A little while back, I posted a link to the MTV Japan video covering Paddy’s trip to Japan in December 1999. Apart from wondering how he’d been persuaded to spend 28 odd hours in the air to go there for a meet and greet, I didn’t think much of it. But I’ve since been delving into Japanese Sprout material online, and in the course of that, discovered there was a lot of detail about the trip, including a transcript of the event. So here it is, all gathered together, and there will be a lot more from Japan in 2017.
On the 28th November 1999, this announcement appeared in the chatroom on the Japanese Prefab Sprout fan site, “Looking for Prefab Sprout”, run by “sneeze”:
(Your Name) sneeze
(Favorite Album) protest song
(Favorite Song) talking scarlet
Swooner has sent some amazing information. Paddy is to visit Japan. That’s right, to an in-store event for the Saturday December 18 Japan release of the “best of” album. For more details, timing and similar seems undecided, but let’s as much as possible spread this through the net because there’s a short notice period. I’m attending from Osaka even though it will be rushed.
Also note that there will be a meet-up the evening of the same day (planned participation is so far 13 people). If you wish to participate, contact me on my email please. It seems exciting as it will be immediately after seeing Paddy.
It’s not clear who ‘Swooner’ was in real life, but she was undoubtedly connected to Sony/Epic Japan. In other posts she refers to having instigated the legendary “Hidden Sprouts” compilation of B sides, having gone as far as conceiving the sleeve art before having had permission refused by Kitchenware. She also had detailed knowledge of promotional activities around the visit, and was present behind the scenes at the event itself. More from her later, but as you might expect the announcement caused great excitement in the small but fanatical Japanese Sprout fanbase; after all, it had been 13 years since the last visit.
Over the next few days, details of the event started to emerge. To participate in the CD signing session, fans had to purchase a copy of the “38 Carat Collection”. They would in return receive a coupon to allow participation in the signing. The talk and Q&A session would be about half an hour in duration. A list of hints and tips appeared:
- Entry to the event is free for the talk only. Free admission to participants
- The autograph session requires a voucher obtained by purchase of the Japan release of the “best of” album by Prefab Sprout at HMV Shibuya, which is to be released the same day as the event.
- The CD will be displayed in the shop from the evening of the 17th, the previous day, and the numbered tickets required to participate in the signing session are enclosed with it from that time. I don’t know how many tickets will be issued. It is best to go early on the day and buy the “best of” record and get a reward ticket so as to be ready.
- The event, including the autograph session is scheduled to be finished at 18:30
- If you absolutely must have a signature, the HMV Shibuya 3F cashier counter says it would be safest to book the day before. However the event will probably not be sold out, so you should get a redemption ticket even if you buy on the day.
- Photography, recording or filming is absolutely prohibited.
- We are currently checking the information of what hotel Paddy will be staying at. If you apply directly to the hotel, you may be allowed to take a picture.
- It will just be Paddy on the day. Martin and Wendy are not coming
- The event will be broadcast live on the HMV website. Please click the button “Web Cam” on the right of the home page. Also since the videos are archived, you can watch it at your leisure later. The file cannot be downloaded. To play, Real Player G2 is required.
Yoichi, an early Japanese blogger, was browsing the board in early December when he saw the notice. As he had some things to do in the area the next day, he decided to go along and sign up to reserve a CD for the signature session.
“So I went to HMV Shibuya on business as soon as possible and I made a reservation… Inside, the HMV shop was not in a welcoming mood, there were no banners / merchandise / garlands etc. But there was a sign display announcing the visit.”
The great day arrived, and the fans gathered. Yoichi continues the story in his blog.
“It is finally today.
“At 16: 30 I arrived at HMV Shibuya. I walked from the central entrance on the street to the inside of the store. I checked that the sign on the event announcement board didn’t have ‘Cancelled at Short Notice’ written on it, and headed for the ‘rock/blues’ corner on the third floor at the top of the escalator. Currently HMV Shibuya has Japanese domestic and newly released Western music on the first floor. The second floor sells dance music. Rock is on the third floor. Dance music is becoming bigger than rock.
“I didn’t want to buy ’38 Carat Collection’ – the domestic version, released today – immediately and I hung around the floor for a while. Although I saw import copies in the shop, the domestic release wasn’t very much in evidence apart from in the listening corner next to the cash register. There was no Prefab related stock in the “P” section of the CDs, or in the “P” section for analogue formats… But suddenly “The Sound of Crying” rang out in the background music for the floor, and my spirits started to lift. I grabbed “The Korgis”, “Sticky George” and “Dumb Waiters” from the racks, pulled my wallet out of my bag, took the reservation voucher from the wallet, and lined up at the cash registers.
“A guy with short hair and a beard brings me my ’38 Carat Collection’ and fastens a voucher to it with a rubber band before putting it in the bag. I see a somewhat larger wad of paper than the usual credit card stuff. Apparently this is an admission ticket for the talk show and signing session. I pay with a credit card, receive a plastic bag containing 4 CDs, leave the checkout and check the contents right away.
“But what’s this? There’s no admission ticket! Is that OK anyway? I try to check at the cash register but the short haired beardy is serving the next customer. As soon as I ask the other cashiers they look quickly and find my admission ticket next to the short haired cashier. I have it!…
“I put the entrance ticket in my wallet, the wallet in my bag, and go to the location on the second floor where the event is to take place. Events for several domestic releases are displayed in front of the venue. I’m a bit at a loss because if I have to buy another one I’ll give up. I take my wallet out of my bag, I take the admission ticket from my wallet, confirm the time is set for 18:00 with entry at 17:30. Looking at my wrist watch it’s just after 17:00, and no-one is lining up yet. I return the ticket to my wallet, put the wallet into my bag, leave the store via the escalator and have a cigarette.”
Meanwhile Japanese Prefab Sprout superfan, Hiro, was waiting outside the store for Paddy to arrive.
“As it was the first time he’d come to Japan in 13 years, and despite a busy period of training, of course I had to abandon work and travel to Tokyo. So as to get the best value from my travel expenses, I decided to wait outside for Paddy to arrive.
“I had been waiting on a chilly Shibuya street for an hour, when a group of foreign musicians came to the employees’ door at HMV. The foreigner who arrived had an extraordinary beard and was terribly fat. Clearly it was a man similar to Paddy but not looking much like him, and he had someone with him whom I later learned was Phil Mitchell, his manager.
“I was sure instinctively that this bearded guy was Paddy.
“’Paddy, nice to meet you. I’m Hiro. Welcome to Japan once again. You are my favourite musician. Can I please have a photograph with you? And have an autograph?‘
“’I’m honoured to meet you, Hiro…‘ Paddy replied. ‘I’m very happy to be back in Japan‘.
“In my hand I had the “Steve McQueen” CD jacket. A series of wavy lines later and I had the best signed dedication ever. And Phil managed to take two photos.
“I was alone with Paddy and could monopolize the conversation – why had no-one else thought of waiting outside? In this short conversation I promised to attend the UK tour that was scheduled for the Spring of 2000.
“‘I’ll be waiting for you.‘ Paddy told me clearly.”
As the clock ticked round towards the appointed hour, Yoichi was beginning to get nervous.
“I go into the store again. I look around the first floor, but I still can’t find the place I’m looking for…. I take the escalator to the third floor again, which turns out to be a mistake. As previously the guy with the short hair and beard is working hard… Then ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ comes on the store radio. Looking at my wrist watch it’s close to 17:20. I decide I can’t go on like this, so I get onto the escalator quickly and go to the second floor.
“I’ve no idea where the hell they came from, but about 50 people are already in front of the hall. I join the end of the queue, with more people joining and jostling.
“17:30 and I get into the venue via the entrance booth. All the customers are well-behaved, and I secure my place in the 6th row, centre stage. I begin to regret not having lined up sooner, as old promo videos are playing on the monitor behind the podium. There are microphones and bottles of Volvic mineral water on a table in the centre of the stage.
“As I check out the customers, I note that:
- It’s mostly male – about 70/30.
- That creates a feeling of camaraderie
- There are a lot of coats with hoods (I’m wearing a duffle coat as it was a little cold)
- There are a lot of backpacks and shoulder bags (I have a backpack)
- There are a lot of different types of hats and natural hair colours.
- There are a lot of guys breaking into the packaging of the CDs they’ve bought (I am too)
“It’s more Yoyogi park than Shibuya. The atmosphere feels like the period before the start of the first class in the ‘big school’. There’s an announcement that ‘The Talk Show and signing admission deadline has closed’ at 17:50. Japanese edition, we sold out!”
Indeed, the venue was packed, much to the surprise of the HMV staff. We owe the account and transcript of the session that follows to another big Prefab Sprout fan, Munehiko, who also noted on his now sadly defunct website (available only partially via archive.org) that the event felt like a convention gathering Prefab Sprout fans from the whole of Japan.
Toru Watanabe, a Japanese music journalist who had written Japanese sleeve notes for the “38 Carat Collection”, was chairing the event, with the help of a female interpreter. Mr Watanabe appeared on stage first to explain the background to the event:
“Good evening. My name is Toru Watanabe, and I’m here to explain the reason for today’s event. Actually it was planned very suddenly so I think everyone was surprised, but it really was a sudden decision.
“I was talking half jokingly to a Sony director about wanting to see Paddy McAloon for the first time in seven years, realising it was probably impossible. So I tried for a meeting in Britain. Then I was suddenly told he was coming over (audience laughs). That was at the end of November. So we couldn’t announce to the media or magazines at all, and all we could do was put it on the HMV website and posters in the shop. Nevertheless I’m surprised so many of you gathered here.
“So this morning we met Paddy McAloon for the first time in about seven years, but since it was the first time in seven years his looks have changed a lot. Everyone will probably be surprised, but Paddy has now grown a very large beard. There’s a reason for this: he suffered from eye problems two or three years ago and nearly went blind. At that time he was hospitalised, where of course naturally it’s difficult to shave beards off. Anyway, now he’s recovered, but at that time his daughter was born – he now has two babies – and as they grew older they only knew their father with a beard. Now if he shaves off his beard, they won’t recognize him (laughs), so he can’t do it.
“So that’s why we’re here. Today there will be an interview followed by a signing session. Paddy came to Japan the day before yesterday. He leaves tomorrow, and has given six or seven magazine interviews. So as the magazines will tell the story in detail for everyone to read at leisure, today is an event for the fans. I’ll also talk about a few things. And I’d like to take questions: please consider whether there is something you’d like to ask.
“So let me now call Paddy onto the podium. Please give him a round of applause. Here is Paddy McAloon!”
Munehiko observed that “Paddy appeared to a round of applause, and immediately the audience gasped at the sight of his beard. It wasn’t the sort of beard that had been seen on the video of “Appetite”, it was like a Jewish Rabbi or Christ, an Irish priest, a hippy style beard, John Lennon in his “bed-in” period. And he’d taken on something of a beer belly…He wore glasses with a small square frame and light coloured lenses. He looked like a university professor (his major was James Joyce of course), or a UFO researcher. Looking at the pictures, the audience seems normal and calm, but actually it wasn’t like that at all: as Paddy was going up to the podium, raising one hand to say ‘Hey!’, I felt a little giddy, drunk: It was like a Santa Claus gift to the Japanese fans.”
Transcript of Talk Show and Q&A
(Note that this is a back-translation of the transcript on Munehiko’s site, with the exception of the opening section which is taken from the MTV video feature. To simplify the transcript, I’ve combined the few English responses Munehiko transcribed verbatim with the interpreter’s verson, unless the interpreter was interjecting something of her own.)
Audience: Oh! (Surprised by the beard)
(Paddy sits down)
Interpreter: Would you like to say anything… to the people?
Paddy: I would like to say that I’m very surprised to see everybody… it’s really lovely to see the people (looks at the wall monitor behind the event booth)… Oh, there I am, oh right, okay, I’m not used to that. And also that you’ve changed a lot since the last time I was here… But you all look great with the beards!
Watanabe: Paddy you played concerts in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan 13 years ago, and you’re coming to Japan for the first time in 13 years. What do you remember about the last visit?
Paddy: I remember it was already summer at the time. Coming from a cold UK I wasn’t expecting it to be so hot, so I recall being surprised by that. But the concert got a great reception and I have good memories of it. I’d like to do another concert in Japan.
Paddy: Thank you.
Watanabe: (To the audience) By the way, did any of you see the concerts 13 years ago? There are a lot of young people here! (several people raise their hand).
Paddy: Even if you’ve raised your hand, the tickets won’t be refunded. Haha.
Watanabe: Well let’s talk about this “best of” edition. What do you think about the album, and why did you decide to issue a “best of”?
Paddy: First of all it’s strange to see so much of my life packaged up in this small box. As an artist you always want to do new things. But it gives a new audience who haven’t heard what we’ve been doing until now a chance to catch up so I can release some new work next year, I’m hoping to do that. In the meantime we’re putting this out now.
Watanabe: As I think some of you already know, Prefab Sprout will be starting a full English tour at the end of March. So given you’ve also come to Japan for this event, when I heard about the tour I became very optimistic (laughs). Can I ask what changed your mind?
Paddy: I’ve been writing music for ten years in a small room in front of a computer, working all the time, so it’s not surprising I’ve changed my mind a little.
Watanabe: Are the plans for the tour set in concrete now?
Paddy: I’m planning to do a tour of the UK starting in March, but this time I’m doing the songs as they are, rather than doing a kind of full production, more intimate. What I mean by that is I’m planning the concert in such a form that the essence of the song reaches the listener undiluted, a bit like listening on a speaker in small room, with as low key a feeling as possible. Familiar.
Watanabe: I wonder if the band formation is finalised?
Paddy: It’s a four person formation.
Watanabe: By the way, the tour I saw in 1990 had two keyboard setups. But only one keyboard player
Paddy: Probably I thought that I wanted to play both keyboard and guitar.
Watanabe: My mistake.
Paddy: Yeah, that’s how it was in the past. I used to have the feeling that I wanted to make something perfect, I felt like I had to make it perfect, and I felt strongly I had to reproduce exactly the same thing as on the record, so that’s what I did. Yeah, that’s fine, but recently, no, if the songs are done properly it’s possible to do something sparser than that; I think it’s a bit of a challenge. I recently became quite lazy about playing the guitar, I didn’t play guitar on the tour, so doing something like this is a challenge, recently I was becoming lazy. I forgot how to shave my beard off, but I also forgot how to play the guitar!
Watanabe: What are the other members, your brother and Wendy Smith doing?
Paddy: Wendy and Martin are both well. Wendy is doing something called “Voice Movement Therapy”, working with people who have health problems and giving therapy by singing. And Martin teaches music at a college in Newcastle.
Watanabe: Music… What exactly do you teach?
Paddy: Sorry, it’s Martin who teaches music, but he also lectures on various subjects throughout the year, such as music history or the business aspects of music.
Watanabe: That’s why this event is being relayed live on the Internet. For the first time in history isn’t it Paddy? It’s the kind of thing he’s doing, no (laughs)?
Paddy: Maybe Martin’s watching, or maybe he’s listening. “Hello!” (laughs)
Watanabe: Well let’s get someone else to ask some questions, because I’ve talked enough. Are there any questions? Oh, that’s amazing. Everyone is shy!
Paddy: Hi! Hello, Hello.
Watanabe: Yes, in the middle, dressed in black. The man. Please speak with a clear voice.
Audience: How do you spend your Christmas and New Year’s Eve?
Paddy: Well because I have two children it will be spent going backwards and forwards between their bedrooms and other rooms in the house. It’s not a very glamorous answer, but that’s probably what I’ll be doing.
Audience: You have a song called Carnival 2000?
Paddy: Unfortunately the ambitions I had hit a bit of a problem with reality, and there are many things I can no longer do.
Watanabe: By the way, what did you do before your children were born?
Paddy: I have a superstition that the following year will be good if I work on New Year’s Eve. I used to work on New Year’s Eve. In fact some good songs came from that, working with David Brewis, who produced Prefab Sprout. But of course I also went to New Year’s Eve parties several times.
Watanabe: Is there anyone else? Let’s see, how about that person in front of Rahsaan Patterson (laughs)
Audience: About ten years ago, there was a plan to put out a CD with unreleased tracks, but it didn’t end up coming out. I was wondering if you might take this opportunity to release it.
Watanabe: Ah, that’s the “Hidden Sprout” album.
Audience: That’s right.
Watanabe: That’s not so much a question as a request, isn’t it?
Paddy: (somewhat bewildered) I hadn’t heard about that…
Interpreter: He’s not particularly aware about it, to that extent.
Watanabe: Apparently, a Japanese record company proposed the idea (laughs). So he himself is not that aware that that project existed.
Audience: It would be great if it could be remastered or something along those lines.
Paddy: It’s not so much a question of needing a remaster as much as a reworking. What if the remaster needs remastering is the question. In other words, what is wrong with the tracks as they are? Just because you remaster something doesn’t mean the music itself gets any better.
Watanabe: Paddy, you’re full of jokes today. (Audience laughs) So, is there anyone else? Let’s see, you, with the hat on.
Paddy: Hi, Nice to see you.
Audience: [what have you been doing since Andromeda Heights?]
Paddy: Actually I’ve written a lot of songs since “Andromeda Heights” without recording them. I don’t know why I wasn’t able to record them, there are no particular reasons for that, but I noticed that time was passing. But nothing has been lost and I think I will do something with them in the future.
Watanabe: Well, I guess there are no questions from women? Sure. Well, that person in the red scarf.
Audience: Who is the wife?
Interpreter: She is asking whether you are a housewife? You seem to be looking after your children. She heard you are not working at all and that you are concentrating on child rearing now.
Watanabe: The two children are still just babies.
Paddy: No, if you say the way you are that I’m not working, the ladies who are housewives will get angry! I think it’s a wonderful job, so I’m working on raising my children.
Audience: Hello. I ‘m very happy to see you.
Paddy: Hello. Very happy to see you. You speak very clearly. Even without a microphone I can hear you very well.
Watanabe: Well, that person with the brown jacket. Oh, was there something else? Yup.
Audience: I am talking about your children now, oh, sorry.
Audience: Has your music changed since your children were born?
Paddy: Oh! Ha, haha. Excuse me. I don’t know if my music has changed since my baby was born, but the time I spend writing songs has certainly decreased a bit. I don’t know if my music has changed or not because my baby was born, but the time spent writing songs has certainly decreased a bit. I dare say it’s something like this: I guess that because I have children, I don’t want to write the same sort of songs.
Watanabe: In the front row, yes.
Audience: Are you thinking about buying souvenirs from Japan for your children?
Paddy: I’ve not been able to buy something myself, but thanks to a wonderful person here (Mr Watanabe) I have a “Pikachu” for my elder daughter (audience laughs). Tomorrow I have a bit of time, but if I can’t find anything to buy I think this “Pikachu” will be “from your father.”
Watanabe: Paddy has been constantly in interviews and promotions, almost no time for shopping at all. That’s how it is. Yes, the other one, yes, that guy, go ahead.
[Hiro had come into the hall late, after meeting Paddy outside, and was still flushed with excitement, if rather embarrassed by the quality of the preceding audience questions. He was standing in what had become a packed hall, with over 200 people having registered for signatures. Paddy recognises him and greets him.]
Paddy: Hi, HIRO!
Hiro: Oh, Do you remember me? (Haha)
Paddy: Of Course!
Hiro: Yes (haha). Ummm, a wonderful official site has just been completed, but how much does it reflect Paddy’s opinions?
Paddy: I looked at it at the start of course, but I think it’s mostly Martin working with Kitchenware since then. Is it good? Have you seen it?
Hiro: It’s excellent. Very wonderful!
Paddy: (gestures “thumbs up” to show he’s happy)
Watanabe: The website was officially launched a few days ago. There’s already a full schedule for the English tour, and also the information that Paddy is visiting Japan on this trip. If you have a computer with internet, please search for it. Yes, the other one, the girl farthest away.
Audience: [Why does it take you a long time to release albums?]
Paddy: It’s like, I’ve always done things at my own pace. I surprise myself as I don’t think it’s easy to work like that in this day and age. But we just work at it and record until we produce something that we are happy with. I think it just naturally ended up like that. Of course, there are bands that I personally like, and I have often wished that they would release songs faster. But, rather than having them just release any old song, I came to realise that I’d be happy to wait for them to produce something good and worthwhile. I began to work using that frame of mind too.
Watanabe: OK, where else? OK, those people dressed in beige coloured clothes there. Yes, you.
Audience: Please tell me three of the songwriters who have most influenced you.
Paddy: First of all, because it would be the Beatles there are two already. Taken apart they’re not as good, and I’m not talking about George and Ringo. So with McCartney and Lennon that makes two people, and I guess the third would be Bob Dylan or Brian Wilson.
Watanabe: Yes, are there any more questions? I’ll have to finish soon. OK, those men there…
Audience: I think there are many bands influenced by Prefab Sprout, but I’d like to know if he finds any recent bands interesting. For example, how about Belle and Sebastian?
Paddy: Belle and Sebastian, I know the name of course but I haven’t listened to the record. Um, it’s not only that, but the more time you spend making your own music, the more the strong urge to go out and find new things diminishes. In fact it’s gone, so much more than listening to music the things I like to do are reading books, watching movies, and so on. I like that. I’m always having to apologise to you for that, I’m sorry, I haven’t listened to anything new. I’m not an old fogey though.
Watanabe: To ask a question of my own, what movies and books have made an impression on you?
Paddy: I saw “Eyes Wide Shut”. In England the critics didn’t give it a good reception, but personally I thought it was very interesting and different. I read a lot of books, but I also read a couple at the same time so I have to think about it for a moment (laughs)… “Underworld”, that’s the title. It’s by an American writer, Don DeLillo. “Underworld” depicts contemporary America, and he tackles the assassination of Kennedy in a book called “Libra”, which includes a fictional author writing a book entitled “Scales”.
Watanabe: By the way, Paddy talked with Banana Yoshimoto yesterday.
Paddy: I’m bringing home so many of Banana Yoshimoto’s books (spreads out his hands to show how many) so at least I can say I’ll have something to read in the airplane on my way home.
Watanabe: Well, we’re running out of time, so I’ll take one last question. I wonder if there are any women? Only men seem to be here. OK, the black woman there…
Audience: Do you plan to write songs for other singers in the future?
Paddy: Well no-one has asked me especially, but someday I’d love Rod Stewart to sing something for me somewhere. Rod tells me he likes Prefab Sprout very much. But whenever I’ve decided to write something songs like “Maggie May” come to mind. I can’t write anything as good as that.
Watanabe: So finally can I ask a closing question? How does your ambitions and vision at the start match what you’ve achieved? What ambitions did you have.
Paddy: This is something that hasn’t changed since the beginning, but when I write I always hope that the next song will be a better one, a better song. In fact in reality I don’t know if it will happen, but at least I always write songs with a positive, optimistic feeling. However, as I said earlier, I’ve been writing songs, and it’s a bit disappointing that I haven’t been able to tie them into a record.
I’m deeply touched by this reception. I haven’t done anything like this in a record store since 1988, but that was in Newcastle where I think it’s easier, as I’m a local celebrity. But I’m glad that I was able to do this in Japan far away from all of that for the first time in ten years.
Watanabe: Thank you very much.
Paddy returned to the podium to applause, making a “signing everything” gesture with his hand. Over 200 signature vouchers had been arranged, but for each person Paddy had a few words and signed individually, thanking them and shaking hands. HMV staff were supposed to ensure that the signature was on a CD jacket or blank sheet of paper, but Paddy happily signed everything offered to him, including Prefab Sprout sheet music. Hiro recalls that even after a long trip and his eye problems, Paddy wasn’t looking too tired.
Yoichi was waiting in line for his autograph.
“Naturally I had to wait 20 minutes or so. There were four or five people before me. On the store radio was playing my second favourite song, ‘Bonny’, from the A Side of the record with my favourite sleeve, ‘A frustrated youth putting his lover on the back seat of a motorcycle.’ I often listened to this song on the way back to the ocean. The cold blast from the air conditioning onto my burning body, sitting in the passenger seat… I made the introduction of this song into an audio file, making it the sound of the alarm on my current PC. ‘Bonny’ ends. Paddy is right in front of me. ‘Moving the River’ comes on…
“Paddy Mac pulls the brochure out out of the CD case, deftly.
‘Come back, play music!’ (me)
‘OK, see you next time!’ (Paddy)
“I take the brochure and step down from the podium. Looking back, looking back,
‘Let’s meet again’ (me)
“But Paddy is already absorbed signing an album for the next person …”
Munehiko also had his CD signed, but then while watching from the shadows he observed that Paddy’s personality was as special as his music. He recalls that he would love to be that sort of person, someone uncontaminated by having to fight for a place in an enormous music business. Such a person, he felt, inspires the sort of loyalty that will draw hundreds of people thousands of miles to meet him:
“Anyway, I hope he’ll continue to produce a cool, romantic and awesome group of songs in the future… When signing, saying ‘I’ll always love your music’, I added: ‘Oh, Funky Good!’. I shook hands twice.”
Needless to say, the guestbook of “Looking for Prefab Sprout” rapidly filled with delighted messages from diehard Japanese fans. The board – established in 1998 and therefore one of the earliest musical sites on the internet – is still running, and you can still read the chat via Google translate. Many of the fans had gone on to the meet-up too to share their experiences after the event.
One such fan, “take4naked”, explained on the board how the demon drink and his inattentiveness had nearly cost him a signed CD:
“I went to the autograph session on the 18th too. That day we arrived at HMV Shibuya around 4pm. I bought the “best of” immediately and went out drinking with a friend I was meeting up with in a bar for about an hour. Well I forgot the treasured CD in the bar and went back to HMV where I realised I’d lost it. I rushed back to the bar and asked the barman, but he hadn’t found it. So then I went back to HMV and tried to buy a second copy, annoyed and frustrated and expecting it to be sold out. But the clerk in HMV said “in stock” and I bought it as a ticket for the talk and autograph session.
“After the talk ended, I got it signed by Paddy, and then my cellphone rang: ‘I found the CD in the bar.’. I immediately rushed back to the bar and picked the CD up. I went back to HMV and went back to the signing venue, which hadn’t yet closed. I got the second copy signed. Paddy remarked that he ‘thought twins had come’. I’d been going backwards and forwards from HMV and the bar all evening, terrified, with my heart pounding, I’ll never forget it.
“What a day!”
What a day indeed, and great to find these accounts on old Japanese websites. I’ve spent a very enjoyable period finding things and then scratching my head over Google translate as I pieced the stories together.
There’s also the question of the “Real Media” webcast, and whether anyone grabbed a copy from the Sony website. Probably not, though the transcript is possibly a bit too complete to have come from memory alone. In those early internet days people tended not to download content to keep, you just assumed it would be there forever. And anyway, most of those involved are difficult to contact now. We live in hope (which is of course the default state for Prefab Sprout fans).
But I’ll leave the last word to the mysterious “Swooner”. On the 22nd December, she posted as follows:
Your name) swooner
I’m sorry I couldn’t attend the meet-up in the end. After the event I took Paddy to a fancy restaurant. I don’t know whether it was because the Japanese food didn’t look that appetizing, but he didn’t touch most of the food. Haha! I was careful and asked him whether or not he liked things such as Tempura or Teriyaki, but he just replied with, “I’m OK, don’t worry about it.” He is a lovely man.
Thanks to your great promotion work online, the event went really well. Thank you so much! Did you know where I was? I was the woman with the short hair, and wearing a grey sweater and light blue scarf. I kept coming and going between the side of the stage and the back of the stage. When I read Sneeze’s post, written yesterday, I thought there were going to be around 50 people. I was very taken-aback when I arrived at the venue to see so many fans! You probably know this as you have met him, but Paddy’s appearance is somewhat different to most. Despite this, he really is a great man – all the staff covering the event soon became fans due to Paddy’s charm.
OK, the next piece of information will be a report about the trip to Japan. It will be uploaded to the Official Sony Music website in the Sony Music Online Corner. I’d be grateful if you could include a link.