Tuesday, July 15, 2008

GAUZE U.S. TOUR in 1996....Part 2!

In retrospect, it was often asked if that show was TOO BIG for epicenter, same time they had done sold out capacity shows with everyone from BIKINI KILL to THE MAKEUP, so it didn't seem too ridiculous to book the show there, though I remember a little sense of foreboding going into it.It was a word of mouth show with no flyers, no listing in the vital bay area concert calendar "the list".
After the epicenter Fiasco, the band wanted a day of sight seeing- Japanese bands often requests days off between gigs as most don't commonly play day after day tours in Japan, THEN the recording of the prank single- (the photo of most of His Hero is gone, Katie G. Warrior and I with Gauze in their fourth LP is outside the iron Gate to Polymorph studios, taken at the end of the night they recorded), and the night before they left they were interviewed at the last minute at the Hotel they stayed at for MRR, with Ayumi Nakanishi helping translate for the interview that did not appear until the April 1997 issue of MRR. Gauze rarely, if ever, grants interviews, even in Japan, so it was quite an honor, though in retrospect I wish I'd had more time to prepare for it as there's even MORE questions I'd want to ask them now.

We then put them on a flight for Minneapolis the next day on September 10th and I took a seperate flight that routed through Dallas or Houston- I remember that I had a incredibly short connection, so had to run full steam with all this merchandise through this giant airport, otherwise Gauze would arrive at the show without me and stuff to sell, Show promoter Felix Von Havoc picked me up at the airport and took me over to the Bomb Shelter where the show was scheduled later that day.

The bomb Shelter was in a hot basement in a dodgy area of Minneapolis. Pat Davis, the original guitarist of His Hero is Gone had been attacked walking around the neighborhood there earlier that summer with a baseball bat but fended off the guy. After the show there there was a random fist fight of just neighborhood people across the street. They had been having trouble with the Police and noise complaints there, so it was decided Gauze would play early in the bill, with State of Fear playing before and then Code 13 playing afterwards. This show was video taped by a single camera angle, but decent quality and circulated in the midwest as a bootleg DVD in the past few years. Despite my efforts to stagehand, The place was small, packed and someone flew through the audience and into the drum kit ( and sent the cymbals into Hiko, Gauze's drummer) which did not go over well- You made GAUZE STOP PLAYING! but they set the equipment up again and continued.

Jack Control ( of Mind Control records/ Later World Burns to Death) drove a crew of people up from Texas for this show.We stayed with a gracious host from MISERY and spent the next day with Dan From profane playing tour guide at the Mall of america buying souveniers ,at the bar in the mall of America and later trying to find good Sake in Minneapolis ( which on short notice, at least, was impossible). The next day We flew to Chicago, again on separate flights.
The Chicago show on September 12th was set up by Martin of Los Crudos, but the problem with the show in Chicago was that CRUDOS was on tour in Japan at the time of the show. Martin had friends pick us up in this amazingly cruddy van that could not go more than 15 or 20 miles an hour or the engine would jump and stop. It stopped a lot anyway. Chicago is huge, so it was a long stop and start ride through Side streets from Midway Airport over to O'hare Airport to pick up Gauze and then back to the gig, But that aside, these friends took really great care of us. Their Show was that day at the Fireside bowl , but as they used to do, GAUZE was-suprising to us- the early show and there was some sort of Indie or garage rock show later. The fireside bowl was an Actual large bowling alley ( and now, apparently has been refurbished to JUST be that) with the lanes closed off and the bands played in the smaller area between the lanes and the snack bar.
Great chicago band MK ULTRA and Indianpolis' ICE NINE, who were working towards finishing writing a prank LP at the time ( this Lp was never recorded, though demos for some of the tracks appear as unreleased tracks on the phenomenal and recommended discography on Happy Couples never last) opened. Gauze played a great set, and jumped back on stage to play "children fxxk off" for two people from Montreal that showed up during the last song.The photo of Shin from the old Prank Poster catalogs is from this show, as well as a few photos on the insert of their fourth LP.
There was a small turnout at this Chicago show- 100 to 150 people. it might have been that it was not promoted properly with in Chicago with Crudos gone, Crudos at the time could draw between 300-500 people themselves at the fireside and maybe overestimated the draw the show would have. In retrospect it was the same as I felt New York would've been, though people like Wedge from Nine shocks terror came with a bunch of the Ohio punk people and Brian drummer from
Dropdead ( who came all the way from Rhode Island and back on greyhound)all figured it out to make it to the show. Dan and profane existence crew, so blown away by the Minneapolis show, drove down for this show ( an eight hour drive both ways!) as well.

In retrospect I can't find the MRR ads which were the primary way the tour was advertised, but it was maybe Naviete on my part that that was enough, same time there was not a broad reach of the internet in the way that there is now.The other cities were chosen for where we thought the strongest response would be.It was a different time as hardcore was still climbing out of it's collapse in the mid to late 80's and reestablishing itself as a viable music force , so the venues were whatever you could find to make it work. Prank had maybe five releases at the time of this tour,and not the broad wealth of contacts it has now.
It was also a really different time for acceptance of Japanese hardcore- it was more of a cult thing with a small group of fans, opposed to the overarching influence it has on the US and international punk scene it has now. Boxes of Gauze's only previous U.S. release, their appearance on pusmort's U.S. pressing of " thrash til death" had been clearanced for $2 apiece at Epicenter and Vacuuum mailorder a few years earlier. The JPC bootleg CD was circulating, but I think most copies of those were just shipped to japan- there were 2,000-3,000 of those made with a $6 wholesale and maybe a $2 production costs tops and after putting out a call through Vaccuum Mailorder, Gauze was generously provided 25 copies for their tour. Do the math...Well, better than nothing. FXXK the bootlegger.
In a way, I think this tour, as well as early to mid-90's West coast tours by Gaia, Assfort, Slight Slappers, Romantic Gorilla, Wag Platy, The Heck, Smash Your Face, FxxK on the Beach,Corrupted as well as Later tours on the East coast by DSB and Assualt that turned the corner towards acceptance of and later total obsession with Japanese punk in the U.S. scene.

Gauze flew back the next day on Friday, So were in the US a total of seven or eight days including the days they arrived and left. I stayed in the Pilsen over the weekend. Saturday was Mexican Independence day, and Martin's roomates cleared out for family events and I ended going to a nearby theatrical production of the OPTIC NERVE comics books that was in walking distance from their place. Fate would have it I ran into a friend of a friend I had met the year before in the Bay Area at this play, completely at random, who is now my wife and the better part of prank. Gauze declined to play our wedding five years ago, simply replying "Gauze is not wedding band"!!!


Slobodan Burgher said...

Thanks for this, very interesting to read.

I am sure you are right in drawing the conclusions about how those US tours helped to bring about the current obsession with Japanese music there.

Ditto, the role of the internet in closing the information gap that existed in the "the West" about Japanese bands should not be underestimated.

From a personal point of view, I had heard bands like Disclose and a few more before the internet. But it was only thanks to the internet that I found out about the great wealth of bands from Japan....I can only imagine how extactic I would have been had I known about Gauze 10 years ago.

The upshoot is, I have no doubts, that a Gauze US tour (and ultimately a Gauze world tour) would turn out very very different today than it did in 1996.

PRANKREC said...

Well, I think a lot of people think Japanese hardcore was this completely unknown thing until recently- which wasn't true, like a lot of early hardcore you really had to put in your legwork to find out about it, and a lot of the "scenesters" ( for lack of a better word) I mention were all people who wrote people and traded records with Japanese fans and bands, released Japanese bands and otherwise promoted the records here. Just a lot of times until the larger and less-obsessed/involved- people can see bands live the records don't translate for them. That's not just Japanese bands, but any bands.

Yes, everyone in the world wants Gauze to leave Japan and it would be different, but it's always been difficult for them- outside of London they mentioned they had some trouble in the UK with the audiences in the 80's, then this tour, then they played to really small crowds in korea a few years after this tour. Meanwhile they can drive down the street from their house any time they want and play a completely packed show with a sold out crowd who know all the words to all their songs and sing along. So Why bother leaving?