INTERVIEW: What Pairs (Shanghai) Said…

What Pairs Said…

Think crazy music, with harsh, unrelenting beats, and an obtuse, angular kind of a voice that comes in somewhere between a mass of tangled guitars, with cool titles – and you have a rough approximation of what Pairs from Shanghai sound like. And if you like that account, you’ll definitely want to check them out when they hit HK on Saturday, October the 2nd, along with three other local acts to pad out the time of the show (go here for more info). So, since their music oozes intrigue out the wazoo, we thought we’d catch up with them for a short interview, and here it is. Read on…

Q. First off, were you guys ever into The Germs? ‘Cause the length, musicianship and vocal style of the songs remind me a lot of them?

A. Can’t say I have ever owned a Germs record. I should probably get on to that. Ask me again next week and I’ll be a Germs expert. Much Germs.

Q. Who are your other influences – musically and performance-wise?

A. We don’t really have ‘influence’, we generally just go for the blatant rip off. So we rip off bands like Royal Headache, Die!Die!Die!, Jason Molina, Kes, Trail of Dead, The Dudettes. Direct copying. We don’t even pay homage. Just a carbon copy.

Q. How would you describe your own sound?

A. Awful, awful timing from awful, awful people.

Q. Has it happened that you’re listening to yourself play, and it suddenly hits you that “We sound so much like ___!”, even just for one song?

A. “We sound so much like trash!” often rolls through my head. Despite the fact we steal from everyone else, we do such a bad job of it that it’s really hard to hear what we are trying to do. I don’t even know what we’re trying to do. Once I thought our guitar riff sounded like Everclear. That was a good day.

Pairs1.jpgQ. It’s interesting that there’s been a comparison drawn to GG Allin – as I understand it, there’s not really been anything like the insanity that his shows used to be. So, where did this analogy come from?

A. I don’t know where it came from. People say stuff and put our name in said sentence. I’ve never claimed that, nor do I encourage people to say that. Although I do encourage people to say whatever they want about us, so maybe I am encouraging it. Anyway, it’s totally unfounded. There isn’t much GG Allin about us.

Q. Who writes the lyrics for your songs? And where does the lyrical inspiration come from? (As an addendum, how did Old Blowjob come about?)

A. I (Xiao Zhong; drummer) write the lyrics. Although they change quite a lot. Goldfish. Old Blowjob is a term I like to think I created, hold up, I’ll google it now. The website is for sale. Going once, going twice.
Old Blowjob is a term that is about people who have been doing the same stuff for ages. Just the same thing, day in day out for years. It’s more used for people in a rut, rather than a healthy routine. I’ve got nothing against routines, you need them, but Old Blowjob refers to people who have been sucking the same ol’ dick for years.

Q. What’s the music scene like in Shanghai? And where does Pairs fit in?

A. The music scene is growing pretty fast it seems. There are a lot of interesting and fun bands popping up which is really cool. Friend or Foe just started playing around town and they’re ace fun. Seems that there isn’t a short supply of bands, seems more that there is a short supply of venues for bands to cut their teeth. Not sure where we fit in, or if we do. But it doesn’t seem to me that any bands in Shanghai really fit in. Shanghai doesn’t seem to have one main genre or style. Beijing seems to have a lot more festival rock dance bands, but Shanghai doesn’t seem to have that. I know some people are trying to start bands like that, but until then, I’d say no one in Shanghai really fits in – so it makes for some interesting bills and parties.

pairs2.JPGQ. Clearly your style of music is very suited for live performances, but how did you adjust to the studio environment? (I’d heard you’d recorded some stuff recently…)

A. We are yet to do any recording in the studio. We did a live recording at Yuyintang, a venue in Shanghai on a Tuesday night when they were closed. Just did each song once, except Yangpu Qu which we tried a few times because I diva’d out, even though we ended up using the first take anyway. Not sure how it would sound in a proper studio. Probably extra awful.

Q. You’re into the last leg of your kind-of China tour, right? So, how’s it been so far? Anything particularly memorable?

A. We’re not on tour. I’m not a fan of touring that style. I hate carting my backpack around and all that stuff. One strap is really tight for some reason so it’s a pain to put it on and off again. We just try and get out of Shanghai every second month. So we’ll work through the week then go to some filth pit to play, then come home on Sunday, work all week and do it again.

Q. Got anything big planned once you get back to Shanghai, or are you two gonna take a rest?

A. We’ll just go back to work. Working for the man. Keep doing the same stuff. Practicing after work, writing new songs, playing shows and all that jazz. No big plans. No small plans. We’re playing as Wham! on Halloween so that might be fun, or awful. Probably awful for all involved.

Pairs plays for the Underground on 2nd October, at Rockschool. Come check it out.

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