Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another day at the office

Yesterday, as part of my daily life as a salary man I went to the virtual reality expo tenjikai (expo) at Tokyo Big Site. On the way back to the station this girl was screaming that you could catch a ferry instead of being on a crowded train and go straight to Hamamatsucho station, so I decided to give it a go.

Apart from the thousands of jelly fish in the water and the fact they didn't sell any beer on the ferry, it was a good alternative to the monorail and broke the monotony of the day. The only problem is they don't tell you it's another 10-15 minute to Hamamatsucho station once you get off the boat!

Anyway, looking forward to our unscheduled gig this Friday at What the Dickens!

Friday, June 27, 2008

July 4th & 12th

Last night was great. We visited a new venue in Aoyama where we will be playing -- really close to Omotesando station -- called Billy Barew's Beer Bar.
We're set to play there on July 12, Saturday.
But wait, before that there's July 4th at What the Dickens.
Come see both!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

pleasantly UNexpected ALi-MO fan

while strolling through breezy shinjuku last night, i felt a sudden tap on my shoulder. a young man with close-cropped hair grinned up at me. he was wearing a suit and bearing a backpack.
"hey, man," he said.
i squinted. he was grinning with recognition.
"hey," he repeated.
we stared at one another. the masses flowed past us.
the filofax in my head was flipping madly. who was he?
"ali-mo," he finally said. "i've been to your gigs."
ah. very cool.

next one: SATURDAY, JULY 12th, billy barew's in shibuya. info here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ALIMO .....BANZAIIIIIIIIIIIII.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Steely Dan's Japan

There were a few unexpected guests on stage with our band last week when we played in Ebisu. I'm not talking about the cockroaches, but flautist Shin and sax player Michiko, two extraordinarily gifted musicians. I was not surprised to learn that Michiko likes Steely Dan, one of my favorite bands, and began thinking about them in the context of Japan.

Turns out there are quite a few links between SD and Japan. Jazz-rock geniuses and all-around hip cats Walter Becker and Donald Fagen named their addictive brand of alchemy after a fictional sex device called Steely Dan III from Yokohama in William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch. Ironically, said "marital appliance" (as Becker once described it) is made of rubber, not steel. Steely Dan I and II were destroyed in unmentionable circumstances.

SD tunes like "Bodhisattva" reference Japan, and the group's 1977 masterpiece album Aja features the late Japanese supermodel Sayako Yamaguchi on its minimalist cover; the title track contains some jaw-dropping drumming by the great Steve Gadd and a superb Wayne Shorter solo. Fagen's 1993 solo album Kamakiriad mentions Tokyo in the otherworldly "Snowbound." SD has a huge following in Japan, with rare CDs issued only for the domestic market and the 2007 Heavy Rollers dates in Tokyo selling out easily.

I, for one, would love to do an Ali-Mo version of Dan's great ode to outlaw LSD chemist Owsley Stanley III, "Kid Charlemagne." Long may it reign.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tired on a Sunday night

Well, it's pretty late on a Sunday night after our Amnesty International gig so too tired to write much. Overall, a pretty good gig and the crowd was great!

I have some great Jap-lish photos somewhere to add to Kent's contributions.
Anyway, gotta go to bed and join the land of the working slaves early tomorrow morning.

Below is one of the funniest 'how to speak English' videos I've ever seen! Check out how the camera does close ups of their shoulders!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amnesty and ALi-MO by Numbers

Roughly two years ago, ALi-MO played an Amnesty Benefit concert in Ebisu.

We dug it; they dug us.

We're back on Sunday night. No promises. But ... promises.

See you there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

rehearsal night

Last night, we had a rehearsal for our Sunday gig.
My very good friend and an awesome sax player,
Michiko Kawaguchi (Meishiko), came to jam with us, too.
Unfortunately, you can't see her playing that much
on the above video, but you'll have a chance to see plenty
of her stuff at the Dickens' on Sunday!!
Roland was asking me if i had any old photos from
our past rehearsals. I realized that we hardly ever take
any during rehearsals and such, and thought it might be
nice to take pics and vid clips once in a while.
taking this one made me feel quite dizzy in the end, though...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Akihabara ALi-MO memories: the OTHER side

A few years ago, back when our original bass player was working and living on the East side of Tokyo, Akihabara was home to many an ALi-MO rehearsal. We'd trek over there in the early evening, dodging the legions of tired and mundane salarymen who populate the other side of the massive station (the Showa-dori side, opposite of the electronics, video games, manga, anime, cell phones and armies of otaku), navigating past izakaya pubs and karaoke joints to reach a basement studio near a sullen canal.

The atmosphere is certainly chaotic over there--but it has nothing of the otaku frenetics of the opposite exit, opening onto the massive intersection where, last Sunday, a frustrated young man stabbed 17 people at noon, killing seven of them.

They were good building years for our band and its repertoire. We were on a mission to create the backbone of a master set list that would enable us to play upon invitation in any venue. On some nights, looking ragged from work, we'd nail three or four songs before 11 p.m.

Things were quieter when we hobbled back to the station to head home. Akihabara then was rising in the national and international consciousness, but it hadn't yet reached the peak of exposure it would scale two and three years later, in 2006 and 07. It was hot, but not yet burning.

In 05 and 06, I would spend a lot of time on the other side of that station, researching otaku culture for my book, Japanamerica. But when our band was rehearsing there, it still felt a bit like ... well ... like just another busy station on the Yamanote train line. Crowded, pushy, strained and too fluorescent, but not menacing. Not stained.

I'm just back from another band rehearsal tonight, this one on the West side of town in preparation for our Amnesty gig this Sunday in Ebisu, where I hope you'll join us at 7 p.m. at 'What the Dickens.'

Great rehearsal, but last Sunday's events still haunt me.

Some say that nostalgia is merely a mask for rage. And maybe I'm angry that seven people died in Akihabara, and that the neighborhood is being transformed from a real place into tabloid fodder.

No, not maybe. I am.

--gene k

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hold the Seaweed

As Tim mentioned in a post, some of our band members are not exactly politically correct. But I guess political correctness depends on your take on life anyway and everyone is weird in their own way.

Every country is full of politically incorrect and bizarre people, and Japan (in particular Tokyo) is no exception. After living here for so many years there are a few things which still puzzle me, so perhaps someone out there can shed some light on something which has been bothering me for some time.

In many professions, especially in 'Chain stores/restaurants', the staff in Japan have a tendency to follow the rules to the letter. One of my many incidents was in Harajuku when I went to a spaghetti restaurant which served reasonably good spaghetti, the only drawback being that they put seaweed (nori) on some of the dishes. I politically asked for 'No Seaweed' on my spaghetti and I was very politely told by the waitress (and the manager later on...who bowed to 90 degrees 3 times) that the rules stipulated that seaweed must be put on top of the spaghetti and there were no exceptions to this rule... This got my blood running so I got inspired and wrote a song about it that night until about 3 am. I then got my mate to help me make a music video and spread the word - perhaps my small efforts will lead to some change at some point in the future?
Anyway, here's a video I made about it a few years back.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

a@life team ..

Me , your villain keyboardist , known as gurasan-debu-oyaji in alife and mother of all mentally retarded Chink (Gurasan-debu-oyaji stands for fatty oldman with sunglasses )and its perfectly describes myself in such a way . thanks to those alife’s Otakus .
alife , a “second to none” kind of “pick up” club is where I have myself pretty well entertained of on weekends and a place always packed with heaps of “ breath taking “ seductive amois you won’t be able to resist not to lay your fingers on ..believe me .... bento and sandwich , Tim !! ..

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Calling Mr. Milk

I, your humble bass player, am delighted to announce that I have found the perfect stage partner for Ali-Mo's lithe and lovely singer Lisa.

This gentleman is as full of vim, vigor and vitality as our gyrating chanteuse, who, it goes without saying, is the sine qua non of our little gang of oyaji noodlers.

I speak of Mr. Milk Suzuki.

Mr. Suzuki is front man for Tokyo Milk Babies, a hardcore/speed band that's as funny as it is energetic. I happened upon Suzuki-san and his cohort, guitarist Mr. Popcorn, in Yoyogi Park last weekend and was so inspired by their musical prowess and raw power that I recorded the video that follows.

Milk's prodigious talents are not confined to songwriting, dancing and bovine impersonation (the perfect match for Lisa's French maid persona). He is also known to offer his cheek to passerby for free slaps, helping people relieve their stress through a bit of the old ultra-violence.

This superman looks kindly upon mere mortals like myself - he presented me with a CD, gratis, of Tokyo Milk Babies tunes, which is certain to blow my mind (when I get around to listening to it).

What would happen if Lisa and Milk teamed up on stage? The audience might melt in the full blast of their raw sexual energy, the universe might explode, but it would be one hell of a show.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

a bit of history...

Feeling ennui, solitary, and somewhat nostalgic on a wet, chilly, tuesday night after having a less-than-perfect gyoza dinner in the neighborhood.
And so as i'm sitting here listening to my laundry going round and round, i guess i'll just take a minute to talk a bit about how i came to meet these Ali-Mo members in the first place.

The first one i met was Richie. I met him through this guy named Joe -- whom I have no idea now about where he is or what he is doing. Some people are like that, aren't they? They just come into your life, hook you up with people that end up changing it totally, and then just dissappear. Anyhow, Joe, after finding out that i was a vocalist, invited me to a party that his colleague was having at his apartment in Gotanda. He said that this guy's place was amazing -- he could play music and instruments as loud as he wanted, and the neighbors never complained. Okay, cool, I thought. And so we get to his place, ring his doorbell, and out comes this curly haired guy wearing a nurse's outfit. Yes, that was Richie. And okay, it was a costume party, so, whatever. We played and sang that night - maybe some old Janis Joplin and Beatles songs. We hit it off right away, and soon started talking about forming a real band.

Speaking of costumes though, the last member I met in our present Ali-Mo line-up was Tim. On the night that I found out that he was a bassist and asked him if he would like to join the band, I believe I served him milk tea wearing a maid's costume. But my memory isn't too clear.

my laundry's done. gotta go -- i'll get around to the other guys later, maybe next week. ;)

Chaos ALI-MO style

Man, it's so bloody hard to schedule a rehearsal when you are (a) in a cover band, (b) busy as hell with your life and work, and (c) living in a far-flung, circuitous city like Tokyo.

Today, 40 emails or so (I'm exaggerating, of course) zoomed between the five of us--and we STILL don't have a date.

But we do have a gig: June 15, Ebisu, Dickens.

--gene krupa

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Richie the acoustic guitarist

I was brought up playing bluegrass mandolin and my first ventures on the guitar were in the style of Chet Atkins, so playing 'Rock Guitar' is still a bit of a newish phenomenon to me but I'm slowly figuring it out. Our band came together about 4 years ago quite by chance (as do most good things in life); and because most of us were brought up on 80s music and were all at about the same level musically (except for Lisa who is exceptional) we've been able to keep things going for a long time, which is not an easy thing to do in Tokyo.

One regret I have is that Alimo has not made an originals album. Working full-time in addition to other extra-curricular activities makes it hard, but I really hope we find the energy and time to do it soon.

Music aside, today I went to Oedo onsen which is close to Tokyo Teleport station, just 11 minutes from where I live. The onsen was exceptional and they even have a shopping and amusement area which is quasi-edo period like where you stroll around in your Yukata. The foot bathing area is also pretty cool. Tokyo has so many hidden secrets (at least hidden until you find them). I took some nice pics but can't be bothered getting them off my camera at 12:25am on a Sunday so I'll try and post some next blog. The attached photo is me in Portugal a year or so ago after not cutting my hair for a few months.

I will leave you with a funny story one of my colleagues told me about the other day - and yes, apparently it's true.

In 1997, the crew of a Japanese fishing boat was pulled from the Sea of Japan after clinging to the boat's wreckage for several hours. They were immediately arrested, however, after authorities interrogated them about the boat's fate. To a man, they claimed a cow had fallen from the sky, apparently coming from nowhere, and struck the boat amidships, resulting in a huge hole and its rapid sinking.

The crew remained in prison for several weeks until Japanese authorities were contacted by several highly embarrassed Russian air force officials. It turned out that the crew of a Russian cargo plane had stolen a cow that wandered near their Siberian airfield and forced it onto their plane before they took off for a flight home. Once airborne, the cow apparently panicked and starting rampaging through the cargo hold, causing the crew also to panic because it was affecting the plane's stability. They solved the problem by shoving the cow out of the hold while crossing the Sea of Japan at 30,000 feet.

Unfortunately, following Rules 5 (Look-out), and 7 (Risk of collision) won't keep you out of trouble when the danger is airborne!

Source: Australian Financial Review, 16 May 2000