Pairs‘ Xiao Zhong is a pretty outgoing and extrovert character with his own history of controversial statements and expressive interviews. Once upon a time Xiao Zhong had talked with Rock in China about the Shanghai music scene and now we are following up on his earlier remarks, just in time before the world as we know it is coming to a timely end in December this year.
Listen to one of their new songs:
Azchael of Rock in China and Xiao Zhong for Pairs on September 23rd 2012, ten o’clock in the morning, and yes, that is on a Sunday! Talking about the proposed end of the world this December, the Shanghai band scene and Pairs new record.
Azchael: Welcome to the end of the world? What are your plans before December?
Pairs: Personally, to make it through this working year, it been a bit of hell ride and I expect it to be so later on as well.
For the band, we have two releases scheduled. One in October and one in November. The October one is an 8-track record called Grandparent, and in November we have a double vinyl coming out on Metal Postcard Records calls If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I will. Thereafter we are heading for a tour in December in Singapore and Malaysia and then, well, we are dead.
Azchael: Why are you going to release two records in such a short time?
Pairs: The October record is the one we produced with one guy who came over from LA. We wrote a few songs and it just took forever to get out. We had thought it was going to be ready in March, but its only ready now and we wanted it to be released before the double vinyl.
Azchael: Thatguy is Manny from LA, or?
Azchael: Being confronted with the dawn of civilization, what should we leave behind for Aliens to discover?
Pairs: Certainly not any of our releases (laughs). That’s a hard question for a Sunday morning. I would say the WTF podcast by Marc Maron. That is really something, he has over 300 podcasts interviewing comedians, celebrities, musicians, writers and so on. And he is doing that in a very honest, open and raw way. So his podcasts should be left behind for Aliens to discover.
Azchael: We have established that the world is going to end and what we are going to leave behind. How do you think the world is coming to an end? Will it be Aliens, Meteors or the Dinosaurs returning? What’s your bet?
Pairs: I think it will be people turning on each other and fucking eating each other. People are fighting for all reasons but mostly no real reason. People are pretty dumb, so I think the world will come to an end one way or another by people fighting each other.
Azchael: So how is Shanghai doing in that respect?
Pairs: Yeah, fuck yeah, I’m sure you’ve read about what’s been happening here. But even at work we are already fighting each other. You know, it’s interesting to work in China and working with Chinese. At the beginning everything is fine, but then people start to turn on each other in really vindictive ways so to feel like they are getting ahead, which they aren’t. Just like two days ago in a work meeting I saw a very blatant attempt to hurt someone on our team.
Azchael: So how about Shanghai music scene? Is there also a lot of fighting happening? Or is there a big unity?
Pairs: If there is fighting I am probably the guy causing it! In terms of unity, I don’t see it a whole lot, but Twin Horizon and Zhang Nan have brought a few things together. But I see a few bands riding on coattails and that kind of jive. But that may be me projecting and being too jaded. I think in the scene we are kind on our own at the moment. It’s my fault. Well no super close ties with one band or one group. We drift along.
Azchael: So what should change?
Pairs: We had that interview last year where I already complained a lot. This is a city of fucking 22 million people and there is just a handful of places to play. People shit on each here – myself included, the bookers are so unorganized, -I mean, they don’t send out emails asking for bands, they wait for the bands to contact them and the bands wait for bookers to come to them. They are so lazy. Nothing has changed since last year! Be great if we had one big night a month, something that could become a tradition or just a cool momentum, but venues aren’t really up for the growing pains thing. They want instant success, and that’s understandable when your dealing with something as fickle as business in China, but still, it’s all about the short term.
Azchael: After our interview, the compilation We Are Shanghai was released including a song of Pairs. Why did you participate?
Pairs: The organizers behind the compilation are really nice guys, and we were not super aware of the foreign heavy lineup. For us it was sending a 50 seconds song. It took me 3 minutes to attach it to an email, so there was no effort involved.
Azchael: They are planning a “We Are Shanghai 2”, will you participate again?
Pairs: They don’t want to have repeat bands on the compilation, but yes, if there is no effort involved, like in the first compilation, we would participate. Good things came from the first compilation, people listening to our song and contacting us for more. So, yeah. But if they wanted a new, un released song, then nope.
Azchael: Are there any other projects like this happening in Shanghai at the moment?
Pairs: Probably but nothing that I can think of off the top of my head; no one is so organized. And even the We Are Shanghai didn’t get out of China much. We brought it to New Zealand, Rainbow Danger Club brought a few copies to the USA, but then I think it’s mostly a bandcamp page.
Azchael: You brought it to Australia via tenzenmen?
Pairs: Yes, he is a mad man.
Azchael: I saw him shipping mostly Maybe Mars records, right?
Pairs: Yes, he gets them probably from Nevin now. In the beginning we have helped him to get the CDs. We ordered them from taobao and then to him, but we have stopped doing too much on Taobao and now he gets them directly from Maybe Mars. Makes more sense, I guess.
Azchael: Now, in terms of going international, you mentioned that you are heading for Malaysia and Singapore in December. Are you organizing that by yourself DIY or via a tour company.
Pairs: Cher at 7X07X7 is helping us to get everything sorted. They are great! They are dedicated, loyal and organized and they have a system that supports you. It’s really a joy working with them and they are much better than the fucking bookers in Shanghai.
Azchael: For me Pairs is a DIY and now you say that you are using a tour company instead of doing it yourself, isn’t that contradictory?
Pairs: Contradictory in your thoughts but not in mine! 7X07X7 is a DIY group, they don’t make real money with that, that I’m aware of. It’s more like a group that has a system in place, something like if a band contacts you and asks for help in Macau, then you would know the right contacts, right? So we have not talked money yet, but I will not pay money directly and I don’t think they are expecting anything.
Azchael: How you got to know them?
Pairs: Via a friend, Dostav, as it usually happens, someone knows someone and refers that to us.
Azchael: Why are Shanghai bands not using that?
Pairs: Shanghai bands are pretty happy in Shanghai, I guess, plus the occasional trip to Beijing and Wuhan. They should get to Malaysia though, I heard it’s an awesome scene there with a small shack of 50 kids, screaming, dancing and stage diving. Great venues there.
Azchael: So what venues are there in Shanghai right now?
Pairs: Live Bar, Lune, YYT, Melting Pot, 696, Beedes 390, Harley’s, Mao, Corner Bar in Songjiang, D Club… That’s about it.
Azchael: Last year we had an interview that I think many regarding as rant on Shanghai. Any new things to rant about?
Pairs: Fuck man, it’s still the same, nothing has changed. You know, just recently we were booked with another band and the date got changed. So I contact their bassist and asked if that is cool for them. He didn’t reply. I went ahead and added the new date on weibo, changed the poster, etc. A week later I check with him again, so he says “oh yeah, it’s cool with me, but I don’t know about the other two band members”, then 5 minutes later he comes back and says “our drummer can’t make that date”. That is pretty fucking dumb! There is no communication. That guy knows for a week about the date but can’t check with his guys even though it only takes 5 minutes for him! Dealing with things of this nature almost weekly, if not daily – that’s one of the reasons that our new record is so full of frustration!
Azchael: Can we have a preview song of the new record?
Pairs: Sure no issue, I can send you the song that I did screaming about the Shanghai bands, I think that catches the frustration pretty nice.
Azchael: What’s that song about?
Pairs: I wrote the song one night and it’s all about my feeling towards the Shanghai band scene on that particular night. I don’t name anyone in particular but if you see the lyrics I guess a lot of people will recognize themselves somehow in that. Probably see me on the end of a lot of drunken ‘who is that about?’ conversations.
Azchael: When I check your facebook, I often see photos of e.g. Pairs and comments about Pairs being nominated for the Oscars, etc. What is that supposed to mean?
Pairs: That’s just some bullshit about a shit eating expat magazine here They only know 4 bands and as I am a white guy and speak English and am in constant contact with the English media, we get somehow on those “best band” etc. lists. They have no idea about the scene and no real interest in supporting it, except their new person, Kat is awesome! However, we were nominated for Best DJ’s one year. Man, I don’t know if I really belong in Shanghai.
Azchael: So where do you belong to?
Pairs: Nepal? They have a good scene there, I heard!
Azchael: Any last words?
Pairs: Congratulations on reaching 10 million visitors at Rock in China!