When Lengthy Seaside Dub Allstars toured in Japan earlier this yr, the band’s frontman ended up taking an prolonged keep abroad after he was caught with weed.
Opie Ortiz has loved a protracted profession as a tattoo, mural, and album cowl artist. In the event you’ve ever seen the enduring sleeve for Elegant’s self-titled — and most well-known — 1996 album, he’s the man who created the “Elegant” tat splayed throughout the late Bradley Nowell’s again.
In the present day, Ortiz is the lead singer of the California-based punk/ska/dub band, Lengthy Seaside Dub Allstars, and he’s nonetheless creating paintings for the group’s albums. Lengthy Seaside Dub Allstars, partially made up of two former Elegant members, fashioned in 1997, shortly after Nowell’s passing. The band broke up in 2002, however they reunited a decade later and have been blasting faces off throughout all the planet ever since.
Ortiz, nevertheless, bumped into some bother earlier this yr whereas touring with the band in Japan. After wrapping up the tour’s Japanese arm in Kobe, Ortiz and a few pals went bar-hopping. Whereas on the road to fulfill up with some further pals elsewhere, a cop stopped Ortiz and requested to go looking his bag.
The search turned up an eighth of weed, which may be very a lot unlawful in Japan.
Simply how unlawful is weed within the Land of the Rising Solar? Mere possession can imply as much as 5 years in jail; cultivation or gross sales can web as much as 10 years behind bars. A half-pound of herb bought Sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles deported from Japan in 1980. And Japanese hashish activists have made little headway there, since they’re usually focused by the police for drug raids that find yourself shaming and discrediting mentioned activists.
However again to Ortiz. Ortiz advised Japanese police that he didn’t understand how the pot ended up in his bag — he beforehand left the bag unattended backstage on the Kobe present. Surveillance cameras later confirmed crowds of individuals shifting out and in of the realm at the moment, any of whom may have mistakenly, or deliberately, positioned the weed in his backpack.
Regardless, it took time for the authorities to kind every part out, and Ortiz’s refusal to confess guilt in the end led to all fees being dropped in opposition to him. Regardless of the Pyrrhic victory, the injury had already been finished: Japan was the primary cease of a worldwide tour that additionally included Europe and the USA. Whereas the band is at present taking part in exhibits within the US, the EU tour didn’t pan out.
“They canceled all the European tour,” he advised MERRY JANE over the telephone. The arrest and detainment “interfered with it.”
We caught up with Ortiz to seek out out what it was like biding time in a Japanese jail, how abroad followers saved him firm, and what recommendation he has for any weed-loving American who’s caught with hashish in Asia.
MERRY JANE: Are you able to inform us what led to the Japanese police catching you with weed?
Opie Ortiz: Lengthy Seaside Dub Allstars went there [in March] to kick off the summer season tour, which included Europe and the USA. We have been having an excellent time, and me and my pals have been strolling to a different bar to fulfill some extra pals. We had some drinks, got here again exterior, and the police have been on me as quickly as I stepped out — in all probability inside 5 to 10 toes of us.
I feel, as a result of I used to be with one other American man, and we form of stand out… One other buddy advised me there could be some form of informant or undercover on the bar, and that we might have just about been arrange.
Had been you cuffed proper then and there?
They took some footage, then they took me into the automobile. Similar factor as they’d do anyplace else. They did take me down in cuffs.
Have you ever been to jail within the US?
How did jail in Japan evaluate to jail within the US?
There’s no talking English. There’s no communication in any respect.
Did they give you a translator?
No. There’s no translator or nothing. You need to mainly study Japanese to know every part that’s occurring.
Did they supply Japanese language supplies, or did you simply have to choose this up by yourself?
You need to choose it up by yourself. “You gotta begin talking Japanese now,” they mentioned. I needed to fall in line fairly fast.
Did you might have any earlier expertise talking Japanese?
I had some pals who spoke it, who advised me the way to say sure issues. However [while in jail] you just about simply must observe together with no matter’s occurring. I simply saved form of quiet. I additionally made a buddy in there, and he spoke some English, so I used to be fairly fortunate.
How lengthy have been you detained?
I feel 23 days.
Had been you in a position to contact anybody?
Solely by way of a lawyer.
No telephone calls, even?
Nope, none of that. There’s no TV, there’s no music. There’s nothing.
The fees have been in the end dropped, however did the court docket or your lawyer ever inform you how a lot time you have been going through?
They by no means mentioned. Each case is completely different, they usually can simply select what they wish to do relying on the scenario.
Are you aware for those who can return to Japan, both privately or whereas touring with the band?
I don’t know. We’ll see, and discover out [laughs]. However first, I’ll go to the [US] consulate to verify there aren’t any issues.
You’ve bought a reasonably devoted fanbase in Japan. Did any of them elevate a ruckus in your behalf or supply any help?
Oh yeah. I had one buddy who visited me together with his spouse and introduced me cash, books, and all types of stuff. I had a few different pals who got here and visited me. They spoke in damaged English whereas I used to be talking in damaged Japanese.
Any recommendation for American vacationers carrying weed in Japan?
Don’t! Get! Caught! [laughs] The police will attempt to break you down mentally, there’s no talking, there’s no nothing. You need to get a lawyer instantly, and that’s the way you contact the [US] consulate. You need to play the lawyer sport and the ready sport, and the way lengthy all of it takes is dependent upon how busy they’re.
One man was in there for six months, only for smoking [cannabis]. He was nonetheless in there after I was in there. The authorities don’t wish to pay more cash to get a translator, know what I imply?
Lengthy Seaside Dub Allstars’ subsequent present will blast off in Huntington Seaside, California on August 24. Get tickets right here.
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