Japan Tour Diary, Part 1

Our band, The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, is leaving for a five date Japanese tour. This has been arranged by Transduction Records and LITE manager/ Parabolica Records main man Kazuto. I run a music club called the Ballroom of Romance and a few years ago we were lucky enough to put on a show for LITE under request from Transduction, who had released their records in Europe. This was a revelation - LITE played an incendiary set of intricate post-rock and instantly won over Irish audiences. They’ve since come back for two more tours, building on this success. In Japan we will be touring with LITE and Parabolica’s latest signing Marvin’s Revolt from Denmark.

To set the scene, here is a clip of an interview I did with One More Tune talking about the Spook, my involvement in the Ballroom of Romance live music club and the background to this tour.

Sunday February 8th Dublin Departure:

It’s a very cold morning as I drag myself out of bed at around 6 am. We’re due to fly out at 9.40am and there’s a very real risk of the airport shutting down due to the cold weather. LITE are arranging backline and guitars but as I’m left handed I’m bringing over my own guitar and banjo. I bundle everything into the car and drive over to Stoneybatter to pick up our Japanese friend Keita. Keita has offered to come to Japan with us to act as our tour manager. Next I drive over to Irishtown and pick up Enda, our bass player and Brian, our drummer. Brian has arrived back safely from his gig in Waterford last night despite a treacherous four hour drive along icey roads. He’s barely in the door and we’re off to the airport where we meet up with Donnchadh, our guitar player. We check in only to find there is a problem with Keita’s ticket. After a bit of a panic, Keita arranges to travel the following day. The four of us head on without Keita through to our gate. Keita is going to carry my guitar to even out the baggage load.

At the gate we see snow coming down thick and the progress of flights leaving the airport grinds down to a trickle. Thankfully we get on our way only one hour late after the plane is sprayed with de-icing fluid, still arriving in Schiphol with plenty of time to transfer to our onward flight. After a two hour stop over, we jump onto the flight to Narita Aiport near Tokyo. I have Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler book to read and my iPod to keep me going, and KLM long haul flights have a pretty decent entertainment system, so we have a range of films and TV shows to watch. We hunker down for an 11 hour flight. Brian has some herbal sleeping pills which seem to make us hyper rather than knocking us out. Donnchadh and Enda get a few hours sleep but myself and Brian barely close our eyes.

Japan Tour!

Spook Japan Poster

We’re off to Japan next week to do a 5 date tour sharing stages with Marvin’s Revolt from Denmark and our fellow Transduction Records label mates LITE.

Full schedule:

10/02/09 - Drunker’s Stadium, Kashiwa, Chiba (with Marvin’s Revolt, Clean of Core & Deepsea Drive Machine)
11/02/09 - Club Rock’n'Roll, Nagoya, Aichi (with Marvin’s Revolt & LITE)
12/02/09 - Fandango, Juso, Osaka (with Marvin’s Revolt & LITE)
13/02/09 - O-Nest, Shibuya, Tokyo (with Marvin’s Revolt & LITE)
14/02/09 - Lush, Shibuya, Tokyo (with ZKurukurucrew & 9dW)







Irish Examiner (USA) review

Our debut album has been included in the best Irish albums of 2008 in American newspaper The Irish Examiner. Full review:

Music, like life in general, must evolve if it is to flourish and Irish traditional music is no different to any other genre. So it was that Planxty gave purists palpations even as they breathed life into a dying genre, while The Pogues induced kiniptic fits in many traditionalists two decades later, yet goodness knows how many young people they inspired to follow in their steps. Essentially the brainchild of Allen Blighe, The Spooks’ may not have earned the right to be counted among such names just yet, but this is as vital and progressive an Irish traditional album as there has been in the past decade, overflowing with ideas and experimental in a manner that few have ever been brave enough or - crucially - talented enough to take on. Fusing elements of trad, folk, psychedelic and full-on rock, the band has succeeded in creating an album that almost perfectly captures the Ireland of today, which struggles to define itself, clutching desperately to its past even as it embraces a future that appears startlingly different. It is dark, it is challenging, it is teeming with innovation and guile, but most of all, it is a thing of utter beauty that borders on the visionary.

Spook live upstairs in Whelans

Happy Christmas everyone!

We’re playing our first show of 2009 upstairs in Whelans Friday January 2nd. Doors 9pm, €8 entry. Support will be confirmed very soon. More details at the Whelan’s website