ASH & AKG - NANO-MUGEN FESTIVAL, JAPAN!

Ash loves Japan!

Every time we go there we have a great time, the fans are awesome, the crowds react amazingly, the people are so nice and well, they have great toys!

I think this was our 17th or 18th visit as a band (I could be corrected on that) and second trip of 2008. The primary point was to play at Nano-Mugen Festival a festival organized by our friends in Asian Kung-Fu Generation. We were honored to be the only band asked to play on both days to a combined 26 000 fans at Yokohama arena. Nice! Other acts included Stereophonics, Third Eye Blind, Phantom Planet and Hello Goodbye.

We have full multi camera recordings of both gigs and will be able to upload them to the site after they are broadcast in Japan in August, watch this space. They were both great shows and we now have a good quality recording of new song Ichiban  in the bag. Ichiban is Japanese for 'Number 1' btw... nothing like a bit of modesty in a title!

On the flight from London to Tokyo Tim was sat right beside David Prowse aka Darth Vader or The Green Cross Code Man! He was very nice and he now manages some heavy metal band. He signed Vader pics and posed with us at the airport before heading off to the Star Wars Celebration Japan convention. I was pissed to be missing it as we'd be so close (in the country) but in a different city and knew some friends from Lucasfilm who would be over... oh well. I went to Celebration 3 in Indianapolis a few years ago which was quite something, and I doubt that can ever be topped.

The worst thing about traveling to Japan is the jet-lag. It fucks you up big time. I first few days I remember walking around Yokohama like a zombie, but I was still able to sniff out the toy stores and got what I was looking for: Transformers Encore Omega Supreme and Mini-bots set, Binaltech Bluestreak and the new Star Wars Kubricks. Yes I'm geek-core collecting this crap but it's one of the joys in my life so let me have it.

We rehearsed at Yokohama arena on the Saturday and then we had show days on the Sunday and Monday (National Holiday).

On Sunday there was an earthquake which rocked the hotel. Rick and Lance (Tour manager / Sound) were rather freaked out by it and it made the news, a 7 on the richter scale with a tsunami warning and everything. Luckily no massive waves arrived and the show ended up being excellent. The Asian Kung-Fu Generation fans were very responsive, it probably helped that we'd played Nano-Mugen Fest before in 2005. Phantom Planet were nice guys, we like them. Afterwards Rick, Gaz (back-line) and I went out and drank in some basement bar until it closed. Rick and I continued with the minibar in his room until I fell asleep with Rick recording vocals drunk on Garageband! This I need to hear!

Monday was a case of deja-vu, again the show rocked, we changed the setlist slightly, and afterwards there was a fun after party with the AKG guys, we got pretty trashed. Rick developed a man-crush on their guitarist Ken. He's now his Asian Nathan (Snow Patrol, don't ask)! As usual, me and Rick ended up drinking late, this time in my room. We watched the DVD footage of both shows until I fell asleep and off the chair I was in, knocking poor Omega Supreme into bits...

Tuesday was a day off in Tokyo but I was too hung over to do anything. We met Kele from Bloc Party in the street, they're over for Fuji Rock and he was equally jet-lagged. Green Fanta and KFC made me wanna throw up and the jet-lag / hangover had me asleep in my room at 6 pm.

Wednesday was our own show in at the Tokyo Liquid rooms. We played for about 1h 45m and pulled out Lost in You after being begged to play it. We hadn't played it in ages but it was note perfect... such pros we are! After shorter festival sets it was good to do a long one, and get drenched in a boiling club show. Again all I can say is that Japanese fans go crazy, another small victory in the bag.

Afterwards we went out to diner with our label and AKG's manager Katsu, we bumped into Kate Nash and Russell Bloc Party at the same restaurant. What is this, Camden? No it's definitely not Camden as another earthquake shakes the building (we're on the 14th floor), un-fazed we drink and dine until it's time to stay our goodbyes, 6:30 am wake up calls to get to the airport. ouch!

Thanks again to AKG for bringing us over, some day we hope to bring them over to play with us in the UK.

Sionara

 

dmh.