??? Livestock World
??? 'Livestock World' (Hardcore Holocaust, 2008)
??? translates as 'Clown' but also, according to some translation tools, 'Nine Wolf Roots of Infinity'. Much to my embarrassment I thought they were called 'Crown' for the past three years. It's the way our Japanese hosts pronounced it to be honest! Crown seemed to make sense, to me at least.
It was only when I picked this up at the amazing Blackwater Records shop/venue in Portland, Oregon, which The Process had the pleasure to play at in 2012, that Jon from Iron Lung advised me that 'Clown' meant something far more ominous in Japanese.
Prior to the Process' first Japanese gig in Nagoya the atmosphere was a little tense. Every band on the bill and everybody in the crowd looked like an extra from Mad Max 2. We stuck out like five old normals! Added to that a Whisky fuelled Jamie had made an internationally renowned mentalist called Crow go beserk in the backstage area because he had dared to speak to his girlfriend.
Our friend Abe from Fortitude advised me that things were slightly strained and we would do well not to anger any of the other equally mad bands and their members. I was not feeling particularly up for it; I was sh*tting it!
Crow's band took to the stage and the guitarist proceeded to smash his guitar to the floor, throw a mike stand directly at a crowd member's head and storm off the stage. I think they lasted three songs. By this time Crow was wandering through the venue wearing a purple satin scarf tightly wrapped round his face and pretending to be different guy from the insane table upturner backstage. It was beyond surreal.
There may have been another band, but The Process took the stage soon after and we went down like a lead balloon. Or so we thought. It turned out that the Japanese punks only politely applauded at the end of the set not between songs, but at the time it felt desperate.
A massive bloke with black Adam and the Ants style eye make up approached us outside and told us he thought we were great and he was glad that we had travelled from the UK to play in Japan. It was a relief to finally meet somebody that appeared pleased to meet us. It turned out that he was the singer of??? and they blew us away.
Compared to the chaotic drunken debauchery that was masquerading as music elsewhere??? were deadly and precise. Our big mate seethed with rage and their set was enthusiastically received; at the end of their set! It was a strange, strange night.
Most of us immediately bought??? t shirts and at last received nods of acknowledgment from our Far Eastern hardcore brothers and many beers were enjoyed. Phew, the drama was over and we could settle into the rest of the tour.
When we arrived in Tokyo I was proudly wearing my??? shirt and noticed that some members of the other bands were giving me odd looks and talking animatedly to Fortitude. One of the Tokyo locals approached me and asked why I was wearing a??? shirt and I replied because I liked them. 'No', he said, shaking his head, 'You must take it off.' When I asked why he said, 'because they are bad boys'. I laughed and agreed, they really were bad boys; I thought it was a quaint way of saying they were rebels or something.
'No, they are bad boys. They are Yakuza. If Yakuza from Tokyo see you with this shirt they will fight you!' I almost spat my Kirin in the face of my generous host in disbelief, but after consultation with Fortitude and Finch, who had experienced a similar vibe in Osaka, it turned out that??? were indeed fully fledged biker/gang types and I would undoubtedly come a cropper if spied by the wrong person in my prized t shirt.
Japan; a crazy place with crazy people, people who took things very, very seriously indeed, but who were also the funniest, most friendly and generous people I have ever met.
As for the record; it's a beautiful picture disc containing 100% raging hardcore punk performed in an unhinged Japanese style. It sounds like music made by mad biker gangsters.
- Panasonic DMC-FZ18