INTERVIEW: King Ly Chee

In the lead up to King Ly Chee’s 10 year anniversary and China Tour, we decided to find out more about this amazing band.
Questions by Chris B
Answers from Riz of King Ly Chee


KLC_web_10years.jpgHow does it feel knowing you are celebrating 10 years of being in one band?
I definitely have to say that I’m proud I have persevered playing in this band because it proves that we were always sincere about the type of music we play. I was 13 years old when I got the “hardcore” bug and as a 33 year old now, I’m proud to say that I’m still listening to this music, and it’s still the music that really and truly speaks to me.

As modern as Hong Kong claims to be, more often than not I get people making fun of me when they find out that I play in a “screamy” band like King Ly Chee. It sucks because you would think that as people age their minds would be a lot more open and welcoming of different types of music and people in general. But no, there they are making fun of me when they hear that I scream for a loud heavy band “You seriously listen to this stuff?” What the hell kind of question is that? Hahahaha…”All you guys scream is fuck this-fuck that-isn’t it?” Actually, no that’s not ALL I scream. I actually scream about growing up in Hong Kong as an ethnic minority and the issues that I’ve had to face. The reason I do this self-therapy as well as hoping that hearing these words provides some sort of comfort to people who are going through this as well.

I see you have had frequent member changes? Frequent changes of drummers and basssists?
How has that affected the songwriting in the band?

It’s been horrible… :-( I will be the first to say that I’m not necessarily the easiest person to work with because I’m painfully stubborn, annoyingly particular and very demanding as a band member. That’s NOT good qualities to have as a person in general let alone a band member. So the comings and goings of previous band members have been in part because of who I am and how I just want this band to accomplish something huge. That has been a very TOUGH lesson for me to learn about myself, and I’ve tried hard to make amends of my past. We’re all human – we all make mistakes, it takes big hearts to forgive and move on and luckily most everyone has forgiven me and whether or not they’re in this band anymore, they’re still supporting it!

In terms of songwriting – absolutely! You can hear it in the musical styles with every release we’ve put out…

The current lineup is putting out some top quality stuff because everyone is throwing in guitar riffs, or favorite parts, ideas and opinions, etc…You guys will all be able to hear this when we release our brand new album early next year!!! (You will also hear 3 of these new songs from our album on a special tour CD that we’re putting out for this CNHC 10 Year Anniversary tour!!! It’ll be available at the Underground show for sure!!!)

klc2.jpgNow that you (are the other band members also?) in your thirties, does Hardcore mean something different to you when you were starting out in your early twenties with King Ly Chee?

I’m the only one in my 30’s right now…we did some math last night and when I started this band our current drummer Egas was only 11! Hahahahahaha…awesome!

Hardcore has not changed one bit in my heart, mind and soul. It’s still about using our energy and efforts to help those people who have no voice, and comfort those who are dealing with their own struggles whether political or personal. The world still has plenty of horribly unjust things taking place everywhere – seeing the horrible poverty in the slums of Manila that are situated right outside the high and mighty walls of the affluent will bring a cold reminder of that. There are plenty of things to sing about and topics to touch on…

People always assume that hardcore is ALL I listen to. People just need to look through my Ipod or ask any of my friends about how varied my musical tastes truly are…like one of my current favorite songs is the Black Eyed Peas song called “I’ve Got a Feeling”! :-)

I remember booking you for an Earth Day event, do you remember:? Unfortunately for all of us it was raining and a real washout. That was actually the first time I saw King Ly Chee play :)
Which leads me to my actual question, do you know HOW MANY GIGS King Ly Chee has performed at? The actual number? Is it over 200 shows? Do you keep a list of all your shows? Do you know? Hahahahaa

Oh my god I remember that!! That was YEARS ago at the Tamar site which is now being converted into government offices! What a trip that was – I remember that the stage was undercover and had lots of room so we asked the audience that was standing out in the rain to just come up on stage and get undercover.

I truly don’t know how many shows we’ve played…In 10 years I wouldn’t be surprised if it was way over 200! There was a period that we were playing almost 6 shows a month! Those were amazing times for us because the local support we had was intense! Local industry people were paying attention to us wondering how a heavy band like us was getting such support. This was right after LMF exploded and they thought that we could’ve been the next LMF or something like that (our drummer at the time, Kevin, was doing dual-band duties as our drummer and LMF’s as well).

nofx.jpgA complete list of the most memorable shows would be amazing…but we’ve played so many that I couldn’t for the life of me begin that insane process of documenting all those shows. Our website does have a list going so you guys can start there if you’d like to know some of these shows…(touring for 2 weeks with NOFX through Asia as their direct support band is definitely up there! Playing in front of 32,000 at this year’s Summer Slam festival in Manila is up there too for sure…too many to start listing…)

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And what was the WEIRDEST experience for you on stage? Any? Loads?

Too many to name hehehehehe…

I think my favorite will always be the times when random people get so into the music that they come on stage, grab my mic and start screaming at the top of their lungs! It may sound weird to you – but it’s SO amazing when this happens! These people are just letting it all out – whatever their frustrations or hardships, they’re just letting go of all of that by screaming randomly into a microphone. This has happened SO MANY times over the years…The way I see it, better that they let out all their negative feelings through a microphone or at a show, then go get high and get killed in the process…

summerslam.jpgThe first time we played Philippines’ biggest rock festival called Summer Slam was in 2008 and we played in front of like 20,000 people and they had these two weird catwalks that stretched right out into the audience. We made all these DIY CD’s with our stuff on it and I walked out there to hand them out to the audience! They all went mental!!! They started grabbing my legs and taking my shoes!!! That was SOOOOOOOOOOOO awesome!!! I could NEVER say enough incredible things about the Philippines’ awesome music scene…

What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?

Well 2 of our band members are from Macau (Egas – drummer, Kent – guitar)!!! So that has made things tough but these guys are so dedicated to this band that they travel here every weekend and actually live in our practice space. Luckily it has a bathroom and shower etc…but still, that’s dedication right there!!!

So our weekends are packed with practice both days. Lately it’s been nuts because we’re recording our new record in the room so when these guys come one of them will be recording while the other guy (and the rest of us) kinda sit around doing nothing which really sucks especially since we all really love performing so we get the “itch” to just pick up a pair of sticks or get our guitar and start writing and playing. But we’re trying to figure out this balance right now between dividing our time recording, designing CD covers, designing merch, writing new music and practicing for our upcoming 12 day China tour!!! Talk about being busy!!! And we still have our daytime jobs!!!

klclogo.jpgIf you could play on your dream tour, what bands would be on it? (can be dead musicians – its’ just a fantasy question)

Dude! It would be a HUGE package tour with the following bands hahahahaha:

Sick of it All
Slayer
Ella Fitzgerald
Coldplay
King Ly Chee
Iron Maiden
Jawbreaker
Hatebreed

Hehehehehehehe…

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?

There are a lot of people…

For me – Paul Wong comes right to mind! Since the beginning of this band, we’ve paid for EVERYTHING ourselves. When we go on tour we pay for flight tickets and accommodation ourselves. When we release music we pay for that stuff (posters, advertisements, CD printing, etc). Paul Wong was the first person that came on and took us under his wing, put money down and made things happen for us – HUGE things! It was because of him that we did a billion interviews during the Stand Strong album cycle and got our name everywhere. I will NEVER NEVER forget that…he is the godfather of rock in this city of ours and we are one of the luckiest bands on this planet to have been able to get his support!

The only other person that I feel I truly want to mention is my girlfriend…she has put up with me for 8 years and that ain’t no easy feat (read my response to the question about ex-members). She has stuck by me through thick and thin and I’m one of the luckiest people alive to have her unconditional love and support…

Then of course all the people like you Chris B who have helped this band in one way or another these past 10 years…that list is INSANELY huge…

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Lastly, do women bear their breasts at your band? ;)

For some reason, the only breasts that we get to see are our guitar player Kent’s! That is NOT a pretty sight!

Catch King Ly Chee performing on 19th December 2009 at Underground Heavy #1.

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