Things Dragged Into Sunlight Learned On Tour In Japan
, October 21st, 2014 15:24
Dragged Into Sunlight are one of the heaviest and nastiest bands out there, obscuring their identities and singing about serial killers. Here, they tell us about life on the road in Japan
We fly where our amps fly
We don't leave without our amps. It is what it is. Everything louder than everything else. So, the fact that we have no work permits is totally irrelevant, where we go, the amps go, or at least when they're on the same plane we do. There's a couple of angles to this. The first is, we flew cheap - really cheap, taking three transfers. Paris isn't even in the same direction as Japan for starters. The second is that everyone told us to leave our amps in the UK but surely listening could only have been perceived as weakness at that time or was it a perfectly reasoned approach from those who saw the holes in an otherwise terrible plan? Quite possibly, the latter.
Air France definitely offer a unique service, not only did we somehow end up on a different connecting flight into Japan, we ended up without any of our luggage at the wrong airport roughly three hours from where we had expected to land. When your luggage is a hand wired Matamp head worth more than the average mortal soul, it feels like losing a limb.
One horrendous phone bill later, the amp was walked through customs and delivered to the first venue with ten minutes to spare, surprisingly in one piece, with no questions asked.
Air France certainly have some soul searching to do whilst they read the very collected 20 pages of profanities we sent them the following day. Regardless, lesson one has to be - always fly direct, one plane, one luggage transfer. Not three planes and three luggage transfers. British Airways should really be a minimum as what Air France offered for 'food' appeared to be the regurgitated contents of a McDonald's stirred into a purée, virtually unrecognisable from what we know to constitute 'breakfast' or being 'edible' for that matter. The plane also felt like it may plummet towards the ground at any moment. Good times. Listening to: Graves at Sea.
Work permits are more often than not countless hours of your life that you won't get back, particularly if you're in an obscure extreme metal band where 'profit' equates to a pack of crisps for each member, but when you arrive in Japan, and you see the guards at customs rocking an uzi each, you definitely start to think that the visa que may have been a worthwhile exercise after all. The alternative is just to fly with Air France and providing they lose all your luggage, you'll stroll through customs. Listening to: The Locust.
Sushi is not optional
First mandatory stop in Japan is sushi, raw fish is a religion here. The crab claws, the shark, the octopus, bring out Cthulhu! Generally, always eat local. Whatever they eat, you eat, why? Foremost, you don't want to get sick, and if you do, at least everyone will be fucked and not just you. Eating where you have no idea what it is that you're actually eating becomes an exercise in self-preservation. Listening to: Pelican.
Don't do drugs in Japan… unless you can get good drugs
Now for big riffs and a lot of driving. Bongzilla are on in the van and whilst reminiscing on their 2003 UK tour, we also find ourselves recollecting on that one time.... That one time of the 400 odd times we got baked and listened to Bongzilla records back to back. Except there are no drugs within a generous 40 mile radius of our accommodation. Well, there are but they're not readily available, and at £50 a gram for weed.... Yeah, you heard. Gold dust. Except it's apparently not, in fact routinely the tough drug laws create avenues for cheap, nasty, ugly, soap bar. That, and five years in jail for one joint. There's certainly a lot of green around here, it's just the wrong type of green. Massive landscapes. The type of stuff which makes an Isis riff seem small. Impressive.
The general rule is; don't do drugs in Japan, but if you do, locate good drugs, make sure your dealer sells really good stuff, preferably by recommendation only, because you're going to be broke, so as a bare minimum you want a guaranteed waiver on reality for at least a few days, by which time getting high before eating will be logical and a natural next step anyway. Particularly as you won't understand a word of what's going on, so there's little point in trying to guess, you may as well just stop caring. Listening to: Bongzilla.
Rage Against The Machine are acceptable in Japan
Is that Rage Against The Machine? Apparently it is. Apparently "Rage" are still acceptable in Japan. Our view is best summarised as follows; it's Wall Street 'Zach', look at their faces, do they look bothered? Now, please remove yourself from the soap box and perhaps consider getting a job, oh and at least if you're going to have dreads, make them count, like Max Cavalera - no one messes with the mono dread, and enough of the wah wah pedal already. It got old. It got old really quick.
The political landscape is somewhat different here, so far and at a very basic level, it is understood that the country is run by a guy who decides what the constitution of Japan looks like depending on what's for breakfast.
Following an appreciation as to the true extent of political unrest in Japan, something which is almost unspoken, Rage Against The Machine are seemingly relevant and, despite the excessive wah wah pedal, frustrations are evident through discussion. Consequently, the extreme music scene is forced into an almost revolutionary nocturnal sub-culture breeding vicious yet intelligent music. Listening to: Rage Against The Machine.
Obviously Bolt Thrower are established in Japan
Inevitably, one music discussion mutates into another and at 3am in the morning after a colossal mixture of spirits, our good friends Kenji and Shu of Zothique entertain our endless questioning on the growth of everything anti-establishment in Japan.
It appears to start with bands such as G.I.S.M cascading to The Jellyroll Rockheads, following which everyone developed badass amphetamine habits through the 80s (which probably goes some way to explaining the harsh drug laws) and then, born from the very same scene, came the best of two insanities; harsh industrial noise and Japan X.
Meeting the guys in Zothique was an honour. What in some circles may be described as an alcohol fuelled binge became a five hour education on the seemingly intertwined progression from punk to speed freaks and cross-dressing. Learning about how bands like Death Side supposedly influenced Tragedy, bands like G.I.S.M were loosely related to X Japan, visual kei and Versailles, the true identity of Endless Dismal Moan, how a H8000-era Congress really just expanded on a mid-90s Earthmover, and how Bolt Thrower and Doom are somehow as established in Japan as they are in the UK, all concluding in a thorough appraisal of the massive tape trading scene in the 80s and 90s.
There are some great bands out here and goddamn, they know how to deliver energetic, balls to the wall shows every night to genuinely passionate crowds. The passion is raw and relentless, far more so than in the UK where a fickle crowd of Sleep patche and beard wearers follow whatever is popular from one day to the next. The scene in Japan is a genuine underground and anti-everything movement and its lack of boundaries, bullshit and popularity are viral. It certainly provides a welcoming home for Dragged Into Sunlight, where similarly, anything goes. Recommended listening: Zothique, NoLA (thanks for the whiskey), Cohol, Butcher ABC (thanks for the shirt), Self Deconstruction, Endon and Coffins (thanks for the guitar). Listening to: The Jellyroll Rockheads.
Karaoke = all night drinking
Japan loves kareoke. That said, it is 3am, very few places are open at this hour and objectively, kareoke does guarantee a 24/7 bar, unlimited music, big sound systems, private rooms and a fairly comfortable place to stay. Emerging at 10am, armed with stolen tambourines, a £320 bar tab, and in surprisingly high spirits, suffice to say if the same existed in the UK, they would basically become a breeding ground for debauchery. Unfortunately, the 3 hour traffic jam through Tokyo to travel 17 miles that follows is almost suicidal, killing any hope that the feeling of total death will subside. Listening to: Autopsy.
Space is premium
Our first show was perhaps the most intimate show Dragged Into Sunlight has performed since 2009, back then with our friends in Bong in Newcastle, UK. The show is small and packed out, with a lot of blast beats and accommodating bar staff. It was by far the most unbearable heat we have endured since Chicago in 2012, the last time we feared someone might die or morph into Mothra onstage. Nevertheless, it is a great show and one that will stay with us.
Despite the vast landscapes, space is in short supply in Japan, perhaps due to the fact that there is a severe nuclear problem rendering certain parts completely uninhabitable whilst others are overgrown with dense forest, for example, one can walk at least three hours into Aokigahara, otherwise known as the suicide forest, before seeing another human being, most likely a dead one hanging from a tree.
The following evening is completed by a visit to a club, one which is as small as the venue on the previous night. Despite resembling a house party, the intimate bar and huge speakers leave a lasting impression and a stinking hangover. Listening to: Off!
Be polite fuck head!
Politeness is embedded into the culture here. You pull up for fuel and not only do they fill it up for you, they wash your vehicle whilst you wait. Everyone bows, and we do the same.
In Japan, it is about respect, respect for your fellow human being. Something sorely lacking elsewhere in the world. Japanese baths for example. One wonders whether the same tradition could be integrated into Texas, perhaps not without getting hung, drawn and quartered.
There is such limited litter, no obnoxious louts and a serious lack of crime. The latter is best evidenced by a police chase after inadvertently partaking in a criminal act. Although it is 'apparently' legal to cross the train lines by foot in Japan, you are not allowed to take photos of what would otherwise be considered a momentous achievement, resulting in a 20 minute police chase around downtown Shizouka.
Having found ourselves on the wrong side of the law, climbing a seven foot fence in inappropriate footwear, the sound of several individuals who have quite simply, partied beyond the limits of human tolerance running full pelt with severe shortage of lung capacity follow. Fortunately, even the police are polite, graciously bowing out the minor discrepancy. Even the chase garners respect, compliments are exchanged, one being that the police here are basically superhuman and hop fences like hurdles, much unlike the average overweight UK plod. Listening to: Corrupt Moral Altar.
Smoking is good for you
It may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but everyone in Japan smokes, everyone. Since the drugs are so fucking expensive, we also turn to chain smoking. Japanese cigarettes taste somewhat healthier than smoking in the UK. Surely smoking can't be good for your health? Could it? Maybe? The Japanese appear pretty savvy when it comes to health, there isn't an obese person in McDonalds, so it's definitely plausible. Listening to: Cold World.
Kill or be killed
Bees the size of tennis balls. You heard. And the Yakuza, with whom we share a brief encounter. Followed by a huntsman spider which falls prey to a timely encounter with the bottom of a shoe. We came, we saw, we partied and we killed one of the most venomous creatures in the world. Check out its rotting corpse.
Listening to: Kataklysm.
In a nut shell, Japan is definitely an interesting country and another stop on our global travels for which we will be eternally grateful. Japan; Dragged Into Sunlight thank you.
8th - The Dome w/ Hooded Menace, London
9th - The Exchange w Bong, 11PARANOIAS, Ghold & Necro Deathmort, Bristol
11th - Decadence, Ghent
13th - Les Pavillons Sauvages, Toulouse
14th - Mogambo, San Sebastian
17th - Freakout Club, Bologna
18th - Sidro Club, Rimini
19th - Le Romandie, Laussanne
20th - Lo Fi Club, Milan
21st - Immerhun, Wurzburg
22nd - Kokpit Club, Prague
23rd - Exzess, Frankfurt
24th - Ciemna Strona Miasta, Wroclaw
25th - Cassiopeia, Berlin
26th - KB18, Copenhagen
27th - Bambi Gallore, Hamburg
28th - dB's, Utrecht
29th - Romein, Leeuwarden