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


chris dale

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Chris Dale is a Heavy Metal bassist. He is currently the bass player in TANK whose recent live DVD, 'WAR MACHINE' is out now. He has previously played with lots of Metal bands and projects, most notably a two year stint in Bruce Dickinson's solo band.

Chris fronts the pop-group Sack Trick, DJs occasionally on Bloodstock Radio and in his spare time works on tour as a roady for anyone going to a hot climate...

***********************************

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...

More Chris Dale's Metal Meltdown Columns Here

Click here to talk about this column in the MetalTalk.net Message Board...

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ensiferum ENSIFERUM ARE SCHEDULED TO RECORD SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM THIS AUTUMN
The band will get straight back into the studio immediately after the festival season ends...

marc ford EX BLACK CROWES MEMBER MARC FORD TO PLAY INTIMATE ACOUSTIC GIG AT THE BORDERLINE- JULY 22ND
'Holy Ghost' reveals Ford's gift for Americana which will be showcased at this special appearance...

motorhead aftershock MOTÖRHEAD UNVEIL "LOST WOMAN BLUES LIVE FROM SAN FRANCISCO" VIDEO FROM 'AFTERSHOCK - TOUR EDITION'
Swagger, verve, grit and polish. "We are Motörhead and we play rock and roll..."

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE STREAM THE BAND'S NEW ALBUM 'YOU CAN'T STOP ME' IN FULL ON YOUTUBE
The album marks the debut of new vocalist Eddie Hermida and includes some special guest appearances...

Nightwish TOUCHSTONE RELEASE THEIR FIRST EVER 3DISC DVD WITH LIMITED EDITION SIGNED 'OCEANS' EP
The DVD features previously unreleased footage of Touchstone's full set from 2010's High Voltage Festival, and a behind the scenes documentary...

Nightwish NIGHTWISH REVEAL 'MAKING OF' CLIP FOR THEIR FORTHCOMING ALBUM
The yet to be titled album is starting to take shape and the band discuss all aspects in this new video...

decapitated DECAPITATED REVEAL ALBUM TITLE AND COVER ARTWORK
'Blood Mantra' will be released in September and features artwork by Lukasz Jaszak...

deep purple DEEP PURPLE RELEASE THE PREVIOUSLY UNAVAILABLE LIVE PERFORMANCE 'GRAZ 1975'
The historic find contains over 70 minutes of previously unreleased material...

blues pills BLUES PILLS VOCALIST ELIN LARSSON DISCUSSES THE TRACKS OFF THE BAND'S NEW SELF-TITLED ALBUM
The first album from the colourful retro-rockers is released on 28th July...

linkin park LINKIN PARK ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR FOR NOVEMBER 2014
Fresh from summer festival appearances and the release of 'The Hunting Party' Linkin Park play fifteen dates in Europe...

joe bonamassa JOE BONAMASSA ANNOUNCES 4 NIGHTS AT LONDON'S HAMMERSMITH APOLLO
The shows will feature songs from new album 'Different Shades Of Blue', played live for the very first time in the UK, and a never-before-seen line-up of musicians...

demonic resurrection ONSLAUGHT ANNOUNCE DEMONIC RESURRECTION WILL REPLACE HATRIOT ON UK 'THRASH INVASION' TOUR
India's Demonic Resurrection will join Nightlord and main support Artillery following acclaimed appearances at Les-Fest 3 and Sonisphere...

judas priest JUDAS PRIEST 'REDEEMER OF SOULS' ALBUM LAUNCH PARTIES ANNOUNCED
A chance to hear new tracks from the album ahead of its release on Monday July 14th, plus these exclusive parties will also feature exclusive merchandise giveaways...

acrassicauda ACRASSICAUDA LAUNCH KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN FOR THEIR FIRST OFFICIAL ALBUM
The latest chapter for the Iraq Metal pioneers continues their astonishing story...

black sabbath TONY IOMMI CONFIRMS MetalTalk REPORT THAT HYDE PARK WAS NOT THE LAST EVER BLACK SABBATH GIG
Tony released a video just before Friday's gig thanking fans for their support and he ends it by saying: "See you on the next tour"...

godsmack MULTI-PLATINUM US ROCKERS GODSMACK ANNOUNCE NEW STUDIO ALBUM "1000HP"
The band move into the fast lane for sixth studio album, '1000hp', set for international release via Spinefarm Records on September 1st 2014...

karmaflow 'KARMAFLOW: THE ROCK OPERA VIDEOGAME' IS UNVEILED WITH AN ALL-STAR CAST
This multidisciplinary art project is a must for lovers of gaming and Metal...

hellyeah HELLYEAH TAKES BLOOD FOR BLOOD TO THE TOP OF THE HARD ROCK CHARTS IN NORTH AMERICA
The band will tour Europe in July and August 2014 with six dates in the UK...

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT ANNOUNCES DVD 'GENESIS REVISITED: LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL', WORLD TOUR PLUS EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW
Re-live a seminal chapter of prog rock history live on stage. "It's a feast for eyes, ears and all the senses..."

cannibal corpse CANNIBAL CORPSE TO RELEASE 'A SKELETAL DOMAIN'
The 13th full-length album from the American Death Metal icons is released in September. The extensive tour reaches the UK in October...

electric wizard ELECTRIC WIZARD UNVEIL 'TIME TO DIE' AS TITLE OF FORTHCOMING STUDIO ALBUM
"We had to kill the band so we could be reborn. It was the only way to ensure we could come back even stronger"...

motorhead aftershock MOTÖRHEAD POSTPONE RELEASE OF 'AFTERSHOCK - TOUR EDITION' NOW 4th AUGUST
A production error has put back the release for a month, but it will be worth waiting for...

suicide silence tour SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER 2014 UK TOUR
An unmissable opportunity to see the titans of modern Metal. "Come throw your horns up, bang your heads, or mosh your knickers off!! "...

hordes of belial LIPID AND BURNING THE DREAM ADDED TO HORDES OF BELIAL V BILL
The yearly Dundee Metal event continues to strengthen the line up...

snakecharmer SNAKECHARMER ANNOUNCE THREE UK DATES
Six of the UK's most highly-esteemed and experienced rock musicians have joined forces to create Snakecharmer...

manowar MANOWAR ANNOUNCE NEW U.S. TOUR DATES FOR NOVEMBER 2014
Manowarriors have demanded more and further dates have been added. "We can't wait to be back and play for more of our U.S. fans!"...

tygertailz TIGERTAILZ RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'PUNCHED IN THE GUTZ'
The 'Knives' EP is out now and there is an upcoming release of unheard demos for September...

progstravaganza PROG SPHERE INVITES BANDS TO SEND SUBMISSIONS FOR 20TH EDITION OF PROGSTRAVAGANZA COMPILATION SERIES
The call goes out for bands around the world to submit songs for the jubilee edition of the sampler album ...

accept ACCEPT PREMIERE BREATHTAKING VIDEO FOR NEW TRACK 'STAMPEDE'
The stunning locations perfectly showcase the track which is from the band's album 'Blind Rage' out August 18th ..

mr big MR BIG ANNOUNCE ONLY BRITISH ISLES SHOW OF 2014
LA Rockers Mr Big have announced a one off show at London's Koko on Friday 17th October 2014 - their only show on these shores this year...

spike frankie miller SPIKE ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF '100% PURE FRANKIE MILLER' FEATURING RONNIE WOOD, ANDY FRASER, SIMON KIRKE, IAN HUNTER AND MORE
Call it a labour of love. A life's ambition. Or the chance to keep a precious legacy alive. Call it 100% Pure Frankie Miller....

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS RELEASE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR BRAND NEW SINGLE 'SOLDIER'
Explosive hard rockers Kobra And The Lotus have revealed a warsome (get it?!) official video for 'Soldier'...

massive wagons MASSIVE WAGONS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND UK TOUR
Two years and it's finally here, the brand new album - 'Fight The System'...

temperance movement THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
The headlining dates will take place in November 2014...

overkill OVERKILL REVEAL NEW TRACK 'ARMORIST' ONLINE
"Our confidence is high for this shoot. From the director's eye to yours/ours, should be a killer!"...

avenged sevenfold AVENGED SEVENFOLD ANNOUNCE 'WAKING THE FALLEN: RESURRECTED' - OUT AUGUST 25TH
The restored breakthrough album includes a DVD & never before heard tracks, demos, and more...

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE ANNOUNCE LONDON SHOW WITH EPICA
Grab your tickets quickly as demand for this double bill will be high...

devildriver DEVILDRIVER PREMIERE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'GUTTED'
Check out the band's latest offering from sixth studio album 'Winter Kills'...

down n outz DOWN 'N' OUTZ ANNOUNCE UK & EIRE TOUR DATES
"It's like Joe and the boys have taken some vintage films and slapped them onto a big, bright Technicolor screen. A great, in-your-face new way to experience some of Mott's finest songs!"...

nuclear assault NUCLEAR ASSAULT TO RELEASE 'LIVE AT CBGB'S'
There will be a limited release of 500 picture discs capturing the old school thrashers back in 1986...

seether SEETHER REVEAL NEW TRACK, 'SUFFER IT ALL' AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD WITH 'ISOLATE AND MEDICATE' PRE-ORDER
The band have also announced UK Headline Shows for November...

gravedigger GRAVE DIGGER PREMIERE 'HELL FUNERAL' VIDEO
The track is from 'Return Of The Reaper', out July 14th...

voodoo six VOODOO SIX SET TO GUEST WITH THE WINERY DOGS ON TWO UK DATES IN JULY
These performances follow their Sonisphere appearance on Saturday July 5th...

orphaned land METAL MUSIC IS BIGGER THAN WHAT POLITICS CAN OFFER: ORPHANED LAND BRING ISRAEL AND PALESTINE TOGETHER
"We are the ambassadors of peace, more than our foreign ministry, or prime minister, or authors..."

madball MADBALL REVEAL OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR 'BORN STRONG' FEATURING CANDACE PUOPOLO FROM WALLS OF JERICHO
The track is taken from the album 'Hardcore Lives', released June 30th...

metallica METALLICA RELEASE NEW SONG
'Lords of Summer - First Pass Version' gets official release after being premiered on the first night of the current tour...

ted nugent kamp "TED NUGENT KAMP FOR KIDS" CELEBRATES 25TH ANNUAL SUMMER "KAMP"
When he's not being a guitar icon, Ted Nugent is on a mission to improve young lives. New album 'Shutup&Jam!' is out July 8...

massive wagons MASSIVE WAGONS RELEASE SINGLE AND NEW VIDEO 'RED DRESS'
The video incudes circus performances from the girls at Monster Cirque in the first release from the album 'Fight The System'...

black state highway THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM BLACK STATE HIGHWAY IS OUT ON 18TH AUGUST
The highly anticipated release is packed full of heavy riff-based rock...

helmet HELMET ANNOUNCE 'BETTY' 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR OF EUROPE FOR AUTUMN 2014
UK dates in Glasgow, Manchester, London now added due to popular demand ...

wacken LIVE AT WACKEN 2013 TO BE RELEASED AS DVD/ BluRay / 2 CD
Experience the world's biggest Metal Festival at home and be in with a chance to win a Lifetime Membership...

uncle rust UNCLE RUST ANNOUNCE AUGUST UK TOUR
The recently formed London based rock/Metal band will undertake a set of UK dates in August 2014...

blitzkreig BLITZKRIEG ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR FOR SEPTEMBER 2014
The band will visit five countries on their only tour this year...

sonisphere LATE NIGHT ENTERTAINMENT AT SONISPHERE ANNOUNCED
Only two weeks away - get ready to continue the party after the headliners leave the stage...

finntroll FINNTROLL REVEAL LIVE FOOTAGE OF SEMINAL TRACK 'TROLLHAMMAREN', FILMED AT THEIR LIVE ALBUM RECORDING SHOW IN AMSTERDAM
"Lock up your daughters, kegs of rum and men of God, for The Trolls from Up North are coming for you...live!..."

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE REVEAL NEW VIDEO 'THE GAME' (FEAT. MATT HEAFY OF TRIVIUM)
The track is taken from the album 'Maximum Overload', which will be released in August...

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