Thursday, May 26, 2005

Behind the Tour: Vengeance For BLOOD 3 Part 2 - Mexico City and The Band for First Timers

The day started when I picked up BLOOD's agents Shelly and Leslie. They are way way cool people who don't live that far from me and I was glad they were letting me travel with them. We went to the Philadelphia Airport where we were to be bussed over to Chicago. We took seperate flights, so they took off first, with me an hour behind. It was my first time flying by myself, let alone in nearly a decade, so I was a bit nervous. The flight wasn't too long, just a little over an hour. As we were landing, the plane went into some clouds. When it emerged, I was met with a breath taking view of downtown Chicago as we pulled a 90 degree turn around it. I had never been to Chicago, so I was kinda like "wow" (not to mention I've had a life long interest in tall man-made structures).

When I got into the terminal, I quickly met up with the two girls and we waited around for an hour for our flight. It wasn't that long before we were in the air again and on the way to Mexico City. This was the big one though, somewhere around 4 hours. Good thing the movie wasn't too bad (Ocean's Twelve) and the meal was pretty good too. I dunno why people always bust on airline food. Mine wasn't too bad at all! After the movie was over, Shelly and I did some talking, some planning, and she told me some stories about the band. Next thing I knew, we started decending into Mexico City. I went over to the window seat (the flight was only half full), hoping to catch a glimpse of the city. I was really interested in seeing it from high up, since it's one of the largest cities in the world. However, all I saw were hills, desert, and a few small towns. I started thinking we were farther than I thought until the plane made a slight turn and BAM! City as far as the eye could see.

Soon, we were on the ground. We arrived at about 2 or 3 pm local time, and the band would be arriving between 5 and 6. We went through customes and security then sat in front of the international terminal, waiting for our escort, who is also the man incharge of this whole trip, Andres. However, he was no where to be found. So, we decided to wait in the area so we would be easy to find. A half hour passes, nothing. Then an hour. Nothing. I start to get a bit adgitated and so do the girls. Finally, after sitting in one spot for almost 2 hours, he finally shows up with a small entourage. He introduces us two girls who's names escape me, our "bodyguard" Daniell, and one of the coolest mofo's I've ever met, our interrpretor Antonio. This guy was gifted! Not only could he speak Spanish and English fluently, but Japanese as well! He kinda became our "go-to" guy. They took us to our ride where we unloaded our luggage. The 3 men went off to do something, leaving the 2 girls to entertain us. We decide to go get drinks and Leslie, Shelly, and I decided on Powerade. We try to make conversation with our 2 escourts, but our Spanish is limited. They spoke English better though, but not by much.

Finally, it gets to be about time for the band to arrive. We go back to the area we waited at for so long to once again do some waiting. This wait wasn't too long though. Within a few minutes, the band showed up: Kiwamu, Fu~ki, NoA, and Yuu. Kaede had to come a day late because he had certain obligations in Osaka. My first impression of Kiwamu and Fu~ki was "Wait... these guys are Japanese... why am I looking up?" Granted the were both wearing platform shoes, but I was still shocked at how tall they were! With the shoes off, they could have only been a few inches smaller than me, and I'm 6'3!! After everyone greeted eachother, we grabbed their luggage and went over to our ride. I was a bit shy, so when everyone was saying hi, I stayed quiet. So, when we got to the garage, I introduce myself. I said hi to Kiwamu first, who had no clue who I was (which was obvious by the look on his face). I told him I was Roger and he goes "Aaaaahhhhhhhh". He turns to Fu~ki and says something to him in Japanese (I assume he was introducing me), and Fu~ki repeats Kiwamu's "Aaaaahhhhhhhh" and shakes my hand. Kiwamu then asks "How is the re-mix?" (reffering to the Under The Sensual Moon Remix Raven-sama and I are working on for him). I told him it was comming along, but our conversation was short lived as Andres and Antonio pull him aside to talk to him. We get to the ride, drop off their luggage... but then we go back to the airport? This begins a trend that lasted the entire trip where stuff would happen, and no one knew why. I find out a bit later we are waiting on a girl who works for Andres who could speak English and Spanish.

So, we hang out in the airport a bit. Leslie and Shelly start talking to Fu~ki a bit, kinda playing around with him, Kiwamu, Antonio, and Andres seem to be discussing business, NoA and Yuu must not have been able to smoke on the flight as it seemed they were making up for lost time, and I just kinda take in what's going on around me. We eventually sit down in a food court area after walking around a bit, and this is where I begin talking to NoA and Yuu. They grab my attention at first by whipping out a portable ash tray! We then begin talking... well, trying to talk about the bands we like. The first I say is "X".. but they were a bit confused, so I said "X-u" and crossed my arms in the form of an X. They get very excited and ask me some other bands I like. This is when I start talking to them not only in really broken English, but accented as well. I dunno if it was nessecary, but it seemed they understood me better when I spoke in accent, so I continued that throughout the trip when I spoke to the guys. It was kinda weird not pronouncing my G's and saying my S's as SH's, but it grew on me quick. NoA's English was alot better than Yuu's, though he got confused sometimes, but we managed to talk for a good while with the help of Charades. I had my headphones around my neck and they asked what I was listening to. I handed them the head phones and played Finger Eleven's "Quicksand" for them which they liked! Soon, we started walking again, not knowing what was going on, assuming we were getting this staffer. Well, we go to another part of the airport... and just stand there for a while. This is where I get to meet Fu~ki, a HUGE fellow HIM fan (Just like me, they are his favorite band). Shelly and Leslie were huge HIM fans too and got him to start singing some HIM songs! As soon as I noticed Fu~ki singing "Join Me" aboslutely perfectly, I spun around (as I was talking to NoA at the time) and took full notice. We all took turns naming songs for him to sing, and damn did he do a good job! We got him to sing Right Here In My Arms, The Sacrament, and Your Sweet 666. BLOOD really needs to cover a HIM song coz Fu~ki can pull of Valo really well. This is also when I notice that Kiwamu pulled Antonio aside and asked him to teach him some Spanish profanity!

Finally, the girl, Janine showed up (we were picking her up from her plane) and we went to our ride... and we hit a problem. There was no way we could all fit comfortably in there... at all. So, once again, we start waiting around and I have no clue why. I talk to NoA and Yuu some more, when Fu~ki comes by to smoke with them. He notices my headphones and repeats Yuu's question from earlier. I hand him the headphones, play the same song, and he liked it too! I then tell him what Finger Eleven means (if you don't know, ask a fan of the band) and he thinks it's the greatest thing in the world! He then goes off and asks Antonio a question in Japanese. When he comes back, he teaches me to say "I fucked your mom" in his language! Well, what I think finally happened was we had no other choice with our ride, so we all crammed in there, with many people winding up sitting on top of eachother. We were not on our way to the hotel yet though. BLOOD had to be at a press confrence across town where they were to be on national TV!

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When we get there, Kiwamu hands me a camera and says "I want to test your skills for tomorrow". Tomorrow was to be the big PV shoot. So I take Kiwmau's camera and go up stairs to set up. It was a bit intimidating with all of the people with huge, proffesional camera, but I figured I would manage. Well, the MC introduces BLOOD, and I'm all set up to record their entrance, and I KNOW the damn camera said "FUCK YOU!" in Japanese and shut off. I was like "Oh shit!" so I start playing with the thing from memory, coz all of the buttons are labled with Kanji. Well, I figured it was something wrong with the tape, so I take it back to Leslie to see if she could figure it out, but the camera keep ejecting the tape. I start to get scared coz I'm like "Kiwamu's gonna rip my head off!". Then, one of us remembers that he has another camera, so we rush down to see if it's the camera or the tape that's messing up. It was the camera. We rush upstairs with the new camera and I get Kiwamu his shots.

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Luckily, we didn't miss too much. I didn't understand much of what was going on as Spanish and Japanese were being flung everywhere, but it didn't really matter. All I needed to do was film.

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Afterwards, they do a photo-op and mini-signing session. They were bonafide celebrities here in Mexico, as even hardcore press members lined up to get anything with BLOOD's logo on it signed and have their photo taken with the band. After this was done, the band had their photo taken with a Korean band called LARKSPUR (Thanx Calla!).

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After the confrence was over, Andres pulls me aside and introduces me to 3 people who were going to help with the PV. All of the sudden I am bombarded with technical questions left and right. I was way overwhelmed because, to be honest, I never thought of the importance of this job until now. Everytime I've directed something, it has been with friends who have always advised me and was done on a more casual level. But now I meet these guys, who are talking to me in English, and are being very proffesional. This is when realized that I'm the boss. I'm the director. I need to tell them what is happening. So, I kinda snap back to reality, and start answering their questions. We had a location, an old museum that used to be a fortress, lights, and crew. Now all we needed to do was solidify the concept. Up until now, I had not much of a chance to talk about the concept to Kiwamu, just ideas on the style because of his schedual. I spoke to him, and we decided to work on that tomorrow, coz now, we were all very very hungry.

We drive around town some more and end up at a small taco shack at a small intersection in a dark part of town. Almost immediately, a cop car rolls up with its lights on, but I get the feeling we are not being pulled over. We exit the car and head for the taco shack, and the cop gets out and does the same. Andres orders some food for us, when the cop starts talking to the owner. This is when I realize he is holding sub-machine gun in his hand, with his finger on the trigger, and the safety off!!! I don't know if anyone else realized this, but I was a bit shocked. I wasn't that scared, since it was obvious he had no interest in us... dut daaaaaaaaamn! Anyway, the band takes right to the food faster than us Americans do. I was worried about paying for it, but when Andres asked me why I didn't order any tacos, and I told him, he just patted me on the back and said that it was on him. So, I ordered some and dug in. I can honestly say, the real thing is MUCH better than the Taco Bell stuff, though a bit more bite size. Atleast that was the way this guy made them. I also tried some of the drinks at the fruit drink stand next to us. Fu~ki tried something and I had a Orange/Watermelon blend. It would have tasted better cold, but I asked for no ice. I was well warned about the water.

It got to be about 2 am local time, which meant that Shelly, Leslie, and I had pulled a 24 hour day at this point, and I dunno about the band, but that's a big time change they had to get used to, so we were ALL zonked. We all waddled up to our rooms like zombies driven by one thought, BED! We all get situated and say good night to eachother.


(This post was personally approved by Shelly Lefferts and Kiwamu)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'm Not Dead!

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been waiting to get Kiwamu's approval on posting some of the photos, but unfotunately, he's been a bit elusive since we returned home. As soon as I get word from him on what's ok to put up and what's not, I'll immediately make my post on Day 1. Sorry for the delay guys!


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Behind The Tour: Vengeance For BLOOD 3 Part 1 - Overview & PV News

I am back from Mexico everyone, and what a trip it was! BLOOD tore down the TNT concert hall with one amazing live performance after another with their guest musicians NoA and Yuu. I can't thank them enough for treating me so cool while I was down there and letting me become a member of their staff.

However, there is some bad news. The night of the PV filming, Kiwamu fell ill under a very serious bout with food poisoning and had to be rushed to the hospital along with NoA. As a result, the PV is now postponed. I still have the job, it's just a matter of when we can get together again and do it now. The most important thing, though, is that they have both fully recovered.

But oh boy, do I have A LOT of stories to tell! Throughout the month, check back here for a day by day account of my trip with BLOOD and their management, as well as over 90 photos!


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Here We Go

Here is the new blogger for my new show gang! Tainted Reality will be a bit similar to Bad Transitions, how ever with some rather noticable differences. First of all, and most notably, the main factor of the show will be J-Rock. However, it will not be the whole show, as I will play a LOT of Goth, Industrial, Alternative, Metal... basically every kind of rock on the table. However, somethings never change, because, as before, I will honor any and all requests.

Also, I detest doing solo radio shows, so I will be looking for a co-host. You do NOT need to be a member of the station or the University for this, as you will be under my supervision. If you are interested, please drop a comment here.

I will also have a contest over the summer, but more info on that later.

As for this blogger, this will operate the same way as the Bad Transitions blogger, only with a few more suprises along the way! Like this, the transcript from the Psycho le Cemu Q&A I attented and participated in at Katsucon!!!!!

Q: What are some of the differences between Japanese and American audiences?

Daishi told us that, compared to the Japanese fans, audiences here scream louder and clearer.

Roger: Why did you feel it's important to play music in America?

Daishi said he didn't want to do a live in America, but the rest said, "No we have to!" He also remarked at the difficulty in fitting American sized burgers in his mouth.

Q: What is the significance of you guys always carrying around peaches?

Daishi asked if we knew of the story Momotaro and told us that it was based on the Japanese folktale of the little peach boy, but with a small twist. In the original tale, Momotaro is a very good character but in their world, he's a little yankee boy. He would be in a biker gang. In that scenario Seek is like a police officer.

Q: Who came up with the skit?

Daishi said that Yura-sama is the one who wrote the play yesterday. Then, addressing the crowd, he asked, "Did you guys understand our English?" He then mentioned that some of the lyrics to a song he sang last nigth were in English. He asked the crowd, "Did you realize this?" (crowd answers loudly, yes!) After singing them, he revealed that he had used a cheat sheet during the first show, but would try and memorize them for the second one. (Lots of cheering at this)

Q: What Manga do you guys read?

Yura-sama - Dragonball and Final Fantasy
Seek -Doesn't read much but likes Akira (Classic sci-fi series)
Aya - Deathnote (currently running in Shonen Jump)
Lida - Doesn't read a lot of manga, but likes American comics like Spiderman
Daishi - Bebop High School (Classic yankee manga)

Q: Do you have any western influences in your music and if so who are they? (Brian's of Centigrade-J's question)

We got some really vague conversation between the band members talking about how they were influenced by western music and each of them have their own likes and dislikes, using a little bit from each. Good going guys, way to not answer the question while answering it. I'm sure we all had hoped to get specific names of foreign influences. This was a common theme throughout the session.

Q: What Visual Kei bands did you listen to; did you listen to Visual Kei when you were growing up? (Another Centigrade-J question)

After looking at each other for several seconds as if they didn't understand the question, Aya picked up a microphone and said, "Pierrot." to a good deal of cheering from the audience. End of answer. This really disappointed the fans because they had been genuinely interested in hearing them talk at length about the visual bands they liked and who they felt influenced them the most.

Q: What did you think of the dolls?

Apparently Yura-sama had received dolls from some of the fans, he awkwardly expressed his thanks and intentions to bring the dolls back home to Japan, thus putting a period on this dead-end inquiry.

Q: Are you interested in playing outside a convention?

Daishi really would like to play small live houses, with an American band.

Q: What American bands do you listen to?

Britney Spears. Lida, flushed in the face, admitted as much. Daishi went on to say that he just likes watching.

Q: How did you come up with the band name?

Seek talked about how there really wasn't an idea, per se. Apparently, they thought it sounded cool and it was a combination of past band names

Q: What does your band think of file sharing and downloads?

Seek thought it was okay if you do so to check them out but added that he wished we would buy their CDs. Daishi added that if we don't buy their albums, the value goes down. I imagine he meant that they don't get anything.

Q: What do you think of the current music scene in Japan and if there was one thing you could change, what would it be?

Daishi said that the Japanese music scene is bad because Psycho le Cemu isn't number 1. He thinks American fans are better and wants to be number 1 in Japan. (Lot's of cheering)

Q: Are there any plans to do solo activities?

(Crowd boooos wildly) . Daishi did state that there might be a chance they would want to try and asked if we wanted them to do it, which was met with a resoundingly negative response. At which point they remarked that maybe because the crowd didn't want them to do, they would want to do it now. When asked the same question again, the crowd loudly cheered for them to go solo hoping to convince them not to go solo..., got it?

Q: What is your next project and what is the idea behind it?

This got a little muffled too. Their next song will be kind of heavy, with lyrics by Lida, the music by Aya.

Roger: Where do you come up with the concept for your videos or PVs?

They usually discuss it after rehearsing in the studio, while they're driving home in the car. Daishi made some crack about how since Lida is always the one driving, he doesn't get to give much input.

Q: Have you heard of Tiger Army and what kind of hairspray or gel do they use in their hair?
None of them had heard of Tiger Army and the second question prompted Daishi to ask if Lida and he looked like twins because of their hair. Daishi was sporting a longer grown-out version of Lida's cut.

Q: Where do they get the influence for their costumes?

Seek handled this one, clearing his throat very loudly and talking about how they decide upon the story from the songs and the characters emerge from the story. After that, they decide what kind of costumes each character will wear. They've been doing this for a while now so they know exactly who will play what character. Daishi adds that the new costumes are already ready. Lida's costume cost a lot of money. He said that Lida won't wear much this time and asked if we agreed that this was "sexy da ne?" This prompted lots of cheering from the audience. Daishi then told us we were all hentai. He then asked the translator how to say "hentai" in English. She told him "pervert," which he tried pronouncing to adorable mangled results.

Q: Last time they were here at a conference, they didn't have girlfriends. Did they find girlfriends?

Daishi celebrated his birthday on Feb. 5th and he spent it with 3 guys. He then lamented that everyone was taller than him and asked the audience if they would be alright with a shorter boyfriend which, of course, prompted lots of cheers. Part way through his answer he came on to the sponsor of today's event Harry of, suggesting that they start dating. Harry was having none of it.

Lida mentioned something about us being much bigger, which of course was taken to mean fatter. He clarified that he meant taller or that's how I took it. I'm still wondering if this had been his fault or the translators.

Q: Will your next DVD include para para lessons?

Yura-sama said that, if we wanted it, they would include it. Daishi adds that for the next DVD they will have English with Lida and Yura-sama boxing each other. This may have been the translators bungle, as the word used was "naguriai" or "fist fighting". Daishi said that they became better friends because of it. Reminds one of Fight Club.

Q: Seek - How do you feel about always being the monster?

He thinks it's very fun to play the monster, but his parents don't like it so much.

Q: YURA-sama - During your Friday performance, was the banana supposed to fall?

This prompts lots of laughs from the audience. As you can probably guess, this wasn't supposed to happen.

Q: Do any members have pets?

(each member paused for effect before passing the mic on the next)Daishi: Lida
Lida: Aya
Aya: Seek
Seek: Yura-sama
Yura-sama: Daishi

Q: Aya - Would you ever date a non-Japanese?

Aya -"Hai"
Daishi then asked the crowd if they prefer Aya dressed as a female or a male? It was an even split.

Q: Seek - Have you named your guitar? If so, what is it?

He has a couple basses but the one he used at Friday's show was named Saba (Mackeral, probably due to the color)

Q: Lida - What is your favorite fruit?

He said bananas. End of pointless question.

Q: Aya - Boxers or briefs?

Aya says boxers. Daishi then adds that he (Aya) used to wear underwear bought by his mom that was blue and checkered.

Q: Do you have any embarrassing moments to share?

They have many embarrassing moments, but they can't tell us because they're too embarrassing to share. Seek did talk about how during yesterday's skit, the ball that was supposed to hit him in the back missed.

Q: What is your favorite type of ice cream or dessert?

Daishi was beside himself prompting him to ask in his rougher Kansai dialect: DO YOU REALLY WANNA KNOW THAT?! (To which everyone cheered) Daishi really doesn't really eat ice cream. Seek likes Vanilla and Hagen Daaz apple pie. Daishi asks us if we know about Maacha or green tea ice cream. He then tells us that Lida doesn't eat it because he gets brain freeze.

Q: Last night at your first concert, was the tour what you expected after last year?

Yura-sama says that they made many mistakes yesterday, but since we didn't notice, it was alright.

Questions were picked from random fans in the crowd

Q: Aya - What is your favorite video game?

Aya: Ridge Racer

JuuJuu-Sama: Aya-kun!!!!!, will you marry me? (enthusiastically)

Aya: "Sankyu, Sanyku" (Thank you, Thank you)

Q: When you're thinking of which costumes to make, do you think of how hard it will be for cosplayers to make?

Seek mentions that his next costume will be a very simple one, you can just pick up any rag on the street. Daishi will wear a traditional Japanese school uniform (a gakuran).

Q: Aya - How does it make you feel as a man playing a woman character?

Every time he plays a female character, he wants to try to be that character. He's working on being a real woman.

Q: What do you do on the plane ride?

Daishi and Lida apparently pined for the stewardess, who was apparently very good looking but they didn't talk to her. Daishi and Lida were childhood friends, so they've know each other for a long time. Yura was the roadie for the band that Lida and Daishi were in. Now Lida is like the roadie. Seek was the person in charge of the lighting for a live house they performed in. They performed together once with Aya at a live house. At the time, Aya had a Mohawk and was topless.

That is courtesy of my good friends at With classes and all, I was unable to finish the transcript myself, so Centigrade-J graciously allowed me to use their's!

As for me? I have one final to go, and then I begin packing for my trip to Mexico to go on tour with BLOOD and direct their new PV, Gothic. Check back here for a full account of my of my adventures, as well as photos, soon after May 9th, the date of my return.

Also, check back here for many many updates over the summer, such as Otakon, plans for the new show, and a schedual of interviews. That's right gang. Tainted Reality is going to specialize in Interviews of J-rock, Goth, and Industrial bands!!! This site will be very very active, and will give you tons and tons of content as, I assure you, Tainted Reality will be more than just a simple college radio show!

As always, I sincerely hope to hear from you all, as I deeply deeply love getting fan comments. Let me know what you hope to recieve from the new show, what you want to not change from Bad Transitions, and what you think overall!