Shamanism and Rock n Roll? I’m down!
With the Modern Sky Festival‘s U.S. debut coming up in a matter of weeks, we’ve decided to do some pre-festival coverage by getting up close and personal with the Chinese bands playing the festival. This is FarEastVibes’ first time interviewing bands from China, and as passionate fans of the scene over there these interviews are something we’re really proud to be able to give you guys. First up is Second Hand Rose, a band that’s all about culture and honest expression told through vibrant color and personality!
Congrats on playing Modern Sky! Please introduce yourselves.
We are Second Hand Rose. The name was first conceived in 1999 in Harbin in the northeast of China, but the band was first formed a year later, in Beijing. In those early days we already had a clear concept: making rock music with Chinese characteristics, producing local culture that resounds globally. Against the trend in the cultural market of collectively imitating various European and American formats, we decided to convert our own lives into music.
FarEastVibes.com enjoys providing insight into Chinese bands and the Chinese indie scene. Can the members each share something interesting about themselves so our readers can get to know you?
The lead vocalist and the drummer are from Heilongjiang province in northeastern China. Guitar, bass and suona are played by three Beijingers. Our percussionist is from the Netherlands. We’re quite a big band, and maybe it would go to far to explain everyone’s bio here.
Where does the band get their musical inspiration?
Because the lead vocalist’s cultural roots are in the northeast, there is a clear indebtedness in our performances to northern Chinese culture, including local stage traditions, shamanism and folk art.
I know it can be hard for Chinese bands to get the opportunity to perform in America. Do you plan on touring the States in the future? Do you have any shows planned after the festival?
Yes it is hard, but there are always opportunities. Actually, this isn’t our first visit. In 2007 we were invited for a guest performance at the first “Asian Art Expo” organized by New York’s 94 Warehouse. We were mockingly labeled ‘the best art piece of the night’. This time the Modern Sky Festival brings us to Central Park, and with the help of our friends at MusicDish we have been able to arrange a small tour, with shows in Boston (Red Room @ Café 939), Washington DC (Atlas Performing Arts Center), Philadelphia (Hard Rock Café) and finally New York (Webster Hall / Marlin Room).
Confirmed Tour Dates
10/5 New York – Modern Sky Music Festival NYC 2014
10/7 Boston – The Red Room @ Cafe 939
10/10 Washington – Atlas Performing Arts Center
10/15 Philadelphia – Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia
10/19 New York – The Marlin Room at Webster Hall
What are your thoughts on China’s indie scene and making music in China? What are the pros and cons?
Any scene or market is always full of contradictions, pros and cons. The Chinese band scene has been going for over 20 years now. Its musicians, artists, the social environment, media attention, everything went through major changes. We’re still not quite where we want to be, but perhaps that dissatisfaction is what drives artistic creation.
What was it that made people start to notice Second Hand Rose? When did you all begin to really get popular?
We had our major breakthrough with our first show in Beijing, on August 13 2000. At the time we opened up new possibilities for rock music. Getting recognition with mainstream audiences was a process with many ups and downs that took 14 years and that is still ongoing. Last year we were the first Chinese rock band to perform in the Workers’ Gymnasium, a prestigious state-owned stadium. We’re grateful that we were able to pull it off.
Besides performing and making new fans, are there any other things you’re looking forward to doing while in New York? Any places you guys wanna see?
It looks like we are going to be very busy this trip. Next to the shows, we will have a press conference, a fashion show (showcasing our new fashion brand ‘Red and Green’), film screenings and lectures. I personally hope we have time to see an NBA match.
What are some of the band’s future plans?
Flushing out of Asia, Going out into the world.
I hope you all have a sick time! Anything special you want to say to international fans and new listeners before the festival? Where can new fans learn more about you?
Thanks a lot! I hope you all have time to check out our shows, and feel free to bring your friends, especially if they are interested in Chinese youth culture. Let’s rejoice in this rare chance at a cross-cultural carnival of music and culture. If anyone wants to know more about the band, they can check us out on social media.