Painkiller Turned 12 Years Old

Painkiller, with The Falling, Yaksa, and Suffocated at Wacken Festival, Germany 2012.


Painkiller is one of the oldest magazines for music in China, still alive and kicking, an amazing fact given all the barriers that music and music media meet on their development in China, and to be fair, around the world too. Dedicated exclusively to metal, Painkiller have accomplished a lot of victories besides surviving, they have joined several metal festivals, they have brought amazing metal bands to China, the latest being Cannibal Corpse, including Lamb Of God who’s show is still being much well remembered for all who were there, they have support Chinese metal bands connecting them with Western countries, they have done the impossible to bring metal to as many possible corners of China they can, and the best of all, it’s that they are not slowing down, their quest is much energized and motivated to keep on rocking for another two or three or hopefully more cicles of twelve years.

Last week they turned 12 years old, they celebrated with three big events, the last one of them was with Cannibal Corpse in Beijing. There were a series of unforeseen events that caused extra chaos in their preparation for the concert, having to change the venue at the very last minute, not much fun for the already stressed organizers. At the end we could not get the interview done on time, it would have been mean to add more stress to the heroic professional head bangers, but patience has rewards and we can finally bring you this Q&A’s with Yang Yu, Painkiller founder, of RockInChina fame, and metal fundamentalist lover.

We want to express this way our admiration for the work done and for the amazing strength of spirit of the people behind Painkiller, we wish and pray to the gods of metal for their eternal life, or at least until the sun is dead.



Painkiller and friends at the old Get Lucky Bar on 2001.


LYBZ: Who are the founders of Painkiller?

YY: Zakk Wu, Han Ning, Yang Yu and Chen Xi (later Mort Production).

LYBZ: The story of its creation…

YY: Chen Xi had his CD shop in Haidian District where Zakk and Han would often go to browse through all the CDs. They made friend with each other and started to think about the idea of doing a professional metal magazine themselves. At that time (1999) it was very hard to find information about western bands and stuff, especially not much available in Chinese. The three of them already started preparing when I ran into them one day at a metal gig in the old Get Lucky Bar. We immediately hit it so well that I joined their work and also brought in old contacts from Germany (I had been doing a metal magazine when I was in Germany).

Painkiller partners at their first office on 2001

LYBZ: How many people is now working at the magazine, and at the production company?

YY: Still not many, in the office there are 3 persons. Zakk and me, we work mostly at home. When we do concerts, we have a few other people to help us out. So altogether we are 5 or 6, depending how you count it.

Painkiller’s office on 2004, their third location.

LYBZ: What have been the biggest challenges during the evolution of Painkiller?

YY: Hard to say, I guess the hardest challenge is always the next step you are facing right at the moment. It’s even harder now to make money if your company is running a print periodical, that’s why we try to gain more income via live shows and production. But also there, things are not getting any better. Try to survive, that is always a never ending challenge.

LYBZ: What have been the most important achievements?

YY: That we are still alive the way we have always been and getting more professional in what we do.

LYBZ: Why SARS affected the publication on 2003?

YY: It lies in the structure of the whole print media whole-sale system. Print media was going down anyway due to the rise of Internet. SARS was more like a trigger to the dying of the business. People started not to go out or buy any news papers for a long time, most news paper booths closed down and never managed to re-open after the SARS-thing was solved. Actually we were doing way better than other mainstream print media products. Our readership was pretty stable, it’s just altogether people read prints less with time.

LYBZ: Why painkiller is only dedicated to hard rock?

YY: We stick to what we like and know best. Even though for example our Chief editor Han also loves jazz, country, classical music, electronica etc., we can’t say that we altogether are experts on other fields of music. And also, our readership are not that interested in other genres.


LYBZ: Where can we get the magazine? …I have looked for it many times, but i have never found it. Is it possible to get a subscription? how?

YY: Even though we are still in some sort of a whole nation distribution, it’s hard to get our mag to most of the booths. The best way now I guess is to mailorder it on our Taobao shop.

LYBZ: What is the general feeling in Painkiller’s headquarters now during the celebration of the the 12th anniversary?

YY: There is so much to be done, not just the three shows but also other collaborative projects ongoing or to be prepared, you will hardly find us to be at the office. But it still is unbelieveable that we have gone so far, hence it started out of pure enthusiasm for a hobby and now it’s our profession. I can say that I’m very proud of it all. I never made it this far with my German metal magazine back then. And the others are feeling more less the same I guess.

LYBZ:  What is the plan for celebrating the anniversary?

YY: It will be just the three shows we planed, Unearth is already done and it wend very well, many of our friends in Shanghai came and we had a nice time. Back to Beijing now, Cannibal Corspe was awsome, eventhough with some issues but all solved in the end. Looking forward for Dark Funeral and enjoy their legendary music together with our friends in our hometown. It has been a very busy year for us, as the Chinese say, your “year of fate” (when you get into the next 12-year cycle) you might face some torbulances but once you have overcome all challenges, it will go on smoothly. I just realized, Painkiller is actually born under the sign of the Dragon Year.

Painkiller’s four years anniversary party.

LYBZ: What are the new objectives for Painkiller now?

YY: To go more open-minded with project subjects and more efficient in executive processes. There are many ideas for now but we have to see how everything goes with time.

LYBZ:  What is the greatness of heavy of rock?

YY: Great music both with heart and balls, and all not possible without brilliant brain.

Painkiller’s four years anniversary party, Yang and Zakk rocking out.

Painkiller’s official website.


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Mache is a hippie witch that was born under Beltane's full moon. She enjoys talking to ghosts and interdimensional beings, and cooking for her friends and beasts. She has Chilean wine in her veins instead of blood,and at the moment she belongs to China.


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