Acoustic folk punk rocker Jimmy Kyle, aka Chasing Ghosts, writes a crazy diary of his recent South East Asian for The Cutthroat Journal. He is currently working on his second studio album due for release in 2015. Chasing Ghosts debut album, Confessions From a Phone Booth, is available in store and on iTunes and all good online stores
In a great rush to Melbourne airport bound for Sydney to play the first show of many, I realise I’ve lost the keys for the guitar cases! Landing in Sydney I race, guitars in hand and backpack weighing heavy, to the nearest guitar store hoping the rock gods shined greatly that day! Thankfully I was in luck finding some odd keys which pried open and then lock my cases again! Phew! After a night of music to an intimate enthusiastic crowd supporting an old friend, Scotte Woods of One Dollar Short, I meet up with JJ Peters Of Deez Nuts and Andrew Neufield of Comeback Kid for a quick shot of Jager before darting off with Wood for Dinner. Now, Kuala Lumpur here I come!
Arriving late into KL Sentral Station and find my phone’s dead. Prayed to the rock gods again that somehow my ride stayed around for two hours to pick me up for my first Malaysian show. I’m in luck! Before long we arrive in front of a derelict restaurant in the city of Petaling Jaya. I’m taken around the back entrance, upstairs to a discreet venue with a waiting audience. The rain has had no affect on their enthusiasm. Playing with local folk and folk punk musicians singing political lyrics of anti government sentiment in Malay and English. With drinks and cigarettes in hand the night rolls into a late start (a common thread for shows for the next two weeks ) but ultimately a terrific first show followed by dinner out at local road side stalls. There’s rats as big as puppies who pay zero attention to me or any other humans.
After staying on the couch of a Malay buddy we’re up at 6am with two hours sleep before heading to the airport. Off to Singapore for the Sailor Jerry Nostalgia Lane festival. Arriving at the festival the day is packed with all things classic and Singapore’s kool kat scene – the denim jeans, Triumph motorcycles, punk culture, tattoo artists, all working along side the best old school barbers South East Asia has! Hounds of The Baskervilles are the brains behind this terrific celebration! After having an interview with MTV and performing, my night ends in a late night curry in little India with good friends. Again I’m on the couch for a few hours sleep before heading to Surabaya in Indonesia.
Racing to the airport in a balmy sweat only to find my flight has been delayed by three hours. I doze off in an open bar at the airport trying to rest my voice. I wake in a panic – I’ve been drooling for three hours and nearly miss my flight to East Java! I’m met by my booking agent in East Java and jump into a van to take a two and a half hour drive to Kediri, where I’m playing my first show in Indonesia. The venue is an emptied out coffee shop full of young punk/metal kids playing old emo songs. The language gap is more intense than the other countries but the and kids are more enthusiastic and singing along. We jump back in the van and continue to drive through the night to Batu. A young punk who speaks no English drives us through some hairy mountains. He later calmly crosses directly into head on traffic, to overtake presumably, floors the van and makes a last minute turns back on to our side of the road as if it were a game of chicken! We pulled over for a feed at a local road side store which was epic, but my love of western toilets is about to be realised. Surrounded by scenic tall mountains the tour manager points out where one of the Bali Bombers was found and shot. We arrive early in the morning and go to check into our hotel to find the accommodation has no working toilets and no keys to enter some of the rooms. We drive another 40 min to Malang and check into a hotel there.
Woken up for a lunch media sesh which saw me preform two songs inbetween racing back and forth to the bathroom! (Stupid immune system and delicioius road side stalls!) I try to sleep for a while. Arriving at the festival in Batu tonight I was met with old school punks, metal heads, scar kids and hardcore fans. This was the first time a vast majority of the audience really had zero English and my tour manager suddenly becomes my translator between songs. They seem a little perplexed by the idea of folk punk? A lot of the young guys here are really hearing my music for the first time, unlike other areas. They anticipated something else I’m sure of it! Kids form Kediri’s show last night have come and are singing along others look confused. The night ends well but I wonder how much meaning will be lost with such little English?
Back in Malang I play a charity show with an Indonesian singer called Fadily. He’s pretty famous here and I spend a day with Indonesian punk rockers being educated in the local punk underground. I play a second show for the night later at a roof top bar which results in copious amounts of whisky being consumed with local punks. It’s at this point an entourage of the industry’s finest head out to a nightclub. I don’t dance. More whisky! I don’t dance. More whisky … I dance! And later….hurl. Thankfully it’s only in the company of the tour manager, safe back at the hotel.
After chilling out in Malang riding around on a tuk-tuk and finding reprieve in coffee, the crew and I fly to Bali for a day of rest before tomorrow nights’ show. Before long I see the boys from Strikes (in my opinion South East Asia’s greatest straight up hardcore band) and a chilled catch up over drinks leads to a night out at the Horrendous … where the local Balinese lads and I have a hilarious night with much goofing off.
My buddy, Bugs, and I grab some afternoon brekky after he sneaks away from the Afends Store. Again the rats casually lump by, barely dodging my feet. I’m starting to find them cute and endearing. Show time! With an acoustic start playing gas light anthem covers, followed by the energy of Strikes then I’m on. This show was possibly the most fun and I do love a mixed bill! All I can say is Twice Bar offers locals a place to belong and I think that’s why I love the place. The lads and I head out before grabbing my bags and heading for the airport. Back to Malaysia again, but this time to play in Kuala Lumpur. Its 4am.
What up KL, I check in to a hotel in China town and dive on a bed for sleep. 7 hours later I’m awake and seek out a familiar coffee haunt for some morning curry … yup curry. It’s Halloween and the show is in a venue near the Batu caves. It’s an underground dive bar. I’ve heard many awesome stories about it. It’s in the heart of the KL underground scene, not the bullshit cover bands seen everywhere else. I arrive two hours late after my cab driver, who of course knows the way, stopped and asked 9 different people how to get there. Eventually it’s a local off duty police officer who shows us the way. It’s interesting watching people make gestures to represent punks i.e. using their fingers to make a Mohawk and air drums followed by “Bang! Bang! Bang!” everyone seems to understand this universal gesturing. The show was by far the most interesting I think I’ve ever done! The PA was horrendous and clearly blown, making my guitar sound distorted. I literally was louder than the vocal PA at times and my words most definitely were inaudible. Still, the crowd who were dressed in some of the most dark and sinister Halloween outfits ever, put outstanding energy into the show, appreciating every line. Outside we dodged wild dogs and drunken Halloween goers with fireworks. I got home to have an hour’s sleep before heading to the airport once again!
Bangkok is currently under military rule and slightly quieter than I remember, slightly! By tuk-tuk I raced to the next show which again ran famously late into the night as expatriates and locals alike had a ball.
Sleep, sleep, sleep. Coffee, coffee, coffee! Heading to the next venue on a Sunday night, a small art gallery. Thinking tonight will be a small show but how wrong I was. The venue over flowed, spilling onto the street in a swarm of swaying bohemians. The night ends late with a jam and sing along until well after then venue is closed.
Thought I had a day off before heading home but find out I’ve been asked to do a live to air blog spot for Bangkok’s premier bands and touring artists. Thinking this will be some dodgy set up but am completely caught off guard by the camera, sound equipment and lighting as I perform to an intimate audience on the balcony of a Bangkok high rise. Finally I’m free for a night and soon enough I head out for a wild night in the barrows and keep my head in the clouds for the next few hours!
Land in Australia. I’m jet lagged but so appreciative. I head straight to work on my last show the next night in Melbourne. I sit down and finish an interview with Juice, a Singapore online zine, about touring South East Asia and then head straight to the post office to mail out a bunch of merch. Running on adrenaline with sleep deprivation looming.
Melbourne gig! Surprised to find that before I play the room fills with the faithful. I’m met with great sing alongs and appreciation. I’m scattered, dazed and drained but it’s a great feeling to play to a home audience. 14 days, 14 performances, 5 countries, 8 flights, 1 dude and zero sleep.
Until next time love Jimmy aka Chasing Ghosts.