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Baker's Dozen

Songs Of Praise: David Keenan's Baker's Dozen
Jennifer Lucy Allan , December 2nd, 2020 09:46

Jennifer Lucy Allan hears about high-fiving Edgar Froese, frightening the neighbours, disavowing the devil and how Scottish author David Keenan is all about saying yes. Portrait by Heather Leigh.


Fushitsusha – Double Live
Fushitsusha are the most important rock band of my life. They changed everything for me. Everything. If rock had continued on the revolutionary trajectory that it had in the late 1960s when Hendrix was in the top 10 smashing his guitar, it would have ended up with Fushitsusha. So Fushitsusha should be on the front cover of Mojo in my opinion, because they're one of the greatest rock bands of all time, and being in Japan made them able to see the Western rock canon very differently. We don't take our rock music as seriously as the Japanese rockers – they would pick up on aspects of bands I didn't particularly care for at the time, like Cream or The Doors, they would listen to the rhythms of Syd Barrett's guitar playing: if you read someone writing about Syd Barrett in the West I can almost guarantee they're not talking about the rhythm of the guitar. This is what made me want to be a rock writer, I thought the problem with rock journalism was that nobody was capable of writing about a band without analysing their lyrics. There was no language or an approach to writing about music as sound – these guys had been studying Rudyard Kipling at university on their English lit course, and they were applying that same critical discourse to wild avant-garde rock music. Understanding Japanese groups like Fushitsusha made me try and accelerate my own language.

I used to do a festival in Stirling called Le Weekend with a woman called Jackie Shearer. I basically brought over every single Japanese underground band that I ever cared about. One weekend was all Japanese underground and it was going to peak on the Sunday night with a three hour Fushitsusha set. It's going to be my first time seeing my favourite band in the world, so I was psyched. Keiji Haino did a solo set the night before and I wept at the soundcheck when he did his cover of 'As Tears Go By'. To see him in real life and hear this music I had dedicated so much of my life and time to, it was so moving. His set that night was devastating, one of the best gigs ever, he was absolutely on fire and he knew it. After he came off stage he was ecstatic, and on the way back to the hotel said he wanted to celebrate. I asked what he wanted, and he says: ‘David, I big baby – I need cake’.

I ask the guy working at hotel reception if there's any way we can get some cake. And he says he doesn't have any cake but he might be able to sort him with a cream bun? So I says OK pal, sort him with a cream bun, and I left him with Haino and Ozawa the bass player and went to bed.

The next morning, Ozawa is sitting in reception looking really glum. I asked what's up and he said: ‘There is big problem’. I asked what had happened, he said: ‘Haino-san, very ill,’ then the guy at the hotel desk overhears us, and shouts over: ‘'Are youse talking about that Japanese fella with the shades on?' I says ‘aye, why?’ and he says: ‘My God! I've never seen a man eat as many cream buns in my fuckin' life!’

Haino had literally eaten so many he had incapacitated himself. He was ill in bed in a dark room, and couldn't play the Fushitsusha show, because he overdosed on cream buns.