Guy named Richey

MSPListening to “A Design for Life” on YouTube. Manic Street Preachers keeping me company at 2 a.m.

Just finished reading Manic Street Preachers: Sweet Venom by Martin Clarke. Details of Richey Edwards’ harrowing battle with mental illness — the self-mutilation, the eating disorder, the dependency on drinks, and finally his disappearance — shook all the sleep out of my system. Like death, mental illness has always been a terrifying and yet fascinating topic for me.

Richey Edwards. Left his hotel room without checking out in 1995 and was never seen again.

I could follow up on his sad story by reading Rob Jovanovic’s A Version of Reason, but I’m afraid doing so would put me in a very dark place inside my head, and from there it would be a long hard crawl back to the light, and even then I doubt if I could come out of it whole.

So I picked The Hot Kid instead, by the late Elmore Leonard. Critics can accuse Leonard of a lot of things, but writing depressing stuff is not one of them.

“A Design for Life” has just ended. I think I’ll listen to it one or two more times, jump to bed with The Hot Kid (man, that sounds… weird),  read until sleep comes and the vision of a lonely boy with cuts on his arms fades away.

And tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll welcome the sunshine more than ever.

Metal up your derrière

It would be more awesome if Megadeth, Kreator and Death Angel — three thrash metal bands set to visit the country this year — would be on the same bill. Perhaps the organizers could dub it Metal Thrashing Manila* and give the local longhairs the night of their lives (and a reason to wear that cool patched denim jacket they scored from ukay-ukay).

But alas, the metal gods aren’t that accommodating. Megadeth will perform in August (rescheduled from March 7, reportedly), while Kreator and Death Angel will be part of Pulp magazine’s annual heavy metal hellraiser Summer Slam on April 26.

Kreator rippin’ it up at the 7107 International Music Festival… NOT!

I’m not sure about checking out Megadeth despite the new schedule. Saw them on a stormy night in July 2012, and although it turned out to be an unforgettable gig, I just can’t bring myself to get excited about a second helping of Dave Mustaine. Also: The P3,620 GA ticket price isn’t helping me change my mind. But we’ll see. I remember getting turned off by the ticket price in 2012.

Kreator, on the other hand, is a different devil. With Death Angel (a band I’ve seen before but interested to see again) on the same bill as well as Hatebreed, Bullet for my Valentine and the Black Dahlia Murder, there’s no reason why I should spend April 26 anywhere but Amoranto Stadium, moshing and drinking with like-minded friends like adulthood never happened.

Meanwhile, I torture my eardrums with the latest from Behemoth.

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*Reference to the Anthrax song ‘Metal Thrashing Mad.’

Sakai Diary: Young skinpounders seek global stage

wadaiko

SAKAI CITY, Japan — We heard it the moment we entered the building—a faraway rumbling like distant thunder. The sound—a rhythmic badum badum badum—grew louder as we walked through the snaking corridors of the Mihara Bunka Kaikan, a nondescript theater in the heart of this city in the Osaka prefecture. There was something urgent about the beat, like it was enjoining us to hurry on toward it.

So we did.

By the time we reached the source of the sound, some members of the Japanese drum ensemble Wadaiko Miyako were already deep into practice, furiously pounding away on taikos (drums) of various sizes, creating a seismic sonic assault so powerful and massive it shook us —visiting journalists from ASEAN countries—out of our Saturday morning lethargy.

“We don’t usually practice on Saturdays,” Gaku Yano, the group’s 61-year-old mentor, told the foreign guests through an interpreter. “We practice on Wednesdays and Sundays, but today you are our special audience.”

That group was also rehearsing for Sunday, when they were scheduled to headline the Sakai ASEAN Week Cultural Festival, a morning-to-afternoon show outside the Hotel Agora Regency Sakai that showcased cultural song and dance performances from participating ASEAN countries, including the Philippines.

But the 10 young members of the Wadaiko Miyako—including one who, at the time of the interview, was visibly pregnant—were looking beyond Sakai and Sunday.

“It would be an honor to perform overseas someday,” said the group’s 29-year-old leader Haze Shote, taking a break from the rehearsal to chat with the foreign visitors. Although the group is primarily based in Sakai, they have stirred enough buzz to land them out-of-the-city gigs.

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CD crazy after all these years

IMG_20130608_140817Imagine a dog that catches the smell of a bitch in heat. One whiff and the bastard goes crazy. That’s kinda like me every time I hear of a CD sale going on somewhere. I get overexcited and won’t be pacified until I hump away the itch by visiting the venue, checking out the available titles, and going home with as many loots as my wallet can handle.

So in the age of MP3s and iPods I still collect CDs. So what? Some people like posting #selfies, some blog endlessly about food, some bash gays in the name of God. As the stubborn unapologetic drunk says to the annoyed non-drinker: to each his own, bitch.

That’s why Saturday morning found me at the biannual Universal CD/DVD Sale at the Smart Icon, Universal Tower on Quezon Ave. experiencing mental orgasm as I gawked at stacks and stacks of interesting titles being sold for as low as P20. Needless to say, I emerged from it an hour or two later with a lighter wallet and a heavier bag, and a happy-kid grin stretching from ear to ear.

Dig the artists:  Interpol, Mercury Rev, Bob Mould, Paul Weller, Cowboy Junkies, Moby, Britny Fox, Crowbar, Ian Gillan, Kings of Convenience, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Cracker, Dog Fashion Disco, The New Pornographers, The Cribs, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Black Box Recorder, Grandaddy, Amusement Parks on Fire, OHgr. From dance to indie to electronic to metal. With CDs that cheap, it made sense to experiment and introduce my ears to new music and artists. So I did. And that’s why I’m such a happy camper these days. Nothing beats striking gold when you’re in the process of discovering new stuff. It’s a natural high.

Looking forward to the next CD sale already.

*With apologies to Paul Simon for the title.