Next Music from Tokyo vol 2 unplugged (literally)
Just about a week ago the 2nd Next Music from TOKYO tour was on "life support" b/c
1. I had lost contact with Mass of the Fermenting Dregs' manager for about 3 weeks. 2. Despite numerous people saying they would help with the tour, I found myself doing all the scutwork again 3. There was very limited time left to prepare for the tour and only sgt. had provided me with any type of material to facilitate promotion. In general, the bands on the 2nd tour have been much less motivated to help out than the first group in May. 4. Lack of success finding an adequate venue for a 2nd show in Toronto
However, I finally did touch base with MOTFD's manager and all 4 bands seemed amped to proceed with the tour. Although limited time to adequately prepare and promote the tour was still a major issue, I had faith (at least in myself, less so in the bands) that we could still successfully pull the tour off in time.
But yesterday brought forth camel-back-breaking news compelling me to pull the plug on this "wounded beast" that has been aggravating me to no end the last 2 months. I had repeatedly told the bands to look into ticket prices for flights since I would be the one paying for their travel costs. Obviously, the longer we waited the more it would cost. After I gave an ultimatum that I would only pay up to 130,000 円 (~$1600) per person with the bands paying the remainder, they finally got back to me with a quote of the cheapest price they could find: 185,330 円 (~$2300) per person. WTF?!!! October is NOT high season for travel between Canada and Japan. I chose October b/c it should be affordable to travel and not too cold for the bands to enjoy Canada. In May tickets for Tokyo-->Van-->Mtl-->Tor-->Tokyo only cost 130,000 円 per person. In fact I thought it would be cheaper in October and this time there would only be 4 bands.
There is no way I am paying $2300 x 14 = $32,220 just for airfare!!!!
After all, in addition to airfare, I (by myself) would have been paying for their hotel costs (~$3000), venue and backline rental (~$4000) and promotional costs (~$3000).
That is over $40,000.
I made about $6000 in ticket sales last time. October's tour would have made a bit more money but I would have been over $30,000 in the red. (note: to add NaCl to the wound, sgt's manager then also requested that I pay his way as well, making it a total of 15 people) (note #2: susquatch requested if I could help pay performance fees for their support members in addition to already paying for their airfare and hotel) Basically, there is a fucking limit to my generosity. The last tour was an unforgettable experience that I couldn't even put a price on. I didn't care that I lost ~$25,000 b/c I had the time of my life and helped a bunch of bands that I was already reasonably close with. This time around, I was only close with the members of susquatch. And as a whole the bands have been much less cooperative in getting the necessary requirements sorted out to prepare for the tour. I really felt like I was being taken advantage of by the bands. I was kind enough to pay ~$30,000 to give them a vacation to Canada where they could do what they love (performing music on stage). The bands in May had such a great experience and I wanted to do the same for MOTFD, susquatch, sgt and uhnellys. To be honest I have also been disappointed in the lack of support by fans of the tour in Canada. Many people said they would help but when I emailed people to vounteer in helping me create posters/flyers, almost everyone declined. It's a bit of a shame. MOTFD, Sgt, uhnellys and susquatch would have put on an INCREDIBLE show. And I would highly encourage any of you to see these bands if you ever travel to Japan. All the bands I consider for the Next Music from TOKYO tours are chosen on the strength of their live performance. Some of the bands may have mediocre CDs but on stage they sound completely different due to the great intensity, energy and passion they exude while playing live. There are some bands whose CDs I never listen to, but I would travel halfway 'round the world to see them in concert.
What kind of idiot is willing to lose ~$25,000 to promote a bunch of obscure (but awesome) Japanese bands? Well the only idiot I can think of is visible in the reflection of my computer monitor. (Actually, I can't see my reflection, it would be an incredibly cheap & crappy monitor if I could.)
I've iterated my reasons for organizing the tour before but sometimes I need to remind myself where the motivation comes from. Quite simply, I have been listening to music passionately all my life and watching favorite bands such as Radiohead, Ben Harper and Maps & Atlases in cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, New York, Seattle, Austin, Chicago etc. but nowhere in the world does the music scene seem as vibrant and creative as in Japan. The Japanese indie/underground scene has so much camaraderie and spirit and a wealth of talent that is underappreciated in its own country and especially within North America. Take a week to watch shows in Tokyo and you'll have the musical adventure of your life. I want music fans in Canada to experience the same rush I get when going to see amazing bands night after night. Mark Paytress, renowned journalist/editor and contributer to Mojo/Q declared Tokyo to be the next "Rock N' Roll Capital of the World". I echo the sentiment. I love J-indie music and the Tokyo scene itself even more. Too few people recognize the great music coming out of Japan and even if it cost me $25,000 per tour I wanted to change that fact. I wanted to give back to the music and bands that I love and support the scene that has given me so many great memories. I may be an idiot for spending so much money but my heart tells me it'll be worthwhile in the end. I might not change the climate towards Japanese music in Canada by even a butterfly flap but I'll have tried my best and had an amazing time doing so.