The Heathens Tour Diary, Pt. 1: OC Punks Encounter Japanese Bidets

Categories: Tour Diary

Photo courtesy of Kentaro Yamada / Roller Magazine

The Heathens, a quartet I play bass in, recently performed in Japan. You are probably asking yourself one important question: "Why?"

Yes, it's true, the Heathens can't draw 15 people in the band's native region of Orange County, but we've been at this for nearly a decade (with about a seven-year gap when I wasn't in the band) and when you hit the 10-year anniversary you are allowed to do whatever you want, regardless of how financially irresponsible the idea seems.  

More specifically, we went to Japan to play the 22nd Annual Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show 2013, sponsored by Mooneyes. We were offered free hotel rooms, which is pretty much all an unknown band needs to get on an 11-hour flight. Naturally, we said yes, even though the plane ticket money probably should have gone to my student loans. If that ain't rock 'n' roll, I don't know what is.

With common sense lost in the couch cushions at our Santa Ana rehearsal space, singer/guitarist Gabe Griffin, guitarist Al "Function" James, drummer Craig Waters and I boarded planes (Gabe flew separately) to Narita International Airport for four shows in Yokohama and the hope that maybe we could pick up a few more in Tokyo.

November 29, 2013
Yokohama, Japan

Shouldn't someone have told me tonight's show was canceled before I got on the plane? Ah, fuck it. I've been up for more than 24 hours and a bed sounds nicer than a stage. Besides, I just play bass -- what do I care?

Ryan Ritchie

Mooneyes has me, Al and Craig in a room at the New Otani Inn while Gabe is at a nicer hotel. Fucking lead singers. That said, our room has a bathroom complete with a heated toilet seat, a bidet and the rarely-found-but-life-altering bidet spray. I just "went," which prompted me to get on Facebook to announce, "America will never be the greatest country in the world until we get heated toilet seats and bidets in every hotel room." Yes, I just talked about pooping on Facebook. All hail social media.

Our room has a view of a massive Ferris wheel, which we our now referring to as a "big fucking wheel" because of our Japanese friend Dice's difficulty pronouncing an "R" sound. The big fucking wheel lights up and at one point displays something way too similar to a swastika.

Al Function

We went to a bar called Motown, where a shaved-headed Japanese man slangs booze and spins soul records all night. On vinyl. Dude has a collection larger than most record stores. Whatever he's spinning, he puts the cover on display so all can see. At first he was playing what I imagine Teddy Pendergrass sounds like, but soon enough we got the Temptations and James Brown. If my sole sweatshirt didn't smell like cigarettes, I might say this is the best bar I've ever been to. A Japanese girl or three would be nice too.  

November 30, 2013
Yokohama, Japan
Al and I wandered the mall while Craig shopped at H&M. I thought I heard the theme song to the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade on the overhead. I know this because years ago I bought that CD. Don't ask why. Anyway, we paused so I could tell Al what I thought I was hearing. And, yes, it was the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade theme song. On the PA. At the mall. In Japan.

(If you think this is strange, consider this: I heard the song twice more over the course of the next three days.)

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