Monthly Archives: October 2012

PK 12th Anniversary | Cannibal Corpse in Beijing

Painkiller hosted their 12th anniversary fest with CANNIBAL CORPSE visiting. Read the awesome review at Smart Beijing!



A little bit of punk history …

Check out Pangbianr’s lengthly interview with Jerry Chan, founder of The Beijinger about his involvement in the punk underground and the scene in late 90s / beginning 00s.

Photo: Ricky of Rustic, totally unrelated to the interview.

Free Downloads & Band Introductions

Rock in China is featuring two new sections on our wiki Main Page:

  • Music Downloads
  • Who’s that band? (Band Introductions)

Everytime you are visiting our main page, a randomly selected FREE online download of Chinese music is shown along with a random band introduction to some of the hottest bands of China! Come again, come often!


Interview with Stalin Gardens | Shanghai Black Pop Rock

Continuing our coverage of the Shanghai scene, we have taken Shanghai black pop band Stalin Gardens to an interview who just released their latest record called Shanghai Void on Douban.

Azchael: Can you please introduce yourself and the band Stalin Gardens?
Stalin Gardens: We’re Stalin Gardens. Our first show was the 18th of December 2011, we were invited by Pairs to open for them. We’d only managed to write four songs at that point, two of them were early versions of Osteosarcoma and Sex Bomb. Elsa already was on bass, another dude on guitar and some psychotic 40-year old on drums. After many lineup changes we played again, at Uptown on the 17th of March 2012, opening for Alpine Decline that we’d invited from Beijing. Big deal: Opening for DFG on the 1st of April 2012 at YYT. There were tons of people, at that point we had a steady lineup, with Vic of NYL on drums. 11th of May 2012, last lineup change, we played our first show with our current drummer Gomez, opening for X is Y at 696. According to Gomez’s dad, the show sucked. June 23 we did the Maybe Mars gig, no one showed up during our set and we played like mentally handicapped seals. Two weeks of practice later we started recording our self-titled LP (that many people prefer to call Shanghai Void for some obscure reason), which was done in 3 days, about 12 hours, at Postape studios. Mixing was done by Brad Ferguson.

Azchael: What instruments are you using in the band, which brand?
Stalin Gardens: Bass, guitar, drums, that’s it. We believe you could just as well make great music with the shittiest of guitars than with a Gibson Les Paul or whatever. It’ll just be different. Let’s just say you can make good music with anything. Even a banana. Our next album will have a song played entirely with a banana-split sundae.

Azchael: What is the Shanghai sound for you? Do you think Shanghai has a particular sound?
Stalin Gardens: NO, there is absolutely nothing. Because there is everything. It’s so fractured. It’s like you took a solid and cohesive music scene and dropped it on the floor. It’ll blow into pieces, all over the place, become incoherent and useless. That’s the Shanghai scene, all over the fucking music spectrum.

Azchael: How does the Shanghai scene look like in 2012? What venues are there? Who are the real newcomers in your opinion?
Stalin Gardens: Almost every fucking week we hear of a new band that seems pretty interesting, but they pretty often disappear without leaving a trace. I guess that’s what you should expect from a scene largely depending on expat input.

Azchael: What is the message of Stalin Gardens? in one sentence?
Stalin Gardens: Have sex with things.

Azchael: How do you promote your music? What are the most effective ways as per your experience?
Stalin Gardens: Since we’ve stopped shows to focus on studying for our final exams this year, we’ll keep on spamming the douban music community with free dl links to our LP. It’s always a great way to get people talking, though they usually talk about what a bunch of annoying jackasses we are.

Azchael: Do you think being in a band and being students at the same time helps you to get laid more often?
Stalin Gardens: That’s funny. Seeing as some of the biggest perverts in Shanghai are currently members of this group, it’s not like these factors affect how often we get laid in any way.

Azchael: Do you actively promote your music overseas? If or if not, do you get any feedback from overseas?
Stalin Gardens: This is very hard, we’ve sent many demos to labels in the US (such as Sacred Bones) and we’ve been rejected every time. I guess every scene is too absorbed with itself to pay any attention to what’s going on next door. It’s a shame, I think Chui Wan and Mr Ray and Stalin Gardens are as good as and maybe better than many bands, but it’s almost like we’re invisible from elsewhere. When people from outside China talk about the music scene, they usually blabber on and on about Carsick Cars and PK14, maybe Retros. But these bands are a weak copy of your average american indie-rock band, so they are of no special interest, other than that they’re from China. Chui Wan, however, have this elusive ingredient that makes them original, that makes them cutting-edge, they deserve to be talked about more than PK14. But quasi-nil.

Azchael: Why do think that people see Carsick Cars or PK 14 as being “Chinese rock music” but not Stalin Gardens? What can other bands learn from them?
Stalin Gardens: Probably because people don’t actually see Stalin Gardens. We’re a pretty ”low-profile” group as of today. About PK14 and Carsick Cars, we can learn from these bands that the music game isn’t about the music as much as it is about how you promote the music. Maybe not Carsick Cars, they’re pretty passionate about what they do, promotion-wise as much as music-wise. But PK14… They’re like a watered-down version of Fugazi. Maybe that’s why they’re so popular. Cause they’re such a ”safe” band to like. Hearing their songs creates an impression of deja-vu, which reassures the many people that fear to witness the death (or evolution) of their beloved rock’n’roll. But hey, wake up you retards. This is 2012. The real Fugazi disappeared decades ago. The rock playground now belongs to a new generation of bands like White Suns, Chui Wan, Stalin Gardens, iceage, The Men, Liturgy, Sexdrome, and Ride For Revenge. These recent acts are twisting and torturing rock into something totally new. Get up and be a part of it. Either get over the nostalgia or use it to make something different.

Azchael: What do you think are the biggest obstacles for being in a band in Shanghai?
Stalin Gardens: The fucking homework and final exams. Everything else like booking shows, rehearsal time, studio time, etc is extremely easy compared to other countries like France. We’re lucky being here at this time.

Azchael: What do you think of bands joining up with major brands such as Vans, Converse or Ray Ban in order to promote their music? Do you think that is a sell-out?
Stalin Gardens: A sell-out is a band that modifies its sound to be more appealing to the masses, in order to gain money. As long as you don’t tinker with your sound, you could even play your song in a toilet paper ad, it wouldn’t be selling out because you’d still be sonically pure.

Azchael: What is underground for you? Are you underground?
Stalin Gardens: Underground and mainstream are pretty easily confused today compared to back in the 90s, and that probably has to do with the Internet. Bands that used to be so underground no one would know of them then can today float back up to the surface and reach an audience through internet. Every band today can have their international audience, if they promote themselves right. We’re underground. Why not, I mean we’ve once been to the Shelter, I guess that makes us edgy and cool, right?

Azchael: What are your plans for the next year? Will there be a “The World is coming to an end” show in December?
Stalin Gardens: Things are looking pretty grim for us next year, we’re passing our final exams and will be studying during every major fucking holidays so it’ll be hard to find time to record, not to mention we’re all going to die. The main goal is still to record the second LP, that is already half-written, before we break-up.

Azchael: Why do you sell your songs for 1000 USD or 600 USD on bandcamp?
Stalin Gardens: That’s a joke, you can get them all free on our Soundcloud.

Azchael: Thanks for the interview!

Interview with Stegosaurus? | Shanghai… Jurassic Rock!

Just in time for National Day 2012, Shanghai self-entitled jurassic rock band Stegosaurus? answered to our call for an interview, especially after the depressing outlook of the Shanghai scene offered by Xiao Zhong of Pairs. We were lucky enough to get both Bren and Josh to spend a little time with Azchael.

Azchael: Can you please introduce yourself and the band Stegosaurus?
Bren: We’re Stegosaurus? We’re not really even sure who we are….hence the question mark.
Josh: Yeah, I am Josh, the midget one. We have Bren, the balding one. Tyler, the glasses one. And finally, Levi, the only one with any real talent in the band. There are a lot of ones in this band. We’re racist against twos. No twos allowed. Twos can go sit in the back of the bus.

Azchael: What instruments are you using in the band, which brand?
Bren: We’re using a variety of things. An Ibanez bass…it’s black.
Josh: We use whatever we can afford after feeding our alcohol and sheep dependency. Mostly, it’s cheap knock-offs found on Jinling Lu (music street).

Azchael: What is the Shanghai sound for you? Do you think Shanghai has a particular sound?
Bren: The Shanghai sound for me is sometimes awesome, sometimes redundant, sometimes powerful, sometimes crap, sometimes boring, but always alive. I think as far as a particular sound goes, you can’t really pick a sound for Shanghai. A lot of Beijing bands have a very “Beijing” sound. I don’t think you can pick a band in Shanghai and say, “That sounds so Shanghai.”

Azchael: How does the Shanghai scene look like in 2012? What venues are there? Who are the real newcomers in your opinion?
Bren: Honestly, it feels like a slow year to me. Probably because I haven’t been going out as much.
Josh: Shanghai has some fun venues. I personally like Yuyintang, Livebar, 696 Live and Songjiang Corner Bar. There are some cool bands new and old. Even if I don’t particularly like the style of music a certain band plays, I respect them for getting out, playing show, recording, spending money, printing CDs, flyers, ect and getting hardly any of it back. China’s not a place to make money as a band and I’m happy to see so many bands still doing it.

Azchael: Why do you think that China is not the right place for a band to make money?
Bren: Because the market for rock music isn’t big enough. Either it’s not big enough, or when people are interested, the big boys shut stuff down. It’s not allowed to freely spread, so the market just isn’t going to expand in way conducive to making a living on music. Not for a “laowai” band anyways.
Josh: If you look closely at us, very closely, you’ll see that we don’t resemble Jay Chou or Jolin. We’re getting fat, wrinkly and bald. People don’t wanna see us on ads, TV or large events. We need to be hot, young and muscular to be featured on anything. When that happens, maybe more people will be open to take indie music seriously here.

Azchael: What would have to change so bands can actively survive in your opinion?
Bren: Better marketing. More quality venues. More listeners and show goers. Ohh, and daily foot massages. Those are essential.
Josh: Shanghai is an ever growing, ever changing city. I think if people stopped getting married or having babies, if people stopped moving away, stopped living their dreams, then we could have a decent band stay for a long period of time! Actually, some bands still play music despite marriage and babies: Rhys from Pairs has like five kids now! Zack from Friend or Foe has his third coming now. Top Floor Circus actually bring their babies to their concerts! I respect that.

Azchael: What do you think of bands joining up with major brands such as Vans, Converse or Ray Ban in order to promote their music? Do you think that is a sell-out?
Bren: Up with the man I say! I think it’s a personal decision. It’s definitely a way to get potential new fans that wouldn’t have heard you before. It’s not a sell out. Just another excuse for somebody to complain, “I liked them better before they sold out.” Whatever.
Josh: Hell, if a company offered us money to sing Britney Spears covers and dress up like Justin Beiber, I’d do it! Money is everything in life! Actually, yeah, we are actively trying to sell out before we all break up and go our separate ways.

Azchael: What is the message of Stegosaurus? in one sentence?
Bren: We love to laugh so laugh with us or at us……..

Azchael: How do you promote your music? What are the most effective ways as per your experience?
Bren: Mostly the Internet. We’ve tried getting some things up on a few sites, still a work in progress though. Douban used to be super useful. Apparently Weibo is the big thing now, but I don’t like it that much.
Josh: I usually ask some homeless people to pass out our flyers in the Shanghai Metro. Hey! That’s a great idea, Josh. Thanks for the info!

Azchael: Do you actively promote your music overseas? If or if not, do you get any feedback from overseas?
Bren: Actively, not a whole lot. Most overseas activity happens on Facebook, and it’s mostly friends of ours…
Josh: I try to add two new “likers” to Facebook every year. It’s a worthy goal and most of the time, I’m proud to say, we reach that goal. Actually, we successfully made Claypool Cellars (Les Claypool (Primus)) a “liker” of us. It’s a funny story, really. I’ll have to include it on the next interview.

Azchael: What do you think are the biggest obstacles for being in a band in Shanghai?
Bren: The traveling lives of foreigners. We’ve had to pass on a bunch of shows because somebody wasn’t going to be here.
Josh: Yeah, people coming and going, getting married and leaving, people acquiring AIDS and dying, popping out babies and crying. Look for those lyrics in our next album.

Azchael: What is underground for you? Are you underground?
Bren: Underground for me is practicing at 0093 (an actual underground studio). So yeah, sometimes we are underground.
Josh: Underground for me is practicing at 009….oh wait, Bren already said that. I think most people who don’t play pop music in China are underground. Although I have read that some Beijing rock bands have been used for ads and some folk bands are getting offers too! If people can hear something else besides a famous pop star on an ad or whatever, that’s great, in my opinion. Introduce something new to the people. Get something besides pop music above ground.

Azchael: What are your plans for the next year? Will there be a “The World is coming to an end” show in December?
Bren: We plan to play some shows. We’d like to play another festival someday. We don’t have the proper connections though. It’s ok. It’s fun to live in dreams. Oh, and the secret is out, the worlds not coming to an end. It’s just a hoax.
Josh: We hope that more than three people will listen to our music this year. It’s a noble goal, but with Rock In China’s help, we can reach it. Listen and download for FREE our three albums at STEGOSAURUS.BANDCAMP.COM.

Azchael: Your three recent albums are all up on bandcamp and available for free. Why? Don’t you think you deserve money for the music you make?
Bren: Because we’re just nice like that. We hope the “free” tag will attract more listeners. Do we deserve money? I don’t know. But if somebody enjoys the music and wants to donate a bit for it, we won’t stop you.
Josh: Well, we’ve had two purchases in total for our new album. We mostly make music for fun. Our concerts actually almost paid for Purple Pachyderm in whole, recording, mixing, mastering, printing… Since I download music for free online, why not give our album for free?

Azchael: What are the stories behind the three records?
Bren: Record one, self titled Stegosaurus?, was born of songs written long ago. Some that had aged like fine wine and others that didn’t yet quite reach their full maturation level before being released on the public. In any case, it set the ground work for the mixed up sounds that leave question marks in the ears of listeners. “What just happened there?”

Record two, Our Songs B-side You, was brought upon by the excess of songs that were meant to create a second album. We made this album up of the more fun and playful childlike songs. It’ll make you laugh and cry and kiss your 30 minutes goodbye. It’s like a warm up for our third album released just a month after this one.

Purple Pachyderm, record number three. You think the name is ridiculous don’t you? Well, that’s how we like it. Ridiculous. This was originally going to be called ‘Story Time’ and we were going to have a book of short stories to go along with the CD. The stories would have been contributed by other people. The idea wasn’t hashing out as planned and we got bored of the idea and moved on to bigger and better things that are getting very little to no coverage. Yay for interwebs! So now we’re sitting on our hands keeping them warm for winter. I don’t know what that means.

Azchael: Thanks a lot for the interview!