Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Still Travellin'...

It took me until early afternoon to finally get home to Raleigh. By that time, I'd been 34 hours out of Tokyo. Sheesh!

My buddy Greg Howard picked me up at the airport and delivered my wretched ass home.

I jumped in the car (which started, thankfully) and ran to the grocery store to get some bananas and things. Like, you know, beer.

By late afternoon, I was sitting in one of my rocking chairs on the front porch, drinking a cold Bud and listening to Neil Young. Musta been about 65 degrees, just beautiful. My buddy Foy called, then dropped by for a cold one. And that was pretty much the extent of my day.

Just glad to be home.

I'm off for 4 weeks, then I'll be going to South Africa for 3 weeks with my other boss, Josh Groban. If you read my rants regularly, you know what a great tour that is. Totally cool boss, great crew, a bunch of friends and good times.

Stay tuned for great stories from the other side of the world. OK, I might write a little now and then while I'm home, but there's not really much to write about. We'll see…

Monday, February 11, 2008

Travel Day - Heading Home

When I got up this morning, I went and hung out at Starbucks for about 30 minutes. Lobby call was set for 1pm, so I had plenty of time. Stopped at the 7-Eleven on the way back for some last minute Japanese goodies. The 7-Elevens here r-o-c-k. All kinds of cool things you'd never expect…

For example, the package of dried squid I bought. I figured I'd want a souvenir snack to take home or maybe for some time later today. On the near-two-hour ride to the airport, I tore that sucker open and the instant I did, about 3 people on the bus started in with comments like "Holy mother of god, what the hell is that smell?"

So, OK, it was a little pungent, I guess. Everyone was laughing their ass off and talking smack. Gotta give credit to Mark Wise, he was the only person on the bus willing to try a taste of it. I kept waving the package near Sooner, who was totally grossed out by the smell of it. Someone in the back said it smelled like a vagina with a yeast infection.

Which I guess it did.

Hey, it tasted good.

We had a 4:50pm flight to LAX. Pretty uneventful. I watched a couple of movies and slept maybe an hour. LAX to St. Louis was OK, too. Mark Wise was with me on that flight because he lives in St. Louis.

Upon landing in St. Louis, I found out that my flight to Raleigh was cancelled. Mark was kind enough to let me crash at his house for the night, so I treated him to dinner at Chuck's Bar & Grill, a place in his neighborhood. By 9:30, I was falling asleep, so we headed back to his house and I crashed on the couch in the basement.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Show Day 2 in Tokyo, Japan


It was hard for me to believe what happened at that time this morning. I was sitting at the desk in my hotel room, on the computer, forearms resting on the desktop. Suddenly the desk started to vibrate. Then I realized that the entire room, hell, the entire building was shaking. It was an EARTHQUAKE!

OK, so maybe you're from California and don't even think twice about such things, but I've never been in one. And you can believe me when I tell ya, it scared shit out of me. I started wondering what it was gonna be like to die, because I was about to ride this building down into a pile of rubble. No shit!

As I was deciding whether on not riding the building down from inside the bathtub would improve my chances of survival, it finally stopped.

I can honestly say that I hope to never experience THAT again.

I found out later that the quake had measured 3 out of 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, which is different from the Richter scale. It was stated to have had a preliminary magnitude of 5.0. on of that same 0 to 7 scale. Whatever – it sucked and I don't want to be in another one…

Spent about 30 minutes walking around the neighborhood, checking stuff out. Wound up down at the Starbucks on the corner, where I ran into John, the monitor engineer from Arcade Fire. He's a nice British dude who I met on the Big Day Out tour in Australia, and we spent a few minutes catching up with each other adventures of the past week.

Robert and Sooner showed up and once they got their drinks, I joined them walking back to the hotel.

After the show tonight, we threw ourselves an end-of-tour party at the Hard Rock Tokyo. All but 2 crew people showed up (those 2 had early flights in the morning), and Tom was the only bandmember to show up. Had a good time, met some cool punters (fans). They were mostly kept away by our security guys, but I kept walking around downstairs (where it was cooler, temperature-wise), and they'll always approach you if they know you work for the band.

In the upstairs bar, I ran into John Corrabi, a guy who used to sing in Motley Crue when Vince Neil wasn't around. He was on the Hooligan's Holiday record that I know of, not sure if he was around long enough to do any others. Anyway, John had come out to a Cry Of Love show back in '93 or '94 in Los Angeles. I want to say it was the show at the Troubadour on October 12, 1993 – that was the show that Westwood One recorded and broadcast live. John was a totally cool guy and I think we all had a few beers with him that night. I remember being surprised at how cool he was. I couldn't believe the dude from Motley Crue could be that normal.

So I talked to John for 15 or 20 minutes before rejoining the festivities in our section of the restaurant.

Everything started petering out by about 2am, so I jumped in a cab with somebody and headed back to the hotel. Lobby call around noon tomorrow and I've gotta repack a bunch of stuff.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Show Day in Tokyo, Japan

Today is the first of two shows here in Tokyo. We're playing the Makuhari Messe, which I think translates roughly to "big dumb ugly-assed warehouse" in English. Not the most attractive venue, to be sure. There is no seating whatsoever, standing room only, but the room is huge. As currently configured for our show, it will hold 24,000 people. We've sold over 20,000 tickets for tonight's show and would have easily sold it out if we weren't doing another show tomorrow night.

Interesting things I saw on the 45-minute drive to the venue:

The red and white Japanese version of the Eiffel Tower:
Or maybe it's the NCSU Wolfpack Tower...

The Japanese version of the Golden Gate Bridge:

A very strange looking building:

Another cool thing about doing shows in Japan is that the night is over early. Reason being, everyone here uses mass transit, so when they get off from their jobs, they go directly to the concert venue for the show, then head home to the suburbs from there.

Today, doors were at 5:00, there was no opening act, and Rage was scheduled to be onstage at 6:30. One bandmember wound up leaving the hotel a little too late in rush hour traffic, so we actually didn't hit the stage until 6:55. But the show was still over at 8:15. Gotta love that!

Here's a photo of Tom's guitar tech, Slim, onstage about 5 minutes before the show started:

Had to turn on the flash to get Slim lit for the shot, but doing so caused the crowd to fade out. So I turned off the flash and got up on the drum riser to get this one:

That's 20,000-plus crazed Japanese Rage fans you're looking at. And they all lost their minds as soon as the band hit the stage.

After the show, the Japanese promoter folks took the entire crew out to dinner at some restaurant that I never got the name of. It was one of those "take off your shoes and sit in the table pit" places. Wave after wave of food and drink descended upon us. Between promoter employees and crew folks, we probably had about 30 people in all. It was all big fun, and when we got back to the hotel around 1:20am, I was ready to go back out to the Roppongi District, but everyone else was too stuffed to do anything other than go to bed.

I just went online for awhile until I got sleepy, sometime around 3am…

Friday, February 8, 2008

Travel Day to Tokyo, Japan

Yep, finally got to ride the famous Shinkansen today, also known as the Japanese Bullet Train. Pretty damn awesome. The trip of 340 miles or so flew by. These trains travel between 167 and 186 miles per hour, so it didn't take too long.

Chie (pronounced Chee-uh), our cute little interpreter, told me to sit on the left side of the train in order to get a great view of Mt. Fuji when we went past it. Here are a couple of shots I got:
Here's a couple of our LBM (large, black men). That's Ray at the window and Mark in the aisle seat.And let's not forget about Drew, who was sitting a row back:A few of us had lunch on the train. I was dying to try a Bento box and I was not disappointed. Mine was some very tasty rice and lots of sashimi. I couldn't believe how good it was and it was less than 10 bucks.

Once we reached our hotel, The ANA Intercontinental, I made plans with Spragoo and Drew to meet in the lobby to go out for a bit. I think Spragoo said this was his 28th trip to Japan, so I have no problem at all with him being my tour guide.

Our lovely hotel:We walked about 10 minutes to the Roppongi District, which is slam full of bars, clubs, restaurants, and the like. We did a little bar-hopping, hitting about 4 places in quick succession, finishing up at Gaspanic, a cool, rockin' bar just off the main drag. The bartenders and the DJ in there were cool. After they asked us what we were doing in Tokyo and we told them, the DJ played 5-6 Rage songs for our head-banging pleasure.

They take their drinking pretty seriously here at Gaspanic – here are shots of a few of the signs posted in the second floor bar area:

You may need to click on them to enlarge them enough to read them.

By the time we'd had a few rounds there, Spragoo had decided to have room service back at the hotel and I already had plans to go eat sushi with Ray, so we went back to the hotel by about 7. Good thing, cuz I was working on a serious buzz.

Met Ray, Mark, and Drew, three of our LBM (large black men), down in the lobby to head out for dinner around 7:30 or so, by which time I'd lost the buzz.

We walked around Roppongi for 20-30 minutes trying to figure out where to eat. Three of us wanted sushi, but one guy said he didn't eat bait, so he went elsewhere and brought his beef & noodle bowl with him when he joined us. Which of course didn't go over well with the sushi chef, who allowed him to eat it only if he choked it down. I'm surprised he didn't just make him leave, but the other three of us had just ordered a truckload of sushi and I'm sure he also didn't want us to leave, too.

The fish was fresh and terrific, and not nearly as expensive as I thought it would be here in Tokyo. Our tab came to about $185 total.

After dinner, we swung back by Gaspanic for a couple more beers, then headed back to the hotel. Early call tomorrow for our first show here…

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Show Day in Osaka, Japan

Call time this morning was 8am. No vehicles, just had to walk 500 feet or so to the venue. Nice.

The Japanese punters (fans) are all brought into the building in an extremely organized manner. They're grouped together outside based on where their seats are located, and then escorted in by a person holding a sign with their the number of their seating area affixed to it. Very orderly, very well behaved. I loved it.

Afterwards, a bunch of us went back to RockRock for a few hours. We had the private VIP room to ourselves, but we mostly hung out in the regular bar area. All the bartenders greeted me like royalty. Guess I was tipping pretty well the other night whilst banging my head. And they wouldn't let me buy anything for the first hour or so that I was there. I finally had to insist that they let me pay for my drinks.

I was standing near the front door of the club when a small group of total hotties came in. Someone in our group pointed out the tall brunette and said that she was Japamela, the Japanese Pamela Anderson. She's probably the most famous groupie in Japan and she lives here in Osaka. After hearing about her for a couple of weeks, I finally got to see her. Never got a chance to take a photo of her, but here's a couple I downloaded to share with you…I have no idea who these band dudes are - like I said, I downloaded these shots.

Tonight, she's got dark hair, a la this shot:That's Sid, the DJ from Slipknot, standing next to her in this photo. Guess it's a couple of years old.

I ran into her in the foyer leading to the unisex bathrooms. I suppose because I'm not Japanese, she asked me if I worked for the band. I talked to her for a few minutes and she wasn't ballistic or anything, so I walked her into the private room so she could hang out. And then as soon as I put her in there, I walked the hell back out of there - her reputation, like that of Little Rock Connie, has preceded her.

The DJ here at RockRock is totally cool. He played every song I requested, both the other night and tonight. I had a blast here and hope to come back someday. I'll always prefer "old man" bars, but I was digging the ROCK!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Day Off in Osaka, Japan

The Japanese promoter was kind enough to place a large fruit basket in everyone's room upon arrival yesterday. There were bananas, kiwi fruit, strawberries, apples, grapefruit, and a big, fat juicy mango. Had the mango for breakfast as soon as I got up today. I'd never had fresh mango until my trip to the Philippines back in October, when I fell in love with it. If you've never had a fresh mango, go getcha one right NOW. You'll love it!

Here's something neat. In this hotel, your morning newspaper arrives heat-sealed in plastic so that it hasn't touched the floor and gotten dirty. I'm surprised it didn't come with a pair of white cotton gloves with which to read it.

All the taxi drivers wear white gloves, too.

As if I needed any other reasons to love this place, the toilet rocks! Can you say "bidet" or what?

And here is the control panel on the toilet in my room:Click this to enlarge it - the icons are pretty funny!

We're talking heated seat, two kinds of spray, water pressure control, and deodorizer! I want one of these back home! Robert, our production manager, says he's gonna buy one and ship it home on this trip. He told me when he'd been here before with Kiss, he shipped one home for Paul Stanley. All I know is that it'll spoil the hell out of you.

Tonight, seven of us went out to the shopping district. Several folks were buying stuff for their kitchens from these awesome gadget stores. And the selection of cutlery is just insane here. And cheap, too!

Shopping district:

Right down from the last place we visited, we found this shit on the roll-up door of one of the shops that had closed early. What on earth this is about is beyond me! Is this some kind of Nazi store??? We'll never know, I guess, but I can tell you that I wanted to go buy a can of spray paint and paint over this shit…

After shopping, we stopped for dinner. We used the basic "point and order" method with our waiter, who didn't speak a word of English. It took us about 15 minutes to complete our order. After we all struggled through that process, he then went away and came back with an English version of the menu. D'oh!

We pretty much treated it all like tapas and shared around the table. My favorite was the deep-fried smelts, tiny fish about 4 inches long that are eaten whole. I got some shrimp fried rice that was terrific, too.

The food kept coming at us in waves, until everyone was too stuffed to jump.

After dinner, most of us headed back to our hotel. Long day and tomorrow we have a show. When I got to my room, I noticed how cool the palace across the way looked, all lit up at night.

Here's what it looked like during the day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Travel Day to Osaka, Japan

On the nearly eight-hour long flight from Perth, Australia to Hong Kong, this is how the routine went:

1. Infant states the desire to sit with Mommy (or Daddy, depending on which one she wasn't currently with).

2. Infant is told, "No, just stay here with me. Mommy/Daddy is right over there."

3. Infant starts WAILING LIKE A MOTHERFUCKING BANSHEE AT THE TOP OF HER FUCKING LUNGS until she is allowed to go to Mommy/Daddy.

4. Twenty minutes later, the process would repeat.

This shit went on ALL GODDAMNED NIGHT LONG. During takeoff, the little fucker kept undoing her seatbelt and jumping out of her seat. Same thing at landing time.

Worse case of parenting I've ever had to suffer through. What this child has learned is that whatever she wants is available to her as soon as she wants it. She simply has to pitch a fit. She was in complete and total control of both of her parents. Unbelievable.

What's more is that she's going to grow up to be a selfish, miserable, whiny bitch of a human being and it's not really gonna be her fault. Rather, the fault of her irresponsible, ignorant parents.

Did I mention that she had a little sister, maybe a year old, who was barely any more well behaved?

Did I also mention that I was the closest person (other than the parents) to these little shits on the entire plane? One was next to me, and the other was directly behind me.

What the fuck are crying infants doing in the business-class section of an overnight flight where everyone is trying to sleep????????


OK, so much for the rant. I think you get the point…


Having gotten next to nothing, sleepwise, the first order of business at the Hong Kong airport was to go directly to Starbucks and take an intravenous feeding.

Then I did a little shopping, of which there was a fine variety. Sooner told me about a store where I could get a cool black leather luggage tag with a red star on it. One of the images that Rage Against The Machine uses quite a bit is the Communist Chinese red star. It's also featured on the stage backdrop. So I scored one of those, and a baseball cap that also has the star. On the back, it reads Shanghai Tang, the name of the store.

After landing in Osaka, it took the better part of an hour to reach the hotel. We're staying at The New Otani Hotel, and the venue, Osaka-Jo Hall, is right outside my window. We'll be walking over to the gig on Thursday morning. Love it.

I managed to squeeze a 45-minute nap in and got downstairs at 8:30 to meet everyone to go out. We went to RockRock, the famous roadie bar here in Osaka. I've heard tales of this place for years, and I was finally able to go. Yay!

It was just a hole in the wall about 15 minutes from our hotel. Total rock bar, displays of gold records, photos, guitar picks, instruments, and all sorts of music memorabilia. Exactly the kind of bar I'd like to own one day. Looks like it wouldn't hold more than 50-60 people comfortably, but I've heard that the place will be wall-to-wall after our show.

They had waaaaaay too big of a PA in the room, but even when it was really loud, it sounded great. All they played was rock and roll, mostly hard rock, and they treated us like royalty. They're all getting tickets to the show here, and in return, we got fuckedupper than a football bat. The owner was buying shots for us all night, and the DJ was taking requests and it just got wilder and wilder. At one point, the DJ started GnR's "Welcome To The Jungle" and one of the bartenders came running out of a side room dressed up like Axl Rose (wig and all), carrying the top half of a mic stand with a mic on it. He did the most amazing impression of Axl I've ever seen. Knew every word and grunt, and had the dance moves down pat. Big fun! The dude was spinning around so much, I could barely get a shot of him:

Here's Sooner, our LD, having too much fun at RockRock:
The surprised-looking guy in the background is Brad Madix, our new FOH guy.

This photo is Bob Weibel (audio tech), Andy Veasey (drum tech), and Craig Baker (bass tech).
Finally left there around 3:30am. Sure glad I'm off tomorrow.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Day Off in Perth, Australia

Woke up around 8am, but went back to sleep. The Super Bowl was kicking off at 8:20am local time, but I needed more sleep. Guess I'll just have to miss the Super Bowl party downstairs in the bar.

Finally got up in time to see the last couple of minutes of the third quarter and then the entire fourth quarter. I couldn't believe that the Patriots lost. I don't give a crap about the Giants, but I HATE the Patriots. Watching them choke after going 18-0 up to today's game made me feel really good. I was in a happy mood for the rest of the day.

The hotel had free washers and dryers on a couple of floors and even had free soap, so pretty much everyone did their last laundry of the tour today. The laundry room on the third floor was more like a social lounge for crew folks.

I could have gone to see Iron Maiden tonight. It was their first show in Australia in 15 years. The other option was to chill out in my room and watch the first episode of the new season of "Lost." Chill, it was. Maiden, it was not.

Split for the airport shortly after 10pm…

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Show Day in Perth, Australia

Today was our last Big Day Out show, as well as the last show in Australia. Heading to Japan tomorrow for 3 shows, then back to the States for some much-needed R & R.

It was something like 103 degrees today, just boiling hot.

Cool shot of the huge tree overlooking our dressing room compound backstage. You can't really tell from the photo, but it was really eerie looking. The tree was all lit up, but the sky was black:

Shot of Tim, the bass player, all done up in red light. I took this a few nights ago at the Melbourne show. It's a pretty fucked-up photo, but I kind of like it:

The big end-of-tour aftershow party was in the ballroom of our hotel. The place was decked out and made to look like a big nightclub. Unbelievably crowded, but big fun.

Finally made it up to my room around 4am.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Travel Day to Perth, Australia

Holy shit, it's hot here. Step off the plane at the Perth airport around 3:45 in the afternoon and the heat just slaps you in the face. Must be 100 degrees.

And I hate heat.

OK, let me rephrase that. I love wintertime in NC (not that it ever gets too cold there), and I'm pissed because I've been out working completely through the winter there. I was out on the R. Kelly tour since the last week of October and I got exactly one whole day off between that and starting the Rage tour in New Zealand. It's the middle of summertime Down Under and it's just boiling. I feel like someone has taken a year of my life away from me.

The good news, for me, is that it will be cold in Japan when we get there on Monday.

Spragoo and I took a walk down to the water and found a cool joint called The Lucky Shag Bar. Sat outside (in the shade and over the water) and had a few cold ones. There were lots of people there and it was a good time for a couple of hours. We split a big sampler platter with all kinds of good seafood and great chips (fries).

Sitting in the heat took its toll on us after a while and we headed back to the hotel, where the bar was just raging. A lot of the bands on the bill are staying here (The Duxton Hotel) and they were all taking a damn drink.

It turned into an over-the-top, wild and woolly night. Finally got back to my room around 2am.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Show Day in Adelaide, Australia

View from my hotel window here in Adelaide: