So after all of that, I was at a ski resort that looked like
I could have been in upstate New York (except for the 200,000 Japanese
people around me). No opportunity to experience Tokyo, unfortunately--I
guess I'll have to go back!
The hotel was mammoth---it was like six Holiday Inns stuck
together. It was about 90 degrees and apparently the Japanese don't believe
in air conditioning, at least nowhere but in the room. (More complaining)
The beds were 4 feet long and 1 foot off the ground. Good thing I was so
We had an interpreter, Norman Cushnie from Scotland, who was a super guy and
helped us tremendously; he was also great to hang out with (thanks bub). And
Andrew McKeag from the Triple Door in Seattle came with us as our road
manager and he did an awesome job; after the first day there were so many
stupid jokes that will most likely live on in infamy (there was an area of
the festival called Field of Heaven which we couldn't help but refer to as
Feel the Kevin, as in "Are you guys going to Feel the Kevin?"---you get the
Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox are both great people and it was a pleasure to
spend some time with them both, playing and otherwise. We got there Thursday
night, and had a daytime rehearsal on a little stage Friday--the stage hands
a crew were incredibly helpful. They supplied me with two full stacks---two
100-watt Super Lead Plexi reissues with four 4x12 bottoms; Jimi's rig,
basically, and these amps sounded killer. Man, you get used to that wall of
sound in about one minute.
We ran through most of the set, and we also had two guests: guitarist Stevie
Salas sat in on "Born Under a Bad Sign," but for our first show Saturday he
played on "Red House." We also had a violinist, Aska Kaniko, who sat in on
"Hey Joe," and she was super-cool; fuzz boxes and wah-wah, ala Jean Luc
Mitch, Billy and I had another get-together in my room; Billy had these
little practice amps and Mitch played on a footstool---that was actually a
pretty grooving rehearsal!
Saturday afternoon, we played on the big stage (there are five stages at the
Fuji Rock Festival), and the big stage is similar to Jones Beach Theater or
PNC in size---pretty big. I would estimate that there were 50,000 to 60,000
people in the audience; pretty big crowd. We opened with "Freedom" and I
have to say that it kicked ass---Mitch nailed every lick and, even though
it's a complex tune, it was air-tight. We've been adding the middle section
that Jimi, Billy and Mitch had been playing on their last tour--you can hear
it on "Isle of Wight"--so that's been a lot of fun.
Next up was "Stone Free," then "The Wind Cries Mary," "Manic Depression,"
"Spanish Castle Magic," 'Born Under a Bad Sign" and then I believe we
brought up Aska for "Hey Joe," and she and I got into some trades and
harmonized soloing that the people really dug. Stevie came out for "Red
House" and we closed the show with "Voodoo Chile."
In the dressing room, and bunch of people came in to say how much they dug
the show---I know the sound was awesome out front, because the sound people
really had it together; everything sounded huge and crystal clear. Ben
Harper and his band came in and they were really over the top; Ben said
seeing us made the whole trip for him, which was really nice. A lot of the
younger bands were really excited to get the chance to see Mitch and Billy,
and I think Mitch especially, classic rockstar English drummer and all, and
I know that he and Billy really appreciated the good vibes from everyone
that came by.
Later that day, I saw Ben Harper's set, which was really great, and we hung
around to see Courtney Love, whose lyrics kept blowing all over the stage. I
also saw Ben Kweller (real good) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who were awesome.
I planned to catch a few more bands but crashed out right after dinner.
Sunday morning began with seeing the band The Soundtrack of Our Lives, from
Sweden, play the big stage, These guys are fantastic---the Who meets Queen
meets Jim Morrison meets Capt. Beefheart---with two great guitar players. We
hung out a bunch with these guys afterwards and that really was fun. Andrew
and I walked the entire site that day and saw a few more bands, and people
were coming up to me saying "Andy Hendrix! Take picture!" I tell you, the
Japanese really put us to shame in the "how to put on a massive rock show"
department. There was not one spec of garbage on the ground over a
six-square mile radius, and they had make-shift recycling centers every 200
yards. The vibe everywhere was super-cool and the sound at every stage was
Mitch, Billy and I had another get together in my room Sunday afternoon and
added a bunch of tunes to the set---"Dolly Dagger," "Machine Gun," and
"Angel." We were scheduled to play for an hour and we had no guests, so we
had some room to stretch out.
That night, we were the closer on one of the smaller stages, opened again
with "Freedom" and "Stone Free," and then played "Angel," "Manic" "Red
House" and "Spanish Castle." The show was going great, the people were
really into it and we were really having a blast.
At the end of "Dolly Dagger" Mitch managed to smash his hi-hat, breaking the
entire thing, so he picked it up and threw it behind him. I thought he'd be
pissed off but he came to the front of the stage and said, "I've broken my
drums, so while they fix them, I'll tap dance!" While the crowd cheered, I
said, "Hey, don't encourage him!"
The highlights of this set for me were "Red House" and "Machine Gun"--man,
it's great playing "Machine Gun" with these guys. At the end of the last
scheduled tune, "Voodoo Chile," I was getting feedback and smashing my
guitar on the stage, and Mitch went into "Fire," so I got up, looked at
Billy and we went into 'Fire." After that tune, we walked off and I went up
to Mitch and said, "Let's take a bow," He said, "I'll only play one more!" I
said, "Oh...you want to play another tune?" And he said, "Yes, we're going
to play "Sunshine of Your Love!" "Sunshine" was killer and it was a great
closer---we were all laughing and having a really good time. We ended up
playing for 1 hr. 45 minutes.
The night ended with us hanging out in my room till about 3:45 in the
morning, and we had to get up at 7 to get ready to go to the airport. Mitch,
Billy and I talked about plans for future touring and additional
instrumentation, and they were very positive about going out for weeks at a
time, playing the states and elsewhere. So let's keep those fingers