This year has been heavy with album releases by locally based bands, and self-described “spazz-pop” trio Hu Jia Hu Wei is getting into the act.
Named after a Chinese fable meaning “fox assuming tiger’s ferocity,” the band will release their first physical CD with a headlining show next Friday at On Stage, supported by up-and-coming acts Marquee VII and iAmalam.
“We recorded it ourselves in The Chows, where we practice. Got two recording things, put them in the middle of the room and went for it,” Australian singer/guitarist Xiao Zhong explains. “The record release show should be a good night. Nathan from On Stage doesn’t do a thing by halves. He’s got a pro lighting guy in and a super pro sound guy who takes a mean punch.”
While the CD is the first release from Hu Jia Hu Wei since last October, record releases are nothing new to Xiao Zhong, aka Rhys.
Best known as the singer/drummer of the guitar and drum duo Pairs, Xiao Zhong has released nine albums since last October: five with Pairs and side projects like “Summer Dick” where he exchanges sung e-mails with a friend, and Chinese pop project, “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.”
“Every record came about naturally. Ideas came to mind and rather than write them down, we acted on them,” Xiao explains. “Generally when you do something a little different and put yourself out there, there is a bunch of like-minded people that come out and find you. There’s no great manifesto. Don’t mistake me as some guy with some amazing plan. I’m not that bright and we just like to get things done.”
Raised in the smallish Australian town Bendigo, Xiao Zhong first started playing drums in high school with punk acts like Chodey McChode and the Uncut Charlies and Bang!Bang!Aids!
Following university, he hopped on a plane to Tianjin and has remained in China, where he goes by his Chinese pseudonym because “it’s way easier and I feel more in control.”
Although he’s a man with numerous projects including the local music blog Slink Rat, Xiao Zhong is best known for Pairs. Since releasing a double album on Hong Kong label Metal Postcard last November, the group has released a pair of experimental records — the piano record “Eltham Join” and the electronica-tinged “Your Feet Touched Ground, A Carousel.”
“Reactions have been odd,” he says. “Some people really liked the piano record and some hated it. The reaction to the electronic record was totally expected. People listened to it and never mentioned it again although we get three or four e-mails from people saying how much they loved it. Doesn’t matter what the reactions really are. If you don’t like it, move on. If you like it, ace!”
While the albums may be divisive, Xiao Zhong’s Chinese rock and roll experience is full of excitement. Although he cites his recent wedding in Tianjin as his most memorable Chinese moment, Xiao Zhong laughs about being heckled in Zhuhai of southern China’s Guangdong Province, seeing dogs dance in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, and playing the Modern Sky Festival in Beijing.
“Hands-on learning works for me and I reckon that’s how you get better and figure out what you do and don’t like,” he says. “Making an album here is easy on all levels. Douban.com is easy. Bandcamp.com isn’t blocked. Starbucks has free Wi-Fi. Your smartphone and computer have a microphone. Recording can cost a bit if you don’t want to do it yourself but if you are happy to rent a practice space for 50 yuan (US$8.06) and push out a record, then it’s amazingly easy.”
Date: October 18, 9pm Venue: On Stage, A2-101 Red Town, 570 Huaihai Rd W. Tickets: 50 yuan (with CD and limited-edition calendar)