roundeyeband

Craig “Chachy” Englund is an American musician who living in Shanghai for 3 years. His home punk rock band the Libyan Hit Squad is hibernated now. His Chinese band the Round Eye has formed in 2012 by a bunch of ex-pat. Their music is more complex than the LHS. There are rhythm’n’blues and doo wop elements beside punk rock:

Round Eye: slang used by Asians to describe the white man.

Recently released: Libyan Hit Squad / Round Eye 12″ split record

An interview with Chachy
with lots of Chinese music

 

Your Chinese tour has ended now. Whereabouts you were? What was it? Did you see and experience interesting things?

Our first real day-to-day tour of China has ended and M.O.T.O., Round Eye, and Goushen had an INCREDIBLE time! Our tour dates hit familiar cities and cities many of us have never been to such as: Beijing, Songjian, Shanghai, Hefei, Nanchang,Suzhou, Hong Kong, and Zhuhai. The college towns of Songjian and Nanchang were my favorite places to play. The kids were really hungry for entertainment and weren’t scared to just let loose and go nuts. Phew we really burned the candles at both ends on this one but in the end everything was extra crazy fun. Running around bare ass naked on the streets and beaches of Zhuhai at 4 in the morning while being chased by Chinese police officers was fun too haha.

It is very interesting for me that Americans move there. I think it is another world for them. Or not?

In a lot of ways it is different but sometimes it can feel very much the same as where I’m from (US). The real differences are felt when you travel the smaller towns and less populated provinces of China. Things run at a very different logic and speed there. Not to say that Shanghai makes complete sense for foreigners, because it doesn’t (especially when it comes to waiting in lines), but I dunno, different mentality. Less rush. The shows and show etiquette are very much the same; loud music, dancing, sweat, beer, smiles. Language can be a real barrier but once you get the hang of it (mandarin) things aren’t too bad.

Since when do you live there? What was the motivation of your move?

I moved to China in 2010. I moved here from Orlando, Florida USA partly because I was bored, partly because I was broke, and partly because a close friend of mine who had lived in Beijing and rubbed elbows with the Maybe Mars* guys had suggested it to me before he died. There wasn’t a definitive reason. I definitely wasn’t planning on being a part of the music underground on arrival. In fact, it took me nearly two years to try my hand at it.

*Maybe Mars is an independent record label in Bejing since 2007.

You have changed not only residence, but culture too. What are the main differences between the two cultures and two mentalities? What are the really strange things for you?

Urgh, well taking a shit will never be the same again for me. I still haven’t mastered the art of squatting. I swear I think the Chinese ankles are built differently than western ones. I just… can’t… squat. I do hear that it’s better and cleaner for your bowels though.

How the natives look at you, at the American who moved to China?

Well, haha I look pretty weird and hairy even by Western standards so if the first thought to a Chinese person’s mind isn’t “Call the police! – A gorilla’s escaped from the zoo!” then I’m OK. Other than that, yes I will always be the Laowai* to a Chinese person’s perspective. It’s a subtle and often innocuous form of stereotyping. However, not gonna lie; it is annoying.

* Laowai is one of several Chinese words for foreigner. It can be translated as “always” (lao) “foreigner” (wai).

What is the rock musical scene there?

The poster child for China’s music scene is at the moment Beijing. That’s a hotbed for established and up and coming groups such as PK14, Snapline, Bedstars, and Streets Kill Strange Animals .

Editor’s note
PK 14 is the most known and most successful Chinese indie rock band.
SNAPLINE is a no wave post punk band. When Martin Atkins (drummer of PIL, Brian Brain, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Killing Joke, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, Murder Inc.) was in China he saw them and not only signed them on own label the Invisible Records, but he was the producer of their first album (Party Is Over, Pornostar – 2007) and published a Pigface/Snapline split 7” too in 2006.
BEDSTARS are punks.
STREETS KILL STRANGE ANIMALS are under the influence of Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth and Fugazi.

1-1 short video from them

Shanghai is just starting to show some growth but it’s nowhere near its neighbor to the North. Any given night in Beijing there’s probably 8-10 must see gigs happening. Shanghai, MAYBE two. All of this being said, mainland China hasn’t really had the time to develop its rock culture, not as much as say the US or UK. Rock culture started here in the mid to late 1980s so that should give you an idea of how things are at this point.

I’m sure that you have some favourite local bands, Chinese foods and sayings:

My favorite foods are usually from the Chinese provinces of Yunnan (the only Chinese region I’ve seen goat cheese as a common dish), Xinjiang (muslim dishes), Sichuan, or Dongbei regions (northeastern foods).

sayings: tamada (exclamation usually associated with “fucking”: fucking shit)
goushi (dog shit…yeah that’s a good one too)

bands: I really dig these dudes at the moment: Reykyaviktim, Stalin Gardens (rip), The Instigation, Goushen, Top Floor Circus, Bedstars, and Second Hand Rose.

Editor’s note:
STALIN GARDENS were a weird experimental noise-rock trio. They called their music black pop.
THE INSTIGATION is a hardcore band from Shanghai. They moved to Japan.
GOUSHEN: grunge with hardcore and metal elements
SECOND HAND ROSE mix traditional Chinese music with rock’n’roll.
TOP FLOOR CIRCUS is one of the most interesting Chinese bands. They play all sorts of music, but they don’t take the poses, manners and outwards of these genres seriously. They stand under the influence of avant-garde art, especially dada and the surrealism so they are simultaneously funny and blood-curdling serious. There are extremely rare among the rock musicians that somebody cites Baudrillard like TFC singer, Lu Chen, “the pop punk ringmaster of Shanghai rock folk” in an interview.

A Top Floor Circus clip:

Another face of Top Floor Circus

 


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