Xiu diary from the Tom Lab Records Japanese Tour
written by Jamie Stewart
on this tour-
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (USA)
Yoshio Machida (JAPAN)
Xiu Xiu (USA)
Hirotaka Iwatsuki (JAPAN)
Tom Steinle (GERMANY)
(from Casiotone) and I took pictures of each-other in the San Francisco
International Airport holding an apple. Why am I getting so sweaty? They
almost confiscated my rubbing alcohol that I use for deodorant. Under the pretense that it could be used to start a fire but because it
was 70% alcohol it was ok but that was decided upon after much deliberation by
airport security. I called CM said I LOVE YOU!
on the plane I had a dream that a woman named Rosario mailed a $3800 mountain
bike to my girlfriend's mom's house as a gift for me. In the dream I was
really frightened by it because I didn't know who she was and thought I was
being bike stalked.
woman sleeping in front of me reached behind her seat and violently closed the
blind on the window while I was looking out it.
then we flew and flew and flew and waited and waited and waited in a LONG
passport line with no problems sneaking in T-shirts to sell then we rode a
long long long bus ride to Shinjuku station to meet Iwatsuki, Tom and Kaz from
P-Vine the Japanese distributor of Tom Lab stuff. I tried really hard to
figure out how to use a calling card but am not smart enough yet. I got very
frustrated but then I took a puppet that was lying in the gutter and started
talking to it and then I felt better.
just hit me that Owen and I are in a
different country and a little spark lit up in my heart. Very exciting.
keeping having this super weird urge to grab people's hair. This is a totally
was food in a blue tent. What is it? Who cares?!?!
all went to dinner and ate Japanese food. I met real life Tom, who prior to
that, I had only communicated with via email.
He already rules. After dinner we saw a teen aged girl in a nurse
outfit that was splattered with blood and had "Fuck the System"
written all over it.
night we slept (like LOGZ) at YoYo's house who is friends with Tom and Rob
Fisk (Free Porcupine Society records, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, ex-deerhoof) . Her
house is so beautiful. Her mom made us breakfast and her whole family was
ultra generous with their space. We all went to the train together and this
boy she like named Kobayashi disappeared. We met Iwatsuki there and he was nice enough to take Owen and me around
went to an anime porn store that was playing really really loud death metal.
Pachinko is for business people and seniors.
There was a guy with a sign around his neck that said "Don't believe people. They will betray you."
The snotty bunny is the logo for a corporate English language school.
There are several different railway companies/lines and they all own department stores.
We ate traditional desserts that were made of beans and seaweed. A very new flavor for me and it was all colors.
and I talked politics, music, sex and food. He took us to his tiny apartment where Tom was waiting for us after BIZ
meetings. He shares it with a woman named Rumy (which is pronounced Roomie
which in English is slang for roommate. I told her this little joke and she
said "I understand what you are saying, it is just not that funny."
that night went to a dinner and then ate purple taro root cake and met Keiichi
the train a drunk business guy kept asking me about baseball and his friend
kept elbowing him in the mouth really hard until he started bleeding. This was
to try to get him to shut up and he tried to wipe the blood off on YoYo's
and Owen and I went to this museum book store that sells ambient records that
Tom Lab puts out. It is in the most expensive mall I have ever been inside of. It is underground and has samples of the best chocolate I have ever
eaten. After Tom's meeting I urge him to try some but he only says "Oh
yes French style." There was a melon for sale that was $120 and there was
a plastic chestnut that I wanted to steal so bad it made me feel weird. I
never asked if people shoplift a lot at this mall. It would make sense
considering how much fruit costs.
walked around the train station for ever and I could feel the muscles in my
legs growing as I was carrying all my luggage. We eventually met up with YoYo
and went to her gallery which was showing a remarkable textile exhibition. She
showed me that one of the shirts that was part of the show was printed with
the images from the poster for
the Xiu Xiu record "Fag
Patrol". Needless to say I was very surprised and excited because they
did such a stunning job on it.
the party for the tour. It was very slow and very pretty. YoYo and I got drunk
and played air DJ and talked about who we are in love with.
Owen's watch broke.
the very very long train ride to Yoshio's it blew my mind how peaceful
everyone was. Also I was drunk. We got to Yoshio and Makiko's apartment in
Chonfu, a suburb outside of Tokyo where we will sleep as space is limited all
over the world. Their cats are named Yanko Sensei and Konyanko.
all got up to drive to the 1st show in Nagoya. Yoshio made sure I did not die.
rented a van for Tom, himself, Keiichi, Cheason (both on Fonica), Yoshio, Owen
and I to go to the show in. We drove through the country. It is dense and dark
played at this very chic 1/2 fashion 1/2 hip hop culture cafe art space called
S4 that is in the middle of an expensive sex district. Lots of really really tall women with long blond hair
waving groups of business men good night.
until right before we played there was no one there and then suddenly it was
full. Yoshio played processed steel drums and made a sound that was like
forever !!!!!!!!! of KISS (A+), Fonica played dreamy lap top compositions (A+)
I had never heard either band before this night and was touched and impressed.
Tom DJed a great set and played the Xiu Xiu cover of "Ceremony"
which was funny to hear not expecting it. FLATTERED!
friend, whose band had toured Japan a bunch of times, told me that Lawson's
convenience store is the place for cheap eats and that is true. The walk to it
was only a block away but I still got lost and was worried how I would ever
get home. The streets were wide and immaculate. Culturally it is rude to eat
outside in Japan and for some reason that made me really nervous.
drove to Iwatsuki's parents house which looks like it is from a ninja movie.
The walls have sparkles imbedded in them and there are rice paper sliding
doors and tatami mats and ceramics everywhere. His family is famous for making
high grade sake in a small quantities and the plant in within the grounds of
the house. His family had laid futons out for everyone within this huge room
decorated museum quality calligraphy and statues.
the morning his mother laid out an amazing formal breakfast for everyone.
Asparagus, fish, miso soup, rice, salt plums, radishes and fermented soy beans
which, not knowing if it was OK to refuse food items, I ate and then everyone
laughed and said they never eat them because they are nasty.
is very much like a dream right now, a dream in which you want to behave.
a note, people's fashion sense here is mostly so thoughtfully put together.
They looks so good. You want to fuck everyone. But you want them to stay
visited the shogun's temple and all of the shrines of the shoguns are in a row
and are the height of the actual shoguns themselves. The tallest one was 160
cm and the shortest was 124cm.
truck stop rest rooms are wood paneled, totally clean and ultra modern with
automatic everything. This sort
of place would last about 10 seconds in the United States. It is so striking
that people do not seem worried about shit getting fucked here which makes
everything feel careful.
got to the Tony Persian Rich Inn in Kyoto after driving thorough bamboo
forests and small villages. The ice flavored air is dazzling clean. We ate at
a famous soba noodle restaurant and went to a tiny experimental record store
located in the back of the venue. We all sat around and drank 2 premium
bottles of sake that Iwatsuki's parents gave us. One was made of the a small
portion of the rice and the other was made from the whole rice grain and they
were distinctly flavored. SO MUCH WINE, EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC, AND SONG.
got saked up and talked about ghosts, superstitions, curse gestures, political
parties, teen age music, purple donuts, squid and chocolate. I need to lose 5
wanted to go to bed but I wasn't tired and all the men were in the same room
so I went out into the hall to read and at the same time could hear Fonica
quietly practicing, Owen snoring and this woman in pink pajama walking by me
like 6 times and making tiny startled whimpers every time she passed.
seems like a nice place to live. Navigable but bustling, normal but hard to
understand. It is the original
capital and the architecture is a from every point in history it seems.
funerals, Christian weddings and Shinto daily thought and worship.
wish tree... THINK OF IT!!!!!!!!
the restaurant they sold helium in hair moose type containers made expressly
to inhale and make your voice squeaky.
Jr. is a record label and finishing school for pre-teen boys to become teen
pop stars. This label, so I was told by 2 different people at 2 different
times, is run out of this huge compound where all these boys move to when they
are like 10 and live and grow up there in order to become schooled in the pop
arts. However the school is funded by the extreme right wing of the government
and by the yakuza and all the songs that the boy bands sing are ultra
nationalistic. Also Johnny is a known pedophile and it is rumored that he
molests the boys as they are basically the wards of his massive company. His
label apparently controls a tremendous chunk of the Japanese music market and
is moving all over Asia. They also have stores all over Japan where there are
photos of the boys that you can buy. They are in all stages of development,
professionally and physically.
venue was called Cafe Independants and was FANTASTIC inside. It looked like a
bombed Paris but with mosaics. It sounded spectacular inside the room, cement
and wood, reverberous but warm. (YEAH TO THE DORKS!!!!!) The show was much
excellent, everyone was ON ON ON!!! The audience did not clap after Owen's
first song nor mine which was either austere or odd. Fonica was particularly
great, at ease and heart shaped.
Tom DJed South and North American Devendra Banhart in Kyoto Japan, oh the
world is so teeny tiny and can be number one at times.
was a gallery where Tom and I had a sweet moment looking at bat dolls and a
creepy mannequin with whiter than white skin.
was a shirt that said "no fucking" on it and a dude from
Philadelphia living in Kyoto studying aesthetics.
Independants had a cool spell until they paid Iwatsuki, turned the lights on
and then made Tom stop DJing and then they put on bullshit, fake Latin music
and terrible Neil Young (?!)
drove back to Tokyo 7 hours through the night back to Yoshio and Makiko's
house. They are the best, both so gracious and fun. Yoshio is also a visual
artists and has toured Eastern Europe. Makiko is a make up artist.
motorcycle gangs are fascist and attach huge dragon wings and necks and heads
to their motorbikes.
there is so little extra room in Japan bike racks are 2 levels high and sock
clothes lines are also 2 levels high.
from Fonica is allergic to carrots.
Franklin was on the tape deck driving through traffic in suburban Tokyo. We all, obviously, sang all the WA HOO! parts.
are really into Halloween. I asked Yashio if he thought it was lame that a
fake American holiday had invaded Japan and he said, "Well no, children
have a lot of fun."
Pong dash is the same thing as ding dong ditch.
Japanese band Cockc'nell is crucial to Japanese modern rock musical
development and history.
are no more "fruits" in the Harajuka district and only a few mega
goths. Tom and Makiko were very
surprised and wondered where they all went.
show at Super Deluxe went very very well . The space is used for fashion, art
and music shows and is huge by Japanese standards. It is the most beautiful
and thoughtfully designed room I have ever been in. The women's bathroom is
like an art installation made by the originators of the colors orange and
pink. One of the bands that played, a woman named Kazumi, will, just by
chance, also be playing with Xiu Xiu in Seattle 10 days after this show. Owen and I played a song together. Fonica played their longest, best
from Deerhoof just happened to be on Tokyo visiting and was at the show.
was a huge bean bag, bigger than a king sized bed surrounded by a white
curtain that is for "Big Stars" to sit and relax in.
the show 100,000 people went together to a marriage restaurant. On the walls
were tons of vaginas, butt holes and penises and a huge gong shaped like a
vagina and with the knocker shaped like a huge penis. One of the foods was
blue peppers which I just assumed meant like bell pepper not hot chili pepper.
Anyway, it is the spiciest thing I have ever eaten. It hurt for almost and
hour. Owen and Iwatsuki ate them too and REGRETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all around the
and Owen and I stayed up all night talking about music and then had a bath in
a tub that was at least 2 meters by 6 meters. It was HEAVEN.
saw the Peter Seville art exhibition and it was almost jarring to see a lot of
the original plates and items used in the album covers.
and Yoshio made the best dinner EVER. Everyone from the tour talked and drank
and laughed and were what humans are when they are good. The sweetest good bye
missed the plane home from looking at too many articles on cats, naked people,
North Korean nuclear proliferation and the history of design. Then I got HELL
OF searched and that made me even more late. Sweat poured out of my pores.
Beginning with sweat and ending with it.
/dec 12th 2003/