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  CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN
JAPANESE TSUNAMI DISASTER
4th May 2011


chris dale



Yes, that's right. MetalTalk.net is the only Metal website to send a journalist to Japan in the wake of the Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear disaster to report on how the rock scene has been affected. Am I absolutely insane to come out here? Yes, quite possibly.

I'll be honest with you, I'm not just here to report for MetalTalk. I work as Billy Sheehan's bass technician on the Mr Big tour. They're on a three week tour of gigs up and down the country. This isn't a review of the Mr Big shows or a report on the disaster itself. But let's get those two topics quickly summed up.

As I'm sure you've heard, on March 11th 2011 a massive earthquake struck just off the North East of Japan. The earthquake itself caused a lot of damage. Japan is probably the best equipped nation in the world to deal with an earthquake. They get them frequently, not usually of this magnitude, but their buildings are designed to deal with quakes, their people do not panic in a quake and their emergency services are prepared to respond to them.

The greater damage was done by a tidal wave that followed. It is no coincidence that we use a Japanese word, 'Tsumani' to describe a massive tidal wave. They've had them before but not like this in living memory. The tsunami was over 120 feet high in places and hit the Japanese coast around Sendai within minutes of the initial earthquake.

As I mentioned, the Japanese have systems in place to warn people of these things. Announcements are made over street tannoy systems and text messages are sent to everyone as soon as the trouble is detected. Nevertheless, the tsunami hit the Japanese coast long before full evacuation procedures could be put in place.

Over 25,000 people lost their lives in the initial impact of the tsunami. Men, women and children. Now think about if that was your hometown. That's all your family, all your neighbours, everyone you went to school with. Everyone dead. You might want to sit back for a moment and imagine that scenario.

The authorities still list many as missing but there's really little hope of any more survivors turning up. There was a miraculous case of a man found ten miles out at sea clinging to the roof of his house, but really all the others are gone.

Then as if it couldn't get worse, the tsunami hit the nuclear power plants at Fukushima. The footage we saw on TV of the plants exploding were just the excess hydrogen gases going off. They're a waste product of nuclear energy. The explosions did some damage but the real human damage is from the leakage of radioactive materials within the plants.

The only way to plug those gaps is to send guys in there to physically stop the leaks. Nuclear plant workers did that and are still doing that. Sure they're wearing protective suits and sure they work in shifts to minimise their exposure to radiation but they're still receiving way over the recommended healthy dose of radiation per day.

They won't die today or tomorrow, but chances are they will develop early cancers and die long before the average human life expectancy. They know that. They are sacrificing themselves, and not just for the people of Japan but for the people of the world. If they don't plug those gaps, the radiation will spread across the globe as it did at Chernobyl and far, far worse. Well, that's the bad news anyway.

As you probably also know, Mr Big are a great band. I'm not here to write a review of them but here's some basic facts you should know about them. They are one of the best live bands ever. The band members, vocalist Eric Martin, guitarist Paul Gilbert, bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Pat Torpey are individually some of the best in the business but more importantly they play and sing together incredibly well.

Whereas some collectives of great musicians somehow lose the plot when they get together these guys really rock, they groove and more importantly they write really good songs. If you're not familiar with their work, pop over to YouTube and type in 'Mr Big Budokan' for a taster. Then go and buy their latest album 'What If'.

Mr Big are massive in Japan. Loved by everyone here, they are mobbed in the streets and in return they genuinely care for their Japanese fans and for Japan itself.


Japanese TV report on the Mr Big Tour

I was booked to work on this tour long before March 11th. When I saw the news on that day, I thought "Oh, that's our tour cancelled then" but no, Mr Big care too much. While every other Western band has cancelled their Japanese tours, Mr Big did not. It seemed like insanity to me.

Some outsiders saw this as a cynical move. "Oh, the poor people of Japan need time to recover, not a rock and roll band" was a phrase I often heard back at home. But in fact the opposite is true. The Japanese need to know the outside world cares about their plight.

Mr Big quickly recorded a special single, 'The World Is On Its Way', for this tour. All proceeds went to the thousands of people affected and made homeless by the disaster. The first pressing of the single sold out, so did the second. In addition they collected money at the concerts and donated money themselves.

By keeping their touring commitment, they have kept local venue, hotel and restaurant staff in work. The Japanese economy needs to keep running and without foreign investors they lose money. If tours are cancelled fans lose out on a night they have been looking forward to for months and venue staff lose out on business. Mr Big are keeping those people happy and in business. More importantly they are providing hope to re-build a future.

So how is Japan coping? The answer as seen from the ground is "amazingly well".

We've toured up and down the country. Most places such as Osaka, Kanazawa, Fukuoka, Hiroshima and Nagoya in the South continue as before. The same applies for Sapporo in Hokaido to the North.

The planned concert for Sendai had to be cancelled. Half the town is now missing. The concerts in the Iwate Prefecture and nearby Akido went ahead. This was despite warnings of severe aftershocks.

I'll be honest, I was terrified. I've never been in an earthquake zone before. We have it so easy In the UK. We have no volcanoes, no hurricanes and no regular earthquakes. The idea of the ground moving had me wetting my pants.

When we arrived in Nagoya there was a letter in out hotel rooms. I'll quote from it, the capitals and under-linings are their own.

"Due to the HIGH risk of further earthquakes and aftershocks, wherever possible, we recommend you to stay in or near the hotel building. If a tremor occurs please stay calm and listen carefully/follow instructions as they are announced."

Shit! Really? As it happened, we felt our first proper quake in Iwate. The room shook for about ten seconds, but really quite small, just like if you live next to a train track. This is what happens normally in Japan and they're quite used to it.

Remember, it was the tsunami, not the earthquake that caused most of the damage on March 11th.

On the morning of our Akita show, Nori, the Japanese production manager greeted me in the morning with "Did you feel last night's quake about 4am? It was quite a big one, far away but quite big".

My honest answer was "No, I slept through it, thanks to the power of Kirin beer". Although I had wondered why my stuff was on the floor next to the table that I'd left it on the night before.

"Keep drinking then" he said ominously.

Since then, we've had a few more aftershocks. One other I'm ashamed to say I missed entirely because although I was awake I'd had a few beers with Jason the guitar tech and the room was spinning anyway. I know it sounds frivolous but these aftershocks are really not too bad. Oooops, we've just had another one while I'm writing this. Again just a short wobble.

As for the leaked radiation. Certainly one should keep clear of the irradiated areas within 80km of Fukoshima as recommend by Japanese and American studies and I wouldn't recommend swimming in the seas nearby but levels of radiation as monitored across Japan as a whole are less than those emitted by standard television screens. So, hey, I've saved a load by not watching much TV!

And that's the point really; turn your telly off now. I saw on the news back home that Tokyo was suffering a shortage of bottled water. There may well have been a shortage at some point but within two weeks of the quake, when I was there, there was no real shortage. Most of Japan is back to normal. The Japanese are a nation of hard workers and they bear hardship well. It's all mostly fine here.

I say "mostly" because there are still thousands of displaced people who cannot return to their homes, either because of the tsunami flooding or the radiated areas. It will take years to re-build these people's homes. Their lives can never be the same again. They have lost everything. More than you or I can imagine.

I was told that in Sendai, many schools received the tsunami warning early and managed to evacuate to higher ground. Many businesses did not. This has left thousands of children orphaned as their parents drowned while they survived.

If you want to to help you can donate to The Japanese Red Cross by clicking here...

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deep purple DEEP PURPLE 'CALIFORNIA JAM 1974' AND JON LORD 'GEMINI SUITE' NEWLY RESTORED AND ON THEIR WAY TO YOU
"It's big, it's grandiose, it's funky, it's rock... it's Mk III in all its glory."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS ARE COMING - FULLY PLUGGED AND FULLY LOADED
"We made this record with a full-on rock'n'roll show in mind..."

accept ACCEPT REVEAL 'RESTLESS AND WILD' FROM 'RESTLESS AND LIVE' - WATCH HERE
This package will include the entire show Accept played at Bang Your Head Festival 2015...

overkill OVERKILL TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM, 'THE GRINDING WHEEL', IN FEBRUARY
"Grinding on! Here we come again kids, strapped to the Grinding Wheel! Bang your head."

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES SLOT FEATURES IN TOP ROCK THEMED GAMES
Gunners fans can now listen to their favourite band's music and win big prizes on the reels...

hard rock hell AIRBOURNE, Y&T, GUN, SYTERIA AND THE NEW ROSES TO ROCK HARD ROCK HELL 2017
2017 is going to be the biggest adventure yet! We're taking the HRH experience out to Australia, NZ and Singapore...

helloween KISKE AND HANSEN BACK IN HELLOWEEN: PUMPKINS UNITED WORLD TOUR 2017/18 IS OFFICIAL
Weikath, Kiske, Hansen, Grosskopf are going to play Helloween classics live and on a joint tour. Massive news. Awesome...

motorhead MOTÖRHEAD 'WAKE THE DEAD' BOX-SET AND 'BAD MAGIC' SILVER VINYL AVAILABLE TO ORDER NOW
The main cover image highlights one of Lemmy's rough-draft thumbnail sketches...

anthrax ANTHRAX ANNOUNCE 2017 UK HEADLINE TOUR
"Finally! We've been looking forward to headlining in the UK for so long!!! We have a killer set planned..."

devildriver DEVILDRIVER PREMIERE NEW VIDEO FOR 'TRUST NO ONE'
"The pit was giant for us and it was killer to see such a massive crowd participating in the madness!"

tyketto TYKETTO REACH OUT TO FANS ONCE AGAIN WITH RESCHEDLUED TOUR DATES
"Save a handful of venues, we will be hitting most of the same markets as we had planned for in November and December..."

aerosmith AEROSMITH 'AERO-VEDERCI BABY' FAREWELL TOUR DATES ARE HERE
"Aerosmith just got done ripping through South America like true ambassadors of rock... the band is unstoppable right now..."

death dealer HAS DONALD TRUMP ASSASSINATED DEATH DEALER?
"Shut the fuck up and play guitar, that's what matters, not your opinion..."

diablus in musica WORLD PREMIERE: DIABALUS IN MUSICA UNLEASH 'INVISIBLE' FROM 'DIRGE FROM THE ARCHONS'
Diabulus In Musica have an extraordinary ability to merge Metallic heaviness with symphonic catchiness...

kiss KISSCLUSIVE: KISS KRUISE VI - QUALITY VIDEO OF EXCLUSIVE SONGS INCLUDING A PREVIOUSLY UNHEARD PAUL STANLEY TRACK
"We are proud to be part of such a great, noble and worthy cause. Please support the Heavy Metal Helps The Heroes Campaign."

inglorious LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE INGLORIOUS 2016 COMMEMORATION T-SHIRT LAUNCHED
We're doing just one run of these to ensure that all Inglorious fans who purchase one have a limited edition exclusive collector's item...

roger waters ROGER WATERS ANNOUNCES 2017 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
"It will be a cool show, I promise you. It'll be spectacular like all my shows have been."

tom petty JEFF LYNNE, DON HENLEY AND FOO FIGHTERS HAVE NO SECOND THOUGHTS PERFORMING AT TOM PETTY MUSICARES AWARD
"I have so much respect for this organization, which really does care about the people in our industry..."

rhino edwards FOR STATUS QUO FANS: RHINO'S REVENGE ANNOUNCE NEW NEW NEW BATCH OF TOUR DATES
The tour is in support of the 'II' album which was released late last year...

grand magus WAS BREAKING NEWS: GRAND MAGUS ANNOUNCE UK/IRELAND TOUR DATES
"By Odin's beard! The Magus will be returning to the British isles for a headline tour with all that it entails in 2017..."

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES TWENTY BANDS FOR 2017
"For anyone that wants to discover and back new bands there is one place to be next June – Wildfire Festival..."

kiss KISSCLUSIVE: KISS REVIVE CLASSIC 'CREATURES OF THE NIGHT' SET ON KRUISE VI
The setlist was based around the 1982 'Creatures Of The Night' tour list but with some amazing surprises thrown in...

trivium TRIVIUM UNEARTH RARE DEMO AHEAD OF RE-RELEASE - LISTEN HERE
'The Storm' is a Trivium track of legend. It's been completely absent from the world for ages since it was only very briefly available on 'Caeruleus'...

bullet for my valentine BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE RELEASE BRAND NEW SINGLE/VIDEO, 'DON'T NEED YOU' - WATCH/LISTEN HERE
"We wanted it to look really grand and ornate, but underneath it all, it's a bit dirty."

bristol deathfest VADER AND IMMOLATION CONFIRMED FOR BRISTOL DEATHFEST
Bristol Deathfest is one of the must attend events for any fan of death Metal in the UK next year...

steelhouse festival STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2017 SATURDAY HEADLINERS
"After the success of last year's event we are delighted to be pulling the kind of acts that will really maintain our upward trajectory!"

amon amarth AMON AMARTH TO HEADLINE BLOODSTOCK FRIDAY - TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Amon Amarth will headline the Friday night of Bloodstock 2017 in what is certain to be a very serious horn raising spectacular...

killit WORLD PREMIERE KILLIT UNVEIL 'AIN'T PLAYING YOUR GAME' VIDEO, LIVE AT THE UNDERWORLD
"There is no way to get any video to actually make people realise how it felt that night in The Underworld... but this is as close as it gets."

mick ralphs BAD COMPANY AND MOTT THE HOOPLE GUITARIST MICK RALPHS SUFFERS STROKE
"Mick is receiving excellent medical care and is recovering in hospital, although all his public engagements are necessarily on hold..."

meat loaf EXCLUSIVE ANDREW POLEC, 'BAT OUT OF HELL - THE MUSICAL' LEADING MAN: "EVERYTHING HAS LED TO THIS MOMENT"
"Considering there's a huge bike accident in this play and my life karmically changed because of my bike accident, I feel blessed."

tank WORLD PREMIERE TANK UNLEASH SUPERB NEW VIDEO FOR 'VALLEY OF TEARS'
"Not exactly ideal conditions when you've got a stinking hangover. Nothing we couldn't deal with though. Job done!"

ded daisies THE DEAD DAISIES UNLEASH SHORT MOVIE FOR 'A SONG AND A PRAYER'
"This song turned out to have a special vibe to it, very accessible, which is really cool. But the lyrics are rather dark..."

download DOWNLOAD 2017 HEADLINERS ANNOUNCED
Download mainman Andy Copping has established for himself a new status as the bravest promoter in the business...

deep purple DEEP PURPLE 'FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY' PERFECTLY CAPTURES KNEBWORTH 1985 PERFORMANCE
This hardback 128 page book is a strictly limited edition of 300 with each one individually numbered...

beermageddon BEERMAGEDDON MAKE FIRST 2017 BAND ANNOUNCEMENTS
It's game on for Beermageddon and there's a whole host of fabulous acts playing the 2017 edition of the booziest festival in the UK...

rush RUSH TO RELEASE 'TIME STAND STILL' DOCUMENTARY
Dave Grohl: "Rush built their following the right way. Their legacy is incredible and their influence undeniable."

titanfest EXCLUSIVE FAST EDDIE CLARKE JOINS SAXON ONSTAGE FOR MOTÖRHEAD CLASSIC
Biff: "It's great to see Eddie playing again..."

glenn hughes GLENN HUGHES CANCELS ENTIRE UK/EUROPEAN TOUR
"I am saddened and disappointed that I will not be able to perform for my UK and European fans as I had originally intended..."

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