It began in the dungeon. With dragons.
Shanghai’s newest band is called Astrofuck. It is the unlikely conglomeration of a man who has spent much time chronicling the comings and goings of Shanghai rock (as well as playing a ton of Dungeons & Dragons), a DJ who loves Frank Zappa, and a germaphobe graphic designer with a taste for metal.
Few bands start like this. If their creation myth intrigues you, catch their first show ever this Friday night at Yuyintang, in support of Baltic States. It’s a big gig for Baltic States, too, as they (he?) are releasing their second album.
We’re not going to ignore Baltic States on this site. As soon as we get the album, we’ll review it. I really liked the last one so I look forward to seeing them live, as well.
However, this piece is more of an introduction for the new band, Astrofuck. The band consists of Andy Best on guitar, DJ Cavia (performing as HHH [Hungry Hungry Hippos]) on beats and other stuff, and Kaine Lv on vocals.
The band came together after Andy and Kaine began working with another producer who has since left town. HHH first met Andy at a Dungeons & Dragons game and later joined up to fill out the trio. Soon after, according to Andy, “I realized we had a real band and it was no longer a ‘project.’”
Andy has been a part of a few musical collaborations in the recent past, but this one is different in that, “In the old band [The Expendables], I had a bunch of songs already; music, all parts and lyrics, and was recruiting people to learn them. With this band it’s more about having a good group and developing it together.”
So what can we expect from Astrofuck?
Well, they have about eight songs prepared so far, one an instrumental. None of them have been recorded in full, but you can check out a demo on their Douban page. The band gave me a brief description of the themes of each track and they sound pretty interesting. My favorite? “The Funeral”, which is about, “A surreal dream involving Yoko Ono, who asked K to puke on her.”
Other topics include the pointlessness of diet foods (“Sugar Free Coke”), Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants (“Patrick”), giving tutorials on how to make love with pets (“Dog Fucker’s Manual”), germaphobia (“I Can’t Jump In the Poo”l), assholes (“1 P.M.”, sung in Shanghainese), and the inability to handle relationships (“Love is Shit”). So the group’s subject matter is eclectic, if nothing else.
And how will they sound live?
It’s hard to tell. I have seen a couple videos from their practice. They feature tight, simple beats, a lot of cool guitar riffs, and Kaine’s voice, which is delivered in more of a talk-y than sing-y way. The key to this band will be the energy they can muster on stage, something that we’ll have to see in person. Another crucial element will be HHH and how he is utilized. I asked him about this and he said that, as of now, it’s pretty open.
“Right now I can play a single Ableton Live [track] with my mouse. Or I can put MIDI keyboard, drum pads, controllers, samplers, and effects all together. I was telling Andy that I’d like to try playing bass on stage and I still have that thought. We will figure it out after a couple of shows.”
It seems that learning how to fully unlock the talents of this otaku/hacker/ rock record collector/DJ could be the way to realize the full potential of this somewhat unlikely collective. Another question will be how to fully translate Kaine’s oft-cool demeanor into a vibrant and mysterious presence on stage. These things will decide how well Astrofuck plays to a live audience.
I asked Best how he has applied the knowledge gleaned from covering the Shanghai scene to this current project.
“Just do the thing that you like and take your time. It’s best to be yourselves and let your own identity grow. There’s nothing else really, there’s no real industry for the bands here. The scene success stories all took their time to develop and grow, and to let people come along with them, like Boys Climbing Ropes, Sonnet, or Top Floor Circus. It takes time.”
Indeed, time will tell if Astrofuck will rise from the dungeons of 0093 rehearsal space or end up lying dormant like a dragon beneath the bedrock and concrete of Yan’an Lu. Whatever the answer, it will be an interesting journey to follow, and the first step occurs February 2nd at Yuyintang.