From the Archives: The Mopeds Puts APAN back in JAPAN (by crunchy.dk 16. March 2006)

Sun feb 26

The Mopeds – goes to Japan…

Somewhere over Sibiria I might have slept for fifteen minutes but most of the time I didn’t. It’s always like that, I don’t fall asleep until we start landing. But bad films and whiskey eases the pain.

It rained when we arrived at Narita, Tokyo international airport. The customs had gotten sloppy since the first time we came. Then everybody had to open every bag. This time, all we did was fill in a form. Do you carry guns, drugs, animals or deadly decises, yes or no?

Bonnie Pink, Narumi, Asuka and Taco were there to pick us up. It was great to see them again and to get some blood back into one’s feet. We drove to Ebisu to have lunch at Heavens and visit the Taisuke office, then back through the constipated Tokyo traffic to check in at the Hotel. Petter, Petter2 and I chose japanese style. That means shoes off indoors and you sleep on futons on the tatami floor. Very exotic.

After a quick shower it was off to Asakusa and a cool boutique called The Three Robbers. They had had our album for sale in the shop and like that wasn’t enough we all got to pick a garment each. Petter2 and Sven took knitted rocker jackets, the original three chose blue loden coat windbreakers and Yebo, who was too big to fit into any of the clothes, got himself a very small chair. Then we saw an Old temple and went to eat Sukiyaki.

When you’ve been awake for forty hours and just had a heavy dinner with lots of beeru you might be a little tired. But we went to the convenient store to get more beeru and a jar of sake. There was a special reason, Sweden vs Finland in the Olympic icehockey final. Watch the pictures and weep if you are from Finland.

Monday feb 27

Breakfast at Yoshinoya in Roppongi and coffee at an eighties café with plexiglass chairs and bunny-rabbit cappuchino on the menu. They even played Wham! in the sound system. Then we went off for rehearsal and sound check at Shibuya O-Nest. Between the soundcheck and the gig we did some meet and greet at HMV and Tower Records in Shibuya. Comparing the Tokyo musicstores to the ones at home is like matching the Moomin troll to Mike Tyson – just not fair.

The premiere gig was chaotic but fun. The place was full and alot of old friends showed up. Petter2 had some trouble finding his capo and everybody was jet lagged and culture chocked, but all in all we rocked the house right.

The after party began at Roku bar in Shibuya. It’s run by Akiko Ohno, an old friend of ours. It actually resembles our favourite spots aroud Möllan in Malmö,ie cosy and cool. Then we went to eat at a Nabe restaurant. It was delicious and resembles nothing you can get in Malmö, especially not at two o’clock at night.

 Tuesday feb 28

We got up early. Shaky and with sunglasses we embarked the minibus for Osaka. The weather was freezing and rainy but that’s perfect for riding a van. Bonnie and Narumi drove our car and Asuka followed in an old Toyota bus with all the gear.

The first stop was just like any old pit stop in Japan. You buy local souvenirs, eat some eel domburi and get some eel candy and green tea. Maybe you grab an octopus fish cake on a stick before you get back on the highway.

We didn’t see mount Fuji, the fog was too thick. When we had arrived in Osaka we checked in at the Hotel, then quickly off to dinner in Daikanyama. The reastaurant was packed and looked very traditional. We had raw horse meat with ginger and garlic, shockingly strong mustard and vegetables in a good broth, okonomiyaki (pancake with cabbage, dried bonito, mayo etc), tacoyaki (octopus knoedels) and tons of other stuff. Of course we had beeru but also plum wine with soda, a fresh thing to drink with your octopus.

Yebo had taken the bullit train to Osaka so when we got back he was waiting in the lobby. We went out to a bar to get some more fried shrimps, okonomiyaki, yakitori and beeru. I wasn’t hungry when I went to bed. But I woke up after an hour and I couldn’t get back to sleep.
Wednesday march 1

This rainy morning was set aside for shopping in the American Village, Osaka’s youth quarters. We scavenged the shops for sneakers, clothes and stupid plastic gadgets. Sven found a new pair of brown Nike AirForceOne sneakers, an essential component to his style. David almost bought a new bass.

After the Sound check at Shangri-La we rushed back to American Village to do some meet and greet at HMV and Tower. Then back to the venue to get concentrated. The concert was great. We made some ajustments in the set lists and threw in some songs we noticed people had wanted to hear at the Tokyo gig.

The promoters took us to an afterparty at a famous Chicken restaurant: Raw chicken, chicken nabe (steamer), raw octopus, raw sea slug, spicy Korean dishes and lots of beeru and sake. Another splendid meal in the land of Nippon.
Thursday march 2

Nagoya, here we come. Another day on the highway to fame and fortune. We found the venue, got the stuff in and checdked the sound at Club Up-set. There was a severe resonance around 120 Hz. At one time the vibrations made some screws fall from the light ramp in the ceiling. When the sound check was over we had hardly played anything. Not a good feeling, you don’t want to end up like Curtis Mayfield because of a bad sound check.

We got Mos burgers for lunch. They make great little hamburgers in Japan. There were record stores to visit down town so we took a cab. When we got back to our back stage room Taco had fixed a Doughnut bonanza, the right stuff if you want to get in shape for the show. So, all sugared up we went down the steep ladder from the backstage penthouse to the stage. The sound was suddenly good and this one of the best gigs on the tour, performance wise.

It seemes like I’m writing alot about food. Well, when the food you get is as good as it is in Japan it would be blasphemous not to write about it. This night we had a big plate of Sashimi (raw fish), Nagoya style deep fried chicken wings, sushi, misotori (chicken scewer with miso) chicken balls, strange vegetables and the usual beeru and warm sake. The local promoter got, in his own words: punsch drunk with alot of sexy energy.

Friday march 3

Petter2 goes to the sauna in the morning. A Japanese sauna has certain rules you can take part of on this picture. The others tries to catch as much morning sleep as possible. Sven and Petter buys six different types of coffee from the vending machine without finding a drinkable one. Today we travel back to Tokyo.

Two hours of powershopping is all we get, there has been changes in the schedule for tomorrow. We start at Kiddyland on Omote Sando, then to Shibuya. I win the starshopper award with two kitchen knifes, four Pokémon, two bags and new glasses (including the optical examination).

At seven we have a rehearsal with Bonnie Pink, our friend and patroness. The rehearsal studio is close to a supermarket where we can get foodstuff and Japanese liquor to bring home. Petter2 buys all the plum wine in the shop. The originals have lended a room at the Swedish embassy for this stay and after we checked in there we go back to Shibuya to meet old friends at Roku. And a good time was had by all.

Saturday march 4

Morning starts with promotion at the Taisuke office. We are interviewed about the Swedish forest! Then a very ”Lost in Translationish” photographer takes us to a park to get some pics. Before he starts he tells us that he learned the meaning of the word ”wild” from Bob Marley’s old photographer, and now he wants first to take some ordinary poseing pictures and then some ”wild”. The shoot takes two minutes, I guess we’re good at being ”wild”.

At two we have sound check at Club Que in Shimokitazawa. I realize the place has become much better equipped since last time we played here. But the legendary Yamaha combo is still there. For some reason I choose to use their shitty Twin Reverb instead, which I will regret at the gig.

Shopping in Shimukitazawa is good, there is alot of silly stuff and a relaxed atmosphere. Yebo gets some sox with impossible slogans on like: It eats beacuase it is delicious” (and a picture of a cupcake), “Standard!!! Pran Dornatts” (Standard plain doughnuts), “Basketball Club” (and a picture of a football). The show is sold out and some people can’t get in. It seemes like we have a crowd in Tokyo. The gig is fine and the cover we do with Bonnie Pink went better than it ever did on the rehearsals. I was very surprised to hear that Petter and Petter2 had had compleately f***ed up sound on stage. It was just like their monitors had been switched during one of the opening acts.

The line to the merchandise is in the staircase so we decide to stand outside to sign autographs. Then someone tells us we can’t do that and we have to stand in the stairs. It all gets pretty hectic and if our old friend Rieko hadn’t run off to buy new pens it would have been worse. The goodbye after party is at a local reastaurant and not surprisingly, the food is delicious. Then we go to a nearby bar and have some more. We pack our things in the morning.
Sunday march 5

At eight in the morning Bonnie, Narumi, Asuka and Taco drives us to Narita airport. This tour has been one long pleasure all the way through thanks to them. Now we have to try to get all the plum wine on board. It doesn’t work, we have to send one package by FedEx. Once again our fantastic hosts step in and take care of the shipping. When the last bag is checked in we say goodbye to our Japanese entourage outside the second security check and that’s the end of this tour diary. Millions and millions of thanks to BONNIE, NARUMI, ASUKA and TACO.

/Jens

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