who lives and works in paris and she's gonna take me up the eiffel tower and then we'll chow at her boyfriend's cafe in the la defense part (where they let modern sky scrapers exist on the left bank), even go see jim morrison's grave at pere lachaise if there's time. we cross the river right by the 'tel cuz the eiffel's on that side but a ways west. lots of spiel on the way and then waiting in line cuz man, is it long but it'd only be getting longer. it's been a long time since I've seen her, years. well, up and into the east pillar and up in a two story incline elevator that gets us to the middle part. whoa, this is scary for me even here - I'm height challenged... brenda said she cured of that when she got thrown out of a plane for skydiving in australia. we take one of the straight up elevators to as high as you can go, one deck w/window, right above it open air and caged in but still I gotta keep my back against the bulkhead 'til she wants pictures but I gotta hold her hand cuz I'm terrified. I do it though, I face some fear down in me but do not conquer it, no. the view is a mindblow though - in every direction, holy fucking cow. the sacre cour church is a little tough to find and then when I do see it, it doesn't even look like it's sitting on a hill, crimony! everything looks so trippy... paris is a beautiful town and this perspective makes it even more apparent, something else. the south side's got some wind blowing, whoa watt, whoa. I just ain't strong w/this but I do get enough grip not to panic or freak out. we take the straight 'vators to the middle part and then these alarms start going off... we're wondering what's up. this intercom voice tells everyone to be calm but not what's happening. there's no panic or anything but the line for the 'vators down hardly even moves so I say let's take the stairs down - there's stairs in each from this level and we could've taken them up and a much smaller line to wait in but I was worried for both my knees and my nerves. I hold on to the rail much and it's pretty caged in w/many switchbacks to keep the grade calm. it's a trip but I did it, looking up from the deck from where we came down - where we had been... whoa. the clear weather made really good too - sometimes I've seen the top totally shrouded w/fog or haze. next it's my first ride on the metro this trip... brenda went to old miss for math and philosophy so I bring up faulkner's "light in august" - what a trip that book is and then kierkegaard - what a fucking trip he himself was (I talk about reading his philosophy like it was literature!). we go to le fort de l'eau (the water fort) where her boyfriend ben has me chow this great beef and potato dish, I get another one and use chili he's got from his native algiers culture - it's different flavor than the chilies I'm used to but still got some heat. my memphis foot doctor friend doug rockett meets us there and I bail w/him back to the 'tel - it's too late to see jim morrison's grave cuz of that boneyard closing so we'll try on gig day. man, a lot of hoofing again for watt but my knees are holding out ok. I'm kind of more wore out from the spiel in a way! but it was very interesting even w/it being hours and hours... don't know if I could do that every day! brenda, ben and doug were great though, it was good for me to get thoughts outside of my head. I konk and have some weirdness in the dreamspace but I'm thinking in the morning when I popped that maybe I might've actually reconciled some things.
gig day (tuesday) and I pop at seven and soak a little first - doug's coming a nine bells so we can get a shot at hitting pere lachaise. I don't really go to boneyards much, especially to see someone in particular but I'm drawn to it for some reason this time in paris. once I tried w/j mascis like seven years ago but we got sent to the wrong boneyard (montmart). after the free shovel (merciful gratis cuz the menu says like over thirty buck u.s. - thank you to tourboss henry for getting that to happen), I wait outside the 'tel for doug in the rain... no evidence at all of the previous two great days of weather previous. I tell doug we should hit the d'orsy museum right across the seine from us and maybe when we're done around one, the rain will slack off for the visit w/the dead... whoa, it was today jim morrison died thirtysix years ago - I did not plan it that way though, circumstance brought it on. what do dates, numbers and whatever mean anyway? I guess whatever you want them to. rain on us, foot doctor doug buys an umbrella from a cat walking around hawking them as we stand in line. maybe only a half hour in line cuz this d'orsy pad is just opening. the paintings they got here pick up where the leave off at the louvre, w/the impressionists. the pad itself is an old railway station converted to museum gallery but the big roof window glass suits the situation perfect for bringing in natural light. there's too many folks here though for me, not so relaxed for letting the works come on you. the louvre was so huge that it spread folks more thinly on maybe just the circumstance of when I was there but here now it's a fucking zoo and much yammering plus crowding. still, the works are a trip. especially for me are the van goghs, like thirty of them plus if you count the exhibition which has a bunch of picassos too, his ones before the cubist - let me write here I don't know all that much about these things, am trying to get educated by raymond all through the years but I am a slow learner and actually, I'd rather not just have a "catalogue and identify" pseudoknowledge (what a mission, huh?) but more somehow of a kind of sensitivity... fuck, I don't know. I'm digging the eyes vincent painted of his friend bosch and the one he did of himself w/trippy color slashed through his face like neon beard stubble. "whistler's mother" (mcmillan) is intriguing for me too, why? rodin's hatch to hell from "dante's commedia" - I saw a metal version in zurich, this one plaster... what's this about, I can't remember... damn. there's lots of pastel things, degas... I wish raymond was here too so I could hear from him on this but that'd probably be a nightmare and a burden on him. I wish too much. around one I ask doug if we can make it over to pere lachaise. the rain's let up some. we take the metro first to nation and then to where we need. I discuss my knee hurts w/him, he knows about the muscles involved, their latin names and how they work. he tells me to roll forward when I get up. he says crossing them while sitting is hard. I think straight out feels the least hell on them. he needs chow when we get up to the street so I get a french hot dog at the same pad w/a sidewalk ordering window he gets a crepe from. a french hot dog is like too shorter dogs on a spread-open baguette w/cheese melted on top. it's good and I chow it as we hoof outside the boneyard walls. doug has a map page torn out of a tourist book showing the grave but says it's pretty abstract. coming in the main entrance, we go straight in but too far cuz it dead ends so backtrack and then go port where we first could've went starboard. there's a sign w/numbers on it and a few people's names mentioned - morrison is one and there's a few folks that look like they're search as well... before we know it, we're right on where it is, nothing fancy - incense burning though and flowers all on this headstone that we're told had a bust of him but that's not here now - oh and on the bed in front of it. there are some jim photos and candles burning - only one jack daniels label laying there... maybe twenty people in the rain when were there around two in the afternoon. I'm singing doors words in my head, jim's words. they always seemed funny to me and do now, no disrespect. I start singing them out loud when we shove off. I gotta be in the lobby at three and half for soundcheck so that's been weighing on me and big relief comes when after retracing the metro, I'm on the rivoli back to the 'tel... enough time to get a set of tarot egyptian style cards for nanny, who's getting my mail back in pedro. doug let's me get his cd of dulli's twilight singers kyped before bailing - I'll see him tonight at the gig. it was good being w/him like we did.
I join ron, scotty and steve in a minivan for the palais des sports - a new style aduitorium w/a roof way up high, maybe holds fortyfive hundred. the soundcheck is way boomy w/a lowend hum - maybe that's the kickdrum but I keep playing the doors' "break on through" for a soundman to work on though he didn't ask for it and probably had the board muted anyway. good prac for my spaz fingers anyway. helperman chris helps my retarded memory w/the "riders on the storm" bass line, right after "l.a. woman" - all that's rushing on me now... I stay while the real stooges go back to the 'tel. I think much about doors songs that I heard much as a younger man but not in recent times at all... hmm... all cuz of a fucking boneyard visit? they got chow here, anchovies on filla (how do you speel that?) dough like that would make you think it was slices of pizza. they cook beef really rare here - the chef man hears my voice and puts the meat in a pan for a second round of cooking, knowing we're used to it not so bloody in the u.s. there's good salad and whole garlic cloves I chow too. I go chimp some and put up what's been chimped cuz there's some internet I can share - first in a bunch of days for me - 'till the guys come back for show time, ig too. izia is a band from paris that opens up. I talk some w/the gigboss alain, about jim morrison - he knows stuff about him in france. I join the stooges band guys in our little dressing room (ok w/me) and keep singing doors songs not on purpose but they just wanna come out. I get into the boilersuit. ig comes in and says he wants us to keep the tempos up, especially in "my idea of fun" so I make a note of that. he says "I'm fried" might get a play too which I would dig big time.
just after nine and it's time to get up and do the do, alright. france has much respect for les stooges. first we're led to ig's room to be w/him for a few minutes - usually I don't spout anything and only reply if spoken to in these moments but tonight I say to him "I went to jim's grave" for I don't know what reason except it just tumbled out of my word hole... damn, the poor man's trying to focus for a fucking gig, baka watt... I'm glad I got my bass to put fingers to her strings cuz otherwise I think I would've stuffed them in my mouth. we're led down a hallway, into the hall and up the stage stairs. after asking if we're ready, ig holler's "let's go!" and we go w/"loose" - up on the 'e' string's octave w/my fingers, the little bass going through two stacks of svt-II amps which for the first gig ever I've done w/the stooges doesn't get humped by ig in "down on the street" - instead he does a shoulder first hurdle from ronnie's side of the stage. whoa. this before "...dog" even. in "1969" it's like (at least in my mind) he's doing a dance just for me cuz he's facing me w/just inches away and doing those great steps and grinds he does while ronnie's ripping a solo. it's only a few seconds but it seems like longer probably cuz it's blowing me away - I am definitely not thinking of the doors now! between the songs I can just feel the french folks channeling all kinds of their energy through ig, him way up on the stage's bow and being a lightning rod conductor for it. more stage hurdles w/"...dog" and after some bottle water pouring over the head, "tv eye" blast off and mow down. we almost stumble in the "ram it!" but hold tight for him even though he gets out only three cuz of where we ended up being... ig running the songs really close, he sings the tag for "my idea of fun" and I kind of disregard whatever scotty clicked us in at and up the tempo so I'm hoping he ain't feeling like a pull-toy cuz I'm just trying to do what ig asked of us before hand. looks like ronnie's into it cuz he gives me a big nod. scotty never falls behind though, he's right there and slamming. boom, he's on the floor tom for "dirt" - usually this is where all my cramps are shook out if I got them but I haven't got any tonight... not yet! "real cool time" w/my new way which is closer to dave alexander's old way, except for when brings on the dancers at the end, then I go to where I move up chromatically from the third during the g, stuff like that - me being influenced by hearing what both ron and scotty are playing. there's a big hugs on me by some of the french dancers and someone accidently hits my eq bypass button back to the "engage eq" position and cuz there's no battery, the path that way is dead... my bass silent. I realized that after the gig but not in the moment and of course I panic like a fucking baka idiot (remember austin back in march?) and start yanking out cables from the tuner and the amp, finally getting it together and figuring it out around the second verse. what a bozo I am. I do get it together though and even dancers who were flocked on the port said were port now get starboard. band intros, "1970," "mindroom," "fun house," "l.a. blues," "skull ring" and "trollin'" finishing it all up - ron asheton charging hard on lead guitar, iggy singing/dancing/diving his heart out. we get off and I tell helperman chris what bozo move I did w/the eq bypass switch or was that after? we do "not right" and then right into "little electric chair" - ig right next to me on during my bass solo then right in front and staring me right in the eyes, inches away - I got my legs spread so I'm right about his height. wow, what a trip... I would've never imagined as a young man playing w/d. boon that this moment would ever be here, never. I almost freak out but hold on get all the notes laid good in the groove. ig calls for the double dog - "play it right!" he hollers back at us. ok, will do. he's out the crowd much, he's been thanking them all night - something they much deserve, I believe cuz they're great to play for... excellent spirit.
we're off the stage and on the way back to the tiny dressing room I hear ig holler "good playing, dudes!" - thank you much. ronnie hollers back to him "good buddy, buddy." wow, that gig was sweater, the boilersuit drenched. ronnie's friend bernard comes back and I tell him about my visit to the boneyard... he tells me jim morrison didn't actually die in his own bathtub, he died of an overdose in a bathroom of a club and his body dragged out by a dealer and driven home to be put where he was found. I've heard stuff like this before. it's good to see bernard again. I go out and see my tennessee friends brenda and doug - ben and some french musicians are w/them so I talk all sweaty in my outfit, I have adrenaline in me. it runs out kind of quick, just as team stooges is ready to shove off so big hugs for my friends and byes. I change clothes and we have a funny ride back to the 'tel... we happen to go through the underpass where dodi and princess di along w/their driver were killed in a wreck, that's what everyone in the car tells me, saying there's some kind of memorial marker... memorials, they're weird, huh? a spirit needing material to help it exist? I konk thinking of doors songs...
thursday, july 5, 2007 - athens, greece
popped yesterday at seven for a last shovel at hotel regina. I only have prunes and plums. roadboss eric and his wife christina let me sit at their table. christina's got sickness, a cold hit her a few days ago. she's got estonian in her background - raymond's ma's from estonia. we shove off at eleven for degaulle airport for a flight to athens, greece. we take off in bright sun (man, can the weather change here!) on an air france a319 - I know this cuz this must've been the airbus econo model - only one head for the whole plane and the armrests don't come up which is no prob cuz steve's next to me w/an empty seat in between. it's a two and half hour flight and we have a good spiel about all kinds of shit, the ones we usually have - steve's a smart cat. we land at the new airport athens built for the olympic they hosted in 2000. it's kind of out of town and just driving through athens itself is really intense cuz of the tons of tiny streets and way too many cars (I was told 100,000 cars could be handled by the city but they actually have around four million!) so it's a while before we get to the 'tel - same one as we were in last year, the metropolitan. the sun is blazing and it's like the mojave mixed w/'pert-near a total urban carpet. it's a dry heat, hot wind blowing like the santa anas we got back in so cal. I get the jinbei on and find a little stand where they got twenty once heinekens for a euro and half. it's our fourth of july back home - independence day. I'm thinking about pedaling my bike last year down to cabrillo beach to watch the fireworks over the harbor, even seeing the ones over in long beach by the queen mary. I chimp diary and konk w/my hands on the keyboard... I pop around ten bells and head downstairs to find scotty at a table. this 'tel is crowded w/sqarejohns w/laminents around their necks - must be some convention. me and scotty have hot dogs, usual fourth of july chow. the buns are trippy - the dog goes in them like a blankie so I have to slice the bread to get the mustard in. it tastes great though, the bread of the bun is righteous. eric comes by w/to-go containers of chow steve got me when he went to dinner w/them, that was sure nice. me and scotty later go to the bar on the roof to find ronnie - I celebrate the fourth w/the asheton brothers and three shots of jim beam - we have a real good spiel, it's a good fourth for watt... and kind of fitting if I had to be away it'd be athens cuz it was the cradle for some of the ideas in declaration tommy jefferson wrote, that's a trip. I go back to my room and play bob dylan's "chimes of freedom" over and over from the ipod over the little powered speakers:
far between sundown's finish and midnight's broken toll
we ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
as majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
and for each and ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
in the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
with faces hidden while the walls were tightening
as the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
dissolved into the bells of the lightning
tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
tolling for the luckless, the abandoned and forsaked
tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
the sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
that the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
and the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
for the disrobed faceless forms of no position
tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
all down in taken-for-granted situations
tolling for the deaf and blind, tolling for the mute
tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
for the misdemeanor outlaw, chased and cheated by pursuit
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
and the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
for the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
and for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
starry-eyed and laughing as recall when we were caught
trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
as we listened one last time and we watched with one last look
spellbound and swallowed 'til the tolling ended
tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
for the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones and worse
and for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
I shovel the chow steve got me, thinking they're fries cuz I got only one light on and really dim. they taste trippy and after a while I'm kind of wondering about them cuz of the texture they got in my mouth... I bring up the light and damn if they ain't frieds but rather lightly battered fried smelts, little skinny pinky-sized fish, head and all! well... they are good! first internet access I've had in a few days. I share the bob, sing the bob over and over 'til I konk w/the tune looping. happy fourth, watt.
gig day and I popped at ten bells cuz it must've been three of them when I konked. I go downstairs and have only yogurt on prunes - trippy yogurt cuz it's got cinnamon in and is cold but like the creamy kind of peanut butter sort of in consistency. I have coff too. I then chimp diary after hoofing some... I don't hoof much cuz though I'm in the jinbei, the sun-only-and-boy-is-it-blasting-sky has no mercy for watt w/out a hat and I will take blows so I go easy and limit my time out. a quarter of two we're taken on a ride by the side that's pretty much the way we came in yesterday but we stop at what was the old airport and then places for some of the 2000 olympics. it's a little of commedy to find which field we're playing at here at what's called the hellinikon complex - we finally find our way to a baseball diamond - the driver laughs cuz greeks don't much play baseball (they do play soccer though and even not that successful, they did for the first time ever win the eurocup the first time ever I played athens - man, was the town crazy that night!). the seats are behind the baselines and home plate, none out behind the outfield and the stage has been right in the middle of center field and facing home. roadboss eric has us do a practice run w/the driver for the drill on how we're going to get from backstage to the stage, right up to a ramp. ok, now soundcheck. I have to get my own bass cuz chris says he won't serve someone in a jinbei (that guy cracks me up!) but that's ok cuz I've never wanted to be served on anyway - I like working w/people instead. for bass amps I got two marshall vrb 400 heads, each w/a marshal 8x10 cab (kind of a svt speakerbox clone). the heads set up much wider than ampegs but they're strapped on to the top cab as usual. we do our two soundcheck songs w/helperman chris singing and then do the forty minute drive back. I read kierkegaard and konk a little more cuz obviously I needed it, popping at nine and getting the boilersuit on just in time to shove off w/the stooges guys.
iggy's in a car in front of us and this driver knows a short cut and not only get there quicker but come in the back. mudhoney is on stage playing - damn, I looked for mark arm at the 'tel last night cuz eric said he wanted to chow w/me but never found him. we're taken around the field and led down big halls and I see signs on the hatches for mudhoney's dressing room and one for someone called soulsavers, under it saying mark lanegan - mark lanegan, whoa! he's an old friend and I really love his voice - I took him on his first two tours when he sang for the screaming trees. damn, I wish so much I could've seen him, meet w/him cuz I love him. in our dressing room, ig goes over the "ram it!" part of "tv eye" just to make sure. ron tells him about maybe about having the dancer invasion a little calmly introduced cuz of what happened here a couple of weeks ago at a beastie boys gig, here's the email keyboard money mark sent me:
> Subject: Re: greece was off the chisms!!!
> hear about the riot in athens?!?......during the
> beastie boy show!!!......it was offf the chains and
> scary as fuck!!!!.......we had to stop the
> show........cats with helmets stormed into the festival
> with clubs and machetes and fire and tore up the place
> we barely got outta there!!!......the local security
> crew got beat up and most of them ran off leaving the
> backstage and evrywhere wide open!!........we lost some
> gear.....not much but the other bands werent so
> lucky....underworld and madness were on the bill and
> got kinda fucked up.....eventually seven cars burned
> and the baseball stadium got wrecked!!!.....
> cuidado!!!......yes i talked with yuko a
> bit and they're opening up for us in paris......
> stay sharp!.....mark
we do our pacing, gig's running about ten minutes late. tourboss henry leads us down some halls, ig says it's a "tap moment" (as in "spinal tap"), we get put in a minivan and do the drive over. I just get my bass now, no warmup on her tongiht, ok... ig asks if we're ready - yep - "let's do it!" I run up the ramp and over to my amps, take my glasses off and put them on the drum riser by the tuner (damn, it's a high riser) and wait for the asheton's to bring the show on, just a matter of seconds and "loose" is unleashed - boom. water, water bottles, spit - all kinds of shit come flying up on stage most of it getting dodge by iggy, he's whirling and twirling - the band is motoring down, right out the gate. then "down on the streets" and again ig doen't jump on my amp but rather hurtles himself into the sea of greeks. "1969" time w/a dry warm wind blowing, I can hear the guitar drift some - it's a problem w/these oustide kind of situations. here comes another lighter... I dodge it w/a head move. being back here 'pert-near against the amps (to feel it, not to get propped up!) helps w/that. ig runs the tunes really close but extends out the front end of "tv eye" out w/some pretty burbly and primeval snarls but loosing the "llllllloooooooorrrrddddd!!!!" - we nail the "ram it!" parts good... seems scotty wants to stretch out the ending as long as possible, after iggy's "yeah" and ronnie's little solo - ig even points back but scotty's gonna end it when he ends it... I wait ready w/the one fat "a" to tag w/everyone else. a hiked-up "my idea of fun" next and the first phrase after the intro has me clam and be on the others side of the chord - dumbfuck! it lasts for a second at the most but I finally like a total 'tard, like how did that happen? cuz you clammed, watt! inside, I laugh at myself enormously but linger not long on it, rather double up my anti-clam mechanisms like fucking trying to get it the god damn together - think a little ahead? blam, it's done and we're right into "dirt" - look, there's a red bra that got thrown up at me but didn't have enough toss to get it far enough, dropping a couple feet in front of me. the lighter's make it - I get hit in the ches w/one but it doesn't hurt... ronnie's lost his so I'll give this one to him later, he chords us into "real cool time" after scotty's clicks (every tune in the set gets scotty's clicks except for the ones he starts w/a fill, of course "mindroom" and "l.a. blues" and then my lone starter, "fun house"). ig calls on the dancers and they charge up hard but no firebombs or machetes - it's ok that way. I get many man kisses while we're playing. it's pretty wild but not dangerous, it's much fun - it's a joy watch these young cats leap and act out their trips. of course lots of them mob iggy but I can't really see much of that, mainly just the folks who come by to give me a visit. ronnie's behind his amps - he moves back there just as iggy finishes singing the "we will have a real cool time tonight" refrain. he tells the dancers to stay up on stage for "no fun" and we roll that baby out - more hugs, slaps and kisses... funny trying to play w/that going on but way worth it, I'm digging it. of course I have the most fragile knees and one blow in the wrong place from somewhere unexpected will cripple me but I try not to think of that. band intros - iggy hasn't said hi own name here in a long time, I think about that... he's very kind to make sure we all are called out though, grazie mille. I think I get louder here... don't know why - the marshalls are sounding good these cabs w/no ports either bury some notes of boom out others, ampegs or marshalls - I'm way more into my eden ones - not the ones I used on this last u.s. tour cuz those had rear-firing ports I had to plug up w/towels but my 410xlt ones... anyway, here I am in athens using what they got and it's not terrible. it's all about the hands much too - being there for the guys w/some playing... like ig says before "1970" when he goes "ok, show time's over - this is for the music!" (that always cracks scotty up) we storm it hard, ig too - last verse comes and he says he's gonna kill somebody if he doesn't get water, jos gets some over to him. I'm sweating like crazy but the aridness keeps me from being drenched, it's a trippy. the breeze even being warm helps too. I keep my eyes glued to ig for his ronnie's duet for "mindroom" (where steve gets his introduction from iggy - like I got a fist in the air for scotty and ron, I got one here for steve too) and waiting for ig to cue me into "fun house" which comes usually while he starts to get the mic up in its stand holder. "blow steve!" he hollers, yeah! a little bit he later he wants to do the verse, "let me in!" - ronnie's shakes his head at me, not a nod but "no, not yet" - funny. we let him in of course and song has him stepping and james brown dancing like nothing else. it eventually crashes into "l.a. blues" and this is where I think I broke of the treble control on the little bass' preamp - not just the knob but half the stem of the post it goes on. oh well, I have it bypassed for stooges gigs anyway. that tune is hard on tuning too but the 'e' and 'a' survive enough for "skull ring" and we finish w/up having "trollin'" taking us out - the days of clamming our abbreviated version long go though scotty always laughs over at me when the end is coming up for it. off to the side to pow wow and ig says to do what we've been doing so it's "not right" and then "little electric chair" - everyone has a solo but scotty - maybe he should get one, huh? should I say something? not now, we just got the double dog to go - ig calls for it. lots of fluids flying - more lighters, some bottles - ig jumps from the stage to the dirt deck and I see road boss eric's face go weird as he's looking down though he doesn't reach down to help - I can't see it cuz of the lip of the stage in the way, what's wrong? ig does get up and I'm so relieved. shit, just a little landing wrong and it could be knee pop - that's what I'm thinking cuz of my weak knees, they're very vulnerable. we get done and down the ramp to the van but ig calls us back so I run up and get the bass, he calls for "I'm fried" and crotches a little when I iced-up bottle of water comes arching over and smacking him right above the left eye, a real lucky hit that opens an t-shaped cut and blood starts streaming. I heard the smack but actually didn't comprehend the object - thinking it was yet another lighter cuz I saw that right under his feet and pick it up, I seen a flattened out juice can too but that's been up for more than a few tunes. the water bottle skidded under the drum riser. anyway, ig takes like one step towards where the ramp is but then turns around to the people and says "fuck it - we're doing this fucking song... give me a towel." he mops the blood as it pours - he hollers, "you can't kill me, I'm immortal!" we start up "I'm fried" and he sings it like no other time I've heard him do it and that puts into me a feel on the song I got both my hands around and torquing it into the groove like nothing else in the world matter right now. we pile in except steve who's trying to take his horn apart, having done it once already but we gotta gig ig backstage and tended to by the doctor. he comes to our room and the paramedics - one cat has "doctor" on his laminate, ig says he likes that and wants one. he's in good spirits the whole time and they put some disinfectant on it and then right after they put a butterfly stitch on it, he says I can get a shot so I snap one w/the digicamera. he stays w/us like an hour and talks about all kinds of stuff. the crew joining us later - it's a big room and we're all having fun shootin' the spiel, all ten of us in here.
the ride home seems quicker. I finally get out of the boilersuit and soak some in the tub, the adrenaline gone and now the show getting felt in the joints. much better than usual though... ronnie's idea about taking the ibuprofen an before the gig is working better than taking it after. tomorrow I pop to visit a new land for me, I konk wondering about that... sure glad iggy's ok though.
saturday, july 7, 2007 - tel aviv, israel
friday morning at six bells I pop, hose off, get all the shit packed and then get downstairs for my last shovel in greece. it's eggs w/olives and feta cheese, trippy. bunches of pieces of melons too, I'm digging it. I go to the eighth floor where the pool is to get some last topside shots of the town before we bail - I see ig sunning out on a deckchair and he waves at me, I think he's ok from last night's hurt, alright. downstairs I get checked out and of course ronnie's stressing on people standing around instead of getting on the move... I guess the convention thing w/all the squarejohns here was a weapons one - that's what saxman steve says and there was a lot of cops here, those in uniform. there was some cat not in a uniform that was on our floor, sitting there like he was working a shoeshine chair, that's what I though he did for some reason. ronnie talked to him though and found out different. ok, off to the airport: it's like an hour drive through tons of tiny athens roads, tons of lefts and rights - amazing. we get to athens international airport around one in the afternoon cuz we expecting extensive screening - that's what roadboss eric told us his pop got when he came here for business a few times. we flying to israel on el al. one prob is the luggage gets pieced out between us and that means it's not really my man sack and my bass but maybe someone's girly bag and an equipment case so when the screenerman asks me stuff about the bags, I don't know really what to say except the truth - that's the policiy I always use w/border/security/screener/screw folks cuz fuck, I can't lie worth shit anyway and they'd be able to tell easier than anything that something was up so I explain I'm part of this stooges crew of people and the man understands - I in fact point out my bass case and my man sack on carts held by guys of ours. actually, our crew ain't that huge - I mean huger than a watt tour but acutally there's one helperman to each bandman so that's an ok set of odds. the screening is mainly about getting gifts - saying people might wanna use someone known like a band dude to get something aboard cuz myabe there'd be less attention being paid to someone like that and that something might be a bomb. one of the security guys talks to me after the screening while eric's getting the tickets and I get a little shook up cuz he said I shouldn't be talking to this guy I am (some guy I assumed to be a security man who was asking me questions) and I'm thinking did I fuck up and fall for some sting but it turns out this guy thought the man I was talking to was way squarejohn cuz he didn't know of the stooges and didn't deserve to talk to us, pretty funny. anyway, I ask him about the traf scene in athens (he's greek) and he gives me the scoop on how there's just way too many cars, like averaging two a household or something and there's too many folks for what's there for space to build on but building became a big gig so lots of building got done - you know, the usual stuff humans fuck up w/all over the world, just in slightly different ways! the xray and security checkpoint is run by greeks and the first time I sail through but there's no chow here and they gave me a voucher for some due to our flight being delayed an hour so I go back out where the chow is and get some kind of piani. getting back to the gate this time is full search of my backwacksack and they're tripping on my belt buckle cuz it's got a blade and phillips screwdriver built into it (some sockets too). they boss lady says it's ok though and I go wait a couple of hours w/coltrane in the head coming through the ipod 'till we board a 767 for tel aviv. whoa, my first time ever in israel after a two hour flight - we land at ben gurien airport and I find it cooler than athens but more humid, more like florida. living out west like I do, I'm more used to dry than humid heat. talia and some folks from the company putting on the gig come to pick us up in a couple of big chevy vans and it's not to far a drive to the dav tel aviv hotel, a block from the beach on the mediterranean sea. we're facing west so I get the whole sunset over the water thing going. wow. steve mackay has a gig in jaffa, right near - something the radon collective people set up for him through several intermediaries including roadboss eric. I'm invited to go along - shit yeah, I wanna see this, alright! steve's improvising w/three israeli musicians alex on synth, ram on drums and ilan playing parts of cds on little speakers. it's ilan who's driving us in a minivan and put the group together for steve. the gig is trippy - a real nice acoustically fine tuned room, like something you'd find at a university but it's in the bottom of a parking garage and right next to an old man karaoke club. before steve's set is a cat named wolfgang w/an avant garde orchestra recording a piece so we gotta be real quiet, even outside the actual studio but we can't help but talk some cuz fuck, it's our first time to this land and we're tripping on shit, sweating it up big time too. that cat finishes and then it's steve's turn and damn if it ain't one of the best improv gig I've seen ever - I'm kicking myself still cuz I didn't bring my ipod w/the truetune mic attachment that goes onto the dock and makes it a cd quality digital recorder... fucking baka watt. anyway, the way the three hometown cats laid out for steve and then steve blowin' some huge tone, threading melodies strong to bring the drums and synth inside and get a happening musical conversation going - the little cd snippets from ilan were peppering things up alongside, it was righteous. I meet this cat named barry right after and we have a talk about stuff, he knows of my music and damn I wish I had more time cuz I sure would like him to show me jerusalem and the dead sea... hopefully some day. I'd like to see the neighbor countries too. anyway, it's good to meet barry and I give steve and his new music friends big hugs and ilan gets us back to the 'tel. I'm really proud of steve, he did really good. we see the other stooge guys and get some deep fried whole carp (kind of giant gold fish) and some little ground lamb pucks from ronnie - he got them for us from the chow everyone else but me and steve went to. yeah, steve did real good - I konk happy about that.
gig day and I catch the sunrise from my window. it's double pane glass so the sun gets weirded out when I try to get shots, oh well at least the windows open - hate it when it's what we call a "seal-a-meal" sign. I go down for the free shovel they got. for them here it's different on saturdays cuz shabbat started last night at sundown and I guess everyone celebrates it different but there's a general slowing down or closing of things cuz it's supposed to be a day of rest. jewish chow here is middle east chow - tabouli, hummus, olives, feta, lots of good stuff. I guess more of the cooked up chow wasn't avialable cuz that's what I find out later from ron and scotty and soundcheck but I dug what I got... I sure wish there was a mediterranean chow pad in pedro - well, we do have greek restaurant called papadakis but that's kind of fancy. I go back up and soak in the tub some and then put the jinbei on. I go out and walk up and down the beach. not once do I see police or people w/guns. I was told the heavier stuff is an hour away, the west bank and gaza but here it's people at the beach. it's hard to get an accurate or even something approaching that being in a place for only two days but what I'm sure of is the impressions I had of here from television are different than the first hand experience - that however has been proven to me over and over again for many years for many pads. I wanna go swimming but I don't know if the jinbei can handle the sea, I didn't bring trunks. I hoof around 'till the 3:30 time to bail for soundcheck and then ride w/the guys to the venue, which is a big box-like room at the tel aviv convention center, a stage built up w/a curtain running from each side. first right to the chow and there's some great sandwich fixings, pinky-sized salamis and this trippy round bread that kind of looks like thick pita but w/a taste of their own, different - I like it. same w/the olives and tabuli. ok, chowed up - let's go play (it ain't just me shoveling - remember, this is free). I've got two eden dxt410 speaker boxes w/an ampeg 8x10 cab sideways on tope of them, an ampeg stv classic to drive that and a ampeg III pro to drive the edens. it's sounding kind of tame so I helperman chris to push it up for some grind (better than doing it myself for this situation, I've found) and he finds a good place. scotty's got some roger's drums - what he used on the first two stooges albums. I'm really digging the lower drum riser too, only or so high. scotty agrees w/me about drum risers not being so high is a good thing - I like being w/him and he says he likes being in there w/me. we do our two tunes w/helperman chris singing and then it's back to the 'tel but first I tell knobman rik that chris had my pickup balance set to like sixty percent bridge cuz he said he's been liking full-on neck but I thought chris had been playing the bass before and that's what he likes. I lay on the deck for just a moment, just to be straight out and damn if I don't konk! I pop just in time for bailing though and get the boilersuit on, I'll just ride back all sweaty in that cuz we're leaving for the airport at like 2:30 am, just enough time for a hosedown and getting in the goin'-home outfit.
we ride back to the convention center and get taken to a room stageport that's huge, maybe a conference cuz there's even a couple of booths - ronnie's guessing they might be for translators or something. wait a minute - this is where we chowed before soundcheck - baka watt! anyway, it's plenty big for pacing, plenty big. we can hear the opening band, a tel aviv band called the girls - I like them. a look see and man, this pad's packed. grazie, israel. ten and half bells comes up and it's our turn. we do what usually do to get "loose" going, all those moves and build-up w/the nerves ready to pop and the "let's fucking do it!" man, the amp's sounding good, right-on chris for getting that grind going and even w/that shitty ampeg-III driving the edens, they got plenty of growl and bark w/out the poof. "down on the street" w/out ig jumping on and humping the bass stack but he does do some shoulder-first hurls w/himself into the audience. they're loving it - ig's loving it, man, is it a great vibe and spirit at this gig, wild. "1969" even ups it more, whoa... and then for "I wanna be your dog"... holy moses, tribe! ig took blows in athens w/that cut and everything but you couldn't know it now, he is one fucking blast-off and a half, singing his heart like he is and tearing up a dancestorm - righteous. "my idea of fun" - he's down in the moat and letting folks have a go at helping w/the chorus, ig sings "my idea of fun" and then puts the mic over to a lady to finish it and she goes "my idea of fun" - doh! what the fuck? pretty funny. my idea of fun is jinbeis for everyone. iggy makes waterfall from a bottle over his head and then snarls and gnarls us in to "tv eye" all stomp, drive and hammer. I'm sweat-drenched now, slow down for "dirt" w/tempo but not w/the emotion. we hike it back up w/"real cool time" - ig urging us on, "c'mon stooges" - then urging the folks onstage, "get up here and dance w/the stooges!" it takes one brave soul to break the ice and then cats get the idea, soon there's all kinds leaping all over. I gotta step in sometime cuz a security person doesn't seem to get it and wanna go after someone - I don't say anything or give a hard look, I just get right in between them, still working my bass. band intros and then ig as usual says "now it's about the music" which as usual, cracks scotty up - we're into "1970" and rolling hard. there's much water on the deck when we finish and I wipe it down during "mindroom" cuz I'm so paranoid of my lame cojo knees - jos always does this and I look over and see him looking at me like "what?" but I don't mean to be taking work away, I'm just paranoid. sorry, jos... "fun house" ig calls for and I reply the bass - "ooommph" goes ig. steve is scorching on the sax, cutting loose all kinds of crazy. we tumble it up into "l.a. blues" and scattered the debris - pick it up all into one groove again "skull ring" but damn if my e-string ain't at least half a step flat, 'pert-near a whole one. aahhh, I gotta do something about this... use two tuners, one that stays on all the time and one I use for muting for tuning in between songs - I'll talk to chris about this. we do the usual (for now) closer "trollin'" and then we're off. not much though, we're back on pretty quick w/"not right" - I'm thumping those eighth notes and next "little electric chair" - "c'mon mike!" ig comes over to urge me on w/the bass solo, I did ok but maybe muted those two octaves at the end a little... whoops. the show is over w/the double "...dog" where I play as close to dave alexander version as I can muster - I'm trying harder to do this second one we do just for him cuz he I think he should never be forgotten, especially by someone like me. there's a car parked behind the stage, the one that ig came in (I said this was a BIG room) and he comes down the stairs and hops in and is off for the airport - he calls one of these "a runner" so I'll see him again next week in spain.
the tel aviv crowd wants more, they stay for quite a while and me like an idiot, goes on stage to give chris my bass - that makes it look like we're doing more songs but it is gone, sorry. after a while they do thin out but I go give some autographs from people who ask and then talk w/rik about the gig - I tell him how I was digging how the rig was sounding but he said he was he only taking the direct from the bass, alright! life is funny. I tell him about my tuning clam and he said he heard something weird. back to the dressing room and I get some water, two of the opening act come up and say hi, they're very kind - the singer said she's see me play several times w/my own bands. I see barry, that cat I met last night and we talk some, I talk too w/a writer I did an interview w/on the phone a few weeks ago... I like meeting people who ask me interesting questions and not the same ol' same ol' - I like putting a face to a voice. we get carted back to the 'tel and I talk w/the security man who was w/us, he's had an interesting life - growing up on the street but still having a happy outlook, alright. we find out that bar stuff was not free like we thought so pony up - man, what's that about? talia lived in so cal a while (in the val) and we talk about that on the way airport. there's a guy w/a machine gun on the entrance but then lots of euro airports have some people w/machine guns as security - there's not all that you might think as a heavy presence if you just went by what you see from media in the u.s., that's the biggest surprise kind of about coming here - impressions you get not from actually being here yourself. a worker lady there helps expedite us through which helps cuz it's quite a rigamaroo - we're on klm 737-800 plane to amsterdam (me, chris, scotty and ron) and none other than the dutch flight crew keeps trying to bumrush us - the airport lady holds sway on their attempts though and we board in time. I did get my sack search for my "man in the van w/the bass in his hand" stickers - they asked me what's that about and I give them (they're young men) each one and tell them to look me up on the web. they say ok. four am and it's four hours to schipol - we get back thay hour we lost on our way to greece. now's the hard part, I gotta stay up for more than three hours before my plane leaves for los angeles - I wanna stay up so I'll konk in pedro come night time and get back on the time there. it's tough but I soldier through - thank you john coltrane once again on the ipod... and the traditional okinawa music. oh, yeah it was a trip me sitting up in business w/ron and scotty - ronnie was just as surprised as I was that I had a business class ticket and it's the same on the 747-400 back home... I have to say it was a godsend for my hurt knee, first time ever I had been in the upper level, where you see that hump on those jumbojets. I passed out for like an hour but shook myself out of it... I made it through the nineteen hours of hell ride mostly awake and it's the fastest I've ever gotten my bass and clothes sack from the baggage area, also the customs folks were real kind to me. one cat wanted to talk a little about iggy and then other man asked me if there was a weapon in my bass case. my sister melinda gets me home - hardly any traff either, whoa. first in my tub for some soak and then on my deck for some konk. righteous. mister rilakkuma.
thursday, july 19, 2007 - benicassim, spain
ok, I got back to my pedro town july eight and bailed again july seventeenth - I had two public displays at attempting music, first w/the missingmen on the thirteenth where I wore that jinbei I got in the mail from japan at a club up in hollywood called "safari sam's" and then the next night w/dos over the radio/net on kxlu. now I could've better w/tom and raul but only two pracs and I have to admit I felt self-conscious in the jinbei cuz it being so light, i felt as though I was naked. I also blew some clams. w/dos I had levis and flannel on, sitting down and blew a lot less clams - it was a better radio show for us. I'm still glad I did the missingmen gig cuz it was what it was and I love tom and raul. like tom said, "we had some good eye contact" and I think we had a good spirit going too. playing on kxlu is an old tradition for me, I've been doing it for 'pert-near twentyfive years now - I think it's the second time dos has done it but I've been w/lots of my bands there, it's a very happening station.
I had to put a new john coltrane picture on my little gibson bass cuz my sweat had fouled up the one that's been there. much respect to john coltrane - he's there to inspire me always, just like the other picture on her. my sister melinda came at three am to get me to the airport for the 6:30 flight to jfk airport in nyc on a 767. in the three seat row the middle one was empty so that's a blessing for my knees though they're doing better than the last trip over. I meet saxman steve roadboss eric and we take an airbus 340 to madrid - we sit on the runway for a hour and half! still, the pilot gets us in only seven minutes late but the way the airport's laid out makes for much hurry to get our next flight to valencia but what about the bags cuz they don't have legs to run on, oh well... we get to valencia around nine am on wednesday and sure enough, both my bass and clothes sack didn't make it (I got a new sack cuz the old one was tearing - this one's bright orange). we get picked up and brought to the los arena hotel near the port - hey there's hammerhead cranes and cans - a much smaller version of my own harbor, we get lost a little bit cuz the driver's not from here but get in just in time for me to meet my good friends jose and kyoko - valencia is jose's hometown though him and kyoko now live in london. we head east on the beach for a chow pad his pop recommended cuz of the america's cup getting to be hosted here, lots of the area has gotten really mersh. jose says it's changed much since he was younger. hey, my clothes sack arrives but I find out the bass for some reason is in dallas - TEXAS, what?! funny. I put my jinbei on cuz it's hot and humid - we flew into weather just like a morning is where I live in the summer - well, not the humidity but a low cloudcover of marine layer that soon burns off - jose didn't think it would happen but I just had the feeling it would be like that. we're surprised by where we were told to go being mersh as well so have mariscos nearby at one he'd recently chowed at last time he was in town and gets me the tiniest clams I've ever had, real tasty - so is the calamari. we go back to the 'tel and do the first hour of an edition of the watt from pedro show and then go into the center of town where the old part is. he shows me around for a bit and then goes to find fixing's for tonight's chow while kyoko shows me more, the old train station, central plaza and the bull ring - we can hear people hollering and whistling inside it, must be a toro lucha going on... yep, I see the posters for it on a nearby wall. I thought it was gonna cool down for the night so I got into my non-jinbei wear but am kicking myself much for forgetting my fucking camera cuz there's lots of neat stuff no that I only have thought-pictures of like marble sidewalks (must be great when it rains!) and the meguelito towers plus all kinds of stuff special to here. aahh, what an idiot I am. we meet up at a jose's friend roman's pad and there's lots of his buds there plus like a four foot diameter shallow paella pan cuz he's cooking up a batch to feed everyone. his friends are very cool, I check out a poetry book one wrote and hear music another one made to go along w/it while jose cooks up chicken, rabbit, rice and vegetables - it like midnight when it's done but the wait is worth it cuz I love it. I use the chili from the bottle on my belt and it's a trip how that cats here are not used to having food spicy - they share the same language w/latin america but not the heat w/the chow. they keep saying "tobasco tobasco" but w/watt, you're dealing w/habanero, not fucking tobasco. it's a very nice time except for one big worry inside me - everyone's had this iberia airline losing bags - ronnie's guitars, kyoko's bags and now even miss kaori (the go! team plays sunday) has been waiting and waiting for her's to be found but it's a great huge relief when she arrives safe, whew. she's the last to chow, we spiel - she mixed the funanori proj we've done and it's ready - she's happy w/it, yeah! after a while it gets late and I'm tuckered so they take me to a cab for the 'tel... I'm happy and konk though this fucking deck is hardwood.
gig day and I pop at ten - whoa... I konked on most of all three flights to get here to spain (actually, this part is catalonia) but I must've acquired some kind of konk debt so whatever, I hoof off some lead-in-the-bones feelings along the beach - no marine layer today, the bright sun blazing. now the gig is at benicassim - about forty miles up the coast from valenica towards barcelona, still in the catalan part of what's called spain. this driver gets lost some too, I ride w/the crew and get at the venue around three pm. hey, the little bass made it - here it is by the stage, alright! this is one of spain's biggest festivals, fib and yet another one w/heineken as the main sponsor. what can I say except "work the room," no? you can see the stage right by the highway, for some reason I though it would be right up against a mountain. there's a chow tent here and I have some fish (don't know what kind) w/rice and salad. I brought the boilersuit but am in the jinbei now. mi amigos jose, kyoko and kaori come when they can and that leaves not much time though we 'pert-near get the second watt from pedro show hour done but gotta clear out just before doing so... a little more time w/mi amigos - it's what I'm always praying for, a little more time cuz w/them it always rushes by me like a crazytrain and I never get the thoughts our right or stumble on trying or even worse, space on them 'til later when all that can be realized of them is regrets - I'm refering to the emotionss from me cuz even w/all that failer, there are enlightenments and insights in droves I could've never forseen cuz it's the spirit from outside me - from them - that shines on me, my morning marine layer burned of by their noontime sun. I am awkward but they are kind about it. and so time has run out and I must trade the jinbei (jose has one on today too!) for the boilersuit and get ready for stooges gig time. I have to write here I sure am grateful roadboss eric helped me w/getting mi amigos on board, very grateful.
just me and the stooges in the room to pace 'till 10:40 brings go time - still pretty warm out and humid. we hear the crew go through the sounds: voice, drums, bass, guitar - then it's a repeat, what? ok, we wait a little... lots of cats out front, full house - house? it's outsdie! I get my bass from tourboss henry and run over to plug in once ig gives the word... no warm-up for my fingers so the first note of "loose" is the first one I've played on her since I left pedro... iggy is twirling and hurling his body around his soul-sung words wailing. I'm digging scotty's drum riser, real low and he's slamming too, wow. ron is right out of the barrel w/the blazer guitar - all three guys are blowing me away w/how strong they can just wheel this baby out, amazing. ig's even back to humping my bass amp (two reissued svt classics) for "down on the streets" and so down on the knees I go. he is massive (like that? they say it in england) w/his vibe for "1969" after exhorting in spanish, bringing up right after "I wanna be your dog" - ig runs the songs close, it's a workingman's set. for some reason I bring in the chug early on "tv eye" and thinking about it now, can't find a reason why except for nerves - eight bars early at least, what's that about? "keep it together, watt - keep it together" is going through my head - better than "get it together" ??? I wonder... hey, that's a good point but the moment will not tolerate much contemplating now - here comes "my idea of fun" and we got the tempo hiked like the last few shows w/this. scotty does a long floor tom roll immediately and we're into "dirt" w/ig very heartfelt though when isn't he heartfelt? I have yet to witness that anytime... I get a big rush of energy for "real cool time" and find the sweat on the deck below me growing w/each headshake adding to it. ig calls for dancers and this invasion seems second only to glastonbury, it's full-on wild. whoa, here's mi amigos! right before we're on to "no fun" and I am tripping on that much. the smiles on their faces are huge - same w/the folks I don't know, it's wild and I'm in a sea of them. my bass gets unplugged but I get it back in real quick-like, no body's fault - only lots of kinetic bodies... it's all joyous but I see an accidental bump from a young catalan person to miss kaori and she's gonna go down so I let go of playing the bass to help right her, it's just a moment and I was only reacting - she's ok, good. it was not thinking, not weighing the responsibility to the bass and the band against helping her at all costs - it was an instinct and too deep down for thoughts. it was no dilemma, it came natural as it did. I apologize if some don't understand but that's the way I am, not to sound like a fucking self-important idiot though - these are hard feelings for me to explain... I take some accidental bumps myself but there more to the arms (thank god not the knees!) so only some tiny fret flubs (ok: clams) result. big hugs when we're done, big ones - one, two... it takes a while to clear the stage, gentle persuasion from ig in spanish in between laughs. band intros and "1970" - I look over to scotty cuz we both like how that one gets brought in. tuning in "mindroom" - tuning? like an idiot I asked helperman chris to hook up two tuners but told him the wrong order so I end up apologizing to him right there or was it a few songs earlier? damn, my fucking recollection - it was only last night! I do know I put the neck pickup way up for "fun house" - chris had me for fifty-fifty to that point, maybe I should stuck w/that... the playing's a little emotional too, really winding up in "l.a. blues" - ig w/a woeful wail you can't believe and I can't but get down on my knees again for him. the amps won't feedback after I go mental (more from england), frustrating so I shake the daylights out of the bass, only to find the 'e' down like a whole step or so and just have to mute for a bit to get this bass shipshape (a real tiny but kyoko later said she noticed). "forever, forever forever" ig hollers that and then "this is it!" and we finish w/the double dog. I standup straight and play it like dave alexander, much respect to him. the gig is done when the song's gone. chris asks for the bass and the guys head down the stairs, I guess no encore... right at the dressing room I realize I'm missing my glasses - baka watt! I run back and sure enough jos finds them there on there riser where I left them, whew.
my outfit is soaked - get in the jinbei, quick. j mascis comes and sees me changing into it, asking "is that what japanese me wear when they're doing their laundry?" he's tripped out on it but laughing much. good to see him again - he's gonna be a poppa-san soon... luisa's delivering the baby in october. dino drummer murph says hi, big hugs for murph but no calvin kline shirt, what's up w/that? no dolphin shorts either, hmm... I'm outside to be w/mi amigos. over to us comes jesse from brazilian girls (bass), he says acupuncture and shiatsu would help me - he trips on seeing my knee scars and espcially the bumps made at the top of my shinbones cuz of osgood-schlatter. miss kaori explains it to him easy - parts of me grew faster than other parts when I was young. jesse nods. of course the time has to jam like it's fucking on fire and it races on by... only a tiny moments w/mi amigos left - how to cram in all I can? I try. I go at the strict time I was told when I have to go... ok, back in the room w/stooges... but no - we don't leave... roadboss eric comes in and hands me a bottle of wine from ig, saying "from the boss, I was told this if for you." whoa! much thanks, very many thanks... damn - most grateful watt... I tell stooges brothers ron, scotty and steve how inspired I was by the playing, much respect from me and I say how incredible ig got us lit w/his singing, his soul thrusting and dancing, his leaps and passion pulling at the sky - he's the bow of our boat! then silently in my head: "mi amigos outside..." ronnie tells me something trippy, whoa - wow... who would of thought? scotty real sweaty but stoic, I feel it was hard on him... steve w/much laughs - a good crew here. my thoughts everywhere... finally, yes, we ARE leaving - c'mon watt - but there, on the way out - I see them - mi amigos! I run over... yes, some brief seconds - tell them what you heard... "take the wine the boss gave me - here"... hug, hug, hug - oh...
saturday, july 21, 2007 - tromso, norway
pop at eight bells on friday and soad for a good long time in the tub. narrow but not too short and ok depth... ha, to get particular on tubs! it does help sore bones though, big time. showers might get you clean and maybe it's a little good on the back but nothing like hurt knees do a the hot float, hands too. no free trough of course (that's the way this 'tel sitch is) but I'll hold off for the plane ride to where we play next - tromso, norway. eleven bells and it's adios time - first time we get directly to where we're going w/out some wander (I think that was funny really, I wasn't that pissed). we're taking a private jet, a three motor falcon - maybe it's a 900? I couldn't really find out and even the company - I think eric said it was german but all the writing inside was bi-lingual english and portugese so I'm unsure, wgatever, for sure it was the longest private jet ride I've ever been in - 2300 miles in about four and half hours. I sit where I usually sit, the second seat port side cuz the first seat usually faces aft and I like facing fore. we take off quick. we get chowed these little cheese and meats w/rolls then some fish. again, these little jets take us up to 41,000 feet instead of where commerical airliners fly. this time chris has no prob like last time we flew this way, hurting w/pressure headaches. we land on a small airfield and it's raining and kind of cold. a minvan takes us to the rica ishavshotell in the middle of town but near the water and real close to the big bridge that connects the island w/the mainland. now tromso is way in the north of norway, around the 69 parallel. it's got the most northern univeristy in the world w/about ten thousand students which translates to like one out of six people in tromso is a student. this is what I find out when I chow w/the gigboss rep thor - the band's been invited to a chow put on by the promoter in the 'tel restaurant - he (by the way, they pronounce it "tor-a" here) tells me tromso means "island in the stream" and "bukta" (from the gig's name: bukta festival) means "the bay" so it makes pretty good sense, huh? from the window we can see the "polar museet" (polar museum) and I'm going there tomrrow. tourboss henry got a piece of glass in his salad - damn, I'm glad he wasn't hurt. I have some fish soup and deer steak - it's not that gamey at all. I konk at ten bells.
gig day and I pop at four am, fuck it. I chimp diary 'til done w/the last gig and then do email - alright, this 'tel has free internet but there's no tub so it's just a hose down. I wash the boilersuit in the seak w/a whole tube of shampoo they give you and there's a heated towel warmer so that'll help dry it quicker. the shovel is gratis here so I meet it at its seven am opening and trough it up. they got liver pate and giant toothpaste tube of caviar but it's pink kind though both it and the liver mixed together in a roll are great. of course being where I am, I gotta have pickled herring. I have some softboiled eggs and yogurt that pours like milk ('pert-near water!) over some granola. it's kind of a big chow but I plan to have nothing 'til the gig. thor's gonna show me the polar musem - we hoof over and I use an umbrella cuz of some rain - the sky is gray and it's in the high fortys on low fiftys... I'm not used to umbrellas and cut up my thumb some - it won't stop bleeding but they got a bandaid in the museum. thor shows me all about the musem for a couple of hours. he knows much about the stuuf here and we check out all of it. big in the polar expeditions were amundson and nanen but there's history of trapping and hunting - some of it pretty brutal: clubbing the the baby seal stuff and simple gun traps to blow polar bear heads off, huge traps and poison for arctic foxes, harpoons for whales - a lot of the museum is for exploring though cuz lots of this area was unknown for the longest time. there's no real land mass so the first trips that found it were flyovers in planes and blimps. there's stuff on the south pole exploration too sinc amundson was the first to reach there, scott (the guy from england) dying in the attempt. thor knows all this stuff real thorough so it's very interesting to hear him bring all the exhibit stuff to life for me. much much thanks to him. there's a kayak, one made from a bamboo frame covered w/canvas. I tell thor about me paddling three times a week back in pedro. he's part inuit and tells me "eskimo" means someone who eats raw meat and so inuit is actually the word for the indigenous people of the north. those closet to these parts were the suomi (they like being called that and not laps). a lot of this stuff is either new to me or clearer in my head now cuz of thor's great way of spiel. one thing I never realized was that plague hit norway really hard in the 1300s and really emptied her out for many years. that's why the first expeditions north were dutchman looking for a shortcut to china. norway had to renew itself, first a two hundred year alliance w/denmark and then a hundred year one w/sweden. I don't know how much I'll retain but I dug the experience. the way the trapper guys lived was really intense, they norwegian ones lived in threes (the russians lived in like groups of a hundred) so the nightmare of the one-on-one or like thor said, "the married couple" dilemma would be avoided. there was a woman one though, a lady named wanny who was also tromso's first women cab driver. alright. we leave the museum to walk some and he lets me try the cigarette he smokes, "the blue master" - it has charcoal between the a tiny cap of filter and the tobacco. we talk w/some coff. he's a young man but pretty together so I make it plain how untogether in the head I am but I do have some sort of center w/the bass, w/music. even w/feelings and thoughts I feel maybe I'm not justified in having, I can find an analogy through music and channel the resulting passion that way. it's a hard thing to explain. I tell him about reading kierkegaard's "fear and trembling" - we laugh, have to. this thor's a good cat. interesting how together younger people can be, it's amazing.
I chimp diary, finish the benicassim gig. writing about brings more thinking about it - like I haven't been way thinking about it, my two days in catalonia in the summer of 2007! I am not a togehter person. people deserve an explanation but not yet. it's still light out come bail time for the gig. I have the boilersuit in a plastic bag, I'll change into it a half-hour before we play. I take the snowball usb mic out of one of the orange knit hats and wear the hat, I have no heavy coat - only this little ford assembly plant jacket ronnie gave me... I love it much though. ok, we ride in the minivan maybe fifteen minutes to wear the gig is, on the end of the island. thor's there and even w/it raining some, I ask him to show me where the nazi battleship tirpitz was sunk. we're close to the shore and he shows me where out between two islands it's laying on the bottom, turned turtle. since I didn't chow since the crack of dawn, I think maybe I should chow something before playing and look for a burger but what they give me from the chow tent tastes weird - I find out it was whale and I don't dig having chowed that... no wonder it was funky. it's not my trip to chow whale, sorry. I eat some chips to wash the taste out of my mouth, some chili from my bottle. it is really cold. we're in a tiny trailer dressing room but I think that helps keep it warm. I get into the boilersuit - the guys tell me to wear clothes under it but I think that's a bad idea seeing I should have something dry to get into if I sweat this outfit out. there's a band called hash on before - I don't know where they're from. eddie from nebula comes by to say hi - wow, long time since I seen him. I go out later to talk w/him - whoa, is it cold. I get my bass - great, I get to warm up some, unlike benicassim and it'll really help w/this weather cuz my fingers are 'pert-near dowels. it's almost eleven pm and the sky is bright gray.
henry leads us to the steps - I'm last cuz instead of the usual, we're coming on from my side of the stage. ig's got no shirt on, like usual. ronnie was going to wear a coat and shit but at the last minute decided to get in his regular outfit. of course we start the gig w/"loose" but it's incredibly amazing how iggy just turns it on and it seems like there's no cold at all, no rain. I am both mindblown and totally inspired. I play w/just my index finger - cold on bass strings can tear cold finger skin off really easy - I ask chris to hike up the bass in my monitor so I don't play too hard and do that. iggy is on fire, tremendous! I don't use that word much but it just came out of my fingers so fuck it... "down on the street" doesn't have him shy away from bass amp humping, nope. chris put my pickup blend at about half and now I give a little more bridge for "1969" and see how that is. yeah, I like it. he keeps the amp eqs flat except a little cut on the bass (I've got two svt classic re-issues, they got master volumes). "I wanna do an animal song" - yep, that means time for "I wanna be your dog" - after "'69" he told the folks "tak, norge" (thank you, norway - he asked me how you say norway in their tongue and I remember the model of the airship thor showed me at the polar musuem that had "norge" painted on the side, it was probably the first to fly over the north pole unless you believe what byrd believed) but mostly he runs our set pretty tight, really tight. the crowd is up pretty close, not much of a barrier (I like that) and believe it or not, gloved hands are heaving some cups of beers and bottles of water but not too bad. it's a trip that ig pours water over his head before "tv eye" w/it cold like this but he does and I have to say, the dancing he rips loose w/is phenomenal - at times it's likes he's on a horse, indian style w/whoops and everything. I get the chugs in the right place this time but in the second chord of "my idea of fun" (it comes next right like that), I hit a 'b' for a second instead of an 'a' - whoops. ig works the moat, down in front of the stage and putting the mic in this guy's face after ig himself gives the first line of the chorus, "my idea of fun is" the guys responds "my idea of fun" - doh! not his fault though, probably first time he heard and I saw his face - very enthusiastic! he knows it now! what's my excuse for blowing a clam in "dirt" - a tiny one in the second chorus where I space on holding on 'f' twice, a little one but I gotta come clean on it. scotty did a super long roll bringing us in, coming right out of "my idea..." and ronnie's leads have been really smokin' - I thought for sure the cold would be wailing on his strings and making them like cheese cutters. dance time next, "real cool time" w/upstrokes from w/the index finger and middle one in unison, even more so w/the cold but you know what, I'm sweating now - a pool developing under my feet but not too much but some so maybe the dowel thing is over w/the fingers. anyway, maybe six guys get up on stage and of course the one in front has to get his pants down around his ankles - at least the skivvies stayed up! it's one of those dances where you hop around (have to cuz of the pants around the ankles) and spin slowly in a circle w/your arms bent up at the elbows, palms forward but fingers curled. alright. such stamina too, he continues into "no fun" while the dance bunch grows by only a couple more - it's an intimate affair tonight. tonight? still wailing light, trippy! band intros, "1970" played tough even w/a sputter intro - I waited 'till the water was safe - following beautiful guitar and soulful singing in "mindroom" a kicking and sticking "fun house" splattering apart w/an "l.a. blues" tumble and a "skull ring" redemption. ig does an audible for "not right" and the band charges hard, for the music. dave trib time for me and the "double dog" w/ig singing baritone vibrato while ron and scotty continue how they hammer it, wow! we're off to the side and wait for ig's thoughts - he says let's close it w/"little electric chair" and so we do, w/much vigor! ha, it's a lot of fun but still intense... intense fun!
whew, get out of the soaked boilersuit, watt - steve was right, I did wet it up. into the gray flannel and levi. scotty's sick we find out and hurting... he was sweating it out when he konked all last night and now is hurting but man, did he play great. there's gonna be a doctor for him at the 'tel near de gaulle airport tomorrow (we fly there, konk and then go to japan the next day). he soldiered good though, I know what it is to play sick - we all do - and it is a major hell. much respect to scotty, much much respect... heroic, truly. some guys from the new bomb turks (from ohio) come to say hi, they got sam from fellow-columbus band gaunt - so great to see sam again cuz it's been a long time, big hugs. the pad clears out pretty fast we were last but actually it's the sun cuz it's not going down though it's the gray clouds all lit that shows that, the disc itself is obscured by the overcast big time. suddenly we left and we return to whence we came. konk time for spent watt. I say prayers for scotty's health.
saturday, july 28, 2007 - naeba, japan
sunday after the bukta gig and I pop at eight bells - whoa, gotta hose off, shovel and get to the 'tel's front hatch by nine. there's a lot of books on the shelves by the trough but all in norwegain (no shit, it's norway) except for one I find called "the clue of the new pin" by edgar wallace. there's some lady's name I can't read written on the title page along w/the date "1926" under it (I'm guessing by the writing it's a lady's name) and judging by the frailness of the pages, it's gotta be at least that old. I leaf through it while chowing pickled herring and onions and the english is really old fashioned in style (probably wasn't at the time - england english) like "local blood-feuds were settled by waist-bare men, whilst their slatternly squealed their encouragement or vocalized their apprehensions" - yeah, right. it's some kind of whodunnit relating to some old china-born england mysterious crook tightwad guy that gets murdered and the dashing young newspaper man who's on the case (who happens to be the room mate/best friend of the tightwad's nephew and has for a nickname "babe" ???) and a beautiful actress romantic interest (of course also tied in w/the murdered geezer) and an actual chinaman who now lives in england named yeh ling. too much. thor leads the caravan carrying us stooges to the tiny tromso airport and I say my byes to him as he guards the lounge hatch where the lounge-approved are harbored. he said he was tripping on seeing me hump the amps - well, he said people were tripping on seeing me do that but he was laughing like he was tripping too. it's ok, I like thor. we take a two hour flight in a 737 to oslo and then an airbus 319 for almost another two hours from there to de gaulle airport northeast paris. we konk at a hyatt regency 'tel really close by that has no options for euro competition so these motherfuckers get twentyseven euros a day for internet (about thirtyseven dollars u.s.!). beers are a bargain too at nine-fifty each (thriteen u.s.) - can you believe this burn ward?! life is funny. there's a doctor waiting to see scotty and he prescribes antibiotics and expectorant but scotty expectorated much infection during the gig last night between songs and then for konk sweated it out big time and broke the fever so the worst is over. he's gonna do the antibiotic regimen though just to make sure. whew, that's good news cuz it was really intense when we got done playing last night. scotty done kicked it out, alright!
monday morning and it's nineteen euros (twentysix u.s. $) for the privilege of shoveling from their trough - I only mention this money shit cuz it's so funny in a way, so over the top. why do they charge like they do? cuz they can. anyway, what's really important is that we're going to japan and the flight's just after one pm from charles de gaulle. the way were going is a new way for me. though I've been to japan twice before, I've always flown west to get there (from cali) but this time I'm heading there via going east, across russia and china. we board a 777 w/five of us in a row, from the window: chris, watt, steve, (aisle) rik, eric - me and eric are the "lucky pierre" cats but hey, we're going to japan and that's great. it's only eleven hours like this anyway. I konk a bunch of them. air france has ok chow too for airplane chow. it's not bad for me next to steve and chris, I like them lots. I like the aisle cuz of my knee but sometimes that's lame cuz of a fucking box some planes got under the aisle seat in front. the worst though for me is a motherfucker in front of you oblivious to themselves pushing that seat they're in as far as they can in your face and it's for that reason I 'pert-near never put my seat back, I just don't cuz of hating it done to me - not that changes anything! anyway, we're going to japan so it's all worth it. you know, since I mentioned some of the stooges crew here, I should mention them all: chris helping stringed stuff on stage, jos helping drum/mic stuff (he'll join us in a few days), rik on the knobs, eric on roadboss and henry on tourboss (he's up front) - of course they can do lots more too and I wanna say I appreciate them all doing a good job very very much. these five plus me and steve helping the stooges equals ten, that's the team. in lots of ways they are all very kind to me, I am always aware of that.
we get to immigration at narita airport at like eight in the morning on tuesday - it's seven hours ahead from france time - and the visas we got months ago make it a smooth go to get in though I wish I could get a mustache-less shot to use cuz that's a watt now out of date and maybe even looking a little stupider then than he does now. maybe not though. smash is promoting the fuji rock festival (maybe in it's fifteenth year now?) and ryoko, a nice lady who mostly lives in hawaii is here to take care of us. hey, all the equipment made it - all that we brought cuz we took only bare minimum and left the rest at that burn ward 'tel near de gaulle airport to minimize overages w/weight. the weather's sunny and humid, maybe ninety degrees. smoking's allowed only in a chamber outside the 'port - no just smoking outside. about an hour to get to near the roppongi part of tokyo where the hotel okura is, right across from the u.s. embassy. mister shimmy from mi-gu is coming to help me w/these two songs I'm to record w/them but an hour and a half past the time he said he was going to be here, I start to worry - did something happen to him? I finally get a call and it appears he's been waiting in the lobby all this time, watching the japanese version of the "we jam econo" minutemen documentary dvd. shit, I feel like the biggest idiot - huge hugs for him, I'm glad he's safe. we chow - I have a salad - all the food I've ever had in japan is so very happening for me. we go up to my room to work on the songs and kyoka is there w/her friend christopher, a cat from the u.s. who's much younger than me but knows a cat I knew in the old days, brad laner, he was someone doing experimental music in his younger days, me and d. boon had him on some compilations w/our new alliance records label. what a small fucking world! mister shimmy is still coming along w/english so kyoka helps us w/communicating cuz she's got it pretty good. mister shimmy goes over the charts and plays his guitar to prep me on what we're gonna do thursday and friday. he's a beautiful man w/a great spirit, a huge heart and an incredible musician - no language barrier can get that lost. when we finish, I record bass (I have my little gibson w/me) to her music which is trippy stuff done w/a computer, she accompanies my playing to her tracks w/live singing and even sameshin. I do a bunch of takes on a bunch of tunes - I got pro tools on my 'puter and play into a digidesign mbox 2 mini. I've never done anything like this before, whoa. I'm very nervous. I wonder how it'll come out... I'm glad I got to try it, putting base to beats that kept flipping over on each other - cut and pastes of trippy sound collages - lots of event-driven motifs. I really had to focus! ha, funny watt.
tuesday was my trip to yokohama. that's this first place I ever heard of japan cuz my pop was there w/the navy and he'd tell me about it when he'd come home from tour, in the 60s. eiko came up from tajimi (near nagoya) and we took the train, it was about an hour. right near the port is a china town and it was the first time I ate chinese food in japan. it was like chop suey and I liked it much. a symbol for china here is the panda and there was panda themes everywhere, from food to kitsch to clothes, whatever. I found a little doraemon in a panda suit even (he's supposed to be a robot cat from the future). it was intense to go to the water, I thought of my pop much. there was a public sculpture made of four cans (shipping containers) to make a pentagon up on its end, using the ground as the fifth side. there was an old liner that used to make runs between yokohama to seattle and vancouver from 1930 for seventy something years and now it's a museum but it was closed. there was lots of chinese tourists. there was a pretty park that went up some high ground and you could see the whole waterfront, the cats (nekos) there were very much not shy and very content w/themselves grooming or chowing and not even bothered to give you a look, even if you were right next to them... must be pretty used to people or else they never get treated bad. that's a good thing. the train ride back was pretty funny for someone not used to being smashed up in a very crowded situation. in the shinjuku part of tokyo there was an izakaya (traditional japanese bar) named "sekai no yamachan" that she invited a bunch of her friends to. I was shy and sat in the corner w/back against the wall (they put your party in their own little private room where everyone sits on pillow around a short little table) but it was ok, lots of the guys sat around me and were very cool. there was a cat from fresno (that's in central cali, around where my pop retired to from the navy) named mike that runs a tokyo experimental music club called superdeluxe. he's lived here for thirteen years now. he was very interesting and friendly - everyone was. I am awkward about such social things but got to relax some, there was all kinds of good chow - this pad's specialty was chicken wings seasoned much w/black pepper. the beer was good too. there was a cat named nissie that I had met years ago at jabberjaw (in the k-town part of l.a.) when he was road manager for a band from here called the blood thirsty butchers. ha, I can remember hearing them now! there was a cat named tetsuya that lived in florida for six years. a cat from australia named phil, he was a teacher. there were two people just married today! it was really fun to be w/everyone.
I don't know if there was a trough at the 'tel cuz I never tried shoveling there. it was kind of a fancy pad but everyone was very kind, the polite thing is pretty big in japan. it can be trippy to notice, coming from where we do. I chow on wednesday where I record w/mi-gu. the drummer and singer ms yuko come w/a lady named sakura who lived in england a while and so english is real good w/her. a taxi ride to the meguro part of tokyo at a pad called noah is where she gets these sandwiches and trippy sweet things made from azuki beans and green mochi balls made of some vegetable (they couldn't find the name I could understand) that was really good. mister shimmy had the same machine to record w/as he's used w/the two mi-gu albums, whoa... roland vs-1880. how I love the sounds of those records... this is how he did it? damn! the way I came upon this music was a trip. a young man named dorian who moved to osaka from tennessee set up a mywastofspaceplace for mi-gu and hipped me to it. whoa, I was into it and said so... soon cds of the two records came to my pad and I ended up playing every tune one at a time on the watt from pedro show. life is a trip, the way it works. anyway, last week mister shimmy sent me a movie of him and ms yuko playing this tune where he played bottle neck guitar and she was mainly working her toms. now when he came by monday, he played me an earlier version where she played brushes on the snare. now I had developed my part to what I first heard and to me it had for a rhythm a native american thing kind of so I wrote that way. as we were going through this - oh, their regular bass player, an incredible musician named mister nago was playing guitar so there were four of us set up in a circle. - mister shimmy had her doing sticks on the snare, in a roll, sounding almost military! whoa, my part was kind of sticking out. now I didn't feel like bumrushing anything - hell, I was so fucking nervous I could barely keep things inside together - but I asked her "how about some floor tom like native american sort of so the ambience (letting the floor tom ring) would hook up the figure I had going on my bottom string - I was using a blues interval to mister shimmy's guitar cuz that's what I thinking of for some reason, a black + red man twofer. I don't why, I just did and though, hell, why not tell them and see what they think. there was a photo cat name ryu and he was very nice and could help w/the language thing. mister shimmy had me playing through his handmade cables, his handmade fuzz box (all through his hands, that's how they were made) and an amp made in italy. man, these cats could groove, they could really play. I was pretty much blown away but tried hard to get it together. at first I had no nerve at all, none. but their feel, their spirit - it was all very genuine and just - what can I say, how to say - just right there for me. they were beautiful. they even had me solo at the end of the tune! it was a trip. showing up on the other side of the glass was mister jim o'rourke, yeah! I had asked him to come. when we finished, the mi-gu folks were very happy, I'd see them again tomorrow. jim did a whole editon of the watt from pedro show w/me a the 'tel. he's an incredibly interesting and righteous cat - his adventure of coming here to live and start a whole new life journey was intriguing as well as him explaining his musical past, including his sonic youth tenure. damn, I was tuckered when it was all over but felt it was very all very much worth it.
I wanted settas to go w/my jenbei cuz so far I've had to use my converses and I always wanted some anyway though I didn't know the name for them... there's always been a nickname (I thought) for flip-flops back home called zoris but I though that was cali slang! baka watt. I find some settas the biggest ones this cat is the asakusa part of tokyo (I also chowed some brown curry, rice and squid - pointing out to the waiter the eighth and highest "heat" level they had on the menu, the one next to the drawing of the little face w/tears and though there was some heat, it's no habanero) where there were some huge open bizarre type areas - yes! I stumble onto some jinbeis for my missingmen tom and raul and get them also. stopping by the sumida river on the way back, near where tomorrow they're gonna have like twenty thousand fireworks go off (around the same time the stooges will be on stage in naeba so we'll miss it), I see the sensoji temple and a five story pagoda plus the kaminarimon gate (in the outdoor shops here I find a little rilakkuma leaning up on a little version of this gate's latern - I'll clip him to the 'g' string of my bass above the nut for luck). later mister shimmy comes, driving in his tiny nissan wagon like none they sell in the u.s. - lots of room for stuff though for its size - to his and ms yuko's pad in tokyo's suginami part to record in their tiny sudio - tiny in size but not in sound... wow... this is where the mi-gu records were born! I got to see the synthesizer used on the mi-gu records, the guitars, the speakers it was mixed on - damn. what a trip, the sounds I'd be living w/vis a vis this I was seeing w/my eyes... mister shimmy's special power supply! incredible. now this tune was different in lots of ways but first - shit, before I even go into the pad - there was sushi at this little pad nearby. this was the best soosh I ever had ever - I shit you not! it was incredible and fresh - hell, the chef stuck a net in a tank, pulled out a fish and cut it up w/me chowing what he cut w/in seconds. damn. I must of had a fistful of wasabe, more - it was so vivid in its taste, nothing like the stuff out of toothpaste tubes back home. the miso soup even, the ikura, everything just blew up in my mouth w/every bite - I had such an energy even though I konked only a little last night cuz of my nerves... this tune had been weighing heavy heavy on me big time. it was sort of like a sonic youth tune in seven-four, well the seven-four was not sort of - it was! the drums were recorded and w/it was a scratch vocal and scratch guitar but they were played really well. the chords were voiced trippy. what I wanted to do was not really a kim gordon thing (big respect to kim though) but more something tim wright or tony maimone would've done in parts of early pere ubu tunes - pedal and pivot for the push. mister shimmy was both very patient and very generous... he even let me change some chord voicings of what I was trying in the moment. the real problem for me though was feeling the beat cuz I just wasn't that used to seven-four - shit, the last time I did it was for a balkan-gypsy tune where I had to keep telling myself "taco taco burrito" over and over to keep it together. I wanted the intervals kind of random throughout each two bars of each chord too but man, it was hard for me to feel cuz of not doing seven-four so much so I kept coming out long or ending up short, aaaarrgggghhhh... they were very patient w/me. there actually is a smaller four-four part and it's really critical, much drama - mister shimmy called what I composed for it "kayak-like" but I kept rushing the tempo so this where I asked ms yuko for help and she played my back like a drum (I was recording sitting down w/headphones on), beating out the tempo. it was ingenious cuz I was able to hear both the backing track and my bass and focus on HEARING them together while not being distracted by listening for click track which is always competing w/either what you're playing or trying to play to. instead I could rather just feel the beat and not even think about it, just let go in the conscious mind and let my body absorb it. at first I thought, no I have to manage but still kept either leading or lagging cuz of the latency of having the brain monitoring shit like that but then when I just gave in to the taps being felt, it all came together. I finished the second half of the tune first. mister shimmy had me soloing again at the end though I put some at this little bridges too, I figured I'd try to put in some sax-like lines, thinking of john coltrane and thinking of them singing too, this natural seventh thing on the off beat after the one (a tiny bit like "salt peanuts" or something? diz?!) but then as we were 'pert-near getting the tune's first part done, the recording machine crashed and all was lost - they both we were so sad and felt bad for me but I thought it was ok after thinking about it some. I had more prac under my belt now so I could do the whole thing more consistent and start from the beginning! it was not a bad thing, a little more work - no prob and now ms yuko did the seven-four on my back as well as the four-four so I had probably the best "click track" I had ever ever tried playing to. we finished the take, it took a couple of chunks to do, ms yuko bringing me w/either three or four - her sense of the one is amazing and so right there, damn. mister shimmy guides me through the song's form, telling me if I'm close and punching me in tight. it's an amazing team, wow - how they came together for me. sakura also helped w/trying to explain my babble in their language. we got done and I couldn't believe... you gotta understand how much I wanted to do good for them and not let them, not let the tune and the music of mi-gu down. yesterday, ms yuko had a stuffed knitted mi-gu head for me to focus on when we played and today she gave me a few little mi-gu buttons to put in a little mi-gu head knitted bag and also some stickers - I put one sticker on my bass for luck before recording, I'll have it tomorrow for more luck at the fuji rock festival. whew, I felt enormous relief - more than yesterday cuz this was intense a little more not just cuz of the timing but having to record alone... actually I wasn't alone, they were right there w/me. we went into a little neighborhood "beer garden" not too far away, upstairs at a table I talked w/them about all the thoughts rushing through my head, reeling off ms yuko's mi-gu lyrics:
what do you know?
what do I know?
we never learn
from our mistakes
that's a reality
we have to face
can you relate
for what you are
at the core
the seeds of light
are waiting to warm
are you ready?
when I get back home and petra's done w/her choir thing in new york city, we're both getting together to record our cover of mi-gu's "floating" - we did it as part of our first pelicanman gig a few months back and now mister shimmy wants us to flow our version w/just singing, violin and bass to them so they (him, ms yuko and mister nago) can fill in and re-invent the tune. all this is gonna be part of six song mini-album coming out early next year. it's really amazing I get to be part of a mi-gu album, something I would never ever had imagined. I give them both huge huge hugs...
gig day and we're far from the fuji rock fest venue, it's three hours northeast of tokyo by minibus, up in the mountains near the japan's west coast in a town that during winter is a ski resort called naeba. kind of scary is right on the coast nearby is niigata which is where a nuclear reactor cracked and spilled contaminated water a few weeks ago when a strong earthquake hit nearby. there was an article in an english-written newspaper telling of the reactorboss apologizing for the nuke being accidently built right on an earthquake fault, the scientists and engineers have been mistaken in thinking where it was actually was. oops. there's a huge hotel we're taken too and where lots of bands that play this dealio stay but I'm so glad we stayed in tokyo cuz all the opportunities I had there for music and stuff. this would've be "the village" life for sure. anyway, we're here now and not to be on for a few hours so I go and chow. they got some great sukiyaki and long long steamed string beans plus some salad that I chow up big time. I surprised at my table (I usually chow alone) by first matt and then warren of gov't mule - wow, I haven't seen them in a good while, since not too long after they had me record that creedence stuff for their "deep end" album - big big hugs for them. they talk w/me a bit but gotta go soon cuz they're on a stage where they're gonna play a three hour set, whoa. man, it was good to see them though. same w/the beastie boys - first adam yauch comes down the hall as I'm coming back from chow, we have a good talk w/catching up on things cuz it's a been real long time, like since the early 90s when fIREHOSE opened a big leg of tour gigs for them. soon mike d and the other adam comes, then money mark and fredo who are helping them on stage w/organ and percussion - whoa, it's getting crowded in this hallway! mike d likes me rockin' the jinbei (I'm the only one in the whole place w/a jinbei but it's humid even w/night coming on), omar comes over for hugs - wow, he's playing too w/lots of the volta guys in his band and money mark - mister nishita tells me he's playing four times at this trip, whoa! everybody has good things to say about the jinbei even though yeah, I look weird but I guess it's obvious that ain't the jinbei or the setta's fault and so they share much good spirit w/me, all so very kind, making me feel much much so very grateful I could see them all again. all great cats, I am inspired to do good for the stooges guys. it's kind of haul to the green stage where we're playing and there's a long van ride that has to thread to lots of people and vehicles coming the other way on a narrow path, it's night now (around eight bells) and only vehicle headlights and some flashlights let things be scene. ryko has been helping us the whole time and is very key here, keeping way calm even though it seems kind of hairy, much respect to her. there's yet another van ride but I forgo that a hoof the last hundred or so yards to a tent to wait out the last fifteen minutes - yes, I'm out of the jinbei and in the boilersuit but no socks for me - I didn't wear them w/the settas and the only I think I brought w/the boilersuit was the plastic bag I'm gonna bring it back soaked in. it is very warm but even more, it is humid - crimony! I get my bass and warm up - whoa, is the neck feeling slow cuz of so much moisture, especially the back of it. hey, "work the room" like the say... I ain't gonna bellyache. I'm excited to play, very much. seconds drag like a ball and chain is fixed to each one but then it's go-time, yeah! we hoof up behind the stage and to ronnie's side - ig asks if we're all ready and w/all us nodding yes, he goes "let's fucking do it then!" and I run over to my amps and see what I'm using for the first time: marshall vrb 400 amps, two of them each w/an 8x10 cab on top of each other sideways, just like if it was an ampeg set up but these heads are wider though it don't matter cuz they're belted together to absorb ig's coming leap-up and humping. "loose" is let loose, we're under way! everyone talks about japanese audiences being way quiet between songs but these cats are very vocal w/their spirit, not subdued. right away after the initial blast tune comes "down on the street" - iggy runs a tight set, songs butted right up on each other, it's a workingman's set for sure. the humidity is really trippy on my bass, choking out notes on the 'd' and 'g' strings big time. I can feel the pores on the wood opened up seemingly big enough to drop pennies into... it's 'pert-near like she's sweating. ig gets up on the bass amps so I get down on my knees, easier then getting back up - ha, life is most fair for putting hurts on me here - how else to check an imagination that gets too much carried away? a healthy dose of reality! ok, one last "real o-mind" and as we finish, ig does some spiel - this is the only thing that keeps the next tune coming barreling down the chute - ig yells "yeah, hello! fucking kanichewa! we are the fucking stooges and we are so fucking happy to be here w/you, together! now we're gonna do a song about a year w/a magic number" - yep, "1969" is up and we're down w/it. whoa, ig cranks up the dancing even another notch! next "I wanna do an animal song, I wanna be your dog!" he belts out and we respond by belting out the tune likewise. there's a huge moat and between that and the stage is some track the cameras roll on and ig works that area - well, every are he can get to but something's up comes ronnie's solo time cuz he's gone a long while (later he tells us he fell of that camera track and hit the deck, showing his the hurts/abrasions that resulted - holy cow!)... he eventually reappears though, "I need love!" he tells everyone, "I need love!" one more verse and we're ready for the next one, "alright, alright, alright baby" - water over the head from a bottle, then another one, then "lllllloooooooorrrrrrrrrrrddddddd" - he sends us into "tv eye" land and the tune churns to his shamen body shakes - "c'mon, do you see that cat? yeah I do mean you!" we get into the chunk part kind of awkward though "god damn it!" yells ig (maybe it was my fault?) but we're together for the "ram it! parts and go out strong, scotty seems to be making the ending longer and longer every time we do it, good drama but ig starts singing the next song's chorus before him and ronnie's finished - "my idea of fun" but hey, the set is run tight, I think it's a great segue. iggy calls for more guitar, the mix on stage is strange, in and out w/ronnie. you can tell ig wants the tempo up too, "c'mon, c'mon!" he suggests. he works this one on stage more than he usually does. a long long roll on the floor tom from scotty... "dirt, baby" says ig and we bring it forth. it's scary for me not to slip, so much sweat on the deck from me, 'pert-near a pond of it at my feet. "real cool time, real cool time!" right out of that slow churn and ig puts in his overdrive, woomf! after the many refrains of the last chorus, when ronnie takes off for lead guitarland, he implores the crowd "now, get up here - dance to the stooges! fuck this shit, come here - let 'em up, let 'em up! c'mon c'mon - wooooo! woooooo!" the invasion makes the glastonbury rush seem tiny. we end the tune and ig says "easy, easy!" trying to calm things some, then calls for "no fun" and it gets even wilder, a huge wave of folks going from end to end of the stage, swamping ig but somehow he holds on and keeps singing strong. "alright, take it easy, take it easy, everybody go down now, thank you thank you" says ig when we wrap it up (it was so crazy scotty couldn't tell if the four "no fun"s we're ig's so iggy counted us out!) but it's no doing for the kids, they wanna stay on board! "everybody gotta go down now, thank you, thank you baby - thank you tokyo punks" he continues but they wanna stay up. stage people are getting feisty though "easy, everything's cool - going on down... bye bye... thank you... ok... bye bye now... easy, bye bye - no you gotta down now before we play some more." so many cats hugging on him and telling him thanks. yes, plenty of hugs on me too, plenty of thanks - they're very kind, truly. it takes about four minutes to clear the stage, disembodied huge voices in japanese erupt from the monitors, whoa! "now that's some very strong motherfucking love, fucking strong love, motherfucker! thank you tokyo dancers" says ig, "thank you tokyo punks!" band intros then iggy hollers "now, show time is over, this if for the music - fuck everything, 1970!" and the band lifts off w/that tune in the bombay, steve mackay dropping on us come the "feel alright!" - iggy welcoming him aboard w/a rush and flurry. "mindroom" for some contemplating - this baby's usually like a minute and a half and, very open w/ron and iggy trading off 'til ig calls out "fun house" and that's my cue. bump bump bump bidibump bump bump bidibump - "huh!" says ig, "blow on it right now!" steve's blowin' great, damn. it is a good funky time, this song jams. down in flames we go next - "l.a. blues" is way ripped up and crazy, ig holding out some and then going for the big howls - "I'm sick and tired of the fake shit!" then "skull ring" closes it. off for a little bit and then ig tells us "double dog" to cap it. we go out and do it, ig w/a different take on the singing and me doing it dave alexander style, big respect to him. of course steve stays up w/us and that makes this version different too, him winding the sax up for the ending where ig twirls and twirls before he comes down to stop us. yeah, getting into that part was a little tough though cuz scotty didn't realize we were in the last chorus and just plowed ahead so ig tried counting us out but we ran over that a little too but not that much - we got there and hey, whoa, we're done. that was a blaster, damn. I ride back in the van w/ig and he said the kids had really good spirit, his words: "a real good spirit" and not me paraphrasing. back in the dressing room, it's back in the jinbei for me. lots of nice people come by to say thank you, some great cats from here. I much appreciate it, much. ig comes and shows us his hurts, ow. he dug the gig though, alirght!
it's a little shorter going back (two and half hours) and this time it's a huge bus but w/the stooge crew in a minivan cuz maybe the cigarettes? steve and scotty in the back singing merle haggard, george jones and hank junior songs... I bet ronnie was going crazy. I fill a couple of piss bottles along the way and then konk cuz that gig really yanked it of me, it ain't really that late. what can I say? ok: real o-mind.
iggy + the stooges
on tour in may-june 2007
iggy + the stooges
on tour in august 2007
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