Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Health of Your Music Scene VS. Social Networks

     This is in no way meant to be an anti-technology anti-social networks rant. As I also use them at times for various reasons. It is merely my personal observations & experiences as I have been in a working/touring band for the last 30 years. Hopefully this will draw some attention to some red flags and alarming facts that are the by-products of how music is exposed , marketed , and promoted. I sincerely hope that you will ponder the "big picture"and the state that music scenes are heading towards.
The Big Picture

PUNK IS DEAD - it died along time ago ...
       Let me clue you in on something. As soon as corporations and business found away to market "punk rock" to the masses, it died! Buddy if you don´t understand what I´m talking about then you probably never will.
     From what I can see the music industry and everything associated with the industry from bookers to venues, record labels etc ... has succeeded in reducing an endangered species, people!
    People who have enough passion to cultivate a strong and vibrant music scene, who care not only about the artist but also understand the need for an alternative to the crap that is offered to us today. Support from a "thumbs up" icon is not any kind of viable support.
    Support is attending alternative events that are going to benefit the local music and art scenes. Understanding that under minding other events and functions, IE: jealousy of other venues, bookers, and bands just play right into the hands of the local city government, who are more concerned with revenue than nurturing a thriving performing arts enviroment.
     If you have the mind set that it´s a competition, then your probably a part of the problem. You really need to understand that kind of attitude will, in the long run sabotage the efforts of those who understand that individual success is a win for the community. Now these "suits" with their masters degrees in business and marketing, strategy teqniques, corporate sponsors, publicists with mission statements, board of directors with investors and local politicians are now in charge.

    Now companies like "Samsung" are the parent companies of "Universal Music Group" and "B.M.G." are now running things. It is these same people, who have no love or interest in the arts and not a single creative bone in their body, are now the ones who dictate what music is performed, the format that you listen to it with, and last but not least, how you purchase it.
 A win for the community

    The power mongers are now in control and if there is one thing that they DO understand is that music, (whatever the gendre) is a multi billion dollar international industry. This will always be the main motivation and element in their manipulation of the music industry.
    From "Ramones" t-shirts sold in stores like "Zara" to the "Vans Warp Tours", not to mention the new "Summer Cochella Festival Collection" sold at "H&M". The business will always supersede the community! The fact is that it won´t get any better without a fight and action, along with support, other than "Facebooks" placebo support.

   Ok ! So let´s use "Facebook" as an example. I use social media for some of my projects and sure I have increased my exposer by 300%. I have about 10,000 followers and friends in total. But support in the form of anything concrete or usable has just gotten progressively worse in the last Ten Years. Pressing a "like" button or marking "is attending" ( even if the event is in N. Korea ) is not support, to be quite blunt. Before "social network" sites we used to support by going to a show with some friends, paying the 5$ entrance, having a few drinks or whatever, and maybe purchasing something from the "merch table. HAHAHA ! That old fashion way of "networking" is pretty funny huh? But the cold, hard truth of the matter is this ...
   If your group can get from One to (let´s say) Five Hundred persons to attend, I believe that within the next Five Years there will NOT be anymore open venues or festivals that will book your group unless you can bring in at least One Thousand paying people. Even if you have a good following and some success, touring will be out of the question because of financial impossibilities. Do people really spend a Thousand bucks on a Weekend at a festival like SXSW?


    Now I would hope that these issues would raise a red flag of concern. If you don´t know the age-old adage, " no one rides for free", then your still a youngster. Seriously though , we are losing so many important rights and freedoms! Technology has now gone and passed religion as "the opiate of the masses". What the hell does a Eight Year old kid need an Eight Hundred dollar "smart" phone for?
     Generally speaking I see some really dangerous issues starting to raisr their ugly heads. Alarmingly person to person contact and physical interaction is being replaced by an inter-net relationship and a false reality. Does the public really feel that the proceved positives attributed to the "world wide web" really out number the negatives? Does the general public realize how quickly a fertile and easy hunting ground for pedifiles, stalkers, terrorists, liars, fakes and frauds has been created? Do you really think that you are not being monitored? I myself refuse to compromise and give up the things that are important to me like music, art, litature, and hands on experiences. I believe that without some effort and work, passion for anything can not be achieved and eventually leads to a devaluation and an enviroment of lethargcey.

   Perssonally I will support, help save, and if possible, improve these kind of bleak scenarios. I will try at the very least as opposed to doing nothing, complaining, and pointing fingers.
   I sincerely hope that you will take a few min. to reflect on some of these things I have touched upon. I also want to encourage you to embrace change and keep "kicking against the pricks"!!

    Cause that´s what ya do when your hearts punk rock ...

                       - L. Koizumi
                                                       June 2015

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NOTES FROM THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE - " The Funtastic Dracula Festival 2012 vol. 1

           This Years "Funtastic Dracula Festival" was a good time had by all!!! At least I had a great time. I am now just recovering after 4 days in Beindorm , and a couple of days in Estudio Tigress in Gandia , working on new "Gravedigger V" recordings . I don't have "blisters on my fingers" but I did come back with blisters on my brain and a broken rib to boot . . . So I will be reporting on all the bands , rumors, gossip , and everything in between  . . . But right now it's hard for me to type and breathe at the same time so enjoy some photos . . .


The Gories







Friday, October 5, 2012

" CHEATING DEATH " - The Curse of The Gravedigger V

          " There's no such thing as bad publicity " -  Mick Jagger
Over the Years I have heard or read about the "curse" of "The Gravedigger V , and of my own demise from a multitude of methods and reasons in many articles. It's kind of trippy in a, cool way to read about it and all the theories surrounding the myth. And it makes for some damn good publicity , that's for sure!

     I have never had anything to do with these rumors, starting them or keeping them going, etc . . . I have agreed that there is a curse or a theory of a curse. Also many of the details of my, or our deaths are true. And I have tried to "milk it" so to speak. Come on it's pretty good when you can use "Back From The Grave" and the general public believes it or get's confused, hahah. For example:
Sad, sad news. Greg Shaw was a pioneer of so many of the commonplace aspects in the indie music scene today. RIP. -adam
Someone (April 19, 2005)
It's sad but there is a GraveDigger V / Morlocks curse. Those associated with the band are dead (Greg, Chris Gast) or faked their deaths (Leighton Koizumi) or will be all dead soon! Sad.
                                                                                           from "Punk News. org

It seems the rock & roll ..., 19 Aug 2010

It seems the rock & roll Gods - or the Grim Reaper - have been trying to tell the Morlocks' lead singer, Leighton Koizumi, something for a while now. After all, in 1999 Spin magazine declared him dead (in print) not long before a live album was released abroad without his involvement, titled Wake Me When I'm Dead.
Leighton Koizumi
After leaving the slammer around 2000, Koizumi got sober via the MusiCares MAP Fund and reunited with an old cohort: Bob Forrest of Thelonious Monster, now a counselor seen on TV's Celebrity Rehab.
Massive mainstream success didn't happen for either, but had Koizumi not been focused on getting clean after his incarceration, he could have had a second chance during the early 2000s, when a slew of garage-style bands, including the Hives and the White Stripes, broke big. He did become part of a new psych-rock scene in Los Angeles, jamming and hanging with various musicians, including guys from the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spindrift.
Koizumi says he was "iffy at first."
Koizumi calls it "dirty punk. Their bluesy quality makes them suited for the Chess undertaking, and for the most part, it's a checkmate. Koizumi's unyielding persona gives his interpretations a swagger and sonic credibility few crooners could pull off, his death-defiant existence not unlike those of the legendary artists he's covering.
In 1999, Spin magazine ..., 8 April 2011 [cached]
In 1999, Spin magazine incorrectly stated Morlocks singer Leighton Koizumi had overdosed and died. At the time, Koizumi was alive and well but near the end of a 10-year prison term for a botched drug robbery that involved kidnapping. Soon after leaving jail, Koizumi got sober and started to hit stages around Los Angeles with various bands, and a few years later reformed The Morlocks to tour and record: the upshot was the comeback album, Easy Listening for the Underachiever(2008), only released in Europe on the Italian label Go Down. However, copies did filter Stateside. Somebody in song licensing acquired a copy and the group soon found pieces of its catchier material used in television dramas and restaurant chain advertisements.  ___________________________________
       Christ on a crutch , I can't really say if there's a curse , I can say that Chris Gast the original Bass player of "The Gravedigger V" died mysteriously in his sleep. That I'd say, more or less that around  Seven to Eight people that where associated with the band are now dead , including " Greg Shaw".  I know that "John Hanarrti" almost died early in the band when we went down to T.J. to buy "Beatle Boots". Back in the early Eighties we had found this small little shop with back stock of 60's everything you could get the coolest pair of boots for like 10 bucks with a little haggling. Well "John" was hungry but he didn't want to eat in TJ. he was paranoid that he would get food poisoning, so we stop at a "Jack in the Box" on the Border.  Two days later "John" was in the hospital he had gotten some strange virus, he was in the hospital for like a whole Month and almost died. Years after that I had heard that he had gotten into some trouble with the "Feds. Something to do with him bringing in concealed handguns into his bank. Not to rob the bank , but to feel more secure , I guess , who knows.
           I was rumored to have died from a number of reasons , mostly from drug -overdose's or "Aids"
shit like that. I think mostly this was a result of being incarcerated for a good amount of time and I just fell way off the radar. So this was somewhat easy to believe since no one knew what had happen to me. I have heard of sightings of myself , kind of like "Bigfoot". I don't have the greatest reputation for saying "no" and I am a "hibtual line stepper. So IS there a cruse? I guess you could make a case for one. The GravediggerV where only together for less than Two Years. In a way you could also chalk it up to it being a "occupational hazard. Some say that I have lived a "charmed life", I can't say that "charm" has had alot to do with it. The way I look at it in the "grand scheme of things" is that I am destined to live a long and suffering existence for all my karma . . .  Boo hoo . . .
98 lbs. Soaking Wet
Ted & Leighton discussing the Break-up of The GDV

Sunday, September 30, 2012

" FEAR & LOATHING IN BERKLEY" - Barrington Halls Spaghetti Night Dinners

        The Morlocks had been living in San Francisco for about 3 Months and things had gotten better. We we're playing shows and building a following somewhat. We had a friend that was attending "Berkley University" and was living in a kind of dorm, but it was more like a four story run down apartment building that resembled something out of "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls". Barrington Hall as it was called was famous for their "Spaghetti Night Dinners", which they would have once a Month. They would make a spaghetti dinner for all the residents of the hall. After they would have a band play and consume copious amounts of "chemicals" . . .
         When we got there we where a little surprised , because we where under the impression that this was like a place where students lived. I guess looking back they did live there but it didn't look like they where doing much schooling. The place basically looked like a squat with black lights , glow in the dark graffiti on the walls and people wandering around looking more like hippies, punkers, artists, and rich "trust fund" kids that where spending Papas money trying to figure out what they where going to be . . . basically looking like "Manson Family" rejects. At the time we where a bit paranoid because the Week before we had been in Oakland, (which at that time was still basically a Black community) and some gang guy had run across the street and slapped Jeff in the head because of the bandana he was wearing. I guess it was the wrong color or something along those lines. He said something like, "Don't ever let me catch you wearing this here agian cuz", I think it was also cause Jeff was one of those "White Devils" So we where kind of tripping because "Barrington Hall" was kind of on the border of "Berkley " and "Oakland".
Welcome to Oakland
     Everything was going to be alright we realized when some guy and I guess his assistants came a greeted us with a 4ft. tank of nitrous oxide and some 30 gallon trash bags. They said that it was for the band. We we're cool with that because at the time everybody in "The Morlocks" was experimenting with all times of mind altering substances. In other words we we're taking any kind of drug that we could get our hands on. I was actually the "late bloomer" of the group in that area. I know that many of you will laugh at that remark, (and your  humble narrator will acknowledge that he made up for lost time rather quickly) but seriously I had just started to smoke "weed", ( Tommy was like a huge stoner ) and I didn't really drink. But that is a whole different story in itself.  So they shuffled us into the dinning area and helped us haul our gear inside.

Tommy "Stoner" Clark

      At the time "The Morlocks" where using primarily all "Vox" equipment, including drums and guitars, except Ted. He had tried using a "Mark IV" teardrop but he was always accidentally hitting the different knobs or the wah wah hand thing on the bridge of the guitar. In "The Gravedigger V" he used a "Fender Coronado" most of the time and once in awhile he would use a "Silvertone". When he joined up with "The Morlocks" he was using a "Harmony Rocket" hollow-body. He would later switch to a solid-body guitar, a 1965 "Gibson Firebird"and he also had this strange guitar called a "Standell". It was super heavy and really evil looking thing. Haven't seen one since then.
    So we set up in the corner of the room. They had built a small stage maybe about 2ft. tall out of wooden crates. I don't think we did a sound check , if I remember correctly we set up and then we had a spaghetti dinner. Seriously! with wine in little white plastic cups.

     About 15 min. later people started to mill into the dinning hall and having dinner, drinking, smoking, etc . . . It was a cool scene, we had never been in a place where you could do whatever you wanted and you didn't have to worry about being hassled by the man. After we had finished the dinner and our "nitrous" we hit the stage, so to speak. I think we opened the show with "Project Blue" and everything went ape-shit!!! Beer and whatever was being thrown around along with spaghetti and God knows what else.
    The dinning room turned into a mass swirling pit of people dancing and just going crazy. Back in those early days people would see us (the way we looked) and they would assume we like "The Monkees" or some other Sixties pop band. Then we would come on a just kick the shit out of them with a sonic blast!!!!
     I remember that the show was quite good and crazy and the people loved it. Then again everyone was so fucked up that they probably would have liked "Emerson, Lake, and Palmer" just as much!!!! Most likely even more than us. Easier to do that fucking "Greatfull Dead" hippie dance thing to.  So anyways we went upstairs to our friends "dorm room", I think it was Susan Goddard, which was really strange because if you knew Susan she was a pretty "straight-laced" girl. We went up like four floors, I mean that place was huge. When we entered her room there was a huge painting of "Lou Reed" from the  "Transformer" album painted on the floor and I remember thinking to myself, " the worm has diffidently turn for you sweetheart". A couple of minutes later our host came into the room with a large plastic freezer bag full of white pills.
The Students at Barrington Hall
     He most generously gave us each a handful of pills and went on his way. Of course we took them without asking what the hell they where. They turned out to be mda , mdma would come out later that Year from the Chemistry department at "U.C. Berkley.  Don't remember to much about the rest of the night . . .

                                           Leighton Koizumi

Monday, September 24, 2012

" BEAT YOUR HEART OUT " The ZEROS Live in Valencia

          This past Saturday night the Zeros performed live in Valencia at the Magazine Club. I was looking forward to seeing my long time friends again. We are all from San Diego, California. They being from the South part "Chula Vista" and myself from the East County "El Cajon", which for some reason most español people find the names somewhat humors. For me the "Zeros "where super important, just as much as the "Ramones"in introducing me to "Punk Rock". For those of you who don't know the History of the band I will give you a little back round on them.
The Zeros  1976
    The Zeros where formed in "Chula Vista", San Diego in 1976 by Javier Escovedo, (guitar, vocals) Robert Lopes, (guitar, vocals) Hector Penalosa, (bass) and Baba Chenelle, (drums). After playing one of their first shows in Los Angeles at the famous "Troubadour" club. Notable was that this was the 1st show for the opening band called "The Germs", with the Zeros next and headlining the show "The Weirdos". 
The Zeros Live @ The Troubadour,  Los Angeles 1977
        Shortly thereafter they would sign up with "Greg Shaw's Bomp Records". In 1977 they would release their 1st record on the "Bomp" label. A 7" featuring the song "Wimp" backed by "Don't push me around." Greg Shaw was really one of the 1st companies to start recording the punk bands with Bomp releasing records not only by the Zeros, but also "The Weirdos", "Iggy and the Stooges", " Stiv Bators", "Devo", "Modern Lovers", "Dmz", "The Romantics", "Spaceman 3", "The Germs" . . . just to name a few.  And in the early Eighties would create "Bomp- Voxx" label for the booming "Garage Punk" Renaissance that was taking place. Releasing such artists as "The Pandoras", "The Gravedigger V", "The Tale-Tell Hearts", "The Miracle Workers", "The Primates", "The Dwarves", "The Morlocks", just to name a few.

Bomp records "Wimp" b/w "Don't push me around"
   The concert last Saturday night in Valencia was a good time had by all. In my opinion the turn-out was a little small , but what lacked in numbers was made up of crazy fans of "The Zeros" and of true "Punk Rock" with everyone dancing, jumping around, singing and generally getting "fucked up" making "Magazine Club" a hot sweaty pit. "The Dream Syndicate" was playing the same night in "Valencia" and with the crisis here in España it wasn't a "bad" turnout. I've seen "The Dream Syndicate" many times in Los Angeles during the Eighties, they where part of the so-called, "paisley underground", ( I always hated that term, made up by the press ) which included bands like "The Long Ryders", "Green on Red", etc. . . I usually found these bands live shows kind of boring. I have to say out of that genre of bands "Rain Parade" was my favorite of the bunch. They later went on to commercial success adding singer "Hope Sandavol" and changing their name to "Mazzy Star". I was honored to be asked to come up and sing "Don't Push Me Around". I just want to state for the record that I wasn't trying to sing the vocal , just the backing vocals, cause everyone including my Wife was like hahahah or jajajajjaja you forgot the lyrics.
      So I got give up to the Zeros and take my hat of to them. It's pretty rare these days that you can go see ( in my opinion ) such an important band still playing live with all it's original members, dating back to 1977, still churning out that good ole dirty rock and roll. It's really quite remarkable. Take it from someone who knows. The Zeros have about a Week left of gigs here in España , so if their going to be in your town I strongly suggest that you go and see the show.
           Future plans for the Zeros? Who knows the future? What do you know think this is "Psychic Friends Network"!!! I can tell you that Robert aka "El Vez" continues his successful solo carer as "El Vez" and as an actor and playwright. Meanwhile Javier continues to write and record his solo projects , which I think are very underrated , see for yourself!!!
        So just some quick thanks to a few people for making the show happen. First to the Zeros for putting on the kind of show that we have become accustomed to. To all our friends at "Magazine Club", Varo and Paloma, and to my Wife Carola, (it was her Birthday and she put up with me acting a fool) !!!!
                                     LONG LIVE THE ZEROS !!!!!!!!!!!




Tuesday, September 18, 2012

" YOU GO NOW " *** The Joys of touring China - Part II

      The first thing that strikes you about China right out of the gate, is it's super ultra pollution. Seriously within one day you will start to develop black snot. This is do to the industrial building boom that is going on, they are building shit anywhere they can. And also they have "coal factories" everywhere. Which is crazy! I'm not a "hippie" or anything like that but it's pretty nasty to see like this giant coal factory draining water right into these rice patty crops that the local farmers are growing. That's cool if you want your baby to have like a "blowhole" or a "unicorn horn". The National soundtrack of China is like thousands of people hawking out "loogies" everywhere. I used to see those people wearing those surgical masks and I thought like it's was because of the "bird flu" or some other virus, or a Michael Jackson fixation. But it is simply because of the air quality.
    Let me just back track a bit, I agreed to this madness without even knowing half the band. Joe the Morlocks bass player was having triplets, so he wasn't going nowhere. We got Gabe from the "Fuzztones" and Nic recruited  "Slim Jim Phantoms" ( the Stray Cats ) kid, who was this 18 year old chubby kid from "Beverly Hills" to play drums. I had never played with these guys before so now I was going to go to China and meet them there for a two Week tour without even one practice. Gabe was cool , he had some strange habits and almost caused a riot in "McDonalds", will get to that later. But the drummer kid , I'm going to call him "the little drummer boy" was always complaining that he was tired of lugging around his symbols and he was always was hungry. He was basically a spoiled kid from "Beverly Hills".  The guy that had invited us over and was a contact from Nic. He was the one that set up the tour and was going to be the on the tour as the tour manager and was the only one that spoke Chinese. "Gabe". He turned out to be the most American looking dude, curly red hair, super white, freckles, I mean the guy looked like "Ron Howard" from "Happy Days". I was thinking when we met him at the airport in Shanghai, Uh oh  . . .
Gabe our "Chinese Tour Manager"

  Our first two shows where going to be the biggest both outside festivals "The Nanjing International Music Festival" and the other I can't recall the name, doesn't matter though. Things weren't looking so bad at first we we're being shuttled to a 5 star hotel where all the performers where staying. We even had like two personal assistants and like two bodyguards. When we arrived to the hotel we where informed that none of the "Foreign" bands where going to be aloud to perform on orders from the Government. So we got to hang around for two days in a five star hotel and go to the festival with shitty Chinese bands, that wanted to be like "Green Day".  I was able to find a vendor who would sell us 5th's of "Jim Beam" for about 8 bucks and some crappy weed, so it was all bad at first.

  Gabe, our bass player was always wandering off and not telling us which is a pain in the ass when your walking around with all your shit trying to stay in a group. But in China it's a nightmare. And he was one of those who subscribe to the whole philosophy of "no one is going to tell me what to do". Well that doesn't work to good when your in a band, cause I'm going to tell you what to do and what not to do. I get told what to do and I pretty sure everybody a some junction in their lives get the same and have to do shit that you don't really want to. I never understood that kind of thinking, I guess it makes you, at the time feel like a rebel, but it's just not to realistic. " It's my way or the highway Mr.Pink " . . .
     Here's a good example , one night after a show we where looking for something to do , nothing really so we all decided to stop by "Kentucky Fried Chicken" and get something to take back to our shitty hotel. By now the hotels had progressed from five star to no star hotels. While we we're waiting me and Gabe sat down at a table and there's like a tray with some chicken , fries and like a "Mu Flurry" some shit like that.  Out of the blue Gabe reaches over and like takes two pieces of chicken and some fries and starts to shove it in his mouth. I'm thinking, hmm maybe the owner of this meal that Gabe is raping is in the restroom.  Sure enough like thirty seconds later this big ole Chinese guy comes out of the bathroom and I know it's his shit. I elbow Gabe so he will stop before this guys sees this. The guys walks back to his table and sits down. Cool , then I notice out of the corner of my eye that he is inspecting his unhappy meal. Shit ! Now he's looking around. Gabe is looking up and whistling! Come on dude!!! Little does Gabe know that all down the front of his black shirt are the crumbs of the chicken. The guy see this and starts freaking out , he goes to the front counter all screaming and shit and then he starts to get out his cell phone and starts making all these calls, screaming in Chinese like he's like some big Wu Tang Boss or something. Gabe and little drummer boy are freaking also cause the guy has got a big black tattoo of a Swastika on his forearm. Which was a Buddhist thing way before a Nazi thing.  So I smooth everything out by telling Gabe, "well dude, if you don't want to get your ass beat by 20 of his friends with bamboo sticks I suggest that you offer to go and buy him whatever he wants off the menu."         
It's locked!!! So that's why they call it "The Forbidden City" ???
      After Chinese Swastika guy calmed down Gabe went and got him a new meal. When Gabe came back to the table he was, "that fat fucker ordered an extra "McFlurry" !!!!
      So just all this kind of crazy shit would happen on a daily routine. I would have people come up to me and say "Wow" your band is really cool!! But your Grandfather killed my Grandfather". I'm half Japanese and most Chinese don't like us so much. I really didn't know who to respond to that. Sorry?
       Anyways if your planing a tour of China, my advice to you is  "DON'T DO IT" !!!


                                                                                   LEIGHTON KOIZUMI  ***


Sunday, September 16, 2012

" YOU GO NOW " !!! *** The joys of touring China - part 1

          The last tour that I did with "The Morlocks" was about a Year and a half ago . We had set up a Two Week tour of China. I just want to state for the record that I didn't have anything to do with that whole shenanigan.  It sounded cool at the time . Ima going to warn you beforehand, it may sound like I'm "bitching", but I'm not trying to do it in a mean spirited way mind you , but yeah ok, it's still "bitching" . . .  Oh where do I start? I'm going to skip the whole ( had to go to Madrid three times, my Wife trying to explain everything to Immigration authorities , the cost a cool 500euros, etc, etc etc) getting a Visa for China.
Chinese Car-Pool Lane
         So you may get a laugh from this or if your in a band, you can use this as kind of a "what to expect guide". For those of you who where sleeping during "History Class" or if you don't get out much I'll remind you that China is a Communist Country. There is no Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, etc. . . You can get an account on the black market , you pay for a URL, or whatever it's called. So that means that there are no companies that rent Sprinters ( vans ) or backline equipment, or anything else that is required to tour. I mean I couldn't find a pack of "rolling papers" in the whole Goddamn Country. Seriously , I was told later the reason they don't have "rolling paper" or tabacco pouches is because the dollar goes along way in China, the Euro even more so. It will cost you about 50 cents for a pack of good cigarettes. So this means that you have to make your tour by Plane, Trains, Taxi, and motorized Rickshaw and Metro. China's population is 1, 344 , 130 , 000 which is really insane when you have to fight your way thru every train station . People for the most part in China don't really use the wait in line calmly method , more like a human stampede. You kind of feel like your at a "The Who" concert.And everybody is carrying or hauling mountains of boxes and carts , buckets of "live" fish , it's really amazing for like the 1st day of getting you feet stepped on like 200 times or run over.
Trying to find the rest of the guys in a train station
     So I adapted to the "I'll block you or run your ass over with my suitcase"technique". I had a really good suitcase heavy and it was the kind with four wheels. Remember we we're also hauling around guitars in hard cases, symbols, and other shit like chords and pedals , along with all our luggage. Man, that really sucked. When I say take a train , I don't mean like a 2 or 4 hour train ride, more like 10 to 14 hour train ride. The trains have these small cabins with a triple bunk bed on the left and on the right so it's supposed to accommodate 6 people . But you never get the whole crew in the same car, usually you all get separated in different cabins. I seemed to always get stuck in the one with the whole Chinese family , Grandma included , oh let's not forget the two roosters in a cage. Your basically stuck on your little bed. You can walk down a narrow hallway to the bathroom or the food cart. When I say "bathroom" i mean a wiggling , jiggling hole in the floor. The odor was so super nasty , The scent resembling like a dirty beavers den. I only took one poop on the train the whole two Weeks! I also fell of the very top bunk and fucked my back up one night. I was trying to climb down to go to guess where??? The bathroom!!! Yeah !!! Well in the middle of my "Spidey" decent the train jolted and I fell like 10 feet and hit my back on the corner of the bottom bunk. It fucking hurt so bad i was just sitting there in the dark , but then the 300 pound Chinese lady in the bottom bunk starting hitting me in the head with a rolled up news paper , like I was trying to sneak into her bunk or something , yea right. But with all the commotion Nic came over and helped me out. When your train arrives you have to disembark and that's a cluster fuck. Then you gotta figure out where to exit and then you have to find 3 taxis in a row or 3 of those Rickshaw things and you have to try and explain to all three drivers that they need to follow each other and also where your going. It takes 3 taxis for a group of 6 with guitars and luggage. And you have to try explain to them the directions and that always is a pain in the ass . They never follow each other , they just take off. Your like putting stuff in the third taxi and like the first taxi just takes off, and your like standing there "what the fuck"?and most of the time for some reason the tour manager is in the first taxi with the directions and he is the only one that speaks Chinese, fucking smart , no ?
Lenny and Gabe killing time on the train
      In China when your touring they basically give you nothing. A rider , now that's funny. No hotel or house, no dinner, no food, no backstage, no beer for the band, ( we started to just bring our own beers ) you have to pay for everything. Even though it's super cheap it will suck up all your money. Since there is no companies that rent backline you have to use whatever equipment they have at the venue. It's always shit , cheap Chinese amps you've never heard of or like "heavey metal"Marshall amps that suck. The drums are always shit and broken so you have to fix them and try to find a floor tom or a symbol stand. It's like building a "Frankenstein". Usually the owner is the booker, the barman, the doorman, and the sound man. Notice how I put sound man last. Here's a typical day, get everyone together at the shitty hotel get the cabs, go to the train station, buy the tickets, wait around in the station with all the other huddling masses , which have no problem just starring at you for like 5 min. It's like "can I help you"? Then you gota do the "Road Warrior" thing to board the train. We learned real quick to try and get to your cabin first so you would have somewhere to put your guitar case and luggage, because the cabins have very limited space and you don't want to have to keep your shit on your bunk. Now you have to take a 10 hour train ride, ( China is fucking huge ) Then when you arrive to your destination you have to do the whole "Road Warrior" thing again, Then the whole taxi convoy thing and try and find the club, which you never can. It's like playing the "Lotto" seeing if everybody is going to make it to the same destination. You usually arrive at the club at 8:00. You have to fix the gear or find something that works so now you only have time to do a line check because they want you to start playing at 9:00 because there's some kind of curfew and you have to stop by 11:00. And at 11, I mean everyone splits, it's not like people are hanging out and stuff I mean everyone is just gone. It's kind of strange. This was the the first time ever on a tour that I had been back at the hotel and in the bed by 12:00. We would usually get some noodles and some warm beers, ( it's kind of hard to find cold beers at most places do to the fact that they can't afford a refrigeration machine or an ice machine) and go back to the room. Take a couple of diazepan and watch our favorite Chinese TV show. It's like this dumb dance contest show, with like cheerleaders and Hip-hop dancers . The reason we liked the show was because of the name it was called, "Come Dancing", but they spelled it "Cum Dancing". It was pretty funny. The television is under government control so I guess that's the closet thing they have to porn. 

****************************************************** To be continued . . .
                                                                                                                   *** Leighton Koizumi
Nic and Lenny on the way to the gig