Chochukmo, one of Hong Kong’s hippest bands, defies categorization. They are officially branded “indie” or “experimental,” but these titles are so vague and indescriptive that they cannot even begin to define the band’s varied and genre-blending music. Perhaps Chochukmo guitarist Mike Orange describes it best, when he tells Shanghai247 that the band simply “gets bored easily.” “We find it boring when it’s just chorus, bridge, and chorus again, so we’re trying to build something like a rollercoaster,” he says.
It’s not like nobody saw this coming. Even their names are unique, to say the least. The band members are Jan Curious, Mike Orange, Les Hunter, Waiting Soul, and Kitty Trouble. Believe it or not, all these names actually mean something, too.
Jan Curious, lead singer, says that he’s been curious his whole life. “It’s such an important word. I think curiosity is always the source of being creative.” Thus his stage name, Curious.
Les Hunter, guitarist, believes that “less is more.” He’s also a vegetarian, so the phrase “less hunters” seems to resonate with him.
Guitarist Mike Orange’s favorite color was, until recently, not orange. He is, however, a big fan of the book and movie Clockwork Orange.
Bassist Waiting Soul’s name sounds a lot like his Chinese name, phonetically.
When asked about his name, drummer Kitty Trouble just shrugged and said with a smile, “I don’t know. It’s too much trouble.”
“It started out as a joke. I was making science fiction, and I thought it would be fun to make up heroes’ names, it’s a little embarrassing for us to say it out loud, but it’s our stage name now,” says Curious.
“We really want to encourage people to create their own stuff, even dancing, painting, making movies. I think it’s important for human beings to be creative. We enjoy ourselves when we create things, and we want the audience to share our joy,” he adds.
With names like these, who could resist Chochukmo’s charm? They're never even very angry. Before this interview began, the band was busy enjoying a spirited game of Foosball on the second floor of Yuyintang. Les Hunter was seen shortly after attempting to play ball with a boy outside in the gardens.
“Even when we are complaining in song, we want to be more sarcastic. We won’t argue with a fucking angry face, we argue with a smiling face,” says Curious. “With a smile you can solve any problem.”
Chochukmo on stage at Yuyintang.
On set at Yuyintang, Curious maintains a manic grin as he leaps around the stage in the manner of an old-school frontman worthy of a wacky stage moniker. Previous comparisons to Jagger are apt, although it’s hard to imagine even Sir Mick managing to carry off Curious’ t-shirt, emblazoned with an impressive set of cans. The varied influences are apparent throughout the gig- imagine the pounding energy of the Arctic Monkeys in their heyday with some 5/4 time signatures and Darkness-style falsetto and you’re halfway there. In short, there probably aren’t that many bands out there who can end a gig with a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but Chochukmo go there, and they go there with style. Make sure you catch them next time they’re in Shanghai. You won’t regret it.