On Sunday, March 4, Yuyintang will play host to another afternoon student band showcase. After the success of the Pairs-organized show in January, drummer Rhys suggested Moon Tyrant host a similar event. We decided to go in a slightly different direction, though, and sought out young metal bands.
The show will introduce rock fans swinging through the ‘Tang to three new bands: Psyclopus, Return to Sender, and DerWish.
In preparation for the show, I, bassist extraordinaire, JC, asked the bands some questions about music.
Q: How did you guys get into playing as a band?
DW: DerWish started playing in 6th grade and already in 7th grade we were writing originals, however we never had a lot of gigs because our band members would not stick around for long, and we constantly had to look for people to fill in the spots.
RtS: We met online. Only the band leader, Van, and the lead singer, Xiao Yu, were friends before we started the band. Return to Sender was started in January 2011, and since then we’ve adjusted the line-up a bit to improve the band.
P: We all loved metal and had an urge to try performing, and after starting college were able to meet some like-minded friends. We figured why not start a band? Our bandmates are all from Donghua University and Shanghai Foreign Language University, two schools with a pretty good rock climate, and where people pay attention to performances.
Q: As a student, what’s the hardest part of being in a band?
P: At first, our own abilities were the biggest obstacle, but we practiced really hard and got a lot better. Of course, finding a place to practice is tough. The practice spaces on our campus have a pretty basic amp and microphone set-up, etc, which has influenced our practice results a lot. Another big problem is the audience’s enthusiasm. We have a really exciting show, but the audience is really cold, which really kills the mood.
RtS: There are three students in the band. Actually, for students, starting a band is probably much easier than people who have started working and have responsibilities and pressure. But, being in a band in China is different than overseas. Because of the pressures of life, we can’t spend as much time energy on the things we like to do.
DW: Well for many people parents is a problem, but that's not the case with me ‘cause my parents support me in music. Homework really annoys me, which is why most of the time I don't do it.
Q: What's the best way to attract students to rock and roll and live music? Why don't more students participate in the music scene?
P: The best way: more performances, more performances, more performances. The more shows and opportunities there are, the more bands can take the stage. This will really help move other bands and musicians to come and participate.
DW: If you want someone to stay in your band for a long time, play a lot of concerts and get money. It doesn't have to be a lot, but trust me when a band member receives money he wants to play more and more.
RtS: Actually, a lot of students are willing to see live shows, but they don’t know there are any and don’t know where they can see them or what they’ll see. Or the time is too late and we have trouble getting back.
Even more so, there aren’t really any popular bands, because even if there are strong bands, they don’t have funds to support them, and they have good ways to get the word out. They can’t get people to listen to their songs more. And, finally, these bands often break up because of life pressure.
Q: So, what’s the best way to spread information about shows? If I want to organize a show, what should I do?
RtS: First, it’s vital to get word out on campus. Putting out word on every campus will have a pretty good result. If you want to organize a show, you’ve got to give people something to see, of course there’s nothing better than a good band. You’ve got to ensure the quality of bands, and make sure everyone can remember who the band is and not forced to ask around after the show to find out their name. You can set up a corner at the venue selling that band’s CDs and stuff. If you remind the audience they like the band, they’ll buy something. It’s a low cost way of getting people to remember you.