Tag Archives: Douban

Beijing Noise Rockers Head for Chengdu: Interview with Lonely Leary

Lonely Leary are a Beijing-based three-piece post-punk/noise rock band from Shandong. They incorporate fast drums, muddy baselines and rough guitar noise in a pursuit to create a relatively violent sound. 

NU SPACE has invited them to Chengdu to play a show this Friday 10 June with local favourites Hiperson!

Kiwese caught up with the band members Qiu Chi 邱驰 (bass/vocals) Song Ang 宋昂 (guitar) and Li Baoning 李保宁 (drums) to find out more… 

Lonely Leary photo

Back in 2012, three college students entrenched in boredom were practicing their instruments alone in the secluded district of Changqing, Jinan. Initially the band set about covering a few simple punk songs, as well as post-punk bands such as Joy Division. They adopted the name “Lonely Lili” while playing spontaneous rock shows on campus. Later due to job changes and academic activities, the band was suspended.

In 2014, all three members moved to Beijing and Lonely Leary was reborn, trading ‘Lili’ for ‘Leary,’ a tribute to Timothy Leary, the creator of LSD. With a new name in a new city, the band began rehearsing and writing songs in pursuit of their own punk-oriented style. During the summer of 2014, the band performed prolifically at School Bar, XP and other rock clubs, gradually gaining a small and loyal following within the grungy confines of the Beijing underground.

I took a 19 hour train ride from Chengdu to Beijing last September for two reasons: see the first stop of the Shocking Pinks world tour with Wellington-based independent touring label A Low Hum and pick up Orchestra of Spheres for their epic China tour with Lady Lazer Light.

The Shocking Pinks show took place at the notorious hutong dive School Bar and was supported by two local acts – one of them was Lonely Leary, and they totally kicked ass. Scatty basslines, frantic drumming, possessed vocals, screeching guitar… A week later, I saw them play again at Temple Bar. Again, excellent.

Beijing has provided the Shandong-born trio the perfect environment in which to hone their songs and their live performance, with what seems like endless bars and livehouses to play at on a regular basis.

NU SPACE is proud to present LONELY LEARY, the post-punk/noise-rock trio tipped by critics as the most exciting new band out of Beijing this year.

lonely leary school bass
Playing support for Shocking Pinks. 18 Sept 2015. Photo by Kiwese.

KIWESE: You guys are from Shandong. Can you describe what Jinan is like for those of us who don’t know?

SONG: Changqing is basically a beautiful place. I think it’s more suitable for old people rather than youths to live there.

QIU: There was originally a village or wasteland. You know, the university and college downtown couldn’t take so many students after enrolment expansion over the years, so the government transformed the villages into campuses and sent a large number of students there. The campuses are isolated by mountains and we have to take illegal taxis to go to other places. There is also a commercial center with many low-cost shops, stalls, internet bars and small hotels for lovers.

Music hobbyists can learn to play guitar and drums in some instrument shops. They used to form bands and cover “Beyond”. There were over a hundred Beyond cover bands I think.

LI: The first time I met Song Ang he was playing guitar in a cover band in an instrument shop. He hated the songs they played, so we began to play together while learning our instruments. Qiu Chi joined us after graduating, then we became a trio and began to cover some punk bands. Our playing technique was poor then.

You started out covering punk bands. What were some of the first songs you covered?

Under Baby, Joyside and Ramones. Including some “punk songs” by Hedgehog.

What is up with the drummer situation?

We have some drummer adjustments recently. Wang Jianan played drums for the last half of the year. She is a student at Beijing Film Academy with a good sense of drum playing. She created many amazing drum riffs in new songs. The only problem she has is technique – it’s a little hard for her to play the fast songs perfectly live and in recording, after all, she hasn’t played for that long.

So she will study and practice the basic skills and techniques, and the original drummer Li will take the place of her at present. Li plays fiercely like a drum machine.

Li Baoning on the drums at XP. Image from XP's Douban.
Li Baoning on the drums at XP. Image from XP’s Douban.

You moved to Beijing in 2014, how does the city influence your music?

QIU: I simply took playing in a band as pastime in Shandong. At that time, I didn’t know much about making music as an amateur. After graduating and being in Beijing in 2012, I separated from them because they were still in Jinan. I think Lonely Leary was about to dissolve then. However, I saw lots of lives in Beijing and was attracted by its dynamic rock’ n roll atmosphere. There are so many fresh bands who studied and vied with each other – they created the scene together. I was encouraged by them and got the enthusiasm to continue Lonely Leary. Then the other guys came to Beijing soon after, so I had no excuse to stop the band any more.

SONG: I think Beijing is a high-speed city with bad environment and people here are restless. I knew nothing about the city beside music before I came here. I didn’t know what to do then and always felt anxious and confused. In fact, three of us all get this feeling and deeply affected. The violent sound of our music has close connection with the situation. Sometimes the bad moods also get the band into trouble. That’s terrible.

LI: Beijing has more bands and lives than I had ever known in college. You know, most bands in Jinan are metal and pop, as well as some folk singers. However, in Beijing, there are many bands whose temperaments are quite same as us, especially in XP Club. I can learn from them at close range. At the time, I thought I would die without regrets if I could perform in XP, ha-ha!

2015.01.24 China Lonely Daydream Night Lonely Leary in XP. Image from XP's Douban.
2015.01.24 China Lonely Daydream Night Lonely Leary play at XP. Image from XP’s Douban.

Tell us about the new album, how is that coming along? Where are you planning to record it? Will you release it independently or with a label?

Qiu: Making an album has been our dream for a long time. We decided on it at the end of last year as we think we have enough songs now. In fact, we didn’t think too much on writing songs at first, no uniform style or concept was carried through. Many songs didn’t sound the same because they are written in a different period. It really troubled us then! So we tried to preset a theme for the album to keep our creation in a controllable range. It makes the new songs clearer. We also changed some old songs based on our preset concept. Some old songs have been abandoned.

SONG: Some of our songs have been in an indeterminate state for two years before we reached our preset concept. Fortunately, they finally morphed into the shape that we’ve described in our introduction.

LI: Our demo recordings are very simple. We used an iPad to record and mix to get the finished product that you hear on Douban. They have no details or good tones, just a standard of “clear enough to hear.”

Our ignorance towards “real recording” caused this undesirable lo-fi sound. Now we are learning and rehearsing a lot to be ready for the formal recording. Then we probably try to contact labels which are reliable and have interest in us.

You play fairly regularly in Beijing. What are your favourite venues to play?

SONG: We all love XP Club. We can often perform with the bands we like there. I prefer to Old What after XP closed. I feel comfort in its simple and rough environment.

QIU: I would like Old What better if the sound is improved. I like School Bar most now.

LI: We used to play XP a lot because it was close to where we lived. Now we go to School Bar most often.

XP. Image from XP Douban.
XP Club. Image from XP Douban.

Who are some other bands you really like in Beijing at the moment and why?

QIU: We all like P.K.14 and Snapline. Alpine Decline is my recently favorite.

SONG: I like Alpine Decline as well. I also recommend Death Narcissist and Bedstars.

LI: I like Re-TROS and Supermarket, also Dr. Liu and the Human Centipede and Soviet Pop.

Your music reminds me of Joy Division and The B52s, as well as more recent bands like Thee Oh Sees and Re-TROS. What bands have had the biggest influence on you?

QIU: David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, P.K.14 and Sun City Girls have a deep ideological influence on me. SavagesMars, DisconcertsSleaford ModsMika Miko are my favourites recently. I love their basslines.

SONG: I recommend A Place to Bury Strangers for their destructive lives, firm basslines and manic guitar noise. Sonic Youth brings me inspiration on playing guitar, I’ve learned their tuning and tone a lot. I also like the teen spirit sound of Big Black and Spacemen 3’s psychedelic guitar.

LI: Old post-punk bands like Joy Division, Sort Sol, Talking Heads have influenced so many people for their tension of contradiction.

Have you come to Chengdu before? What impressions do you have of this place?

QIU: I went four years ago. I think People’s Park is a funny place and I love “LengGuo ChuanChuan”.

LI: I went last year. I didn’t go to too many places, but I think some temples here are very good.

SONG: I have never been to Chengdu. I think it may be a wet place.

Anything you want to say to people coming to the show in Chengdu?

QIU: All I want to say are painted on the poster. Really fantastic design ha-ha!

LI: Hi, Person!

SONG: We are three plain dealers from Shandong. Welcome to come and see us!

Lonely Leary’s alcohol of choice?

QIU & SONG: Jingjiu. Absolutely!

Li: I prefer pineapple beer.

Welcome to Chengdu, thanks guys!

We’ve never been out so far for a live show before. Thanks NU SPACE for inviting us!

Hiperson Lonely Leary poster

WHEN:
Friday 10 June 2016
Doors: 8pm
Lonely Leary: 8:30pm
Hiperson: 9:30pm

WHERE:
明堂创意工作区·NU SPACE
成都市青羊区奎星楼街55号
NU SPACE, MiNTOWN Studio Community
55 Kuixinglou St, Qingyang, Chengdu

TICKETS:
Pre-sale: 60RMB
Door: 100RMB
http://www.zaomengshe.com/c/325233

们可以给我们介绍济长清是一个什么样的地方吗?

宋:长清是一个山清水秀、环境优雅的地方。适合养老,不大适合青年人居住。

邱:其实这里原本是村庄或荒地。前几年大学扩招后,市区里的学校装不下那么多学生,于是偏僻的村庄就被改造成校园,大学生们都被送到了这里。大学被山隔开,各自孤立,出行要靠黑出租。中心地带有唯一的一个商业区,非常热闹,分布着许多商店、地摊、网吧和家庭旅馆,都特别便宜。这里也有几个琴行,教音乐爱好者们弹吉他或打鼓;他们其中有的学成了就开始组乐队,以翻唱Beyond乐队为主。大学城里应该有过上百支Beyond翻唱乐队。

李:我第一次遇见宋昂就是在这里,他当时正在一个琴行给某个乐队弹吉他,他不喜欢他们当时翻唱的歌。我们认识了之后就开始一边学乐器一边玩。邱驰快毕业的时候才加入进来,这才凑齐了三大件正式排练。我们当时技术有限,就翻唱一些朋克乐队。

你们一开始翻唱那些朋克乐队的歌?

地下婴儿、Joyside以及Ramones。还有刺猬,我们翻过他们一些比较朋克的歌。

们现在的鼓手情况怎么样

鼓手目前有一些调动。最近半年在打鼓的是王迦南,她还在电影学院上学。虽然打鼓时间不久,但是她的意识很不错,在新歌里编排了很多有趣的段落,带来了新的节奏。只是她目前基本功要欠缺一些,应付现在快速的歌的演出和录音有点吃力。所以她现在会先去练习基本功和技术。现在在打鼓的是我们最初的鼓手李保宁。他打得比较凶狠,像鼓机一样。

2014年从山搬到北京去。北京的音格有什么样的影响?

邱:在山东的时候,我玩乐队的心态其实还是自娱自乐的成分多一些:当时一方面对做音乐不是很懂,比较业余,再加上我2012年就毕业来到北京,和仍在济南上学的他俩两地相隔、没法排练,所以本以为之后乐队差不多就解散了。不过到了北京之后我经常去看演出,才知道这里的摇滚乐气氛是多么活跃:这里有很多年轻的好乐队,大家互相学习、竞争,共同创造了这个场景。我很受鼓舞,就重燃了做乐队的热情。正好他俩很快也毕业来到了北京,再也没有什么不继续玩下去的理由了。

宋:我觉得北京的生活节奏很快,城市挺脏,人们也都挺躁动。刚来到北京的时候,对这里我除了音乐之外一无所知,也不知道要做什么,经常会感到无所适从和迷茫。这种情绪其实我们三人一直都有,也在一直都在影响我们的创作。音乐中暴躁、焦虑的成分都和这些有关。但一些时候颓丧的情绪也会让乐队陷入困境,这就比较糟糕了。

李:北京有更多的乐队和演出,让我了解到很多上大学的时候未曾了解的东西。在济南的时候大部分乐队是金属或流行摇滚,还有民谣,而北京和我们气质相同的乐队就要多很多,尤其是在XP,可以近距离学习很多东西。我当时觉得要是可以在XP演出一次就一生无悔了,哈哈。

们开始创造一张全长专辑,可以给我们介绍一下这个过程吗你们安排在哪里录音?要独立发布或者跟一个厂牌在一起?

邱:做一张专辑一直都是我们的愿望。考虑到歌曲数量似乎差不多够了,所以从去年底开始正式计划这件事情。其实最早写歌的时候想得很少,只是比较无意识地从当时零碎的音乐喜好、动机或生活经验出发去写歌,没有考虑太多关于统一风格或概念的问题。这使得不同时期的歌听起来好像差异会比较大,我们也经常陷入苦恼。所以我们之后开始尝试先预设一张专辑应有的主题和概念,给自己一点限定。这样,新歌创作的目标会更加明确,同时旧作也被重新编排,也有一些直接被舍弃掉了。

宋:之前没有明确想法的时候,一首歌可能两年都处于不确定的状态,改个十来种方案也没有结果。还好最近的修改都在基本朝我们所设想的风格发展,就像我们的介绍中描述的那样。

李:我们之前的录音方式多少有点草率,基本是用iPad进行录音和混音,成果就是豆瓣小站上的那些歌。它们顶多能达到“听清”的标准,谈不上细节和质量。之前我们对真正录音知之甚少,对音色的把握也比较欠缺,准备不足。这是一种不得已的Lo-Fi效果。现在我们正通过学习和排练为真正的录音做好准备。当我们准备充分以后,会尝试联系对我们的作品有兴趣,同时也值得信任的厂牌。

们经常在北京演出。你最喜演出的地方是那些?

宋:我们都很喜欢XP,那里好像跟我们的气质比较贴近,也经常能有机会和自己喜欢的乐队同台。XP关门了以后现在喜欢老What多一点,那里原始粗糙的感觉很好。

邱:老What要是声音能好一点我也会更推荐。现在最喜欢去的还是School。

李:XP当时离住的地方近,我们就经常去。现在是School去的最多。

你喜欢的居住在北京的乐队与音乐人有哪些?

邱:P.K.14和Snapine是我们共同喜欢的乐队。Alpine Decline我最近很爱听。

宋:我也喜欢Alpine Decline,还有Death Narcissist和Bedstars

李:我喜欢重塑雕像的权利和超级市场,然后就是人体蜈蚣和苏维埃·波普。

的音乐让我想起来Joy Division, TelevisionThe B52s, 有比较现代的乐队Thee Oh Sees和重塑雕像的 最大的影响的乐队是那些?

邱:David Bowie、The Velvet Underground、Joy Division、P.K.14以及Sun City Girls是在思想上对我影响很大的乐队。Savages、Mars、Disconcerts、Sleaford Mods、Mika Miko是最近影响我比较多乐队。我喜欢这些贝斯声音靠前的歌。

宋:我最近很喜欢A place to bury strangers,他们有破坏力的现场表演、结实的bassline还有狂躁的吉他噪音;然后是Sonic Youth,他们在吉他弹奏上带给我很多灵感,我也研究了很多他们的调弦方式和音色;Big Black傻冲楞的少年心气我也很喜欢!还有Spacemen 3,我喜欢他们厚重的带药味的吉他。

李:Joy Division、Sort Sol、Talking Heads这类老的后朋克吧,他们影响了太多的人。我认为他们的音乐有种矛盾的张力,在内部爆发,在外部控制。

成都?你们对成都有什印象?

邱:四年之前来过一次。我觉得人民公园有趣,冷锅串串很好吃。

李:我去年来过,去的地方不多,有几个寺庙我觉得不错。

宋:我没来过,可能会比较潮湿?

们想对来看Hiperson x Lonely Leary NU SPACE演出的人

邱:想说的都画在海报上了,很棒的设计!哈哈。

李:Hi, Person!

宋:实在山东人乐队,值得来看!

Lonely Leary最喜的酒是那

邱/宋:中国劲酒!

李:我喜欢喝菠萝啤

欢迎你们来成都!谢谢!

我们第一次到这么远的地方来演出。谢谢NU SPACE的邀请!

Advertisements

Put down your screens: Interview with Liang Yi from Stolen

Ever find yourself wasting time by mindlessly scrolling through an endless stream of images ? 

Disillusioned by the modern obsession with digital documentation, Chengdu post-punk/cold-wave band Stolen 秘密行动 are touring their new EP Stealing Our Lenses我们遗失的视角》, which might make you think twice about updating your Instagram in the middle of a gig.

Kiwese caught up with frontman Liang Yi 梁艺 earlier this week for a mash-up English/Chinese interview.

Camera men1

While the world’s attention were focussed on Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, the first incarnation of Stolen was forming at Sichuan Conservatory of Music High School 四川音乐学院附中 in Chengdu.

The current line up of Liang Yi 梁艺 (lead vocals), Duan Xuan 段轩 (guitar, keyboard, samples, vocals), Fang De 方德 (guitar, vocals) Xiao Wu 小伍 (bass), Yuan Yufeng (drums) are now on their second national tour, promoting their new EP in eight cities around the country. The intensity of Liang Yi’s cathartic performance style combined with visuals by Herve, a French film maker, makes Stolen’s live show a powerful force not to be missed.

KIWESE: Hey Liang Yi. Ming Ming (The Hormones) says you guys used to go to school together in Leshan. What was it like growing up in Leshan?

Actually, three of us are from Leshan. Duan Xuan is from Xinjiang.

我们乐队有三个人是从乐山来的。我们的吉他手段轩是新疆的。

Leshan is a beautiful city – a travel city – many people around the world know the Big Buddha. It has beautiful mountains and rivers. Yeah, it’s a cool city!

Is there much of music scene in Leshan? 

Small cities in China don’t really have good music scenes. People don’t really encounter rock music, electronic  music, or whatever. They just know pop music.

在中国小的城市都不会有特别好的音乐气氛。 小的城市几乎没有人去接触摇滚乐,很少的人知道摇滚音乐,或者电子音乐,各种音乐,很少。他们知道pop music.

In China, pop music and internet music is very big. Internet music is fucking shit. Like Phoenix Legend 凤凰传奇

I’ve never heard of them.

They suck. A lot of pop music from Hong Kong and Taiwan gets really big here. The only thing they sing about is love.

When did you start listening to rock music?

I started to learn guitar in middle school and my guitar teacher gave me a lot of CDs like PortisheadRed Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, as well as old rock and blues. I really liked them. When I got to high school, I loved this Chinese band called Muma 木马. Amazing band. That led me to discovering Joy Division and The Cure.

What is like being a musician in Chengdu?

People in Chengdu are generally open to a wide range of music. The music community is very peaceful – everybody is friends and there is good communication. I feel like Chengdu is onto something good right now, it has become another centre for music.

“There is a lot of pressure from the Government in Beijing – while things in Chengdu have a lot more freedom.”

I hear you used to share a practice space with Hiperson

We were classmates with Hiperson at university. They are an awesome post-punk band.

Passengers on the Beijing Metro, 2013.
Passengers on the Beijing Metro, 2013.

“It used to be that bands would all flock to Beijing to try make a name for themselves, regardless of where they were from… but now it’s different – it is the Internet era.”

What does ‘Stealing Our Lenses’ mean to you?

Everyday, we are confronted with so much news. Good and bad. I think sometimes we lose our sense of perspective, we can only see our iPhones, iPads, screens. We forget to see the real world. When some people go to shows, they are just watching through their screens…  I feel like recording audio or video should just be left to the professionals. The audience should just try to feel the show – the music and the atmosphere.

“有很多人他们现在看演出的时候,他们都在屏幕上看。”

“More people should focus on the music, not just the stuff they can post on WeChat…”

English version副本

Can you talk a bit about your connection with the support bands on this tour? A great line-up!

The Fuzz are really good friends of ours from Xi’an. They have been around longer than us. The first time we played in Xi’an, they were really welcoming and took us round. We have the same kind of brains, the same musical views and the same desire to create good indie music.

The Fuzz 是我们非常好的朋友。他们是西安人。他们是比我们早的乐队。 但是我们第次来到西安,他们对我们非常热情,过来跟我们说带我们一起玩儿,我们有一样的脑子,我们对音乐的想法,我们都要做好的indie music。

Snapline are a band who I absolutely love. When we first started, we didn’t know them. But on the last tour, we were at School seeing Soviet Pop, which is Li Qing and Li Weisi’s experimental-noise band. We met them at the door of School, had a really good chat and stayed in touch afterwards.

Snapline 是我自己非常喜欢的乐队,太喜欢。刚刚开始我们不认识他们,但上一次的巡演的时候我们就在北京的 School Bar with Soviet Pop,李青和李維斯做的这个实验的噪音的一个乐队。然后我们就在School 的门口跟他们遇到,聊得特别高兴,聊的特别多。然后回来之后,我们就一直保持联系.

We met Residence A at the Yu Gong Yi Shan show in Beijing that John Yingling (The World Underground) was doing for his movie. John followed P.K 14 on tour last year and Hiperson opened for them in Chengdu. The night before we did a show with EF (Sweden) and John came to the show to see us. This year he was back and called us and asked if we wanted to come to Beijing to do a show with Residence A, SUBS, the Diders and Chui Wan. Of course we said yes!

The Maples are a young band from Chongqing. They are influenced a lot by Sonic Youth and noise rock. I think they are a really good band. They also played at the World Underground show with us and Hiperson this year.

So… have you ever stolen anything before?

[laughs] No! Stolen has many meanings. One meaning is to steal something, while another is to quietly do something. (Stolen 有很多不同的意思。有偷的意思,还有一个意思是悄悄的去做一个事情:秘密行动.)

When I was young, I saw a Japanese painting with the word ‘Stolen’ painted into it. It was beautiful. In middle school, when my English was even worse [laughs], I searched the word ‘stolen,’ and found these two meanings. That’s when I had a dream to make a band called Stolen.

Cheers, Liang Yi! Good luck for the tour!

Camera men2

STOLEN ‘Stealing Our Lenses’ National Tour 2014:

Fri 7 Nov          Lanzhou 兰州 葵  with A公馆

Sat 8 Nov         Beijing 北京 XP  with Snapline

Fri 14 Nov       Xi’an 西安 光圈  w/ The Fuzz

Sat 15 Nov      Zhengzhou 郑州 7LIVEHOUSE

Fri 21 Nov       Chongqing 重庆 坚果Livehouse  with The Maples

Fri 28 Nov       Shenzhen 深圳 红糖罐

Sun 30 Nov    Guangzhou 广州 SD LIVEHOUSE (无解音乐周末)

Sat 6 Dec         Chengdu 成都 小酒馆

Buy tickets and CDs on Zaomengshe!

Stolen feature in the latest episode of The Sound Stage!

Some TING! 听 #002: Hiperson & Cut Off Your Hands

Hiperson from Chengdu are one of my favourite bands right now. Cut Off Your Hands were one of the first live bands I ever saw in Wellington. They are both awesome.

>>>>>Hiperson 海朋森  Hǎi péng sēn are a rock band from Chengdu, the capital city of the mountainous greenery that is Sichuan. Their super tight rhythms, haunting male-female vocals and balls to the wall guitar riffs create a perfect oasis of melancholic, mosh pit inducing psychedelia. You can listen to them on their Douban page, anticipating some more releases from them soon!

Hiperson having a group hug.
Hiperson having a group hug.

>>>>>Cut Off Your Hands, formerly known as Shaky Hands, are an indie rock back that formed back in 2006 in the sprawling metropolis of Auckland, Aotearoa. Though the band have been on a bit of recording hiatus in recent years, the Shaky Hands EP (2006), Blue on Blue EP (2007), You and I (2008) and Hollow (2011) will tear the roof off of any venue with hyped up intensity. Currently signed to French Kiss and Speak N Spell. You can read more about them on Audio Culture.

Cut Off Your Hands in full flight
Cut Off Your Hands in full flight

Check out this interview and live show with Hiperson on The Sound Stage:

OG Cut Off Your Hands, they know how to put on an incredible live show and were pretty much all I listened to when I was 15:

Official video for Turn Cold, mixed and produced by the legendary Flood!

Have a 听一听! Some ting else next week!

 

God Bows to Math make some noise in China

Awesome people, free red wine, glamorous poodles, unexpected blackened chicken feet fished out of wonton soups… Kiwese had a yarn with God Bows to Math guitarist/vocalist Martin Phillips about their latest tour, the underground post-punk scene in China and how to make soup dumplings.

The noise they emit is as raw as a dodgy steak. They play each show with a psychopathic intensity, whether its for two people or two hundred. They have played too many gigs to count, dozens and dozens a year for like five years. Who knows, I’m crap at math.

God Bows to Math is Martin Phillips, Sam Cussen and Tom Morrison – the trinity that was resurrected from the dust of previous bands back in 2008. Over the years, they have ceaselessly toured around New Zealand and Australia, making friends, meeting bands and leaving a trail of deafening amplifier feedback in their wake. It’s that “fuck it why not” attitude that led God Bows to Math [神弓至数学 Shén gōng zhì shùxué] to pummel Chinese audiences with their churning fist full of noise last November, and chat with them over a couple of Tsingtaos afterwards.

From left: Sam, Martin, Tom
The boys from left: Sam, Martin, Tom

I hung out with the lovely folks from God Bows to Math and Carb on Carb after the first show of their eleven date China tour in Beijing. Whether it was the hypnotic drone of noise, the fondness of their Kiwi accents or the effects of drinking baijiu straight out of the bottle, I decided to ditch school, call in sick for work, buy some train tickets and catch them again 1,379km south down the country in Suzhou. The fact that a pair of bands from Auckland had come all the way to China to play music was just too much for me!

“他是Tom, 他是Sam, 我是Martin, 我们是God Bows To Math, 谢谢” [He’s Tom, He’s Sam, I’m Martin, We are God Bows to Math] panted Martin into a microphone of feedback, as he introduced the band after blasting through several tracks at MAO Livehouse. Whether it was saying xie xie after each tweak during soundcheck, Tom approving of the sea-salt cream coffee in Suzhou, finding unidentifiable animal parts in our wonton soups; they were here in China and enjoying the differences that were thrown at them.

Tom with aforementioned beverages at Mao Livehouse
Tom with the aforementioned beverages at Mao Livehouse

What drew you guys to China? It doesn’t seem to be the typical next destination after you’ve toured NZ and Aus?

Not many NZ bands seem to look in that direction. But in Australia heaps of bands do, with the Sino-Australia exchange and Shaun at Tenzenmen there are more links between the two scenes. Plus, Australia is closer to Indonesia so a lot of Aussie bands we know tend to tour South-East Asia as well. There’s a growing feeling about China from NZ too – Disasteradio has toured there and so did Die! Die! Die! in recent years. Getting more than one person to do something like that is tough.

Happy times at Rat on Swamp Dog in Shanghai
Happy times at Rat on Swamp Dog in Shanghai

Tell us about how you guys got hanging with Pairs.

We were introduced to China through Pairs in Shanghai. When Rhys and F came to NZ, Benji [MUZAI Records] and I booked their tour for them – so that’s when the idea came about. Rhys basically used the New Zealand tour as an advertising campaign to get people to come over to China. It was a bit of whirlwind tour, we managed to fit in nine shows over two weeks: Tauranga, Wanganui, Hunterville, Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and a house party in Auckland. It was around Chinese New Year as well so I think they paid a ridiculous amount of costs. It’s pretty hard to convince bands to do that, but those two are always down to do a crazy amount of shows in a short amount of time.

Poster from the Pairs Summer Sweat Tour 2012
Poster from the Pairs Summer Sweat Tour 2012

So the 7” split idea came into fruition from those long road trips down the North Island?

Yeah, Rhys said he knew someone who was interested in releasing a split record so we jumped at that opportunity as well [Nevin Domer from Genjing Records]. We met James from Bomb Shop in the UK through Rhys, as they had released Pairs album over there, and then Shaun Tenzenmen in Australia who again we knew from touring and various people, so along with Muzai, it became this four label, cross-global release.

Split record with Genjing (CHN), Bomb Shop (UK), Muzai (NZ) and Tenzenmen (AUS)
Split record with Genjing (CHN), Bomb Shop (UK), Muzai (NZ) and Tenzenmen (AUS)

Has the split helped you guys get more exposure in China?

Yeah I definitely think so. A lot of it has been Rhys, Tom from This Town Touring, Nevin at Genjing and Dann Gaymer, who have done a lot to promote it over there as well. Same with our album too, it seems a few people had gotten to hear it. Internet wise, we got a Douban page before the tour. We don’t have a Weibo yet, but baby steps! I can’t handle social media, I let Cuss do all the Twitter and that.  

Da boyzzzzz getting ruckus at the show in Zaozhuang
Da boyzzzzz getting ruckus at the show in Zaozhuang

What were your perceptions of the Chinese music scene before coming on tour?

The book Inseparable by David O’Dell. He lived in Beijing in the 1990s, the punk era of bands like Underbaby. It culminates with the rise of D-22 and bands like P.K 14 and Hedgehog, more about the punk and hardcore scene. I know Nevin helped with distro so he would know where to get a copy. I bought mine from Shaun but I think he sold out. [editor’s note: everyone should read this interview with O’Dell]

As far as logistics go, how was touring China for five Aucklanders with no Mandarin?

The whole thing went really smoothly, though when you are on tour, ‘smooth’ takes on a different definition to what it does in normal life, because there’s bound to be things that go wrong. All in all it was definitely one of the easiest things we’ve ever done organization wise because Mattessi took care of most of it then our incredible tour manager Vivian took care of the details. The transport was great – I love China’s fast trains. It definitely beats nine hours of driving. We’ve done Australia where we’ve driven from Melbourne to Newcastle in one day, by the time you arrive at the venue you’re nearly dead and you’re not really in the mood to do a show. Whereas having a nap on the train, reading a book, then having dinner and showing up is definitely a different feeling. We had five people from two different bands on a tour of China, I’m proud that we managed to get there.

Making friends on the road
Making friends on the road

You had studied a bit of the language before coming to China?

“Wǒ xiǎng hē píjiǔ!” [我想喝啤酒, I want to drink beer]. That was a key phrase. I think people were good about me speaking without tones, though I’d like to learn more. It is very difficult to learn a language from books and Chinese pronunciation is pretty tough going. In China I found myself being really drawn into all of the signs and trying to work out the characters!

God Bows with the gigantic poster at Red Sugar Bar
God Bows with the gigantic poster at Red Sugar Bar

Any Chinese food recommendations?

I’m gonna try keep a journal of my efforts to make soup dumplings. It’s a local Shanghai thing. Shēng jiān bāo [生煎包] from Yang’s Fried Dumplings in Shanghai. It’s just incredible and so cheap. I ordered like a dozen of them and a wonton soup as well. Delicious. It’s basically just fat in gelatin, so unhealthy.

shengjianbao

What’s the music scene like in Auckland these days?

I think the scene in Auckland is really healthy at the moment. There seems to be a lot of good bands, more people coming to gigs and enjoying it, which means everything benefits – venues do better, bands do better, people make more of an effort. Though some of the best venues still have trouble keeping their doors open and even when things go well, their share of the night time entertainment audience is still a ridiculously small slice of the pie. I never subscribe to the old Ian MacKaye ‘DIY should be about the music’ vibe, I like going to bars and seeing bands. I like being able to have a beer and watch them. They’ve just changed the alcohol licensing laws and made changes to when bars can close. Whammy and Lucha feel the pinch because they are late bars and have late shows, yet they aren’t the ones that have problems with people spilling out onto the streets and having drunken fights, those are from the shitty clubs which make enough money to stay afloat anyway…

Tell me about your own plans with the China-NZ music relationship.

It’s one of those things that is hampered by a lack of money and a lack of time. I’d like to get some more Chinese bands over here. I tried to convince [Yang] Haisong to get either After Argument or P.K 14 to come to NZ. He appeased me by saying yes but I don’t know if they will [laughs]. That would be a bit of a dream. Hoping to get Nevin’s band Fanzui Xiangfa over at some stage as well. Actually one band is coming in 2015, Guiguisuisui. Most people we speak to are like “woah, whats China like? There’s music over there? That’s crazy!” But China have an amazing underground scene and it would be nice to share what’s happening there. It is fairly easy to find out about the underground scene in America and even Australia, but there’s not much awareness about what’s happening in China. I guess it also has something to do with different mediums, it’s hard to find Chinese bands on Facebook, you don’t have the same avenues for sharing it. We should get links to show people and create a bit more interest. 

Maaaates.
Maaaates.

In recent years there have been a a growing number of DIY bands from NZ touring China, but there doesn’t seem to be a reciprocal effort from local Chinese bands heading to NZ.

I think it has something to do with the size of NZ and the fact that there are more opportunities in China. It’s the same reason it’s harder to get Australian bands over to NZ than it is to get NZ bands to Australia. Carsick Cars have been to Australia heaps. If you had the option to play festivals with some of your favourite bands at home, that’s something you should pursue over going on holiday to NZ. Though if anything people are attracted to the idea of NZ scenery. We lost a lot of money going over to China because we did it like a holiday, but I guarantee you would lose more going the other way. Then there’s the language barrier as well. There isn’t the same network of tour managers in NZ as there is in China. There’s no one who has ever tour managed a band in NZ that can speak both Mandarin and English. Every band we met over in China spoke English a hell of a lot better than I spoke Chinese!

Tightly Wound at Mao Livehouse
Tightly Wound at Mao Livehouse

A few Chinese bands have been funded come to NZ in the past, but they don’t seem to reach the same sort of audience that they do in China. For example, Chinese heavy metal legends Tang Dynasty playing at the family-orientated Lantern Festival in February.

It really depends as a band. It is hard to go somewhere you have never been before and end up in places that you wanna be. I know this band from Germany who got really lucky and ended up booking themselves an amazing tour of NZ playing these underground venues, but it could have just as easily ended up with them playing at the local pub in East Auckland to the wrong people in the wrong environment, billed the wrong way. It is really difficult to know the intricacies of scenes. With metal bands, there would be a lot better places to play than the Lantern Festival, that’s like if we went over to China and played at some sort of NZ cultural event, or even at a televised rugby match, it wouldn’t really feel right.

I guess there needs to be something special to entice bands to come on their own, something they can’t get anywhere else.

The Hobbit. Start a sub-culture of Tolkien underground noise rock.

to be continued…

Deafen yourself and bow down here.

Watch them perform live at Mao Livehouse on Youku, though you might have to sit through a KFC ad first.

Now check out the interview with Nicole and James from Carb on Carb.

Cheers to Nevin at Genjing Records for the insight and Nicole for some of the pics!

Carb on Carb, Rice on Rice

Got munchies? Aucklanders (奥克兰人 Àokèlán rén) Carb on Carb completed an epic eleven date tour of the Middle Kingdom back in November with good buddies God Bows to Math. Kiwese followed them from Beijing to Suzhou and recently we reminisced about their first foray into Asia and how Chinese cabbage and eggplant dishes are exponentially more delicious than in New Zealand.

carb heart

I first met the duo behind Carb on Carb, epic diva (天后, tiānhòu, lit. ‘Heavenly Queen’) Nicole Gaffney and handsome guy (帅哥, shuài gē) James Stuteley in the grungy merch area at MAO Livehouse in Gulou, Beijing. I quickly scrawled the phonetic pronunciation of “da jar how” [大家好, Hello everyone!] on Nicole’s hand before they took the stage for the first show of the tour when it struck me: these guys, fresh outta the Auckland underground, are here playing their music around China. That’s gotta mean something. It is awesome.

Carb on Carb are the kind of people you wanna be mates with. Their outlook is fresh, fun and friendly, they are really nice, keen to chat and down for whatev. Their music is like Crunchy Peanut Butter machine-gun fire that makes you wanna thrash about like a voodoo doll, yet its stripped back in a way equally suited to lying on your bed with headphones, dreaming about your crush.

Self described as post-punk/noise pop/pop-gaze, Carb on Carb do most of their shit themselves, from the recording, mastering, poster design, album art and photos. They embody a genuine DIY spirit, not in a Mitre 10 Dream Home sense, but in a similarly inspiring way that shows what can be done if you put your mind to it, work hard and do it for the luv of it. From seeing them sell their CDs for a criminally low price, to the “All content is free for you to enjoy and distribute as you please” message on the Papaiti Records website, it is clear these guys are playing music just cos they wanna play music. Word.

After we drunk a bottle of báijiǔ chased with beers, I made the executive decision to follow the bands to Zibo, a small town out in the wops of Shandong. Waking up on a friend’s couch the following morning with no information about Zibo (ie. where da fk da venue??), I decided to push ahead and catch them down in the river town of Suzhou instead, known as the ‘Venice of China.’ Despite the small, sedentary nature of the audience at Wave (New Zea-land hip hop / stand the fuck up!), Carbs were well-received, scored some free booze and made some choice mates after the show, which is the point after all right? 

You can/should download and emo out to Carb on Carb’s EPs no body perfect (2012), Ladies Mile (2013) and their single Eden Terrors, which was released just before coming to China. All their songs are free to take but koha where you can aye! Also the new video for Eden Terrors features some exxxclusive China footage and is the best thing on YouTube right now.

James and Nicole aka Carb on Carb
James and Nicole aka Carb on Carb

Hey guys! You’ve just spent quite a lot of time in China and South-East Asia, any weird reverse culture shock back in Nu Zilland?

J: It was strange to not have such overloaded senses all the time, no bike bells and horns, people and noise. To come back and feel like your senses are deprived cos its not loud and it doesn’t smell [laughs]

N: After being in Asia for so long we’d gotten used to not understanding the language around us. I found myself getting really annoyed when I heard the way people were talking about others, like “hey don’t be so mean!”

How did you guys get involved in the China tour? GBTM says they had a connection with Pairs. 

N: During the Pairs tour of NZ, Rhys talked about China as a really achievable kind of goal after doing Australia. We thought that instead of doing America or Europe we may as well do China, because it’s closer, cheaper, we can get by with contacts and play to a hungrier audience.

J: I guess also once Die! Die! Die! and So So Modern had done it, the idea became more realistic.

So how was it? Did you have any expectations going into it?

N: Having the time to go sightseeing was incredible, but obviously I loved the shows too.

J: I had some sort of expectation but actually being in China made me realize how little we know about it. Coming from a Western culture and not knowing much about the history of the hugest country in the world, then seeing all these crazy castle complex things like the Forbidden City which have immense histories, but we just think of them as sights. I studied the Manchurian invasion in high school but that was it. I really didn’t know about the Nanjing Massacre.

N: Yeah, the Nanjing Massacre Museum was pretty intense.

Carb on Carb rocking a symmetrical pose at the Forbidden City
Carb on Carb rocking a wonderfully coordinated pose at the Forbidden City

Is there a community of local NZ bands that are looking towards China? 

J: I don’t really think there’s a ‘community,’ but there’s certainly bands interested in doing it.

N: It seems like mostly Wellington bands have done it in the past, as well as Die! Die! Die! from Dunedin. But for a small band like us to tour China, we can talk to other bands in Auckland about our experiences and help them to see China as a doable thing. We are telling people they should do it! Why not!

The ~*Internet*~ seems to be an important tool for getting your material out there. How’s your online presence in China?

J: We made a Weibo page which Nicole has recently updated. We also got Rhys and Tom [This Town Touring] to make us a Douban because working out the Chinese was just way too confusing. Thankfully Bandcamp isn’t blocked in China.

N: We have a Youku as well! We tried to research a bit about it just to put our stuff out there. Even if it was in terrible translated Chinese, at least people would get the general idea: that we were a band and we were coming.

Carb on Carb discovered that this is how Shenzhen perceives New Zealand
Carb on Carb discovered that this is how Shenzhen perceives New Zealand

I know I’ve said it before but I love the tour poster! Got a signed copy from all you guys from the Beijing show.

N: Thanks! I drew it when I was at work [laughs]. My boss was pretty excited though, she’s from China.

The tour poster. Art by Nicole.
The tour poster. Art by Nicole.

I saw some pretty impressive use of dramatic hand gesturing and sign language from you guys in China. How did you find the language barrier?

N: The language was really hard. But having our tour manager Vivian with us made it a lot easier. I wish we learned a bit more, it would have been really cool to communicate with the people who liked us at shows, even just to be able to thank them properly and understand what they have to say. I used the ‘Da Jar How’ at every show!

J: It was interesting to experience what its like to not be able to speak the dominant language, it helped us understand how other people might feel. In New Zealand we just expect everyone to speak English. Very educational to be on the outside.

How was it coming from the NZ scene where you are quite familiar with the crowds to China where no one knows you?

J: It was pretty bizarre being presented as ‘Kiwi Rock Night’ in Suzhou.

N: That’s what I love about touring, just getting to meet new people and not playing to the same crowds over and over again. So it was really exciting to see fresh faces and have people react freshly to our music when they haven’t even heard it before.

Mao Mao billz yo
Mao Mao billz yo

So you guys hit up some pretty niche places, tiny towns in Shandong that no ones ever heard of. What’s the scene like down there?

J: At the show in Zaozhuang there was a big group of about fifteen friends and they were real keen to talk to us – they’d try out their English with a few words, then we’d say a few words, and all of were just cracking up. These guys were crowdsurfing and moshing with no one else in the bar. The people were really cool, they just had less barriers. They would spend more time talking with us and taking photos with us, generally way more excited to see some bands.

N: Yeah, they kept buying us loads of beers, being almost forceful with it! Hanging with them was really fun and different from other crowds we’ve met. The bar owner in Zaozhuang also took us out for an amazingly delicious dinner before the show and shouted us the meal! He even drove us to the train station in the morning! People at all of the shows were so generous – it was pretty overwhelming.

Stage antics with the fans in Zaozhuang
Stage antics with the fans in Zaozhuang

Were they actually into your music?

N: We were selling our EPs for 20RMB and they literally bought all our merch! The people we met were having a good time and having the experience of meeting us and talking to us. The same was with Randy who gave us the wine in Suzhou! He was just as keen to meet us as we were to have free wine [laughs]

Red wine/watermelon/assorted mixed nut platter after party with Randy in Suzhou
Red wine/watermelon/assorted mixed nut platter after party with Randy [far left] in Suzhou
As far as touring and performing goes, did you guys have any issues?

N: At our first show in Beijing I found the indoor smoking quite intense from a singing perspective. Before coming to China, we pretty much knew there were gonna be loads of bikes on the roads, but with the smoking in bars I wasn’t quite prepared!

J: It was quite hard not playing with support bands at every show, though we did play with a few locals like Illness Sickness. Next time we would definitely try have a local band play at every show.

Sound checking at Wave Livehouse in Suzhou on a v. high stage
Sound checking at Wave Livehouse in Suzhou on a ridiculously high stage

Any little things in China you found yourselves appreciating?

J: It was really cool to be able to take food and drinks anywhere, I was surprised how much I enjoyed that, in NZ if you walk in to a place you cant take your food in. Hot water was available everywhere too… we just used it to make noodles and drink tea.

N: Ohh I miss it so much! Buying a beer at a bar here and your like “WHAT? $8?!” You feel like a king in China.

Cheesy question – what kind of advice would you provide to other NZ bands hoping to come to China.

J: Talking to you probably [all laugh].

N: Learning a bit of the language would be good. Mentally prepare yourself. Eat as much as you can. Drink as much as you can. Yep, those are my tips.

Next time? Is there a next time in China on the cards?

N: We definitely wanna come back. I know God Bows are planning another tour for 2015!

J: I’d like to visit Xinjiang, the Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Three Gorges Dam. It would be great if bands started coming to New Zealand as well, it’s only an extra hop more. If anyone asks to play in NZ just tell them to email me: carboncarbband@gmail.com

You’ve just gotten back from a mean beach holiday up north, but what’s the plan for Carb on Carb this year?

N: We’re hoping to put an album out in the next year or so and just wanna keep touring where ever we can.

J: We’re doing a tour around New Zealand with Bare Grillz from Australia in a few weeks, just around the time of Camp.

[Excited Camp discussion]

"Prolly won't make no money of dis - oh well." - Beyonce/Carb on Carb
Let’s tour China! “Prolly won’t make no money off dis – oh well.” – Beyonce/Carb on Carb

What do you think of Beyonce’s new album?

N: Ugh amazing. Love it.

Fave track?

N: Jealous. Love Jealous. Oh and ***Flawless.

I fucking LOVE, ***Flawless.

N: It’s so good, I cried when I listened to it.

END

Now check out the interview with Martin from God Bows to Math.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra set to play China and NZ in January

Tài hǎo le! [太好了! Awesome!] Split Works are bringing Unknown Mortal Orchestra to China next month as they kick off the Asian leg of their colossal ‘II’ tour.

Seems like just yesterday they were playing at good ol’ Bodega, but January has long since past for this hardworking, hard touring three-piece psychedelic-pop powerhouse, who have played packed out shows back in NZ and Australia, as well as in the UK, Europe and the US this year. Feeling lazy yet?

@unknownmortalorchestra
@unknownmortalorchestra

New Zealand frontman Ruban Nielson, who now calls Portland home, started the band in 2010 by anonymously uploading a track on Bandcamp, later claiming responsibility and promptly touring the shit out of it, a story which has been told and retold around the digital campfire ever since, destined to be part of DIY rock folklore for generations of bloggers, bands and music fans to come. Three years on, UMO have released a self-titled EP (2010) and album (2011), the crunchy psychedelic pop record ‘II‘ (2013), the nifty little acoustic EP ‘Blue Record’ (2013), cranked out a bunch of bootlegs and ceaselessly toured around the globe, forging an adoring fan base from Lisbon to LA; and of course, back in Aotearoa.

The first time I saw Ruban play was with his former band the Mint Chicks back in 2006, using my sister’s +18 card to sneak into San Fran and mosh with the big kids. It was an absolutely unforgettable gig, a violent assault on the senses; a spastic, demonic, schizophrenic display of chaos. The band opened by tear gassing the audience, lead singer Kody Nielson kicked a dude in the teeth and hung upside-down screaming with the microphone shoved in his mouth. It was like they smacked us in the face, put us in a jar which they’d shat in and shook it till our brains had turned to porridge. It was amazing.

However in 2013, it is safe to say Ruban has established a new identity, breaking away from being ‘that dude from the Mint Chicks,’ honing his songwriting and vocal talent alongside bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare. UMO have made waves with critics and fans throughout their short existence, with the band winning Independent Music New Zealand’s Taite Music Prize last year and ‘II‘ taking home the Best Alternative Album award at the New Zealand Music Awards in November.

The boys played alongside Portland-natives the Dandy Warhols for their final show of the year last week and will recharge the batteries and tinker with the pedalboards before jetting over to play Yuyintang in Shanghai on Wednesday 15th January and MAO Livehouse in Beijing on Thursday 16th January. UMO will then grace the stage at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Auckland on Monday 27th January, before heading across the ditch and back to the US.

“Isolation can put a gun your hand,” sings Nielson on the track ‘From the Sun,’ and when some of our favourite international acts don’t quite make it the extra few hours down to NZ on their world tours, this is when our geographical isolation down in the Pacific truly sucks. Next month, it seems touring China’s east coast cities before flying down to NZ is a neat circuit for others too, with British electronic headliner James Blake also set to play in Shanghai before heading to Auckland for Laneway. We like it!

So get your Ffunny Ffriends together and feel the warm fuzzy Fender vibes, spidery guitar riffs and lonely vocal filters in Shanghai, Beijing and/or Auckland.

Wednesday 15th January @ Yuyintang | Shanghai                                  851 Kaixuan Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu, Chang Ning District, Shanghai    Starts at 9pm                                                                                                                               Tickets: 100RMB / 60RMB (students)

Thursday 16th January @ MAO Livehouse | Beijing               111 Gulou Dong Dajie, Gulou, Dongcheng District, Beijing                      东城区鼓楼东大街111号                                                                        Doors: 20:30                                                                                                                            The Big Wave: 20:40-21:05                                                                      UMO: 21:35                                                                                                                Tickets: 100RMB / 60RMB (students)

Both China shows are tagged with #UMOCN.

Monday 27th January @ Laneway Festival | Auckland                         Silo Park, Auckland                                                                         Tickets: NZ$139.50 including booking fee

Image from Split Works
Image from Split Works

Get around the firewall and check UMO out on Facebook and Twitter.

If sad puppet wanking is your thing, check out the video for Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) on YouTube.

Follow Ruban’s Instagram here @unknownmortalorchestra

Turn your brain inside-out with this spacey Arabian sound cluster like an alien slowly marching away into a cosmic abyss; UMO’s Christmas Bandcamp release titled ‘SB-01.’

Nice to see they have sussed a Douban.

UMO tweets about L&P chocolate and Beyoncé dance moves.
UMO tweets about L&P chocolate and Beyoncé dance moves.