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Day 3 Denver, CO

We played at this venue called 3 Kings.  Our friend Amber and her boyfriend live 3 buildings away from 3 Kings. We stayed there.  It was very convenient.  And and I had the best meal for this tour so far. I had a tortas at this Mexican joint which was located the end of the same block.  If you ever end up in Denver, you should come to this magical block.  You might run into your old friend from High school or something.  Luckily that didn’t happen to me.
It was weirdest 4 bands bill.  Opening band was this a young punk band using cheap amps and drums.  They try to rock hard but weren’t great.  They were very cute in a way though.  Second band was also a local band but more metal/rock sound and way more professional sound compare to the first band.  They even had 3 guitar players.  When is the last time you’ve seen a band has 3 guitar players?  I’ve seen Eagles on TV about 10 years ago.  We played third and this LA legend punk band played last.  I’ve never heard their name before so I don’t know how legend they are.  They were good what they do.  If I was a teenager, I would care more and would take a free sticker from their merch table.

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Day 2 Omaha, NE

If you’re a local opener for a touring band and don’t have much following, do not ask what kind of genre they play to the touring band.  Pretend like you’re excited to play with them or do your research before the show.
It was only two bands bill.  The other band asked me that question.  Anyway, our show got done early.  We went to O’Leavers to drink.  We used to play at O’leavers and they always treated us good.  Last two time we were in Omaha, we cheated and played at different venues.  When we went inside, all the stuff welcomed us.  One of the new owner Matt came out from behind bar and gave us a huge then a beer and a shot right away.  The band Cursive bought the bar a few months ago.  Matt plays in Cursive.  We’ve met him through our friend Hiro.  They kept the same stuff and familiar faces were still working. Somehow shots kept coming.  Good thing it was a real shot, not like Twin Cities giant shot.  But after a few those espresso size shots, it didn’t matter.  My memory stopped here.  We were supposed to stay at our friend Nick’s place and we were meeting him there.  We got drunk too quick and had to go.  We stayed at different friend’s place.  Next day I checked my phone.  I got a text from Nick “I just got at O’leavers. You’re not here?”  We were punished by O’leavers.  If you’ve play there before and thinking about playing somewhere else, don’t.  They’ll punish you with smiles and you might lose your friend ship.  Hope Nick will talk to me again in near future.  And yes, we’re not playing anywhere else beside O’leavers in Omaha.  We’ve learned a lesson.  And that lesson came with headache next day.

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Day 1 Des Moines, IA

Up to 18” of snow?  The weather man was telling me.  Good thing we were not going to Kansas City.  Des Moines was only up to 8” of snow.  That’s no problem.  We live in Minnesota.  Less than 10” of snow is nothing.  We only left the Twin Cities 2 hours earlier than we originally planned.  That’s all.  We weren’t scared at all. 
We didn’t hit the snowstorm till 80 miles to Des Moines.  The drive was fine.  When we got to Des Moines, I got an e-mail from the booking person from the venue.  He was worried if we could make it or not.  I wrote him back right away and told him that we’re tougher than he thinks.
What would you do when your guitar player breaks a guitar string in middle of a set.  Which I don’t need to worry.  I’m very professional and don’t break strings during our set even my tuning goes left and right.  Which doesn’t matter since we don’t have a bass player and/or another guitar player.  Even I’m out of tune, I’m on tune.  Anyway, we played with this band tonight the guitar player broke a string second to last song.  They did everything wrong.  The guitar player told his band mate he had to put a new string.  Drummer left the stage and went to the bar.  The other guitar player went to bathroom.  The bass player told audience 25 jokes which I didn’t get even one.  10 minutes later, they played their last song and finished their set.
If you’re not sure, a band you’re watching at a show if they’re good or not.  Watch carefully what they would do when their guitar player breaks a guitar string.  You can tell if they suck or not easily.  Also a opening band takes forever to take their stuff down from a stage, they suck.  Therefore, tonight the opening band sucked.  If you can’t tell if we’re good or we suck since I don’t break a guitar string.  You should tell people that we’re mediocre band.

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Day 24 Parma, Italy

Today was the last show of the tour. We made it without breaking anything but we lost one thing. Or I should say we were stolen one thing. At the Barcelona show someone took our drum stool. We found different one in the green room. We thought the opening band took ours by mistake and left theirs. We didn’t have a choice. We took that one we found in the green room which was much cheaper than one we had. We got the band’s e-mail address and wrote them. They wrote back and said they don’t have our drum stool. Since we were renting our drums and a guitar amp, Lupin’s boss told us we had to have the same or similar quality of the drum stool when we return them. We went to a drum store and bought a new one even though WGF was going to use it only once. Luckily we could trade in the one we found in Barcelona and got some discount.

Right before the show started, it started to snow. We had cold days for this tour but this was the first snow we had. I felt like Minnesota winter came to tell us it was the time to go, time to go back to the real life.
On the way to the hotel, Lupin gave us last guru-guru time. He missed the free way exit to the hotel and wasted more gasoline for no reason. I wasn’t sure if he really sucked driving with GPS or was enjoying the last drive with us making it a little longer. He was listening Husker Du CD. I singed along to make sure Lupin heard me, “It’s not funny anymore!”

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Day 23 Pegognaga, Italy

We had a lot of free time today. On the way to Pegognaga, we stopped at the small cute city, Mantova. We didn’t see any Japanese tourist but one older guy standing front of a restaurant knew some Japanese words. He tried to get us in to his restaurant. It looks like Japanese money come to this city too.

Today’s venue was very interested. From outside, it looked like a dead building but they had a nice bar inside and a live space upstairs. There were also a bland new library behind the building. We got there way too early and enjoyed the internet time. Around 6pm, they told us to start loading in. We did and we were ready to do a sound check. The sound guy, I meant the sound engineer was talking to a girl and we went back to the laptops. After a half hour or so, he finished talking to the girl and told us he was ready for a sound check. While we were checking my vocal mic, he stopped and answer his cell phone. Which never happened me before. I guess it’s okay in Italy for a sound engineer to take a call during a sound check and make a band wait for 5 min.

After the sound check, there was a dinner party. Many older people came for it. The bands got our own table and had dinner with them. I asked Lupin if those old people were staying for the show. He said “what do you mean by old? They are old as you are.” It was true and I didn’t say anything back to him but I hate the Italian.
When I was enjoying after dinner espresso at bar, this one guy told me that someone wanted to do an interview. I went to get WGF and went to the library. I wasn’t exactly sure but I think it was for a local cable youth channel. As you can guess, it was a bad interview. One question the interviewer asked us was who was our favorite singer. WGF said Mick Jaggerr. And I said Madonna. That was a bad answer. I should have said Lady Gaga. That would have made me look more hip.
When we got back to the venue, my generations were leaving and younger generations were coming in for the show.

After the show this one girl told me that she came to see us with her friends who have seen us in New York. I double checked to make sure I was understanding right and she said “yes, in New York”. My brain started Google search and found the result. I remembered. I met an Italian couple when we played at Cake Shop in New York with The Blind Shake. I asked her if her friends were still at the venue. She went to get them. When I saw the guy, I said “Cake Shop?”. He said yes with an big smile. I asked him “you bought our t-shirt, right?” He again said yes. I remembered at the merch table he asked me for a discount since he came all the way from Italy to see us. Of course that was a joke but that’s how I remembered. My made in Japan PC in my brain is still working fine even it’s an old generation.

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Day 22 Verona, Spain

We had a short drive to Verona today. We checked in the hotel and went for the sightseeing. We came here last time but I was still impressed how cute this city was. We saw so many Japanese tourist probably more than one hundred. I thought Japan was having a depression like the U.S. But I don’t believe it now.

Not much happened today but all I can say is we play fuckin’ awesome and people love it…..maybe, maybe not. People at the venue was so nice to us, not like yesterday. Viva Verona!

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Day 21 Treviso, Italy

It was very scary. Early in the morning, someone opened our door. Hiro and I had our own room at the three stars hotel. For this tour we stayed at non star to four stars hotels but this was our first three stars. Anyway back to the story. We were both in deep sleep. Then I heard some noise. I opened my eyes and noticed our entrance door was open and this one guy with a hat on was standing. I didn’t have my contacts or glasses on and also I was still half sleep. I didn’t know what was happening. I could only see his shadow. Without glasses I could still tell Hiro was on the bed sleeping. I said hello to the hat guy. It was Lupin’s Torino friend who came to Milan with us. He said something about he got kick out from somewhere and wanted to sleep in our room. I was confused so many things like how he knew our room, how he opened the door and such. But I was so sleepy and told him come in and went back to sleep. When we got up we found out that he was supposed to stay with his friends. But his friend couldn’t come to the show and he stayed at the promoter’s place. Around 6 in the morning, the promoter woke him up and told him that he had to go. The promoter’s girlfriend was coming home or something. The promoter drove him to our hotel. Since he booked the hotel for us, he talked to a guy at hotel. They let Lupin’s friend in to our room. They thought Lupin was sleeping in our room. When you’re on tour, so many unexpected things happen.

We had a lot of time and walked around the city of Milan.  From the big city, we went to a small town called Treviso. We had a such great dinner yesterday and were all excited what we were getting tonight.  Yesterday the promoter took us to a family own restaurant. It wasn’t fancy but it was a nice one. WGF was talking about Carbonara all day and guess what? The waiter asked us if we wanted meat tomato sauce pasta or Carbonara. We all ordered Carbonara. We enjoyed our meal. When we finished eating waiter came back and asked us something in Italian. Lupin asked me if we wanted pork or beef. The Carbonara was a first plate and they had second course. We, non Italian were all surprised. I was already full eating bread and the pasta, but ordered the beef of course. It was rare stake (I’m sorry Peelander-Z. It wasn’t medium rare) and came with potato. We were all happy and full the end of the meal. We didn’t pay, but we were told the meal was only 10 euros each. Italy is a great country.
Again life can’t be perfect. Tonight they made us tomato pasta. That was it. No bread. They only gave us 4 can of beer, not each they were for four of us. Our great rock star manager talked into them and greatly we got a bottle wine during the meal. Lupin challenged himself and order a beer at the bar to see what they would do. His challenge failed and he had to pay for it. Which is really rare. Most places treat Lupin as same as the band. Lupin told us later that we had a guarantee but the owner asked for discount. Lupin told him no fuckin’ way. Love our manager…..sometimes.

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Day 20 Milan, Spain

Lupin’s mom made us lunch again. She made foiled cheese lapped with ham and breaded fried veal with cheese on the top. It was a little too heavy for the first meal of the day but it was really delicious.
We thanked Lupin’s mom and left our Torino home. We picked up one of Lupin’s friend who we hanged out yesterday. He came to our Milano show. On the way, him and Lupin talked non stop for almost 2 hours. Lupin told me they were talking about girls.

Today’s the sound check was very interested. Two young guys were doing sound. They moved so slowly and was really unorganized. It was worth than working with college student sound guys at Universities. First they were really confused when we told them that we want to set up drums on the front. They were worry about a overhead mic might be too close to the PA speaker. Somehow European sound people love to use overhead mics. WGF told them his china cymbal was very loud and we didn’t need the overhead. They looked unsure but they were okay with it. Then one of them asked me how I want to do my amp. I wasn’t sure what they meant right away but they were asking me if they should mic my amp or use direct outline cable from my amp head. I’ve seen sometime they use output instead of mic for bass amp but never seen or asked that for a guitar amp. I nicely told them I prefer using a mic for the amp. I ask them to use two mics if they would. I told them since we don’t have a bass, it would be nice to get high and low sound using two microphones. I also told them I might kick one any way so it would be nice to have a back up. They look confused but they used two mics for my amp.

They took long time to finish setting up and told us they were ready for the sound check. We’ve noticed that floor tom mic was missing. I told them that and they took another 5 minute to put that on. Then they told us to start playing. Normally sound people ask us to start from a bass drum to check each line. These young talented sound guys didn’t need that. I should say the young sound engineers. That’s they call themselves here. We started to make noise. While I was playing guitar, I stepped off the stage and listened how the mix sounded. They had nice big PA speakers but only the kick drum was coming out. The room was a long narrow concrete room and without micing anything it was already loud. We weren’t sure why they spend long time to put all the microphones and only using the kick drum and vocal mics. At this point, I didn’t care. I just wanted it to be done. Honestly, we don’t really need a sound check. We just need quick line check before we play. But in Europe they won’t feed us unless we do a sound check.
We finished then the opening band did their sound check which they took for ever. It took half hour or so for young talented sound engineers to get the bass sound from the PA. Then the band took more than half hour to get right sound for them. We were all so hungry but we had to wait for the opening band for the dinner. Total they spent more than an hour for the sound check. Funny thing, their set was only 20 min. long. What a hell!

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Day 19 off

Lupin’s nice mom made us a homemade Lazania for lunch. It was very delicious. We did laundry and we went to the city to meet up with Lupin’s friends. They showed us around the city. Then we went one of their house. He made us a dinner, Sicilian style potato, onion, and bacon pasta. We had wine during dinner. They gave us a Italian after dinner liqueur. Then they gave us French liqueur Pastis. It tasted like Absinthe. They added water like when you drink Absinthe too. Lupin’s friends were all nice and we had a great evening.

On the way back to Lupin’s parents house. I really had to go. I was having upset stomach all day and the dangerous Pastis kicked in. I told Lupin if he could stop somewhere. He looked around and told me he would save me. He made a left turn and stop right front of one bar. He said he knew people at this bar. I run to the front door but it was locked. It was closed. Lupin looked inside and one car stopped and called Lupin’s name. It was his friends and Lupin asked them something in Italy. Lupin said to me there should be a buzz. We found and pushed it. Then the door unlocked. There was a office right away. Lupin told me the bathroom was upstairs. He went to the office and talked his friend. I run up the stairs. I looked around but this see any bathroom. I screamed and ask Lupin where. He told me it was downstairs. He is a funny Italian. I run back to the downstairs. Lupin showed me where the bathroom was. I made it safely. It was very close. I know Absinthe is dangerous but now I know Pastis is also very dangerous.

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Day 18 Torino, Italy

We had long long drive today. We left Spain, drove throw France, and 11 hours later finally we arrive to Torino, Italy. We drove by Cannes and Nice, and had a great view of Mediterranean Sea side but it was a really long drive. For 11 hours, you can fly from Japan to the US. Just sitting, my butt started heart.

Torino is Lupin’s home town. He was the promoter for this show, very professional promoter. He did a great job. We met many his friends. It was a great Sunday night show. For the dinner, we had the biggest pizza ever. This is Hiro’s first time in Italy and he is already in love with this country. After the show, they even gave us three different kind of cake. It wasn’t too sweet like American sugar to make you fat cake.Tonight we stayed at really nice Lupin’s parents house.