INTERVIEW: Rustic [GBOB 2009 Winners]

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    Rustically Yours – What’s up with Rustic a half-year post-GBOB

It’s just short of half a year now, since Rustic was declared the unanimous winner of GBOB 2009. That’s where the unanimity seems to end, though – this is not a band of guys who are willing to dress the same way, like the same music, or even have the same viewpoint as to what all they’ve been through. This gives the band a definite split personality when they’re speaking to you (even, mind you, through email!) – and this shows through in their music as well. There’s a definite split in their music, coming from the base rawness of punk, the visual decadence of 70s glam, the androgynous machismo of 80s glam, and the general Benzedrine-effect of good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. This combines to give you a band that makes really infectious music. And their live shows ain’t half bad either.

Since they’ve had some time to deal with winning a competition of GBOB’s scale and all its trappings, we caught up with Rustic’s singer Lucifer and bassist Ricky Sixx. From the petulant to the wise, these newly christened rock stars’ answers run a wide gamut of attitudes. Don’t believe me? Seriously, read the interview…

    Q. It’s been some time since you won GBOB – what’s it like for you now, now that it’s had some time to sink in?

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    Lucifer. I am still really happy about it; I can never forget all that happened during the trip through Hong Kong, London and Newcastle!
    Ricky. Yes. Seems like the glory is fading out with time. Most people are interested in whether we get the $100,000 or not. No one actually cares about being a winning band in a global competition.
    Q. Tell us honestly – was there a point during GBOB that you felt that you could win it, an epiphany of some kind?
    Lucifer. To be honest, I did not really know if we could win, but I did think we could, because I feel that when you dream about something, you should first be there mentally. I told everybody we were gonna win it; the more I told others that, the more times I was telling myself. So finally, I put myself in a corner. Then I had no choice but to win it.
    Ricky. No there wasn’t. But I think that I have always been a lucky boy, ever since I was a kid. Whenever I encountered something tough in my life, good things happened very naturally. I did learn a lot from these experiences though. I found that being successful doesn’t mean that you have to go through a lot of suffering.
    Q. Could you tell us a bit about the origins of the band – how it was formed, what the beginning was like, etc?
    Lucifer. In March 2006 two friends of mine and I decided, while at the train station in the city of Shi Jia Zhuang, to form a band. Because we grew up in a very small town and were like farmers, we

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    called the band Rustic. In high school I used to be the top student, but when I was fifteen that situation suddenly flipped. I was always feeling lonely and unhappy, with my school and with the kinds of jobs my classmates wanted, and I thought that if I didn’t play music, I’d lose all of my joy. I cannot live like many others do, being told how to live. I think I was born like this. Rustic is my first band and my first try to live the life I want.
    We couldn’t organize ourselves for regular practice for quite some time, but we still enjoyed some popularity through casual Sunday performances at a bar called “The Velvet Underground” in Shi Jia Zhuang. We found a unifying inspiration upon discovering David Bowie, the Toy Dolls, and found, through study of their style, a flavour we could call our own, as well as a means to advance our instrumentation.

    Ricky. I joined the band in April 2009, when I had just moved to Beijing. Michael Pettis saw my performance, and then asked me to join Rustic. At the time I didn’t like punk music. But I thought Li [Rustic’s drummer] was a nice guy so, I decided to join them. That was a rapid year. We spent a lot of time together; tough times, happy times, times of grieving and quarrels; but we overcame all of them. However the gap between us has become slightly wider with the benefits that came (but that’s got nothing to do with money!).
    Q. What was the process of growing into your current sound like?
    Lucifer. We are not your typical punk rock band, we are not a typical 80s metal band. We’ve just got the passion and spirit to make something new, and ideas about how to break the rules…The three band members all have the different ideas about music and lifestyles, so we try to mix everything together, let everybody release their own spirit on the stage. We just want to find a new world of Rock ‘n’ Roll music.
    Q. Who would you say are your main influences, specifically beyond the obvious ones (Mötley Crüe for example)?
    Lucifer. For me, some great Chinese Rock bands, British punk rock, glam rock, Irish folk music, and also some terrible classical music stuff.
    Ricky. My main influence is Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe, Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P., David Lee Roth, Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks, and also Hong Kong idol Nicholas Tse (whom I liked a lot during my teenage years. I guess people will laugh at me for it. But I loved him at the time. It’s him that inspired me to play guitar.)
    Q. Your look shares something with the visual kei movement from Japan- was that an influence at all?
    Lucifer. I don’t think so; you’re asking a weird question.

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    Ricky. No. I don’t like those ladies from Japan. People think we are visual rock is because of me. I don’t like Japanese bands, especially X-Japan. Their outlook makes me sick. However Loudess is not bad. What I like is wildness, not being effeminate. I put on makeup and expose my body because I wanna look sexy – it makes it easier to meet girls!
    Q. Was there anyone outside the band that was a real help to your music?
    Lucifer. Michael from Maybe Mars, our manager, and all the bands who’ve played with us – we learned a lot from them.
    Ricky. No one guides us how to do Rustic’s music. Michael’s support is substantial but nobody comments on our music. We don’t need a 4th person to make remarks- the dissent between the three of us is enough!
    Q. Were there any missteps along the way – a song you’re not particularly proud of, or a phase that you went through that you now consider a mistake?
    Lucifer. I don’t really mind that; I feel like everything wrong is right.
    Ricky. I don’t like some of our songs, and even don’t wanna play them. Yet I cannot help it. Some silly people still think they’re good. Rustic has always attracted audiences with different tastes. As we have songs in different styles, we never regret the paths we took.
    Q. What is it that you use songwriting as – a mouthpiece for your views, a vent for your feelings, or something else?
    Lucifer. We write about simple things, something that’s really easy to feel…About males, females and money, stuff like that. Something dirty, something beautiful – true feelings.
    Ricky. Most of the music is not written by me. I do write lots of words. All these are a vent of my feelings, and my dissatisfaction with the real world. Yet my words are not quite a good fit for Rustic, as we don’t need to communicate our feelings so directly. Sometimes the songs are written only for the purpose of a performance.
    Q. If you could be born into a period of musical history, any one at all, which would it be and why?
    Ricky. I would like to have lived in 1980’s Hollywood California Rock Town in the US. I wish I was the vocalist of Motley Cure, with Nikki Sixx on bass, Tommy Lee on drums, and George Lynch on guitar.
    Q. You made a very astute point about rock ‘n’ roll not being just about sex and drugs, but also laughter. However, the pattern tends be that such people are seen as trivialising music (like, say, Zappa was). What’re your views on this, and do you have any favourite artistes who you think reconciled this difference particularly well?
    Ricky. Rock music is an extreme way for people in lower class to get money and fame. We love music so we put emotion into it, voicing the idea that most people have in their hearts – to change their life, and to have understanding and support from others. Sex and drugs are not equal to rock. Everyone loves sex. We find it more pleasing because lots of girls are willing to sleep with rock musicians. People don’t have legal ways to try drugs, or they are told not to take them. If every adult in the world is given some cocaine, maybe 1% will say they love it, the rest will lie. This kind of over-civilization of humans is just for their own peace of mind. Our music is not about laughter but to let myself loose. I don’t understand why there are lots of stupid fellows watching us and laughing.
    Lucifer. I think Life is a mix of comedy and tragedy. Laugher and enthusiasm are something

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    everybody wants to have. I prefer people call me stupid and laugh at me; it’s better than crying for me. Rock ‘n’ roll is also life, and an attitude. I want to enjoy myself, and let other people enjoy themselves too – that’s how the world becomes beautiful.
    Q. This is probably a time of really rapid change for the band – what’s that like, and do you think it’s changed the band, the music or your shows at all?
    Ricky. This is a transition period. We are wandering between failure and success. A world tour is the best solution. Playing in different places will make our music real music.
    Lucifer. All of this has given everybody much more confidence. With confidence you can conquer everything. This makes us look forward greatly to the big stages to come.
    Q. Finally, what’s coming up in the near future for the band? Anything you’re particularly excited about?

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    Ricky. Plan? We don’t know! We don’t have a good manager to plan for us. 3 of us are just stupid-heads not knowing what we could do for our future. Those who want to help cannot help. Those who do not want to help us are even more useless. We’d feel excited if we could play in front of more audiences. However currently we seem to have gotten stuck. Maybe GBOB should let us finish our UK tour earlier. It’s better to do it earlier. Skid Row would not go back home, get married and have babies after finishing their 3rd album.
    Lucifer. Well, we’ve just finished the first album. The producer is the lead singer from P.K.14 (Yang Haisong). We’re waiting for the new noise to come out of the house!

    Rustic will perform as special guests at the GBOB China final 2010, right here in Hong Kong!
    21st November, at Sticky Fingers in TST…
    Visit Rustic on Facebook HERE
    Interview questions and editing by Shashwati Kala
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