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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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wildfire WILDFIRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCE SEVEN NEW BANDS
Seven more red hot bands join headliners Tygers Of Pan Tang in what promises to be a scorching festival...

rival sons RIVAL SONS CONFIRMED FOR LATER WITH JOOLS HOLLAND
The band will preview their next single 'Good Things'. A further UK tour is planned for December this year...

ac/dc AC/DC REVEAL FIRST TRACK, ARTWORK AND TRACKLISTING FOR NEW ALBUM 'ROCK OR BUST'
'Rock Or Bust' is AC/DC's first studio album for six years and their first ever not to feature their founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young

manowar MANOWAR GIVE STUDENT MUSICIANS FROM ESSEN, GERMANY A NEW STAGE
Manowar will perform with the Bredeneyer Schulorchester. "We have offered them the opportunity to reach an audience that we know understands the tremendous power of music, and that they have more in common with than they may imagine..."

steel panther STEEL PANTHER UNLEASH VIDEO FOR 'PUSSYWHIPPED'
Biggest ever UK tour kicks off in March 2015, including a night at Wembley Arena...

texas flood THE TEXAS FLOOD SIGN LONG TERM DEAL WITH OFF YER ROCKA RECORDINGS
The powerhouse trio are ready to showcase their own brand of vintage rock to the world...

pythia PYTHIA ANNOUNCE RELEASE DATE, ARTWORK AND TRACKLISTING FOR NEW ALBUM 'SHADOWS OF A BROKEN PAST'
The band have also released the first song, 'The Key', which you can hear as part of the promo video here...

acdc AC/DC SHOOT NEW PROMO VIDEOS IN LONDON
Once inside Brian Johnson explained that Malcolm Young gave his blessing for the band to continue without him...

sanctuary SANCTUARY RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'FROZEN'
Seattle Thrash luminaries Sanctuary return with a new album and video, their first for twenty five years...

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES TO RELEASE 3D CONCERT 'APPETITE FOR DEMOCRACY 3D: LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK CASINO - LAS VEGAS' INTERNATIONALLY
This is the first official Guns N' Roses live concert film since 1992's 'Use Your Illusion' concert video and features brand new live performances of classic GN'R tracks...

blues pills BLUES PILLS KICK OFF THEIR HEADLINING EUROPEAN TOUR
The three month tour takes in seven UK dates, including an upgraded venue in Manchester...

tesseract TESSERACT SIGN TO KSCOPE
The band have a new creative energy after reuniting with singer Dan Tompkins and have already written half of their third album, the follow up to 'Altered State', slated for a 2015 release...

primordial PRIMORDIAL TO RELEASE NEW FULL-LENGTH THIS NOVEMBER VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS
"We feel revitalized, the hunger never left and we are ready for another chapter to be written in our history..."

ill nino ILL NIÑO PREMIERE NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'I'M NOT THE ENEMY'
The video tells a bold story of youthful injustice, overcoming social stereotypes and the dreams of constructing a better life...

devin townsend DEVIN TOWNSEND LAUNCHES ZTV AND NEW ZILTOID SITE
"I'm really excited to present to you the new Ziltoid website, and the first of three ZTV episodes leading up to the album release..."

judas priest JUDAS PRIEST OPEN US TOUR WITH NEW SONGS AND CLASSICS: SPOILER ALERT - FULL SETLIST HERE
The legendary British Metallers are touring in support of of their new 'Redeemer Of Souls' album...

tony wright TONY WRIGHT RELEASES FIRST SOLO ALBUM 'THOUGHTS 'N' ALL' ON 17TH NOVEMBER
The Terrorvision frontman has made a personal, heartfelt and passionate reflection of his journey...

off PUNK/HARDCORE LUMINARIES OFF! RETURN TO THE ROAD
There will be six UK dates before the band head off to mainland Europe...

queensryche BREAKING NEWS: QUEENSRYCHE ANNOUNCED AS HARD ROCK HELL VIII HEADLINERS
Following the official cancellation of W.A.S.P., Hard Rock Hell are pleased to announce that Queensryche will be stepping up to the top slot...

motorhead LEMMY TALKS TO FULL METAL JACKIE ABOUT HIS HEALTH, THE NEXT ALBUM AND THE MOTORBOAT CRUISE
Lemmy Kilmister was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show this weekend...

hellion HELLION ANNOUNCE NEW 'KARMA'S A BITCH' MINI ALBUM & SINGLE
Hellion's strongest line-up to date unleash first new material in over a decade...

blaze bayley BLAZE BAYLEY RELEASES 'SOUNDTRACKS OF MY LIFE' DVD
Blaze and backing band Absolva are captured in a performance celebrating 30 years in the business for Blaze...

black sabbath BREAKING NEWS: BLACK SABBATH TO RECORD NEW ALBUM AND DO ONE FINAL TOUR
Just as we told you back in May, Black Sabbath's Hyde Park performance on 4th July was not the last ever Sabbath gig...

def leppard DEF LEPPARD ROCK THE NFL AT WEMBLEY
A stage was set up on the pitch with the band performing in front of beautiful cheerleaders...

slipknot SLIPKNOT RELEASE 'THE DEVIL IN I' OFFICIAL VIDEO
Find out more about the new masks as the build up to the release of '.5:The Gray Chapter' continues...

sy keeler ONSLAUGHT'S SY KEELER TO SIT OUT FORTHCOMING US/CANADA/SOUTH AMERICA TOUR
Ex Anthrax legend Neil Turbin steps into the breach as the health issues of Sy Keeler's son mean he is needed at home...

vivian cambell VIV CAMPBELL TO UNDERGO STEM CELL TREATMENT
Trixter guitarist Steve Brown will fill in for Def Leppard's autumn dates...

haken HAKEN LAUNCH 'DARKEST LIGHT' VIDEO
"We've managed to chop the old song in half, cut away all the excess fat and produce a 6 minute rowdy riff roller-coaster that will surely find a home in the heavier side of our live show..."

the dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES RELEASE 'THE FACE I LOVE' VIDEO
Get a look at the title track of the new EP here. A new album will follow in 2015...

primordial PRIMORDIAL ANNOUNCE UK DATES IN FEBRUARY 2015
There will also be an album launch in Dublin in November for 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen'...

protokult SING ALONG TO 'GET ME A BEER!' LYRIC VIDEO BY PROG FOLK METALLERS PROTOKUL
"For those of you who can't understand what the hell Martin is spewing, now is your chance to sing along! Get yourself a cold one and enjoy!"...

whitesnake WHITESNAKE ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DVD/CD WITH CLASSIC AND RARE PERFORMANCES
"It's still hard for me to find the words when remembering that half the incredible band who originally recorded the 'Slide It In' album with me have passed away," says Coverdale...

metal church VOCALIST RONNY MUNROE QUITS METAL CHURCH
The band posted a statement on their official Facebook page assuring fans that the band is alive and well and that "big announcements" are expected soon...

bloodbath BLOODBATH STREAM FIRST NEW TRACK FEATURING NICK HOLMES AND REVEAL ALBUM TRACKLISTING
Sweden's masters of horror Bloodbath are set to release their fourth album of supreme death Metal, 'Grand Morbid Funeral', on 17th November 2014...

ac/dc AC/DC ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, 'ROCK OR BUST', AND CONFIRM DEPARTURE OF MALCOLM YOUNG
AC/DC have announced details of their 17th studio album, their first for six years and their first ever not to feature Malcolm...

lordi LORDI RELEASE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM 'SCARE FORCE ONE'
Tour dates to follow for the Finnish sensations. "The overall sound of the band is more modern this time, and we've tried out some new tricks here and there..."

bloodstock CANNIBAL CORPSE WILL PLAY AN EXCLUSIVE UK SHOW AT BLOODSTOCK 2015
Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura and Ihsahn join the line-up that also includes Within Temptation and Opeth...

helix HELIX ANNOUNCE TOUR OF EUROPE
This will be the first Euro tour for Helix since heading out with Kiss and Ian Gillan in the 1980s...

threshold THRESHOLD DISCUSS HOW THEY FOUND THE NEW ALBUM ARTWORK ON THE INTERNET
Damian Wilson and Richard West discuss Threshold's new album 'For The Journey', out today...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS RELEASE 'THIS IS ROCK N ROLL II' IN ADVANCE OF NOVEMBER TOUR
Re-packaged, re-styled and with 4 bonus tracks, the rare 2001 classic from The Quireboys will be available on 23rd October...

gwar GWAR REVEAL TWO NEW MEMBERS - BLÓTHAR AND VULVATRON
Meet the latest warriors to don the latex and styrofoam and join the intergalactic crew for Gwar's "Eternal" tour...

fear factory FEAR FACTORY SIGN TO NUCLEAR BLAST ENTERTAINMENT
The journey continues for one of the groundbreaking Metal bands of our time, with new material to be released in 2015...

tank TANK BEGIN WORK ON NEW ALBUM; BAND CONFIRMED FOR BANG YOUR HEAD
The band are scheduled to enter the studio in November with a release planned for early February...

blitzallica DIAMOND HEAD TO HEADLINE COUNTY DURHAM'S BLITZALLICA IN OCTOBER
Plus legendary Metal party band Dumpy's Rusty Nuts and old favorites Holosade who are reforming especially for this headbanging estravaganza...

saille SAILLE COMMENT ON FORTHCOMING THIRD ALBUM
"'Eldritch' differs quite a bit from our two previous albums," keyboardist Dries Gaerdelen says...

winger WINGER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BETTER DAYS COMIN'
Winger have released a new music video - the title track from their Billboard chart breaking album...

voodoo six VOODOO SIX ANNOUNCE SIX HEADLINE SHOWS IN EUROPE
This Autumn, Voodoo Six will play six headline shows in Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER ANNOUNCES DECEMBER UK TOUR
Schenker will perform songs from the new album, which features the new single, 'Lord Of The Lost And Lonely' plus all the classics...

johnny thunders LOOKING FOR JOHNNY: THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY THUNDERS MOVIE TO BE RELEASED NEXT MONTH
When Johnny Thunders died in New Orleans on April 23rd 1991, he left behind a mystery...

metallica METALLICA TO RELEASE 27 LIVE ALBUMS BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR AND APPEAR IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS
To commemorate the anniversary of the LiveMetallica.com site, the band are offering CDs and LPs of every gig they played in 2014...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS AND THE TREATMENT ANNOUNCE UK TOURS
Kobra And The Lotus will be kicking off their Headline Tour on 24th September in support of their latest record 'High Priestess'...

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