J Church and Honey Bear Records – No Winter? – East Of 35



Nothing new to report. I just wanted to get this out to finish up the Japanese Tour Diary.

Remember, I've still got the J Church/Plungers split 7" and the J Church/Minority Blues Band split 7". They're $3.50 each ppd. You can PayPal me at honeybearrecords@....

Don't forget my solo show for SXSW. Should be funny at least. Freebeer and stuff.

Vulcan Video (south store)
112 W. Elizabeth St.
SXSW – Saturday March 18th
NOON SHARP (that's when I play anyway)

I'm also still Ebaying a ton of stuff. Check it out. I'll keep it going as long as I can.



JUNE 3rd – Tokushima (Crowbar)

Tokushima is a weird little town. I'm sure there's cool shit to do. But I've never found it. There's a little mall that is fairly deserted even on a Friday. Everything seems to be closing down. Still, I'm an ignorant American and enjoy pondering the many shops and bakeries near the club.

The club we're playing at tonight is a cool new place where Tomo from I Excuse works. I'm not totally sure who does what. But he seems to be some sort of stage manager. George, who played bass in Minority Blues Band tends bar. It's a pretty cool atmosphere. It's a nice clean place with a room to crash upstairs, Euro style.

It's a little weird tonight as all three ex-members of Minority Blues Band are at the show. They didn't seem to be talking to each other. I guess the break up was pretty bad. Nobody wants to go into the specifics of why they split. Actually, Yumi and George seem to get along. That's just another piece of the puzzle. Spalding looked like he was there to sell me an insurance policy. He said he was getting together a new band more in the style of Jets To Brazil. I'm not totally sure if that's a good or a bad thing. I'll wait and see. Regardless of the situation, I really like all three of them and was very happy to see them all.

Tomo and George have a new band together called Kiss Of Love. Knowing those two, I knew I was gonna love this band live. They definitely play at the breakneck pace that Tomo is most comfortable with mixing it with a lot of melody. I guess that's been part of the overall sound in the Snuffy Smile world. Giving the band even more character is a crazy (in the good way) girl singer. She jumps around and flops back and forth both crazed and engaged. I can't wait until this band gets something on record.

Drift Age and the Because are both really hot tonight. They both benefit greatly from the good sounding PA in this little punk club. It's a real smooth show as we are really gelling at the moment as well. I can't believe the tour is almost over. We try to stay up and party for a while. But eventually I start feeling the life drain out of me and I hit the sleeping room upstairs. I love being able to go straight upstairs from the gig. It's like when a European squat gig is really good.


JUNE 4th – Osaka (Saomai)

Visiting Time Bomb Records is always a painful experience for me. There are about a million things worth getting and all just a few thousand yen more than I care to spend. How many Stalin books do I need (considering I can't actually read any of them). So many 7"s that I never knew existed. So much Japanese hardcore on vinyl. It's all too much.

We didn't come to Osaka on our last trip to Japan. Our shows here have been pretty hit-or-miss as far as turnouts. I'll be the first to admit that I'm usually a little disappointed with our shows here. I don't know why. I'm usually happy just to be in Japan. It's just that Osaka is so big and probably the second most famous city in Japan that I have higher expectations. Hey, it's raining too. Awesome.

There are a couple of cool shops near the venue. Since I didn't blow my wad on records, I can at least check out some cool little Godzillas. With "Godzilla: Final Wars" being out over here, there's been a lot of cool promo stuff including reissues of all the different Godzillas in miniature form. I got the one from "Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster" which is probably my favorite. I also check out a used book store which has loads of porn (as seems to be the case everywhere here) but there are also some cool photo books. I get a book about current criminals at large. Sort of their equivalent of America's Most Wanted. Interesting pictures. Now I'm officially broke.

I spend a little too much time dawdling. I keep forgetting how early shows start here. When I walk in, I Excuse are just starting up. Tonight is our last night with them, which is a shame. I really like these guys and I think they are excellent as a trio. I wish we could do more stuff with them. To be honest, I feel that way with all the bands we meet here. I don't want to stop hanging out with the Because or Drift Age or the Urchin for that matter.

If touring with the Urchin was the "pop" part of the tour, the later half with the Because and Drift Age is the "rock". The Because are just a huge wall of amazing sound with implied melody and complexity not unlike what Husker Du was like live. You can hear the melodic essence. But there's this amazing wall of sound propelling the whole thing. In some ways they remind me of Fuel or Pitchfork live.

A lot of the same can be said for Drift Age though they focus a lot more on a raw energy that comes from being totally synched. Man, that bass player pounds the strings with his whole body lunging into the beat. Between the two bands, a lot of strings get broken which says a lot. I play very hard (that's not just talk) and I rarely even change my strings.

The little room is packed and Chris is really going off tonight. It's hot as fuck and cramped as hell, which sounds horrible. But for our kind of band, it's a totally ideal situation and it seems like Chris is really feeling it. I like playing in the band and I have a certain amount of confidence. But tonight is one of those nights where I feel like, shit, we really are a fucking good live band. It felt like 1997, which is a really dumb thing to say.

My pal Hiroko was at the show. She was going to be hanging out with us after the show. I think she was maybe planning on crashing wherever we crashed. But the plans changed and we ended up driving back to Nagoya that night. It would have been nice to really hang out, but we at least got to catch up over some late night noodles before hitting the road. That's sort of what tour is all about. You maybe get to see most of your friends for not nearly enough time.


JUNE 5th – Hachioji, Tokyo (Match Vox)

Ah, it just feels like it's already over. We've got a big Tokyo show. But it all just feels like it's over. It's a little sad. At the end of a tour like this you really never know if you're ever going to make it back. Will we ever get back to Tokyo? Will we ever get back to London? Will we ever get back to New York? You might think, of course, J Church will defo go back to those cities. But who knows? I could always die. We could put out a real shit record universally despised. I don't know which would be worse.

Brown Trout are on first. Fuck me, are there any bad bands in Japan? I don't get it. Really amazing sound with a deep Huskers meets Moving Targets thing going on. You can't fucking beat that especially when you see the giant stage and massive sound system. Totally incredible.

We finally get to see the notorious Blotto. It's like the capital of Japan is Emeryville, because this four-piece exemplify everything we know and love about the old Bay Area pop punk sound. They're great. They kind of out-Crimpshrine Crimpshrine if you can believe it. They even do an old Cringer cover that sort of freaks me out. I mean, we could never actually play that song live…

I had been making fun of Peace of Bread's name ever since I heard we were playing with them. I mean, it almost makes sense. Right? C'mon, don't make me over explain it! They're called Peace of Bread for fuck's sake! So I felt like a dick when they turned out to be totally fucking amazing! Featuring possibly the tiniest girl in the world playing bass, every song was a perfectly harmonized pop masterpiece. They were so perfect you just want to give them a hug (and I don't hug). I can't wait to hear their single.

I'm really gonna miss Drift Age and the Because. Both bands were really great every night. Plus I had a great time hanging out with them. It's hard to really connect with bands here like you do in the states. Aside from the obvious language barrier, it takes some drinking to really get them to loosen up. I often feel like I'm just a few inches outside of a really funny joke. So it's great when we can really enjoy the company of a group like this. How does Yoichi keep finding these groups?

I don't really know what to say about tonight's show. I don't know if it was our best show ever. But it really felt that way. I even chipped another fucking tooth! Again, that sounds awful (and it hurts like fuck) but it's sort of a badge of honor at punk shows. It's so great to have almost all of our friends in Japan all here at this one gig. I saw every member of Drift Age and the Because do a stage dive at one point or another. It was so great I almost felt like we should just go ahead and split up the band because I couldn't imagine a more perfect final gig.


June 6th – Tokyo – shopping and drinking

We had lunch in Harajuku of all places with Drift Age and the Because. It was really funny. It was a pretty decent Italian restaurant. But it was all super fashion kids all over dressed up like they're out of the pages of Gothic Lolita or something. After that experience I went with Yuka from the Because over to Snoopy World. It's nice that at least one other person wants to do something silly like look at giant 20 foot tall Snoopys. After that we drove over to Shinjuke to check out a new anarcho type info shop. I got some cool Japanese patches and badges. I don't really wear that kind of stuff. But it all looked so great and I wanted to help the cause even if just a little. It was a cool place to chill out before the bands had to start driving south. It took a little out of the blow of saying goodbye.

After grabbing up some more records (Stalin reissue 7"!) over at Allman, I head over to Shimokitazawa to catch up with Mole, Useke, Yoichi and Ben. Not surprisingly, we hit a bar not too far from Yoichi's place. They all get beers and I maintain my reputation for lame, girl drinks by getting a Kahlua Coffee. There are incriminating photos of me in Tokyo from over a decade ago drinking Fuzzy Navels and Sex On The Beach… This, of course, turned into a little drinking party with Massa and the drummer from Blotto eventually showing up followed by Chris and the guys from Hammer. Finally Kaori pops in and the gang's all here. I switch to some sort of Lychee cocktail and it's off on the A Train to Shitface. I love Japan. I love the punk scene here. I love the Snuffy Smile bands. I love bands like Hammer. It's all so positive and fun. I almost feel like things are getting better.



ARMY OF JESUS - Prosperity Heath Finance Wealth 7"

I doubt that's really what they call this record, but it's the closest thing to a title I could come up with. Well, the band that used to be the new kids on the block here in Austintatious, strike back with a second record in one year. There's even a third one coming. That makes them more prolific than J Church, Storm The Tower and Signal Lost combined! It's time for the other Austin bands to start getting their shit together!

Army O' Jesus! What's not to love? I love this record. In fact, despite the short time span, it's actually a lot better than their excellent debut. It's fast. It's tight. There's a more interesting rhythmic structure to the vocals. Plus, they've got my favorite song of theirs here: Self Help. I dunno. That song just has a groove. It swings. Fuck, I don't know what I'm talking about. It's a great song. One of those classic moments in hardcore like when Government Issue discovered open chords, right?

Did you know that drummer Matt is also a great guitarist? Did you know that guitarist Hans is also a drummer and has a one man band? Fuck those guys, right? I hate people that inherently can do anything. I feel like a someplace lower on the evolutionary chart.

They got the covers all nice and silk-screened but, hey, this ain't no emo shitburger. There's that indefinable classic punk aesthetic at work here all the way down to the crooked ass (but cool) insert. It's cool even if they did steal the song title East of 35 from me. (bsdrecords@...)



Yeah, I know we all think girly girl is really cool and Jordan is a hilarious drunk and they're all nice guys. That doesn't mean they know how to make a great album, right? Nice guys finish last, okay?

Why are you even reading this review? If you follow J Church stuff, you probably already own and love this amazing record. If you know anything about me, you know I love this band. God, you're still reading this! Why? You know you love it.

Okay, so you know I'm pals with the Peds (as I like to call them [I've actually never ever called them that]). You also may have guessed that I think this is a truly fantastic punk record that takes me back to a simpler time. It's cool. But in the interest of fair play in journalism, I'm gonna try to think of every thing I don't like about this record.

Number 1, no mylar bag? What's that all about? Punk vinyl is supposed to come in a plastic bag. It makes it instantly look vintage! You always make sure your 7" has a small hole and you always make sure you have the plastic bag with no lip. It's standard punker practice!

Number 2, fuck yellow, right? I am so mad at that color. Did you know that we did a whole gross of yellow J Church shirts for our tour with Storm the Tower and DFI? Yeah, kids weren't that psyched for the yellow shirt. Now that color when associated with punk just brings back sour memories.

Number 3, oh, I don't know. It's too short. I mean, it's not too short. It's perfect. But it leaves you wanting more. But that can be a positive thing.

I can't trash this record. I love it. Go buy it. (residuerecords@...)


Back to Article Index