INTERVIEW: Quickfire Questions with Underground 97 bands

Okay rockers and rockerinas, as Underground 97 rolls around this weekend, we thought you’d like to get inside the heads of the bands a bit, to see what kind of a place they come from musically.

Unfortunately, it turned out that both the MRIs and the psychiatric analyses were too rich for our blood, so we just threw somethin’ together by asking them a bunch o’ questions.


1. Which of your own songs is your favourite?

Brothers of Roadkill: Questions & Doubts. It’s about dispelling the myth of “thunder and lightning” love and how, at the end of the day, love is about managing and steering through uncertain waters.

Cicadas: It’s usually the newest song we’ve got, at the point that it still shows promise. Shine a Light is like that at the moment for me.

Lemon Baby: Bicycle because it was written about me. Very special.

Milkteeth: I have a love-hate relationship with all the stuff I write, but the one that really sticks out for me is called Hello Officer. I had written it when I was eighteen, about getting caught pissing in a public park. Stupid, I know, but what makes it special is that it’s the first song that my band and I had really worked together on arranging.

Poubelle International: Generally, whatever’s the newest song; always nice to play new songs. At the minute it’s a song with a working title of The C–T Suit, which is about drunken guielows knocking over small Chinese girls on the dance floor!

2. Name one of your favourite albums.

1band-member2-web.jpgBrothers of Roadkill: Songs in the Key Of Life by Stevie Wonder. To say it’s one of the most important albums in the history of recorded music would be an understatement. It was ambitious musically, lyrically and technically, and kids and young artists still attribute it as a major source of inspiration.

Cicadas: You’ll get 4 different answers here, an argument second only to band name. We all come from very different musical backgrounds. I’ll go with Led Zeppelin II because it’s the soundtrack to my youth. So many memories attached to that album for me.

Lemon Baby: Pussycat Dolls PCD; good melody, can dance [to it], feeling so sexy.

Milkteeth: Theo and I have both been listening to a lot of Regina Spektor lately. Her album Begin To Hope is just brilliant. She has a gift for mixing up really sophisticated, daring musical ideas with cutesy delivery – most performers could never pull off half the things that she does.

Poubelle International: I think Bombay Bicycle Club’s will be my favourite album of this year. It’s called I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Sweet, sophisticated indie album, that sits between Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys.

3. And one of your least favourite albums.

Brothers of Roadkill: John Mayer, Battle Studies. Quite a disappointment after the critical success of Continuum.

2Cicadas-1-web.jpgCicadas: Culture Club’s Colour by Numbers; vile, and you couldn’t get away from hearing it everywhere you went in the 80’s.

Lemon Baby: Too many in HK to name.

Milkteeth: The latest Vampire Weekend album was a big disappointment. Just two years ago, they were making great pop music, but they have really lost their edge.

Poubelle International: Always faked interest in Interpol.

4. Vinyl records, cassettes, CDs or downloads? (regardless of current popularity)

Brothers of Roadkill: GO VINYL!! An analog sound that you just can’t replicate with technology. That, and it impresses chicks. When’s the last time you saw a vinyl player in someone’s apartment?

Cicadas: Walking around with 20,000 songs on an iPod is great, but I still like vinyl.

3lemon-baby-web.jpgLemon Baby: Downloads; so easy and convenient.

Milkteeth: We’re all from the CD generation and we still buy them regularly. Sleeve design and packaging, I think, are still a really important part of a band’s way of expressing themselves. On the EP that we’re currently recording, we’re working really hard on integrating image with sound. Jeroen is a designer by day and he’s doing it himself. The cover is an homage to the first Smiths album and features a very naked Theo.

Poubelle International: Don’t care. They all have merits. I do like the hard copy aspect. Probably CDs then. Downloading is convenient. Is streaming not an option? Let’s get with the program!?!

5. Popular music today is (…):

Brothers of Roadkill: still around, but not for long if record companies continue to churn out sub-par canto dribble. Suit up, suits: there’s good pop, and there’s bad pop. Praise the Internet and mobile phones.

Cicadas: very popular. And apparently it doesn’t cost anything.

Lemon Baby: terrible because many songs in HK have bad melodies and bad lyrics. No feeling to the songs. Record companies just want to make money

Milkteeth: the same as it has always been: a mixed bag. You have to sift through a lot of crap to find something that’s really worthwhile.

Poubelle International: fleeting.

6. Playing live or recording in studios? (Pick one – NO fence sitting)

Brothers of Roadkill: Playing live! The energy one gets from a gig…it’s a drug.

Cicadas: We like recording while playing live sitting on a fence.

Lemon Baby: Live, because it is so much more exciting. There are people watching and listening.

4milkteeth_press-web.jpgMilkteeth: Playing live. Definitely. We’re all performers and we never play it safe onstage. Being overly rehearsed and image-conscious as a musical act is really laughable, unless you’re playing Bach. I have no respect for acts like that.

Poubelle International: Live for me. I think Johan would say recording. Dean would probably sit on the fence. To be a good band, though, you have to nail both.

7. Your favourite show that you played till date:

Brothers of Roadkill: @ Eric Tan and Friends. Fringe Club April 2010. Stars were aligned…and everything just came together! We also had many friends supporting us, and that’s always a great experience.

Cicadas: Underground 90 at the melting pot. People were screaming, crying, making out on the dance floor, stabbing each other, it was mental.

Lemon Baby: CCTV Chinese New Year’s Beijing. So many people and so many china stars. Could watch the show all over china.

Milkteeth: We did a show at a great art gallery last month, called Culture Club. The owner let us have free rein and we did everything ourselves: from lighting, to the drink list. Having that kind of creative control really lets you present your band in the way that you want to.

poubelle_web.jpgPoubelle International: Playing last at Time Out’s Big Night Out showcase at Grappa’s (aka Hamish’s leaving do); ten great bands, all did good sets. Hell [of a] good vibe. Great night, great crowd, we played as good as we can, I think. A tick in every box.

8. If you could have a video made for one of your songs today, which song would you pick?

Brothers of Roadkill: Hanging Around the Clouds. This was the first song we rehearsed as a band.

Cicadas: I would probably go with Shine a Light again; it’s the one I like playing the most at the moment.

Lemon Baby: Bicycle; It’s my favourite song.

Milkteeth: Probably a song called Jolly Shandy. To me, it’s a song that uses a lot of imagery. And I guess it would be a good excuse to drink even more of it than I already do.

Poubelle International: We’re just putting the finishing touches on our first real music video. For The Sell Out, the video launches next week, on Tuesday the 25th, on V13.

9. And who would you like to have direct it (if you could have your pick of any director in the world)?

Brothers of Roadkill: Roman Polanski, but not for his directing genius. We want to ask him how much he loves America.

Cicadas: Michael Winterbottom, the director of “9 Songs”. The gigs in that film looked like the centre of the universe.

Lemon Baby: Teddy Robbin; I play in a band with him sometimes.

Milkteeth: I have a thing for a cartoonist called Max Fleishcher. He was the guy who did all those sorta-pervy, sorta-creepy Betty Boop cartoons in the twenties. I’m a huge fan of his. Of course, he’s been dead for fifty years, but a boy can dream.

Poubelle International: In an ideal world, Wes Anderson; he’s an inspiration to Poubelle generally (in life!)

10. One artiste/band in Hong Kong you would like to collaborate with:

Brothers of Roadkill: Audiotraffic. Adrian DaSilva and his crew are amazing talents, and they motivated me to start getting a band together. I would like to hereby publicly call for them to get off their arses and start planning reunion gigs.

Cicadas: How about Edison Chen, is he still around?

Lemon Baby: Papa Jack Band. They are so cool.

Milkteeth: Arthur from Six Pack of Wolves – we did a concert with him in which he played for three of the supporting acts and he was brilliant in each set. It’s rare to come across a musician with that kind of stamina.

Poubelle International: Easy, Hungry Ghosts.

Underground 97 is on the 22nd of May, at the Melting Pot in SOHO. Come check it out; the fun begins at 9!

Also, keep your eyes peeled for Milkteeth’s new EP “Chance” (featuring Kento Kawamura from Chochukmo)..

Interview questions & answers compiled by Shashwati Kala.

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