We arrived at Kansai Airport, Osaka on Monday 28th, again early in the morning after quite the crazy, sleep disturbing flight from Kuala Lumpur. Note we had spent the whole of Sunday in Singapore and flew to KL before boarding this flight to Japan. So after Kate and I had spent a night in Hiroshima and Evan enjoyed a wild time in the Osaka rain, we met up again in Kyoto on Tuesday 1st at the lovely digs that we had booked for ourselves. In each city on the tour, Evan would be staying with the promoter or somewhere organized by them so he was biding his time while we got our shit together. Luckily enough, our man in Kyoto, Tatsuya, had gotten in touch with the hotel already and asked us to catch a taxi to the venue and he would meet us there. Everyone is very polite in Japan as most people know and this was no difference. The receptionists also began with the ‘Mr Shoeb’ that would stay with me for the whole the trip.

The venue was a great little basement spot called Cafe Independants. Hidden away at the bottom of this crazy old school building (had a hint of French architecture about it, which was something we would encounter a few more times in Kyoto) and bubbling with life, we were all very excited about the first show as soon as we got there. We met Tatsuya there, such a nice dude. As with a lot of the people we met on the trip, the language was a little bit of an issue as perhaps we were a little tentative with what we were saying and the same with them but we always managed to get some sort of communication happening. We had also been told that at the back of the cafe was an amazing record store called Parallax Records, which specialized in experimental electronic, indie and classical music. They were closed due to it being a Tuesday but I did manage to get there after the tour and I can only say the store was indeed amazing!

Soundcheck went super smoothly. In Japan, the promoters organized quite a lengthy soundcheck schedule so you will always get at least 30mins if not longer. It also means that half yr day is gone when yr done but at least you can have a play and get yr levels right. Our problem is that we aren’t used to having the amount of time that we were allowed so we generally wrapped up early and then did leave a little to chance during the show itself. Kate excused herself and checked out the various boutique shops on the street nearby while we went through the particular madness of getting our cables and levels together for the first show since the Phoenix back in Canberra.

We didn’t move at all from the venue – instead, we grabbed a seat there and ordered our dinners there. They’ve got a really nice little boutique restaurant going on there and the prices are very reasonable. That was the other thing – Japan isn’t seriously expensive but you will get charged small amounts of heaps of things. It all builds up as they say!

There were a few DJs on that night including Tatsuya and Asari from Sample White Room, where we will be playing in Nara. He’s in town also because he manages the other band performing live on the night, SJQ. That stands for Samurai Jazz Quintet – a crazy melange of free jazz and skitz glitch electronics. In Kyoto though, there was only one tune which had the laptop glitches as foundation loops, the other two pieces were more along the lines of coughing and spluttering jazz-noise. We played dead last and had a mixed night due to the intensity of having 3 properly worked foldback for two people as opposed to the usual no foldback we get back in Australia. Let’s just say it got a little noise rock there for a few minutes. We were also lucky enough to have a lovely VJ called Kono Junpei doing some amazing video work (which you can see below) along with our music. He was very happy to be able to do his magic alongside us as he really dug our record. All in all, an enjoyable first show in Japan – welcome to Spartakmusic.

 

Advertisements

Saturday 26th saw us fly into Singapore super early in the morning. We dropped off our baggage at Evan’s hotel, the receptionists were exceptionally grumpy people. Anyways, Singapore much like Malaysia starts close to midday and we were there by 9am so we went to the ridiculous coffee chain TCC and utilized their booth seating for a good 2 and 1/2 hours to get us through the morning and our delirium. After what was the most drawn out breakfast ever (featuring two lime juices at my end), we hit us a shop that counts as a favourite of Kate and mine, Cat Socrates. A little shop tucked up top of the Bras Basah Complex full of little trinkets, stationary and great CDs, we had a bit of a blast trawling through their wares. Evan picked up something for his partner Elena, Kate picked up a SuperHeadz camera and I picked up a new release from Singapore’s cool Kitchen.Label.

After Kate and I checked into our hotel (less grumpy but short of space), we waited for Cher to meet us there. The hotel itself was in Little India, the same area as the venue so we just played the waiting game. Evan met us there as well and we were lucky enough to enjoy free cocktails and finger food in our hotel lobby while we waited. Let’s just say in enjoyed the chicken drumettes. The venue was a studio space called Chapter6 on Rowell Road, a road notorious for it’s cheap dodgy dealings. Cool little space though – shoes off at the door and a lovely balcony to sit on. The show was great, Cher and Glenn had asked local noise lads Circuitrip and Krisis Halusinasi from KL headed down for the show as well. A good old intimate feel with kids totally into all the sounds. Such a good time as always!

The next day, we hung out with old hellosQuare stalwart Daniel Lim, who’s now back living in Singapore after finishing off his uni degree in Canberra as well as Cher and Glenn. Didn’t do a whole lot per say but we did enjoy the tasty vegan fast food of VeganBurg and headed to Straits Records for a quick shop around. It’s always good to be hanging out with old friends in a place we like so much, even if the heat can get to me sometimes.

We played our first performance of the tour on Friday night at a funny old new residential/shopping building called Solaris Dutamas. It was for the opening party for the Buka Jalan International Performance Arts Festival, which in itself is crazy.
To recap though – Evan arrived at around 8:30 that morning and headed straight to the hotel that Kate and myself were staying at. We ambled around for a little bit before heading out to get some food and buy me a jacket for the impending coldness of Japan. Of course, this meant having to deal with warm clothes in the balmy KL heat!

We were pretty leisurely all day really, maybe getting into mid tour mode before show 1 had even happened but we were definitely excited to be playing that night. We waited till around 8 to get picked up by Ami, who’s friend Duan had organized us to be on the bill of this performance party. Ami mentioned that he works around the block but because of the traffic, it took him nearly an hour and a half to make it to the hotel. I must say that on that day, the traffic was ridiculously heaving. Perhaps it had something to do with it being a Friday night and people just wanting to head out of town.

We got to the venue and had to set up pretty quickly so we could get going. The vibe was a little weird, much like we were some kind of backing band for the evening – Evan kept referring to playing jazz standards afterwards. THey had a small PA, which did look like it would work out fairly well for us but as soon as Ev ran some low drones through it, he wasn’t as sure and hit up the drums HARD for the set. I was lucky enough to use the Fender Bassman amp that Yus and Haq had brought along for us along with the drum kit so I was able to pull some cool reverbed warmth from that. Mid-set, there was one of the other performers from the festival joining in on the performance by placing yellow dot stickers at our feet and where our equipment was placed. He later on went on to do a performance which was essentially Hide-And-Seek. Definitely one of the more stranger shows we’ve played but was a good start to the tour in terms of vibes and getting in some match fitness for the rest of the tour.

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur with my wife Kate on Wednesday 23rd for a few days of holiday before the tour kicks off proper with our show here – more on that next entry. We’ve stayed a little bit more upmarket because we somehow can afford it but it means that we’ve got a little bit of space and are free to sprawl our homely mess everywhere. We’ve kept pretty low but we hung out with our good friend Yus, his girlfriend Sit Yee and his friend Haq, who god bless has a racing Honda for us to drive around in. We’ve visited our favourite shop Badger to pick up a couple of pieces of clothing and had food last night at Asia Cafe – a massive hawker food court vibe out in the KL equivalent of ‘the sticks’. Of course, Kate and I have spent some time at KLCC but as much as it’s a weird megamall, the air conditioning is a nice respite. We made a quick trip to the Ricecooker shop but it was closed when we were there, potentially on a lunch break. All in all, I’m now out of work mode (barely) and getting slowly into gear for this tour – shows should be exciting and seeing people along the way – Shoeb.

Hi everyone,
here’s the first post in the brand new Spartak blog. Nothing crazy, just new.

We leave for our third stint of shows overseas on Tuesday and Friday respectively. All the details can be found on the performances page but below are the dates:

Friday 25th FebruaryKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Saturday 26th FebruarySingapore
Tuesday 1st MarchKyoto, Japan
Wednesday 2nd MarchTokyo, Japan
Friday 4th MarchTokyo, Japan
Saturday 5th MarchNara, Japan
Sunday 6th MarchOsaka, Japan

We’re really excited to make it over to Japan for the first time. For some of you who don’t know, our last album ‘Verona’ was released on the English label Low Point and just before it’s release, the label had agreed on a distribution deal for Japan with the very cool guys at p*dis so you can find the album at a HMV or Tower Records potentially. I think. The first two shows were organized by Cher and Glenn at 7x0x7 (SE Asia’s finest hardcore and DIY promoters) while our friend Yasuhiko from the label fläu has booked the Japanese leg of things

Anyways, I’m sure this trip will be a blast. We will be doing something different and working with semi-written ideas so that kind of means that we will trying out ‘new material’ on this trip but this new phase of Spartak music is definitely exciting.

Keep posted – we’ll try and do updates from each city as we go along the way!

Advertisements