Amoral in Japan 2006
May 22nd 2006
It's 10AM and one by one the Amoral boys enter the Spinefarm office in Helsinki, from where we are about to be driven to the airport. In about 20 hours from now we shall be landing at the Narita airport in Japan, and you can see the excitement on our faces. We have only heard great things about playing in Japan, and of course the country itself is surely a sight to be seen. Ben had already decided that the three days that were planned for the trip would not be enough to check the place out, and had booked himself an extra week as a holiday over there. Anyway, we take some photocopies of our passports just to be safe, and jump into the van waiting for us.
After a monstrous 16-hour flight (Helsinki - Copenhagen - Tokyo) we are finally in the Land of the Rising Sun. We get through customs without the glove treatment, and meet Naoko from Creativeman - the event's organizer - at the lobby. A van is waiting for us outside, and we begin the 1,5 hour ride to our hotel, located in Shibuya, Tokyo's trendiest area. Which works out great for a bunch of trendy youngsters such as ourselves. As we get closer to the center we begin to understand the massiveness of the place. Especially the ones that haven't been to the States are awe-struck by the size of the buildings everywhere. Now, you have to understand that there's nothing even remotely like this in Finland, even the smallest building in Tokyo is bigger than the tallest "skyscraper" in Helsinki. The traffic is also something else, and we are very pleased we don't have to find the way to the hotel by ourselves. We arrive at the Tokuy Excel Hotel, where we are greeted by more Creativeman staff. We have a little over an hour before a "production meeting", which we use wisely by showering. When we come back down, a fan is already waiting with his copy of Decrowning to be signed. We take some pictures and wonder how the hell he knew that we'll be here a day early. We stop at the vending machines to marvel at the wide selection of goods available, from whisky to pantyhose.
We have no idea what a production meeting is, but it sounds important. Turns out it's six guys going over the backline and schedule with us, making sure all is ok and understood. We nod a lot. One of the guys kindly invites us to the Nocturnal Rites gig that takes place at 7PM, and of course we jump at the opportunity to check the local scene in advance.
This leaves us with a good few hours to walk around the neighborhood. We decide to eat something first, and being the true crusaders we are, we option for a local noodle place instead of the safe McDonald's or Subway. Ordering is a bit tricky, as no-one speaks English and you don't really know what's what, but we point our fingers at different stuff from the menu and end up having a delicious meal. We then continue to some record stores for rare CD's and Japanese guitar mags. We had a nice daywalk gazing at the buildings and neon signs, checking out beautiful Japanese women and trying not to get lost.
We get back to the hotel a littel before 6.45PM, which is when we will be picked up for the Nocturnal Rites gig in club Quattro. Naoko kindly takes us there, through the city, into a mall, through the sports section up to the sixth floor or so. What a location for a club, eh? We literally enter the venue 30 seconds before the intro starts rolling. The Swedes know their business and deliver a solid show, which we get to witness from a specially reserved area near the stage, with free beers in our hands. We're not sure who mistook us for important rockstars, but we're not saying anything. Good gig, excellent crowd, small pints. After the gig Naoko tries to take us back to the hotel, but somehow we feel that 8.30PM is not quite the time to call it a day during our first night in Tokyo. She shows us to a bar nearby, and makes us swear we don't get lost, as she's the one who'd take the blame if tomorrow we'd be nowhere to be found. We promise to behave.
This particular Gas Panic turns out to be a hip hop club, which suits us just fine. We make some new friends, get congratulated for the Eurovision victory by a British fella, and decide to continue somewhere else. After roaming around for a while we find the perfect place. The place is called Alcatrazz Medical Prison, and on the sign there's a Japanese nurse holding a huge needle. We figure that either we wake up a gagball in our mouth, Pulp Fiction style, or have the best time ever. We enter.
Into the elevator, one floor down, we're facing a cell door, which opens by pressing your bloodtype in. Kinky. The gate opens, and we are greeted by a doctor and a couple of nurses. They take us to a small cell. We leave our shoes outside and try to fit around the small table. The gate is closed and our shoes dissappear. We begin to sweat a little. A cute little nurse comes in and takes our order. We have no idea what drinks like Big Bust, Blood Transfusion or A Chemist's Set are, but we decide to go for it. Niko ends up with a baby bottle in his mouth, Ben gets a bag of "blood" to pour into his glass and the rest find themselves staring at a bunch of test tubes, that they're supposed to mix together. All drinks are fucking excellent, and fun is had by all, so we decide to continue the experimenting. We order five Luxurious Pleasures and a round of Fake Teeth. Two beautiful nurses arrive quicly with our drinks. The Luxurious Pleasure looks like an innocent drink first, until one of the nurses whip out a gigantic motorized dildo from out of nowhere, which is used to mix the drink up. Right on! False Teeth evolves somebody's dental set and a pill, and is also very good. We would've gone on for a lot longer, but the place was already closing at midnight. Well, we could actually use some sleep, as most of us didn't get any on the plane. So back to our fancy hotel we go...
May 23rd 2006
The first wake-up in Tokyo. Yes, it wasn't a dream after all, we really are in Tokyo. We slept till 1 pm and headed straight to the hotel lobby for the ride to the venue. At the lobby we met our manager Juha and other Finnish colleagues. They had just arrived and had 10 hours of high altitude drinking behind them. Some fans were also there to greet us, which was nice. We jump in the van and tell Juha everything about last night on the way to the venue.
At the venue, Liquidroom, we were greeted with a super-pro and polite crew and some more hung-over and dead-tired Finns. Norther was just doing their soundcheck and we went to check out the equipment that was reserved for us. And let me tell ya, it was sweeeet! Mesa and Marshall full stacks, 5150s, Ampeg bass amps and an exclusive Pearl drumset for Juffi. While waiting for our soundcheck, we had time to tell everybody about Alcatraz Medical Prison. Everyone felt that we shall go there again tonight. Soundcheck itself went well. The local crew did their thing perfectly and everything worked even ahead of schedule. We were told that the front of house guy did an excellent job and we sounded (believe it or not) great through the PA. At the backstage we met more Pain Confessor and Private Line dudes, and bragged about our 12-hour sleep. We also met our Japan label manager Masa, who was very cool. He gave us all a bag with all the magazines mentioning us, promo stuff and a Japanese copy of Decrowning, which was very nice of him.
Time to hunt down some food. Our brave warriors Erkki, Silver, Juha and a few Confessors of Pain boldly headed in to the urban jungle. Many great explorations have been driven by hunger. Kolumbus found America, we found Subway. A few tasty chicken teriyakis and we were heading back to the venue. On the way we discovered where Darth Vader lives (check the pic). Then it was time for the usual warm-ups and spying on the crowd on the side of the stage during Pain Confessor. Soon it was our turn. This was it, THE 40 minutes we had been flown here for. The intro starts, the crowd goes wild, and we get even more nervous. We run to the stage just in time for the first beats of Showdown, and it's on. The audience was amazing. So many enthusiastic faces and hands in the air. By far the loudest and warmest audience we've ever had. We give our 120% for the 40 minutes we have. Some mistakes - thanks to the nervousness - aside, we feel it was a good show. We thank the crowd and make way for Norther...
After the set we had plenty of time to chill out and greet some fans. Well, maybe "some" is not the right word, as we took more pics and signed more autographs that night than during our whole career so far. The fans were very nice and polite, many spoke a little Finnish too! A special thank you to Miho, who gave us her drawings of us, which were very cool. 10.30PM someone from the staff tries to get us into the van waiting to take us back to the hotel, but we refuse to leave until each and every fan looking for our time has gotten their pics taken and album signed.
Back at the hotel, we quickly shower and head out to celebrate. To our great disappointment the Medical Prison was already closed when we got there, so we headed to the Rock Current bar which was told to be the afterparty place for tonight. And lord did it rock! We partied through the night with the coolest people ever. DJ Sushi provided the soundtrack to a perfect party, and fun was had by all. The bar closed at 5 AM and we headed back to the hotel. With the sun already shining, the hungriest of us went to get some McBreakfast. Needless to say, most of us were beyond drunk at this point so all rational behaviour was out of the question. Back at the hotel there was partying going on on three floors, so one could go from room to room to check out the vibe. At around 8 AM most of us were asleep.
May 24th-25th 2006
Well well well... our last day in Tokyo (or last day in heaven to be more exact, haha)! There wasn’t really much sleeping going on last night, so everyone was a bit tired. Tired but happy! We bought some refreshments at the hotel lobby, and soon after that our escorts showed up ready to guide us and Pain Confessor to Dress Tokyo, tonight’s venue.
After a nice train-trip we arrived at the Dress Tokyo, met the Youthquake guys, and were happy to see that all the equipment (the guitar amps and the Pearl drums that we used yesterday as well) was there in line waiting for us. And the place itself was nice! Even though the venue was quite small (capacity of about 100 people), there were flat screens in the audience & at the backstage that showed the stage. We later learned that the gigs were filmed with multiple cameras and someone actually edited it to the screens on the fly! The backstage was small but cousy, and we tried to get some sleep on the floor while Pain Confessor did their soundcheck. Actually any attempts at sleeping were soon destroyed by dry humour & laughter.
After our soundcheck some of us started to get hungry, and some still pondered whether eating really was a good idea or not. Because everyone was dead-tired and suffering from an intense hangover, we decided to take the safe & easy route and went straight to McDonalds (luckily there was one nearby the venue). After the healthy lunch it was time to take some promotional pictures for the local media, so there was some Heavy Metal posing to do. We also visited a musical instrument shop and found a guitar that was made to look like a machine gun. Oh the crazyness...
Back at the venue Youthquake was about to start their set. They seemed to deliver a killer show! We realised that we were about to go on stage as well, so warming up was the wisest thing to do. The show itself went fine, and the atmosphere was really “easy going”, one could say. No signs about the slight stress that shadowed the yesterdays gig. The audience was superb, just like at the previous gig! We played Mötley Crue’s Wild Side (our “blasted” version of it :) as the last song, and Hiyori from Youthquake joined us to do some additional vocals. That was a real blast (pun intended)!!! It was just so nice to play that we didn’t want the show to end... even the hangover went away!
Oh well, even though we didn’t want to leave the stage, it was time to pass the torch to Pain Confessor, who delivered a tight performance! Yesterday in mind, we started to get ready for some serious signing & photographing when Pain Confessor’s set came close to an end. And that’s exactly what happened: we signed autographs and took pictures with the audience for at least an hour straight! The people were just so nice that it was hard to believe that it was really happening. We'd better not get used to this...
The local crew offered to deliver our equipment back to the hotel, so we could just concentrate on partying from now on. Wow, what service! We did a quick trip to the hotel, and as a preparation for another sleepless night, we had to get some refreshments from the vending machine. We bought something that looked like an energy drink (and tasted like throat medicine), and it worked like a champ! Again, there was a hell of an afterparty at the Current bar. Lots of familiar faces from yesterday as well. Everyone was having a great time, although it was so hot in the bar that it was necessary to go outside and breathe every now and then...
The partying continued at the hotel and lasted till the early morning hours, and at some point we realized that we have about half an hour left before we (well, 4/5 of us) have to leave the place. There was some hassling, mainly because some of us were pretty drunk at this point. Ben played the daddy figure and made sure all the equipment was ready and the guys all got to the bus in time, before going to his room to sleep. Don Johnson Big Band was in the same bus, and we didn’t really envy them because their trip in Tokyo had been only one day long. Even the three days felt like a second at this point! We got to our flight in time and everyone was pretty much sleeping already while the plane was still in the ground.
Like you can probably guess by now, we truly had the best time ever in Tokyo. We want to thank everyone who made this trip possible for us from the bottom of our hearts: Spinefarm records, Musex, Masa & Woodbell, Naoko & Creativeman, the professional crew at Liquidroom and Dress Tokyo and Excel Hotel for not kicking us all out for misbehaving. Thanks also to our partners in crime, Pain Confessor, Norther, Youthquake and Private Line for the company. And the biggest thank you goes for all of you who showed up and made us feel so very welcome, we freakin' love ya people! Words cannot express how grateful we are. We hope to see you all again soon...