Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Meet Insurgent Kid

Rainy in Yangshuo, and if this tour is going to turn into a fireball it will need more than a bottle Changyu Super Fine Brandy - where can you buy a friggin bottle of Jack in this country? But Dirtstar is coming to Sichuan on the weekend, and in that there is vast potential...

...so the only hitch in the first gig was a drunk French guy who believed in some frogified form of Real Punk almost got into a fight in the rinky-dink mosh pit with one of the throwback mohawk dudeworshippers of the lead singer in whatever the leadup band was. Nothing there. And when it was over some Joe Satriani/ Slash/ Howard Stern-looking white dude was calling himself the Hacker from Hackensack and to come check out his band, then it was, "Hey, we're gonna go in the back room and get high, you wanna come?" Still not in tip top form, I took a pass. And then I saw the bass player, Fredrik, with a mug of beer.

"You drink?"

"Yeah, I'm the only one."

"Thank God."

We clinked containers.

"Yeah, I need a couple just to get ready for a show, and then after to relax."

This is very good news....

...Now maybe this is a good time to introduce the cast of characters:

MaD, Chinese kid from Wuhan, tour manager and backup guitarist. Short and plodding, Internet geek who's into Guy Debord, sort of like the Yoz of the Chinese rock scene except he's too serious to joke around. Check his web site, WuhanPunk.com where you'll also find his zine Chaos. When I first read a flimsy newsprint copy someone had smuggled back to Taipei, I thought it was a bunch of wussy shit, commanding novelty interest mainly for this goofy idea of "anarcho-communism." What I didn't realize was how rare this kind of thing is here, and even though there is not even a hint of a direct reference to any actual government - it's really just some wishful utopianism - MaD says he worries a bit about getting busted, i.e. reeducated, for putting out "a few ideas I think people should pay attention to." Crackdowns have truly kept alternative political thought to adolescent levels. No wonder there seems more room in the fluff of women's magazines and the like, where officially sanctioned commericalism leaves real room to maneuver....But introvert that he is, MaD is on top of things. Every time an organizer fucks up reserving train berths, he's the one that scrambles to fix it, waking up early to go to the train station or wherever and dealing, dealing, dealing....

Jonas, at 32 or 34, is the band's old man, tour treasurer, and drummer. Maybe the only one without tatoos. If this was baseball (cinema), he'd be Kevin Costner's character in Bull Durham. He's been in bands since 1994 and touring somewhere once a year. Metallica once offered to fly his brother, former lead singer in an underground famous band called Refused, to Stockholm to hang out with them, and when bro met Anthrax, they asked to have his picture taken with him; and it goes on: Tom Morello and Vincent Gallo while in Sweden asked Jonas' bro to come chill with them, and basically he couldn't be bothered....back to Jonas: highly personable, cool, takes things in a reasonable and slow manner, almost like he's sedated, but drums with a bit of fire. And oh yeah, he's a straight-edge Vegan.

Erik, the lead singer, has a tatoo of a chimpanzee with an AK47 slung over its shoulder on his right forarm. I asked where he got it, and the answer was "It was just, like, an old t-shirt I had like 5 or 6 years ago." No special meaning. A couple other tats as well. Also straight-edge Vegan, he's skinny, internal, and the perferct image of a punk frontman on stage - a whirling dervish, a man possessed, an Ian Curtis.

Stefan, massive forarm tats and black-died hair and for the last couple days wearing a black metal t-shirt where the script reads DRUG FREE. Nice guy, I talk with him a fair bit, yesterday about straight edge, which he says was a fair sized movement in Sweden a few years ago but has died down a bit. He drank till he hit the legal drinking age, then gave it up. Straight edge is mostly a personal thing, a reaction against punk's hypocrisy of calling for social change while being massively fucked up all the time. He's actually just a fill-in guitarist, as Jonas brother (Dennis, a different brother) couldn't make it. His other band is somewhere between punk and metal.

Fredrik, bass player. Thank god he drinks beer. Also not a Vegan, but vegetarian, as is Stefan. A young dude and a pretty regular guy, rock 'n roll wise.

On to day two....


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