Let us do a quick introduction first just for those who don’tknow who we are or what we do..We are Les Elston and Adam Newman otherwise known as Lab4. Since 2004 we’ve toured the world so many time we’ve lost count, written music for numerous independent and major record labels, films, TV documentaries, advertising campaigns, we were also asked by the BBC to appear in one of the now legendary John Peel shows at the Maida Vale studios.. the list goes on. With this guest blog rather than go on about all the above we thought we would let you have a sneak peek, no frills look at what goes on when we are booked for an international show. The show was March 4th 2017, in Tokyo for an event called Dark Dimension at an amazing venue called ‘The Christon Cafe’.
We first started playing in Japan around 2000 – 2001. Unbeknown to us at the time one of Japans biggest named Dj’s Yoji Biomehankia, was playing some of our tracks in his Dj sets. The track Soulfire which was on our first album was in his set along with a few others. Yoji contacted us via a mutual friend of ours who could speak Japanese, to find out if he could book us, back then we didn’t DJ, it was live only so we worked out how to do it. We used an Akai DPS12 which we had to take and the rest of the gear was hired, one of our first shows was at The Liquid Room in Tokyo. For us this was a dream come true as we had albums by people like Carl Cox / Richie Hawtin playing at the Liquid Room. We did two shows the first time, Osaka and Tokyo, after our 3rd or 4th visit we got offered a deal by Avex and ended up releasing four studio albums and numerous compilations.
The first email came in around November 2016. The budget was tight and the fee was lower than we normally play for, but we love going to Japan and owe much of our success to the Japanese fanbase and people we have worked with there, so any chance we get, we go! After maybe around hundred emails going back and forth between November 2016 and the of February 2017, we finally got everything in place.
We meet up at LHR Thursday late afternoon for check in. We were a bit wary as both our passports were nearing their expiry date..well four months and for Japan it just has to be in date for the duration of your stay, we check in with virtually no grief..a slight word of caution about said passport date but all good..ok straight to the bar for a pre flight beer frenzy. After nearly 17 hours we touch down at Haneda airport at around 10pm and for the first time in over two decades we get our baggage turned out at customs. I think it’s because we wrote Company Directors as opposed to musicians on our landing cards, now straight to the taxi rank, then hotel, wine, crisps, noodles, film.
The day of the gig, we get up around 11am and go toy and guitar hunting around Shinjuku, after four hours of walking and about seven pints of iced coffee each we find ONE toy shop, it was an epic toy shop though, action figure and Star Wars heaven and now it’s time to head back and try and get a few hours sleep before the gig. At 10.30pm we get picked up by the co-promoter, Guld. We’ve known Guld for at least fifteen years and have worked with him many times before, he’s one of our closest friends in Japan along with Yoji Biomehankia who we also play for on a regular basis.
We get to the venu
e and are greeted by people waiting outside to meet us and wanting CD’s signed…a bit of a rock star moment..ha. Soundcheck, first problem, no tables or platforms for us to set our gear up. We solve it by finding flight cases and up ending them to make tables, second problem, no monitor, well there’s one and it’s about the size of a dolls shoebox. We’ll have to go in blind and hope for the best.
We play the gig, had a great time and the response to the new material was really encouraging, after we play we get to walk around and meet people and get to check out the Burlesque and fashion shows which are held throughout the night, we love events like this, very mixed crowd. Eventually it’s time to leave the club, head back to the hotel,on the way we stop off at a Lawson mini mart and stock up on the most unhealthy food we can eat, just sugar and more sugar with some added lard for good measure. After these trips I actually crave getting back to my ultra boring veggie diet, but whilst your there you go into survival mode and eat junk.
Sunday night we go out to a restaurant/diner type establishment with the crew where the beer is £1.20 a pint! Put a bunch of musicians and performers in a bar where the beer is that cheap and within about an hour we’re having competitions of who can hold Wasabi Sushi in their mouths the longest without dying. After the Wasabi frenzy is over we’re back to the hotel and start getting ready for our return home, the flight is 8AM so we have to get up very early to pack, shower, taxi, and twenty three hours later we’re back home.
Pictures by kind permission of Darren and Kumiko Lewis