The Time Shifter Chapter 39


The rest of the band members came back to the U. S. the first week ofSeptember. We rehearsed for a few days and then went into the studioto demo our newer songs as well as other tracks that got left off ofthe earlier demo. Then we did four different photo shoots so wecould get what I felt was an ample enough supply of good publicitypictures. I was impressed enough with one of those photographersthat I hired him to shoot stills of our upcoming college and highschool shows. Of course, I had the video crew tagging along, too.

Our first foray since the return of the other band members was backat my alma mater, where we went down a bomb. Then it was over to alocal junior college, where we played at noon for an hour. Quite afew high school kids ditched class to come see us, which was naughtybut gratifying. The little outdoor amphitheater we played at therewas filled up not just by the teenagers, but by the regular studentbody who saw us setting up and stopped by just out of curiosity. Weknocked 'em dead and sold another 40 or so CD-ROMs.

After that show, we went to an editing studio and created ahighlight reel of our best moments from previous gigs over the lastyear and, along with photos and demo tracks, put it on our newCD-ROM. It's always good to have new product to sell.

We played at three Cal State campuses over the ensuing weekbeginning the day after our new CD-ROM was printed and packaged andtaken home for us to shamelessly flog. We created a separate CD-ROMof the Legion Hall gig to convince club owners they needed to let usplay at their properties.

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   Not long after, we got a call from theWhisky on the strip to do a Tuesday night in mid-October they didn'thave anything booked on. We said we would play but only if we couldpick the bands that opened for us. They relented on that and so wehad two really good local metal bands I knew about added to the billso that they didn't have to be victimized by that club's usual payto play nonsense. We also demanded a $1000 guarantee if it sold out. We did fill it at $10 a pop and it was one of the best nights fornew metal bands in quite a few years on what had been a moribundSunset Strip scene.

But before that, the last week of September, we went back to Japanand fulfilled our obligation to the college there. We sold over a hundredcopies of our new CD-ROM and a dozen or so of our old one, too. Thenwe hopped back on the plane to the U. S. and did a couple more highschool appearances before we performed the Whisky show and then flewback to Japan.

We were now going to headline a well known club in Shibuya, Tokyo ona Saturday night. It would have been embarrassing if nobody or veryfew people turned out, but it was already sold out before the day ofthe show. Writers from all the major Japanese rock magazines werethere as was a guy from the Japan Times, which is aimed at the expatcommunity. The management allowed us to do our whole two hour showand we tore it up to the tune of four encores and more than 150CD-ROM sales. We came away with about $2500 with our guarantee andthe software sales.

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That started a big buzz about us and the week after that wasoccupied with interviews and photo shoots.

But you know what was even more satisfying? Tsutomu asked me tomarry him the day after that concert. Once we got the media stuffout of the way, he took me to meet his parents, who are wonderfulpeople. His brothers are really nice, too, though possessing morerambunctious personalities than Tsutomu does. I was pretty tensewhile we were at his folks place. I can play before hundreds ofpeople on stage and not worry about it, but sitting there with myboyfriend's parents and I'm all kinds of nervous.

His parents approved of us getting hitched and New Year's Day wefiled the necessary papers that formally made us a couple in theeyes of the government. I applied for my spouse visa and I hadTsutomu do the same for the U. S. We had the actual ceremony andreception on Valentine's Day 1997 because he thought I would likethat, but it didn't matter to me what date it was or if we had anyceremony at all.

He was now living in company housing in a "danchi," which is one ofthe high rise apartment buildings you see dotting the landscapethere. I could now actually cook for him and he was exceedinglypleased with what I was putting on the table. It also meant that Icould be with him every day now rather than being apart for longstretches. I didn't like doing housework (who does?), but I was usedto doing it at my home in the states and doing it for an apartmentwasn't that much of an imposition, especially since he had to be atwork so many hours a day, averaging more than 60 hours a week.

After the New Years' holiday was over, Mai began booking us into anygig we could get and we now had the standing to be able to do it.

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   Webegan our tour in March and it went on for 45 days. We filled almostevery place we played.

We subsequently booked our first U. S. nationwide club tour, which webegan that August. I didn't care how small or big the club was or ifwe saw 10 people come out or 1000. It was a hell of anaccomplishment for a Japanese band to be able to do that in America. We sold out five nights, two shows a night, at the Roxy in L. A. , atotal of 6,000 people. We also packed clubs in Seattle, Chicago, NYCand Austin while the results were more patchy elsewhere. Nevertheless, it got our name out there as a band to be reckonedwith and we concluded a three album deal (we refused a longer termcontract) with Atlantic Records and signed to Q-Prime Management,which also handles Metallica, among others.

We subsequently got booked on to the Wacken and Castle Doningtonfestivals in Europe as one of the opening acts and went down atreat. It pretty much snowballed from there. Our first album cameout just before Wacken  and went platinum within two months,ultimately selling ten million units worldwide, easily the most ofany Japanese act ever.

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   And we did it with almost no radio airplaybecause we were just too heavy and complex for them to handle. I wasglad not to be associated with those asswads anyway.

A year to the day of our first album going on the market, wereleased our second and that did even better. This time, weheadlined sports arenas in the U. S. and also at the European rockfestivals and in South America, too. We networked like mad trying tohelp other bands, putting groups few had ever heard of on our billsto get them the widest possible exposure.

Our third album, "Escape into Infinity," topped the previous twoCOMBINED, making us a stadium act. We sold out seven nights at LongBeach Arena, a similar number at Budokan and Madison Square Gardenand five nights at Wembley Arena in London.

After being on the road for two years in support of that album andall of us just bozo wealthy, we went on hiatus to kind of slow ourlives down. When I came off the road, I also went off the pill atage 27. The first night when I hadn't taken my birth control pillwas so hot. I couldn't wait for him to put his cock inside me. Icame as hard as I ever had when he began to shoot his sperm into me. The ensuing two months were full of really hot sex because I didn'tknow which one would be the time when one of Tsutomu's sperm finallyunited with one of my eggs.

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   I felt nauseous a couple mornings in arow and went to the doctor, who told me I was five weeks pregnant. That only made me want Tsutomu more and we fucked like bunnies untilI was at about seven months and it was too uncomfortable with a babyinside me. So he had to settle for blowjobs from there on in. Twomonths after that, I gave birth to my first child, our son Tomotaka. Tsutomu was so proud he was beaming for a week. He had carried outone of his obligations to his parents by producing a son to carry onthe family line.

Six months later, I was able to have sex again without pain and heimpregnated me with our eldest daughter Emi. Two years after that, Ihad my third child, another girl, Arisa. By the time Emi was born,Tsutomu had agreed to quit his job and be a dad fulltime since wedidn't need his money to survive as a family and it would be betterfor his general health. That year, the band resumed its activitiesand the album and arena tour we did padded our bank accounts quitenicely. We waited another two years before releasing another recordand touring again. The album barely went platinum, though the tourdid very well indeed. When we began writing material for our followup to that effort, it was evident that we were creatively spent. Weannounced a farewell tour and, two years later at the Irvine MeadowsAmphitheater, we did the last song we would ever perform on stage.

Miki went back to school and completed both her masters and Phd andbecame a college professor until she passed away at age 83.

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   Seri wasable to get permanent residency in the U. S. and lived with Cindyuntil she died at age 66. Cindy soon followed her to the grave,probably of heartbreak, after losing her soul mate. None of theother band members cared that Seri was gay when she finally came outof the closet. Mai married and had two children, both boys, andexpired at age 77. Satomi formed two other bands, but neither didanything and ultimately retired from music to become a wife andmother to her daughter. She is also no longer with us, having leftthis world at age 71.

Tsutomu died shortly after his 84th birthday. He was an outstandinghusband and father who I will always miss. Thank you Vishnu for somany happy years with him, my kids and grandchildren. All were trulygifts to be treasured.