I keep getting random emails with questions about when Gauze came to the U.S. in 1996 and get asked about it all the time, so figured I'd do a post with the story of the tour.It's a lot of obsessive detail,but so have been the questions about the tour, so Read on!
I had been a fan of Gauze since the 1980's- having traded with people in Japan in the late 80's and 90's for all of their records, and in 1992 or so a cassette tape I had made of their third LP was perpetually glued to my car stereo at all times. After moving to the Bay Area, I had visited Japan in 1995 to see a gig of GISM/GAUZE/DEATHSIDE and from that visit met people and organized a tour with ASSFORT in 1995 of a few cities on the West coast close to the SF Bay area- Santa Rosa ( an amazing show in a coffee shop to about 12 people), Berkeley, Petaluma, and SF.They also played shows around the Boston Area, set up by Yasuhiro Koketsu of the DEVOUR label, who later returned to Japan to play in MUGA. The Berkeley Gilman show is pictured on the cover of the Prank 7", which was my deal at the time, come to the U.S., record a 7" for my new label- the assfort was done at House Of Faith and I had no idea what it sounded like until I received the test pressing. In retrospect, ASSFORT was the perfect first japanese hardcore band to tour the U.S. as they were young, did not have a lot of expectations, were easy going about things and wanted to have a great time and were at their absolutely peak of a live band with their line up at the time. One of the best live bands I've ever seen... after Bad Brains.
Toshio Iijima, who then was working at either Vinyl Japan or Nat records, but now runs the great
Record Shop Base and Mangrove label was contacted by Fax as to whether Gauze would want to come to the U.S. and assisted with all the details as well as came on the tour- on the cover of the prank 7" 's he's underneath the cymbal next to Matt Average from MRR and later vocalist for Reagan SS who's taking a photo in the white shirt - you can also spot Jeff from Capitalist Casualties/Six week records ( in Glasses) in that photo and the back photo of guitarrist Momorin has Max Ward grinning along and Katie from Canada, who flew out for the shows and is now in Brutal Knights in the corner). The band gave me only a week or so to do the entire tour,as well as record the 7" for my label... so it was decided to fly between cities. They wanted to go to New York City, but at the time I had no contacts there and I felt the turn out would be low, so it was decided to go to San Francisco for Two shows-Minneapolis and Chicago. I also considered Los Angeles, but the only show I could find was a non-paying gig via Ron FInal Conflict as an add on to the band filming sequences for Decline Of Western Civilization 3 . Gauze would not have been filmed, but just played for the assembled audience.
I can't remember but I think on the thursday- * wait actually I'm wrong here, they had a day off after the SF shows then recorded then we went to Minneapolis**, The band first recorded at Polymorph studios in Oakland with Dan Rathbun. SCHLONG who had played a bunch of shows in Alabama I had set up ( including Man Or Astro-man?'s first show), turned me on to polymorph after I somehow got the part intended for lint on their insane re-working of the west side story soundtrack, Punk Side story. Gauze used Schlong's equipment and Dave Mello was kind enough to drive the band around while they were in the Bay area. The entire recording for Prank 09 was done in one afternoon, and while they considered recording a 12", they recorded five old songs and a unreleased track that was re-recorded on their fourth LP. Unfortunately, the started playing "shot" from Fuckheads in the studio but decided not to record it. The 7" of that recording never sounded as good as the Actual recording, though It was test pressed twice. There were 500 of these 7"s' with Patches and a white splatter on black vinyl that were entirely shipped to the band and the photos of the band are from the first show at Gilman, buy Ayumi Nakanishi. John Yates designed the t-shirt for the tour, turning in a really basic shirt with their logo and then I said " no john, this is the band that plays with Discharge In Japan, make something more insane!" and ended up with the shirts with the Dead Guy on them, which were probably off the mark a little bit, but were to echo the cover of "Equalizing distort" as well.
First show was Friday September 6th 1996 at 924 Gilman show was with Assfort, who had returned with a new line up and toured the area before Gauze arrived, Spazz, Dead And Gone and Eldopa . I got long time Gilman Engineer Radley Hirsch to come and do sound at Gilman so it would have the best sound possible, though he I think was a little stunned that Gauze would not stop playing even though they'd knocked themselves questionably out of tune.This show was the prank one year anniversary show and completely packed with people.
The next day, September 7th the band was scheduled to play at Epicenter Zone Record store, which used to be located at 475 Valencia in the mission. They did shows there all the time. His Hero is Gone, who I think had just completed recording " 15 counts of arson" were opening. This show was packed, and while they were playing some dork from San Jose grabbed ahold of the fire sprinkler pipe which hung over head only a few few feet from the audience, swung on it, and it broke in half under his weight and started spraying water everywhere like a high pressure hose. Carl Auge, His hero's bassist realized what was happening and turned off the band's equipment before they were electrocuted.Ironically, the next song on their set list was "rain Dance"!! Devon Morf made a valiant attempt to plug the pipe shut with the t-shirt he was wearing at the time, and on the 12" label of "15 counts of Arson" you can see him, shirtless, with William From Copout/
Talk Is Poison and Timojhen Mark of Vacuum Mailorder and MRR trying to figure out what to do. The HHIG banner in the photo is duct taped over the large wall painting by now-famous gallery/graphitti artist Barry "Twist" MCGee that was in the back of epicenter. Later it came out, maybe in MRR, that Epicenter worker and MRR contributor Tom Hopkins had let the guy who swung on the pipe in the show for free in exchange for free drinks the night before, a fact he apologized for or at least admitted he liked the free drinks! Gauze meanwhile had been hanging out backstage in what used to be Blacklist mailorder and We rushed them out of the building with everyone else as the fire department showed up. We wanted to cover tracks that a concert had been going on, so
Jello Biafra helped me carry all of Gauze's t-shirts back to the Van we were using. While everyone at Epicenter was in a total panic ( and luckily their stock was in a part of the building with no sprinklers and was undamaged) the fire Department, walks in, sees that no one is dead and nothing is on fire and nonchalantly goes and gets a pump to pump the water out of the building. Floyd took Epicenters Freight elevator down to see if he could find the water main, and said it was insane, like taking an elevator down a waterfall. Bad thing is the pipe being broken also set off the fire sprinklers in the clothing store below epicenter, soaking the entire place and their inventory...and since Epicenter was sliding away from being a great record store at the time, this caused them to stop being able to do shows which by then was really supporting the place and it sadly closed a few years later.
Gauze Sat outside and smoked cigarettes,They were then surprised when Pushead walked up with a member of City Indian who was here on business-who they said they had not seen in ten years. A member of the JAKS skate team tried to get us to go over to their annual party and jump on the bill there, but it was too chaotic, and We had to fly to Minneapolis the next day. I asked them if something like this had ever happened in one of their shows in Japan. They thought about it for a second, took another drag on their cigarettes and cooly replied " No...".