Legendary Chinese punk outfit Brain Failure return to Shanghai over the holidays to play Strawberry Festival (Sunday, Strawberry Stage, 5pm). Formed back in 1997, Brain Failure are one of longest running band most prolific bands to come out of China to date, boasting seven albums (nubbier eight is due this summer), releases in Europe and the US and extensive tours with the likes of Dropkick Murphys and the The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Leading singer Xiao Rong, a thoroughly nice chap, took a little time out to tell us more:
Brain Failure - Give me a shot（单曲录音版）
Having toured China many times, how have you seen the music scenes develop in different places? Shanghai particularly.
Of all the live music scenes, Shanghai is the fastest growing, where the live houses and the clubs are most developed. Shanghai is the coolest city that puts on live music in the real businesslike fashion. If we compare Shanghai to Beijing, some people'll say Shanghai is not so rock, but I don't agree with this kind of talk. For me, Shanghai is even more aggressive than Beijing. The scene in Beijing is kind of sleepy, but in Shanghai the music scene is always growing and that inspires me.
Your live shows are renowned for their energy and passion - is that a conscious aim, wanting to interact with your audience, or just what happens when you get on stage?
I think this is just the feeling of rock n roll. We like to interact with our audience, but also, we'll only play in a way that shows who we are. That's what brings the energy and passion when we get on stage.
Brain Failure play classic, anthemic punk rock - were there any particular records or artists that made you want to form the band in the first place?
I believe that must be Nirvana.
Brain Failure - My Generation - 我的时代（录音室同期小样）
How did you guys get together and what's your problem with bassists? Is this number 6?
Well, our band member's relationship is based on music. We don't really hang out together that much beside the rehearsals and recordings. I haven't counted the number, but I believe that's because I was a bass player after I learned the acoustic guitar, so I'm picky!
Having toured the US extensively would you say people over there are still surprised by what you have to offer? Do you think people in other countries have much of an idea about the music scene in China?
We did a lot of US touring a couple of years ago. At that time I don't think they had any idea about the music scene in China. So I think that we made a good exchange of rock music between the US and China. For example, We toured with a Boston-based Irish hard rock band, Dropkick Murphys. Our shows came as a big surprise to a lot of people in front of major US audiences.
Which bands do you consider to be your contemporaries pushing a similar musical aesthetic in China, or more widely right now? Bands that you're excited about.
I'll give my big respect to Chinese rockers Cuijian, Douwei and Xu Wei.
Your last LP, 'Downtown Production', featured both Chuck D and MC Yan - was getting rappers involved a new thing for you?
We did 'Downtown Production' four years ago. At that time we tried a little bit of that; it was fun. I wouldn't say it was kind of a new thing, just for fun, that's it.
Brain Failure - Call The Police
Can we expect to hear new material soon then?
Actually, the new album recording is finished.We are in the mixing stage right now. Hopefully it's coming out this summer.
Which up-and-coming bands can you recommend we check out at Strawberry Festival?
OK, let's go for Steely Heart (钢铁的心) - they deserve to be pumped up!