The Return Of The Kiichi-kun II
It was a short van ride to Saitama from the Tokyu Excel for Loud Park; when we finally arrived, we all grabbed our bags and stage clothes and headed to the dressing rooms.
Like pretty much everything else in this country, Japan really has the dressing room situation figured out; not only figured out, but basically has all things hospitality, nailed down better than any other country could even fathom. Each band has their own large private space, a decent rider in their room, temperature controls for your room (you’d be surprised how rare this feature is typically), a clean bathroom and showers nearby (a rarity in some countries to even have a shower or toilet), world-class catering (with Japanese food), and really pro backstage crew (including stage crew, caterers, hospitality, security, press, etc.). Japan, just like in everything else, does the backstage world better than anyone else.
To preserve my voice pre-show, I usually limit myself from little to no press before a show, but today there were a couple big bits, like a cross-talk interview with Baby Metal! It really is astounding to see a band so young, not only playing metal, but playing metal to thousands and thousands of people already. I felt a linking parallel to the band in that I joined Trivium when I was 12 as well; it’s just that they’re playing to way more people than I did initially. My first several years of shows never saw more than 15-50 people at a time.
After a bit of press, we each warmed up in our usual fashion. My warm up routine is as follows: 4 hours before show, I need to be sure to cut off any and all food; 2 hours before is when I start to warm up guitar (utilizing selected warm ups from John Petrucci’s “Rock Discipline”); 1 and a half hours before show, I warm up my voice with Melissa Cross’s vocal warm ups (first baritone, then tenor); an hour before set, I stretch using my yoga mat, using selected stretches from the Ashtanga yoga series; 30 minutes before set, I change into my stage gear, put in my in-ears; then 15 before set, I make sure I’m by the stage, ready to rock.
The show this time around in Tokyo truly was not only the best Japanese show of Trivium’s career, but one of the greatest shows of our career. The entire crowd knew every single word, knew every part to jump, mosh, clap, or circle pit. The circle pit we saw in the arena was so big, spanning so many barricades, that it created a giant “heart-shaped” circle pit in the crowd. We played rather early that day for such a massive audience, roughly some time around 2:00pm. I heard that our crowd was the most insane of the entire festival, and that’s always a good feeling.
After the show, we had a large batch of press to take care of; everything we did was performed by some of the best press people in the industry. I even was interviewed by one of my favorite bands on the planet: Sigh; Japan’s best black metal band.
When everything wrapped up, the entire Trivium band and crew headed back to the hotel, and then to Jyanka for yaki niku. Each of us loaded up on Suntory Premium Malts and meat. We started with Korean-style pickles, various cuts of impeccably delectable beef, a couple vegetables (for good measure), into beef with ground wasabi, more meat, cow stomach, even more meat, then a few sweets for everyone to share. Yaki niku is one of my favorites to chow down on in Japan; it encourages sharing, it encourages everyone to partake of the same thing, so each can really enjoy the same experience together; that’s my favorite way to eat.
Needless to say, we celebrated the perfect show in the best way possible.
The following morning, we assembled the entire team for one final meal out together; we hit Kamakura as a group since it was the only thing open that early in the morning for breakfast. I had my usual ramen, gyudon, gyoza, oni-giri breakfast. We all walked back to the hotel where Ashley and I said our farewells to 3/4’s of the Trivium band and our entire crew, it was now finally vacation time in Tokyo.