These guys were a bit of a rum do. Firstly, the singer appeared to have forgotten any trousers and what looked like some particularly funky hose was actually poetry inscribed on her leg. Then the drums. Two kits back to back sharing a kick drum and two drummists going at it hammer and tongs. This was a short-notice gig so their audience was sparse but still pressed up against the stage dutifully and interacting with the band. Interesting stuff.
Last time I saw them, it ended with the singer covered in blood and ending up in hospital. This time he merely made full use of the vacant space at the front of the stage and the gent’s toilet to augment the pitiful stage size. As well as blatantly eyeing up my girlfriend. All’s fair in love and rock and roll I guess. Still, she scored a promo CD.
Rocking band, should go far!
Some bands really know how to throw you a curve ball and Great Imitation are without doubt experts in this field. Opening the Musician Stage at Leicester’s Summer Sundae Weekender, they started out with some funky mash-ups of well known tracks such as MC Hammer’s Hammertime and Kanye West’s Goldigga with a style that falls somewhere between camp vaudevillian comedy and rap/rock crossover with a good sprinkling of R&B to confuse anyone foolish enough to think they know what’s coming.
It was all good light-hearted entertainment, perfect for a sunny start to one of the most relaxed easy-going boutique festivals around. Then lead singer James Scott announced there were just two songs left and that the next song would be a little different.
“Real Men Hit Things” was indeed different, a bleak story of domestic violence performed with an intensity that left people gobsmacked and more than a little choked as the story reached it’s predictable tragic climax.
Sometimes my heart sinks a little when a mate says “come along and see my brother’s band. Uh, OK. We turned up to the Water Rats a tad late due to some preparatory beer over the road and I immediately ducked downstairs to get rid of it again. There, I heard a very reassuring not at all straight 4 kick drum beat pounding through the ceiling. Things were looking up! Once upstairs and camera set up, I still took the time to enjoy some really nice proggy indie-ish rock. Maybe with some catchier hooks and populist songs they could take another step up. Nice one.
I love shooting bands who put on a good show! Yes, it’s hard work and actually quite difficult, but the results can be awesome!
Last night I went to the Barfly to shoot Aussie rockers Shake and it was possible the best gig (resulting in the best pictures) I did all year! The band rocked so hard that the singer ended up cutting his face and had to be taken to hospital covered in bloody by ambulance. Now that is Rock n Roll! What is it about the Aussies that makes them so special?!
Shake have moved to London about 6 month ago to broaden their fanbase (and possible horizons). Last night was their last gig with the current line-up as sadly two of the members are going back to Australia. I can’t wait for a new Shake line-up to get ready and back out there!
The lights at the Barfly have been hit and miss lately and last night we had everything good and bad lumped into the bands 30 minutes set. I ended up trying lots of different thing with and without the flash. In the end Shake made it easy for me by just being energetic, posing nicely and just being incredibly brilliant! Thank you!
I didn’t even notice that Sam was bleed while I was taking these shots. When I checked the pictures on my camera on the way home, I actually clenched my fist and let out a little “YES!” I think it came out a bit louder then I anticipated because when I looked up, people where looking at me funny :$
Last time I saw Life in Film was at the end of last year and they blew me away with their brilliant songs and sweet harmonies. Since then, the band have release a single (as a free download, so get it!) and are about to release a second.
I had been to Hoxton Bar and Kitchen once before (without my camera) and the thing that really stuck in my mind was the spinning disco ball that reflects little light balls onto the floor and walls and makes the room look like it’s spinning. Bad BAD idea! Especially after you had a few to many drinks :$
On Saturday, I went to The Fly again. This time to see a band who are managed by a friend of mine. The night was a bit of a disaster with one band not showing up and another turning up without a drum kit.
Isn’t it custom for the headline band to bring the kit?
Not if the headline band are an electronic outfit who use loops, you twat! And there I was, thinking it was custom to ask. Silly me!
Somehow a drum kit was found at another venue and the night could go on.
I am so glad I don’t have to deal with stuff like that anymore!
Black Market Karma are a great sounding band and they look the part too! They even have their own Bez!!!
Q. Freddy: The Free Tibet concert was amazing, thousands of people, in a Taipei square shouting “Free Tibet!”. Can you explain what it is about Tibet that is so important to Taiwanese? What is the connection to Tibet, which is so far away?
A. Taiwan is in the front line facing China, as a part of the free, democratic world, so it’s very important in this human rights issue, Taiwan should not be quiet, especially as this is the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Mao and the Communists. In the world, there are lots of activities about the Free Tibet campaign. In Taiwan though, there were fewer than 200 people who would march on the street in support of the protest.
This is an issue that Taiwanese didn’t get involved in, so it was quite frustrating, but I believe that the Taiwanese, they have the same values as Tibetans, we just need to find the right way for the Taiwanese to join in. We can’t just use the old ways of protest. There are lectures for example, and it’s so hard to get young people to want to joinin. I started to pay attention to the Free Tibet campaign in 2000, and I found out that the world Free Tibet campaign, they are very open. It’s the most open campaign in the world. They work with actors, actresses, directors, musicians, bands, they have release Free Tibet compilations. The Beastie Boys have organised more than ten times Free Tibet concerts.
I think we have to learn from this campaign. Especially, in the new U2 music video, there were some clips of the Tibetan monks and Tibet flags, and then a woman dressed in national costume. If you are traditional Buddhist, you can’t make fun of us, of what we believe in, our religion, but we didn’t see any Tibetan go out against this music video. This campaign is so open that the let all kinds of people with all kinds of values but the all support Tibet. So I think that’s very important for us to have this kind of campaign in Taiwan.
Q. But the Dalai Lama who is the spiritual leader, he’s only trying to negotiate more religious and cultural freedom for Tibet and has accepted Chinese rule. Why does the Free Tibet campaign go further than that?
A. For me, it’s not political independence, independence is for each human being, for each citizen, each Tibetan. They have their own independent religion, their own independent language, customs, so for me, when I’m saying independence, it’s not just about politics. So I believe the Dalai Lama and the whole Free Tibet campaign, believe in the same thing. It’s not just about political independence. When they gain their meaningful autonomy, if they want a meaningful autonomy, they regain their independent thoughts and beliefs. I don’t really care about the political independence if they’re going to achieve it. If they want, they should gain it. If they don’t, it’s OK. A modern society, a modern system, a political structure should protect the independence of each citizen.
Part 2 – The new album
Q. OK, tell us about the new album, what is it called and what the idea of the album is, what’s the concept?
A. The album is called “Mirror of Retribution”. A mirror of retribution is the first thing you will meet when you are in hell, the Taiwanese, Oriental hell. Through the mirror, you see all the bad things you and your relatives have done in your lifetime. Each spirit has to face the mirror of retribution then the ghost king will send him to the specific level of hell that he deserves. In the Oriental hell, there are ten ghost kings in ten courts and there are 18 levels of hell and hundreds of small levels. So it takes millions of years for you to serve your sentence. So the original idea is to show this philosophy of hell. All the Asians, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Vietnam, share the same philosophy.
No other metal band has tried to do this. It’s too big! So the question is how to do it. It not just like Satan and one burning hell. So in Taiwanese temples, there are some mediums there are people who can travel through heaven and hell and find people, find dead relatives and talk with them. So we needed a story, not just the facts. The story should be in Taiwanese history, so where is the corssover point between Taiwan and hell? So we found the point is the 228 incident which happened in 1947.
It’s not just because it’s the biggest massacre that happened in Taiwan, but that the last battle happened in front of a very important Taiwanese temple. So it makes sense that someone in the temple who is a medium would try so save his people, save the Taiwanese from the tyrannical KMT army. So he travelled to hell to try to rewrite the book of life and death. So the original idea is to write about the philosophy of hell and then we found the right story to link Taiwan to hell. That’s the basic idea of the story.
The first half of the story is how he went to hell and how level by level he tried to find the book of life and death and tried to rewrite it. But then the ghost kings, wizards and monsters in hell found out that he is not a normal spirit, he’s still alive, his spirit just left his body, so they, in the 6th song, all the spirits and ghost and monsters, they came from hell to the temple to try to put some seals on his body and suck his spirit back to his body and not allow him to escape from his body again. Then, he decided to kill himself as the only way to go back to hell. But he failed. The end of the story is that he is locked in front of the mirror of retribution for a billion years as his sentence. I think the most interesting part of this album is that we tried to group the same kinds of hells and put them together in one song. There are the mountain of knives and sword forests, different kind of sharp hells all grouped together.
Q. How do you feel the album has progressed musically from the last one?
A. I think Jessie and I write songs more. We have better chemistry to write songs together. Just like the earlier question, because we grouped the hells, so sometimes we said the hells are like sharpened weapons we need blast beat and fast rhythms and Jessie will have the same idea and we work so fast. Another example is the hell of heavy rocks and pressure things, it’s so easy that through discussing hells, Jessie and I will have the same idea, so we need thrash riffs for these. So I think we have better chemistry and an easier concept of the album. So it works very naturally.
Q. Is this the first time Jessie has done backing vocals?
A. Yes, yes it is, and I think he did very well.
Q. So what are the plans for the album now? It’s released in August, do you have touring plans?
A. I think before September, we will release the album worldwide. I believe in the US it’s September 1st, then Japan then the rest of the world.
Q. What label is it on? Is it global?
A. Spinefarm, yes, it’s Universal, so it’s global. The touring dates are maybe the US in September/October, then Europe and Britain and later, we can tour the rest of the world.
Q. It’d be nice if you came to Britain in the summer when it’s nice and warm unlike last time in 2007 when it was so cold!
Q. How long did you have the old makeup and what’s the idea behind the new?
A. We had the old makeup for about ten years. We changed it little by little, not like this time when we made a big change. Before, the old makeup, we tried to put some Taiwanese elements in but it didn’t work very well. We found out that some fans, reviewers and critics couldn’t figure it out. Some critics fought about whether Chthonic is black metal or not, doesn’t worship Satan and so on, are folk metal. We thought we should let them know it’s really hard to use the Western categories with us. We’re inspired by the Western black metal, death metal bands, but we are Taiwanese, we write about local things, we’re inspired by a lot of local pop and different kinds of artists.
Q. That’s one of the things that strikes me about your audience. At the Free Tibet concert, you had aboriginal music, rap, black metal and pop-rock and the audience stayed the same and the audience enjoyed everything! I think in Taiwan, people aren’t religious about musical categorisation.
A. I totally agree with you. Especially in Taiwan, the rock history is not long, so the people they are interested in getting new stuff in as well as the musicians. They are interested in mixing different kinds of ideas in the music. So I think don’t waste your time trying to categorise our music, just listen to it and see if you like it. All the metalheads in the world, you’re just going to love it.
Q. Let’s get back to the makeup. What’s the idea behind the new makeup?
A. It’s just that we try to get more elements from the Taiwanese, Daoist tradition, it’s called http://tinyurl.com/ne794w. It’s something like the 8 generals thing, they put on all different kinds of spells. It’s like Dani’s mask, the teeth and the shape of the mouth are from the Guan Jiong Shiu. Also, Doris, there are some marks on her forehead also from Guan Jiong Shiu. Guan Jiong Shiu makeup is very complicated but we try to find the modern elements from their makeup and put them on our face. So it’s simpler now and what we have on our face is from the old Taiwanese Guan Jiong Shiu makeup.
The Electric Boys played at the Camden Underworld last week, as a warm-up to their stint supporting Thunder on three dates of their farewell tour. More recently seen in Ginger and the Sonic Circus and Hanoi Rocks, it’s great to see Conny Bloom occupying the position of frontman once again, making use of every inch of the Underworld’s stage. As usual, the lighting at the Underworld is challenging, with a strobe behind the drumkit, but it makes for some interesting shots. My biggest problem (as always with bands that I really enjoy) is trying to keep still enough to take pictures. This was a very welcome return by some of Sweden’s finest.
As anyone reading the news recently knows, Tibet under their exiled leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is attempting to negotiate greater cultural and religious freedom whilst still under the suzeranity of China.
The Free Tibet movement takes this one step further and is campaigning for a tibet Free from the rule of communist China. As we have seen from Xinjiang, there are number of regions politically under Chinese control that are recent acquisitions and that are not ethnically Chinese.
Taiwan takes a special interest in Tibet as it is within a hair’s breadth, and a few thousand missiles pointed in its direction, of being in the same situation as Tibet: China claims it. Whilst much of the Taiwanese population is Chinese, the island itself has never been under total control and the people are fiercely independent and proud of their status.
The Free Tibet movement, with worldwide concerts, started in 1996 in San Francisco and continued on the 11th July in Taipei with renowned Taiwanese performers such as Panai, Dog-G, Chthonic and LTK.
Several thousand Taiwanese packed a square in central Taipei and enjoyed a free eclectic mix of music ranging from aboriginal Taiwanese songs, to rap and the special blend of Taiwanese black metal that is Chthonic.