June 26, 2011

Former Chemical Picture Jimi Talks Visual Kei

In a new part of their Globalizing Visual Kei series, JMusic Europa has published an interview with Jimi Aoma, a Californian teacher and former bassist of Chemical Pictures, who has spent more than four years in the visual kei music scene.

It's an interesting read for fans of the whole business and here are some excerpts:

What were the most enjoyable and most frustrating parts of being in a visual kei band?

What was not enjoyable was the lack of money, seeing bands you think are not that good selling way more tickets than you did (no one is above a little jealousy!), the long, draining drives to Osaka, Nagoya or Sendai, lugging tons of heavy equipment everywhere, long weeks in a basement recording, constantly having to wash off makeup, wash hairspray out of your hair, washing your sweaty costume, lack of sleep or free time...

I was often advised even to dress up nice if I was just going out shopping, just in case someone saw me. I was advised that if I had a girlfriend not to go to any high-volume areas with her, or to hide her existence.

Visual kei bands often complain about the lack of money within the business. On a regular basis, how much time and money do you think is invested into the band in a month? How much money is usually made in that same time frame?

I was not in charge of handling the money side of things, so I don't have exact numbers for how much we made, but you can look at a ticket price for a show, calculate that "50% from the 21st ticket onward" and sort of plug in numbers to see what a "good" or "bad" night might be. Plus merchandise. We never took anything for ourselves and all money from shows went into our little band account that we used for gas or other activity-related expenses, sometimes hotels when on a tour. We personally handled all instrument, rehearsal, food, etc expenses ourselves.

On top of that, we borrowed from our label to make the CDs, and then we'd have to pay all that back from sales, and then they'd have to make their profit, and usually they didn't. [...] If you're doing really well, your management will give you a monthly stipend, but it's usually not exactly enough to quit your day job.

Let’s talk about the visual kei scene more generally. What are major misconceptions you believe fans have about the visual kei scene, including bands and management?

Visual kei may be popular in a corner of the internet but other than a tight-knit community here it's not on the national stage at all. Visual kei dudes work for a living, often full-time, and if they don't they're living off their parents or girlfriends.

Visual kei bands don't really think about "visual kei" too much. It's just sort of a banner under which people who can finance the bands and keep the magazines/stores/etc running came up with to capitalize on the phenomenon. [...] It costs money to do everything, even to get on the cover of a magazine, which is often why you see the same bands month after month.

You can read the whole interview with Jimi's full answers here.

via jrocknyc

June 25, 2011

Peter Falk Dies at 83

Peter Falk (16.09.1927 - 23.06.2011)

One of the iconic figures of my childhood, Peter Falk passed away on Thursday. I can't remember if I saw every one of all the almost 70 episodes of Columbo, but every one of them made me love the man even more.

His classic series, which debuted in 1971, also paved the way for later fun shows like Monk and made him one of the most popular TV detectives of all time.

According to official sources, Falk died peacefully at his home aged 83. He had long struggled with Alzheimer's, and well, what's there left to say but: Rest in peace, Mr. Columbo!

In other and less sad news, you may have observed that I've become a drooling Game of Thrones follower. I can't say anything but glorious words about the first season on HBO, since they have done a near-perfect job with the whole thing.

To find out how much I missed during my TV evenings, I ordered and got all the four available books in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga for less then €20, and I hope I'll find the time to read through the almost 4000 pages during the next two years or so.

Then, I felt the need to grab a new handy after fighting with my Samsung Galaxy for two years. Samsung never updated the damn thing, so I updated it myself with beta ROMs, but it was never a perfect experience.

So I decided to upgrade my inventory with an HTC Desire HD next week, and I'm so excited for its big screen and faster technology. I also love HTC's Sense interface and can't wait to hold this beauty in my hands.

(Edit: I just realized that the picture to the left up there is a HTC Desire, not a Desire HD. I might correct my error soon.)

And...what's going on with the weather? Where's my summer?

June 18, 2011

The Top 10 TV Series I Watched This Year

Only a few more hours until the season finales of two of my favorite TV series will air, and I can't wait to see them. Many other shows are currently on vacation, so I wanted to give you a quick look at the ten best shows I watched this year.

– Beware of possible spoilers! –

10. Durham County

Current State: Ended after season 3
Acclaimed Star: Hugh Dillon
True Star: Justin Louis
Latest Season Rating: Skip it
Prediction: It's good the show has ended
Trailer »

Durham County is a low-budget thriller series with a small fanbase, and I can see why. It doesn't start too bad; actually, the first season and the first few episodes really give you the creeps and come off rather interesting. You won't find an innocent person in this show.

Well, just too bad they had to drag the storyline into boring oblivion and add two more, pretty dire seasons that made us hate every character around even more. Justin Louis (Ferreira) as the jovial but psychopathic bad guy was a great sight, but most of his appeal vanished after the anticlimactic season 1 finale.