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


chris dale

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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...

April 2015: Undiscovered Kisstory: The Kiss Drummer Auditions Of 1980
March 2015: Matthew Trippe RIP - The strange case of the man who would be Nikki Sixx
November 2014: Kiss: 'Love Gun' Deluxe Edition
October 2014: Mr. Big – Live Review at Koko, London
September 2014: Mr. Big: 'The Stories We Could Tell' album review
September 2013: Intensive Bass Course with Billy Sheehan
August 2013: Booking Agents vs Promoters
July 2013: Rock and Metal Pub Quiz
June 2013: Communication Tips For European Festivals, Or How To Learn A Language In An Evening
May 2013: Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013) RIP
April 2013: Daily Mail Columnist Richard Littlejohn Sinks To New Low With Anti-Heavy Metal Article
April 2013: The Future Of Classic Bands
March 2013: Smashing Pumpkins Video Shoot
Febuary 2013: Ten Years On Total Rock
January 2013: Kiss Follow Up To Monster 2013
December 2012: Kiss Reformation Magick
November 2012: Exclusive Interview With Geoff Tate
November 2012: Morally Worrying Session
October 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Review
October 2012: The Best Invention Of All Time
September 2012: A Conversation With Rudy Sarzo
August 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 3
July 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 2
June 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 1
May 2012: Managers v Producers
April 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Album Preview
March 2012: London Venue's Nazi Past?
February 2012: How Not to Join the Ozzy Osbourne Band
January 2012: Metal Evilution
December 2011: Take Your Pick Competition
November 2011: The Pandora's Box Of Pop
October 2011: Tank Tour Diary 2011
September 2011: Festival Stage Collapses
August 2011: Bruce Air, The Early Days
July 2011: European Festival Round-Up
June 2011: Bernie Torme Proud To Be Part Of MT Ozzy Article
June 2011: Who's Your Favourite Ozzy Guitarist?
May 2011: Japanese Tsunami Disaster
April 2011: 10,000 Tank Albums!
March 2011: Death Metal Session!
6th February 2011: Gary Moore (4th April 1952 - 6th February 2011)
February 2011: Recording Bass at Steve Harris'
January 2011: A Column About Columns



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"We were all born within a mile or so from the hallowed Boleyn ground and have all stood on the terraces through snow, rain and sunshine from a very early age."

ac/dc AC/DC RELEASE TICKET REFUND DETAILS FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
If you don't want a refund, then we'll see you at The Olympic Stadium in London as we think we're about to witness a major piece of rock history...

deep purple IAN PAICE AND DON AIREY SCHEDULE SOLO EUROPEAN DATES AS 2016 DEEP PURPLE TOUR APPROACHES
Deep Purple are kicking off their 2016 tour next month in Japan, before heading to Israel, Russia and Europe in June and July.

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT TO RELEASE 'THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE LIVE IN LIVERPOOL', HIS ACOLYTE TO 'WOLFLIGHT' WITH GENESIS REVISITED TOUR
"Besides, it's not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there's never been a good band from there. Ha!"

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL LAUNCH NEW ALBUM TITLE TRACK 'DELIRIUM'
Lacuna Coil will be making their much-anticipated return to North America as part of the 'Delirium Worldwide' tour starting in San Francisco on May 7th

bibeau YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE BAND BIBEAU OFFER THEIR FIRST SINGLE/VIDEO, 'MARK THIS'
"We were also hoping to convey the look, feel and flow of some of the classic, timeless rock and metal videos from the height of MTV's popularity..."

virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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