Inspired by Britpop from classic groups like The Beatles to newer acts like The Cribs, Girls Like Mystery has been a fixture in Shanghai’s underground rock scene since 2011.
Composed of foreign teachers from America and the UK, the band will be releasing their debut album, “Distance Changes Everything,” at Yuyintang on September 13.
“The album really was a labor of love,” explains guitarist Michael Herd. “It’s a mix of sing-along tracks that encompass the full spectrum of the band’s influences from ‘60s rock, blues and most of all, Britpop.”
The group originally started as a three-piece cover band called Moon Entrance formed by Shanghai High School International Division (SHSID) teachers Kevin Wright (vocals and bass), Michael Arone (vocals and keys) and Adam Poole (drums). After a school performance playing covers, the trio decided to focus on writing original material.
Named after a 2007 song by The Cribs, Girls Like Mystery has swelled into a five-piece band after adding Herd and Michael Corayer on trumpet. The band has built up a steady following, regularly performing at Yuyintang while also playing shows for university students at venues like Tanghui in Jiading District and Dujia in Songjiang District.
“It’s a really open scene and bands regularly network with each other in spite of their differing styles to put bills together,” Herd says. “Bands are always willing to help others out and Chinese bands like Daydreamer actively promote shows via weibo microblog and weixin (wechat).”
That community spirit can be found on “Distance Changes Everything.” It’s been a two-year journey to record the album, a process that Wright describes as awful.
However, the finishing touches added by Shanghai-based French producers Acid Pony Club has resulted in a disc that Wright admits “was worth the graft in the end.”
The group’s debut album will be part of a growing canon of albums released in recent years by Shanghai-based foreigner acts like Rainbow Danger Club, X is Y, and The Fever Machine.
However, former Rainbow Danger Club member Corayer is realistic about the ceiling that exists for Shanghai bands.
“The truth is that even the best-known bands in the Shanghai underground scene aren’t making money and aren’t ever going to be on record labels or world tours,” he says. “It’s all DIY and that forces us all to work together and help each other out simply because of a shared love of music.”
For fans of the group, the album release will be a joyous one. Originally, Wright was supposed to move to England, with the show also serving as the group’s farewell.
However, that plan has been scuttled and the band plans to write more songs following a November show at Mao Livehouse.
It’s welcome news to Shanghai rock fans who have seen two beloved groups, Boys Climbing Ropes and Rainbow Danger Club, play epic farewell shows in the past two years.
“I guess it’s inevitable that at some point members will leave to get on with their lives in other places,” Herd says. “But I feel at least having the album ready, we’ve made a solid accomplishment that we can be proud of.”
“Distance Changes Everything” will be given out free as part of the show’s admission. To listen, visit Girls Like Mystery’s Douban page at site.douban.com/girlslikemystery.