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An Extensive History of The Cannanes
Part 5 : 1998 : 3rd U.S. Tour + Japan!

THE CANNANES GO NORTH: A Tour Diary

In April/May 1998 the Cannanes undertook their 3rd US tour via Japan. FJ Gibson records some personal memories.

Thursday 30 April
Extraordinary but true. Stephen and I have actually got on the plane and are immediately entranced by the glory of Japan Air Lines. We are given 3 seats on the plane, try to watch 7 Years in Tibet but get completely bored and order another of the Kiwi fruit cocktails which are surprisingly unnauseating. The Resocha snacks are the height of glamorous nibbles. Arriving through customs at last we are shocked to find Kenji Sekioka of Rover Records standing patiently outside the terminal waiting for us. He has travelled at least 2 hours to come and spend the evening with us. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. We are efficiently ferried to the gorgeous Hotel Nikko where we are whisked off by Kenji to a local noodle bar in a tent where we order Japanese beer and huge bowls of noodles before retiring in our yukatar to our beds. So far the tour is going swimmingly.

Friday 1 May
We spend the day swanning around Narita the city near the airport, discovering a city that looks like nowhere else we have ever been. Everything is weird but good. We take off our shoes and don slippers to sit through part of a ceremony at the San Shinso-ji Temple where some monks bang a few things and make some very satisfying noises with vocals and gongs. We are of course completely stupid about what is going on but it all looks good. I begin to realize the depths of my ignorance about Japan but before I can get too humble it is 6pm and we are back on board the plane to San Francisco. I decide to try and increase my knowledge of the world by reading Loving the Alien which is a biography of David Bowie but after spending several hours on this I decide I don't love him- alien or not and all I can remember of DB's no doubt fascinating life is that he was carried around as a baby on a silk cushion. This may well explain some of his later problems but hey I am no child psychologist. It is also necessary during this trip to ingest a large amount of valium together with several vodka and tonics to escape the horrors of Home Alone 3. This works very successfully and I then have somewhat blurry memories of arriving at San Francisco airport to see a bearded man holding up a Midnight Oil sign and grinning wildly. On closer inspection this turns out to be Adam Hervey from the soon to be famous Timonium combo and in fact he is not bearded just wearing groovy stubble. After happily signing a few autographs for Oils fans we get into Adam's automobile and are whisked into the heart of San Francisco for a glorious lunch at the Japan Centre. At this stage we have been up (if that is what you can call it) for about 30 hours. Adam becoming bored with our incomprehensible mumbling about Bowie, Japanese nibbles, monks and America cleverly suggests we lie down so we do-sleep for about 3 hours and then bounce back for a superb Indian dinner with red wine at the Ganges restaurant. We are joined by Alan Korn of She Mob formerly of Ex Catheads- one of my most favourite bands I never saw. This fine food and drink inspire us to whip back to Adam Garcia's (also of Timonium) to practice some Cannanes songs which they know better than us for the Live to air on KZUS the next day. Then because you must always get as much out of foreign travel as you can we are off to a party where I discover an almost full bottle of a wine called Morning Star, drink it and then meet a girl who is called strangely enough Morning Star. This sounds like a lie but it isn't - it is California. The minute we walked in someone at the party says he recognizes us as Cannanes and says he saw us in 1996. This seems odd to me but then it is America where the Cannanes are unbelievably famous so I restrain my jeers of disbelief and bow slightly in what I imagine looked like a pseudo Japanese fashion. We finally left at 4 am surrounded by drunken young people singing Beatles songs. God how I hate the Beatles (apart from that Gir...llll song)

Saturday 2 May
We woke up about 12 o'clock and the Adams drove us down to KZUS at Stanford for a live to air. Adam Garcia and Adam Hervey played as if they were born to it on bass and drums (and some creative keyboards if I remember rightly) and basked in the admiration of some girls doing another radio show at the same time. Chu Hui who had organized everything seemed very pleasant. Mike the bloke doing the interview pointed out that we must be as old as he was which was no doubt true and we conducted a strange interview and played Frightening Thing, Vivienne, Ordinarily and Drug Induced Delirium. . All very satisfactory. We then were delivered by the Adam's to dinner with Neil Mischka at a place called Bolle where as usual in USA we were given 5 times too much food. Neil has agreed to make a video for us and also to play guitar on screaming when we do the San Francisco show. Then off to some bar to drink till closing (2am) like everywhere in California apparently and damn lucky really then after a strange encounter with a rather well dressed man, a taxi and a limo we get to sleep.

Sunday 3 May
A string of good experiences including the Coit Tower, lunch with Adam H in a park full of virtually nude sunbathers, out to Cliff House and a visit to the Musee Mecanique where there is a huge robot thing that laughs ferociously and looks disturbingly like Pixie Ann Wheatley. On the way we are entertained by Marco, a friend of Adams whose cousin married Bill Wyman and told us stories of staying with him in a castle in England. Bill is apparently very fond of spaghetti westerns.

Monday 4 May to Tuesday 12 May

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Songcards in the Portland public library

You don't need to know about this stuff - lots of trains etc with some highlights being dinners and sightseeing with the lovely Steve and Katherine of Puncture magazine, hanging around with Patti Stirling and meeting the charming Bridget Helen Burns. The low point of this week was being refused a drink at the "lotus" nightclub in Portland because I was too drunk. In retrospect I was probably a lot drunker than I thought I was at the time but not as drunk as they thought I was. Also the glorious Pat Maley came down from Olympia to spend a day with us which was a real treat. Then we went to Chicago...by train.

Tuesday 12 May
So I don't know. Is anyone really interested in what we and more particularly me do or thinks about anything?? I doubt it but anyway since I have been asked to do this I shall continue in the vague hope that someone will find it interesting. I am sure Ivor, Stephen and James will read it avidly anyway for mentions of them so I guess I can count on 3 keen readers. So today we arrived in Chicago by train having seen 2 beavers en route (we think). Ivor and James arrived at the comfy Cass Hotel where we shared a room and we celebrated by getting into our duty free vodka and Pernod before trotting off to the Empty Bottle to see White Winged Moth who turned out to be one young man from New Zealand. This is a new concept to us - one person who purports to be a band. What with Mr Moth and the Mountain Goats we were well fooled. Stephen decided rename his solo act previously known as Sir Hairs Now to be known as 2 Big Beauties. So there we were drinking vodka and Pernod till 4 am with Ivor and Hairy completely pissed and falling out of beds etc...

Wednesday 13 May
Hell.......... had to wake up at 6.30 am to go and borrow a bass guitar from Andy Creighton so we could practice. Hairy and I got up- him much the worse for wear ..went a long way on the train.. then went the wrong way and ended up at some place called Howard. Luckily I was still partly drunk and still partly overexcited by being OS so I coped ok. We practiced all afternoon then popped down to purchase 30 pack of Oldstyle for $10.99 with a free packet of Cheezit snacks then to dinner with Tim Adams at a Mexican restaurant called Tecalitan or something where James, Ivor and Hairy had problems finishing their burritos claiming they were as big as their forearms. Back to the Cass where those who had had rather more sleep than others were entertained by the Meatloaf special.

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James - test driving a Theremin in Chicago

Thursday 14 May
Did a live to air on WNUR that was a bit wobbly but maybe ok Met Paul, Eric and Marissa and were chauffeured home by Jeff Grabowski who brought us up to date with ceramics technology. We ate Pizza and drank beer and watched bits of a horrible TV program where they showed a policeman being shot filmed by his dashboard camera. Bad news.

Friday May 15th
The first show was a delight from beginning to end - met the Aden boys who were lovely. This is a pity for the interest level of this document as if we'd hated them on sight it would have been a better story but it was not to be. Jeff, Andy and Fred turned out to be funny, sweet, sensible and fun and I may as well say now that we are completely in their debt. They and Jay who we had met before let us use their equipment, got places early so we could soundcheck, played lovely songs etc. What more could you ask for really? I know its nauseating but true. So the Empty Bottle - lots of people, a great sound system - one of the many glories of playing in America is that the PA's are usually so much better than Australia, a great engineer (Patrick?) people listened, and laughed and seemed to like it and then bought heaps of stuff. Highlights were conversations with people including the girl (whose name I should remember but don't) who said she and her cat danced to the Cannanes all the time and the person who asked me for advice about his dealings with his girlfriend in Canada cause I was so wise (???). Americans I have met are very upfront about their personal lives. It is always rather a shock on meeting someone to be told all about their personal relationships but quite endearing really. And then of course I had 97 vodkas, watched a great set by Mountain Goats and of course.......

Saturday 16 May

the goblins
Goblins rockin the Uni of Chicago

..........Felt really sick at 10 o clock in the morning when we had to travel south with Jeff to play at the University of Chicago outdoor festival. This was probably our only really bad show of the tour. The day all in all was great The Nerves and the Lonesome Organist were good and the Goblins brilliant as ever and we got to hang around with the gorgeous Jerome and the fascinating Jake Austen who took Hairy and I to his house where we watched episodes of Chic a Go Go. Oh yeah we also saw Sonic Youth or bits of them who were playing at the Festival but they were boring or I wasn't in the mood or something. (They were boring: ed.)

Sunday 17 May
After a picnic with Jerome and Bill and Jessica Meyer we squashed our stuff into a little white Corolla and headed out towards Detroit, dining in a peculiar place called Jackson that reminded me of Goulburn.

Monday 18 May

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Detroit - not only rock-city but the original home of Motown

Off to Detroit where we spent a few hours in the Motown Museum which was very exciting. The place has the original recording studio and we were shown around by a man who went to school with Smokey Robinson. Bliss. Saw a memo to people using the studio ordering that there be no card playing in the studio before 6pm and an example of a check list thing that presumably was done for Berry Gordy on all songs that got to the Top 5. Someone had the job at Motown of identifying how these songs were recorded, what effects were used on various vocals or instruments as well as aspects of compression used in mastering etc. And writing comments. The example on show was the Beatles Love Me Do and it was nice and rude noting muddy vocals etc.. Then off to the Vegetarian Grocer in Pontiac where Angela had organized a show in the basement of a food co-op. This was pretty fun though I wasn't very keen on the other bands apart from Aden - Spindle sounded like they practiced a bit much and I didn't watch The Robot Kills but heard some odd sounds from the depths. Bought a couple of T shirts which said Fuck White Supremacy. In my notes it says Ivor's playing was uninspired but I think he must have said that. It's really not the sort of thing I would notice. We then drove till 4am and stopped in a Howard Johnson motel with a pool Such luxury!

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Shopping en route

Tuesday 19 May
Spent half an hour swimming around in the pool before anyone else got up which was strange cause it had huge glass windows and was right next to a highway . There was no one else in it so I could float around and watch the trucks and cars on a 5 lane highway. Weird. Driving driving driving then we lurked around Niagara Falls in the pouring rain and then my first visit to Canada where you pay 25 cents and go through a turnstile. An engaging young woman quizzed us about the likely length of our stay (10 Minutes) and then proceeded to give us a 6 month visa. Hairy's umbrella got hit by lightning on the bridge but he survived. We then drove to Syracuse where we discovered the luxury of a Motel 8 as compared to a Motel 6 (free coffee and donuts + some weird stuff that came out of a machine labelled juice that tasted like dishwashing water). I was tired and cross and felt a bit sick of the others.

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Niagara

Wednesday 20 May
After 5 hours sleep I wake up early, go for a walk and get lost in the midst of charming houses all with American flags in their front yard and then spend half an hour trying to make a phone call. The US phone system is no doubt completely easy for those in the know but its vagaries consistently send me into a fury of frustration. Today is no exception. After lots more driving we get to Providence where we play at the Century Club with Aden whose sets are getting shorter and shorter every night just as I begin to like them more and more. I think Jeff is sick so they play for about 20 minutes. The other band Meridian are pretty good. I think it was their 4th show ever. Andy Creighton has been playing guitar on some songs and does a superb job on Screaming. I try 2 new foodstuffs - both good - an amoretto sour which tastes exactly like a red lifesaver (Australian version anyway) and a seafood stuffy which is weird but not bad. We spend a fair part of the wee hours looking for a cheap hotel, eventually settling for one located next to an all night diner/steak house which seems to be some sort of drug and prostitute scoring hangout, being our first night to hang out with Aden we stay up drinking pretty late with Jay and Fred.

Thursday 21 May
I wake up late as we have a late checkout (2pm!!) organized by the brilliant Jeff G. Aden head off to Boston Just to be different we go south. Drive Drive Drive till we get to a place called Neptune which we later find out is Jack Nicholson's hometown. We decide to stay in a holiday resort at $45 a night called the Crystal Motel and to our joy just around the corner is a gleaming place of metallic beauty called the American Diner. We are served by Heather who immediately says "I love your accent" to me. When I politely reply "I love yours" She laughs strangely and says "Touche". It does actually seem to be rather a shock for some US citizens to discover that they have an accent or maybe its just not the done thing to refer to it. Anyway Heather was strangely excited and said that Sydney is the only place she ever wanted to visit and asked questions like "Are there really koalas everywhere" I only have 2 cigarettes today and Ivor buys a bottle of gin for $6.

Friday 22 May
This morning we head south through the improbably named Cheesequake, past endless ride on mover dealerships and drugstore malls making our way to Beach Island National Monument. We check out the visitors centre (did you know it takes 400 years for a disposable nappy to break down), take the nature walk and get to see some real live Poison Ivy! Ivor finds a dead horseshoe crab then we spend a few a splendid hours picnicking on the beach in the glorious sunshine with the Laughing Gulls,. Most peculiar..I put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean possibly for the first time - though I have done some paddling at various points in the UK but that's different. It was cold. Leaving the park we stop to take photos of the tightly packed cute little weekenders that cover the rest of the peninsula, it must be weird here in summer with such high density holiday making. Then we were off to the razzy snazzy Atlantic City where in company with our host Dylan we explored the Boardwalk had the biggest pieces of pizza ever- at least 2 foot by 1 foot from King of Pizza and then back to the pub - Erins Irish Pub - where we all without exception proceeded to get completely drunk with the helpful assistance of the Bar Manager Michael who was on a strange but (for us anyway) enjoyable mission to give us every drink we could desire as often as possible and for free. Aden played first and due to Jeffs illness played for what seemed like 10 minutes but probably was actually longer then a slick looking combo called the Improbables who wore black polo jumpers mod style. We don't go on till 12.30 and play a surprisingly good set -and then stay up till 5 am drinking vodkas and tonics talking to Keith who owns a record shop called noize a noize in Berlin NJ and Tommy who tells us stories about Frank Sinatra's generous ways with $100 bills. This was seriously stupid especially considering for the first time in what seems like months we have our own rooms provided by the pub and actually have a chance to get away from each other.

Saturday 23 May

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Our first basement gig! courtesy of our charming host Mike B. (left)

The members of Aden are all sick with some strange flu. We are all sicker from a less mysterious cause. Drove to Northampton and discovered that Excedrin painkillers work a damn sight better than Bayer aspirin which is astounding in its inability to have any effect on pain whatsoever. We then play at a house party at 19 Cherry Street. There are not many people there but at least a couple of people seem to enjoy it and we have a terrific time afterwards with Peyton Pinkerton from Teppen Zee and our delightful host Mike Burke.

Sunday 24 May
We breakfast at the quaintly American Miss Florence diner - Andy Creighton gave a small child a friendly grin whereupon she immediately howled in complete terror. This did not seem to perturb our Andy who merely muttered to her mother "I'll just have to stop worshipping Satan then" which cheered everyone up. We then drove to Boston, visited some bookshops, lay on the grass outside the Town Hall before playing a very enjoyable show at the Green Street Grill in Cambridge. Musical Chairs were very good and Aden played their best set of the tour so far. We had a lot of free vodka and were highly entertained by local celebrity Billy Ruane.

Monday/Tuesday Wednesday 25-27th May

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Being treated to the full Thanksgiving meal (out of season) with the boys of Aden

Had some lovely hospitality from Tim Alborn (Harriet Records supremo) and Alex including a march around the Boston Freedom Trail, a visit to an Ethiopian restaurant and then on Tuesday had our first experience of real gridlock on the I95. Tempers fraying slightly we spent the next few days apart - Ivor in Baltimore, James in Philadelphia while Jeff Gramm and his mother Wendy entertained me and Hairy in style at Jeffs house in Washington.

Thursday 28th May
Played to a small but appreciative audience at the Black Cat with Aden and Frank'n Walters. The mixer told me he couldn't make something out of nothing when trying to get my vocals louder which was slightly depressing but the 5 free pitchers of beer soon cheered me up along with enormous schooners of vodka and tonic which consisted of half vodka. The Aden lads were very cheerful to be at home and giggled a lot. After the show we drove to Aberdeen.

Friday 29th May
The next day we avoided the cleaning services of the Marine Corps carwash when Ivor told them we were communists and were trying to get our car to go red with dirt. We then had a completely unnecessary argument at the Bob Evans restaurant followed by a strangely amicable drive to New York. We played at Fez which was great except for some strange arrangements which meant that waitresses didn't want us to sit in the club as we weren't giving them tips and Gail O Hara was looking a bit stressed. I finally got a chance to dance a bit to Aden, talked to Steve from Sukpatch for a second enjoyed the Castaway Stones and admired the coolness of Pacific Ocean. Someone told me I am the most humble performer I have ever seen which unless they've seen very little is unlikely to be true given that I am often rather pleased with myself -though I admit generally not for performing. Stayed up till late at Fez then went to a poky little room at the YMCA which was too expensive and had bunk beds.

Saturday 30 May
Had breakfast at Fez with Paul Lukas (Beerframe magazine) and Alleen then off to the plane to fly to San Francisco. There were no complaints about the plane however which had videos in the back of each seat and free wine because the business class people couldn't get enough down and we flew over the Rockies and had a brilliant view. We were again picked up by Adam Hervey going well out of his way to be of assistance as seems to be his habit and ended up at a party where it was rumoured Winona Ryder would turn up. Everytime we go to the USA Winona is rumoured to turn up somewhere but so far no show. But a greater pleasure was meeting Jon Ginoli from Pansy Division who proceeded to perform an impromptu version of Vivienne which was pretty extraordinary.


Sunday 31 MAY
Played at the Bottom of the Hill with new friends She Mob and the glorious Timonium. People danced and it was a superb way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Neil Mischka played glorious guitar on Screaming and Adam H made Vivienne bearable by sharing vocals. Ivor had acupuncture from Carol from the Ah Club and we went a bit crazy in a huge supermarket stuffed with goodies after the show.

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Bottom of the Hill - San Francisco

Monday 1 June
The next day we drove up to Petaluma and played at a house party with the Cubby Creatures and Timonium who are by far the best band on earth. Everyone was very hospitable and we stayed at Taras house which was sort of in a suburban rural area and we actually saw an animal.

Tuesday 2 June
Get on a plane which flys us to Tokyo-arrived on
Wednesday 3 June and spent the next few days being overwhelmed by the glory of urban Japan. It was great. Kenji and his family (Toshiaki, Youko, his sister Satoko and Nao the cat) let us stay in their house and no trouble was spared to provide us with anything we could possibly want. It was embarrassing how good they were to us. We feasted on noodles and sushi and sashimi and miso soup and it was all very good.

Friday 5, Saturday 6 June

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Loft live house - Shimokitazawa

Friday, our first show in Tokyo!. We were playing in a very small bar called the Loft in Shimokitazawa. Little black folding chairs were stored in the bathroom and put out just before the performance. Stephen is shocked when talking to audience members Fumie and Haruka to find they had flown from somewhere a long way away to see the show then even more shocked to find another girl whose name we stupidly forget had caught the train something like 600 kilometres to be there. The entry price was 3,000 Yen (AUD$45) which is I think almost 5 times more than we've ever charged before but the Club charges a lot to let you play in it and this is apparently reasonably cheap for a show in Tokyo. Anyway despite the price, people came - more on the Saturday night. We played with excellent bands-Heartly Whitney and the superb Citrus. During the shows everyone clapped politely at the end of each song and then there would be dead silence. This did not seem to indicate disapproval though cause at the end everyone was very enthusiastic and got us to sign copies of records etc. Kenji videotaped the show but I haven't watched this as I fear it would put me off for life. After the first show Kenji took us to a restaurant where Hairy said he had the best food he had ever tasted. We met the charming Asako and little Erica. Asako interviewed us in a noisy coffee shop and it was all very entertaining. I practiced my few words of Japanese and swore I would learn more for next time. Did an interesting interview with Tim Headbone who took us on the second night to a bar where a solo guitarist was playing who generously let James and Hairy entertain us with a song or 2. This was very funny.

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Our host Kenji (far left) + Ken Mi, Headbone and Sachiko (l-r front row) + some of the Saturday night Loft crowd


Sunday 7 June
We visited a number of record shops in Shinjuku like Vinyl Japan and TigerHole- the best in the world according to Hairy O'Neil and took a look around with Ken Mi and Aya from Heartly who gave each of us an exquisite and thoughtful present. Then after an inexplicable dispute about departure tax we found ourselves on the JAL Resocha flight (sitting next to a Pauline Hanson supporter!) back to Sydney where normal life was resumed.

 

 

 

 

END OF PART-FIVE :
Just when you thought you'd had enough of tour diaries, guess what? you now have the option to move on to 1999 1st world tour! ie. History Part Six

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