Highway 11: Who are New Hong Kong Hair City? Macgregor Ian Wooley: Sexyphone/Vocals Kyle: Skins Danielle: Vocals/Keys/Kyle\'s conscience. Tom: 4-string Bowel Mover H11: What\'s with the name? Mac: Back when I lived in San Francisco there was a Chinese-run hair salon by that name. Probably a translation from Chinese that just came out wrong. Ironic, as if you say the name in Chinese it makes absolutely no sense either. Danielle and I thought it was awesomely ridiculous and said that we would name our band that one day. At the time we were joking. Cut to a year or so later, we lived in Taiwan, had a band and needed a name. I find it rather fitting, as Taipei could be seen as \'New Hong Kong\' and with the crazy soccer mom hair of all the youngsters, \'hair city\' seems rather accurate. Kyle: I believe it\'s some kind of bathhouse Mac used to go to in San Fran. Tom: I remember it - very fondly - as the title of a series\' of pornographic 8mm films featuring hirsute Asian women. H11: How would you describe your sound? Kyle: Earth shattering. Mac: Face melting, ass shaking rock and roll. Yeah, we have no guitar. Yeah, we have a girl singing, keyboards and a saxophone, but we are rock to the core. Danielle: A friend put it pretty well once when we were asking other people to try and describe it, \'NHKHC sounds like a train. A cool train, a purple train, a sexy train, a train that don\'t stop for no one that ain\'t rockin.\' People ask me all the time how I would describe it but I haven\'t really done a good job putting it into words. Our sound ranges from funk to hard rock, which always blows people\'s heads off after they see a girl with keys, a sax, bass and drums set up on stage. It even surprises me how loud we get. Tom: Given how I feel when I play it, I can only think of it as rock. Someone else called it Heavy Jazz but I think that\'s because of the presence of a saxophone. I\'ll stick with Deep Soul-ish Funk Pop. H11: Why no guitar? Mac: Every rock band of the last 50 years has had a guitar. Enough already! Actually, I just wanted to do something different. Having a rock band without guitar has made all four of us step it up and think about our instruments in a different way. The result has been awesome in my opinion. Certainly not lacking in sound or volume. Danielle: Agreed. I have also really enjoyed the textures that can be achieved with our instrumentation, we have to all work a little harder. We can\'t just sit back and allow the guitarist to fill in all of the gaps. A lot of inspiration and vision that I get (and I think Mac too) are from bands that are full of guitar but it is often interesting to see what you can do otherwise. To see if rocking can be achieved without the guitar. Not many have asked that question. H11: What\'s playing in your iPod these days? Mac: Dragonforce, Muse, Galactic, 70\'s funk, good hip hop (GIFT OF GAB, LATEEF, Mr. Lif, The Coup), Morphine, Tool, Clutch, the list goes on... Danielle: Lately? Lots of Muse, I\'m in the process of giving Pearl Jam another chance, always PJ Harvey, some Chris Cornell stuff, Geoff Farina, Fugazi, of course Morphine, The New Trust, and Kyle\'s big fat mouth cutting through my ear phones. Tom: At the moment there\'s some Bjork, Slayer, Radiohead, Loreena McKennit, Kreator and Duran Duran. Other times a dose of Steve Earle, and Stan Rogers with some EPMD, maybe some Voivod, Talib Kweli, Shostakovich and Therion. H11: What is the general response to your music from Taiwanese audiences? Mac: One kid wrote on our email list \'you are suck\', but most are very nice and seem to dig it, though they seemed a bit scared by us at the same time. Kyle: Usually after a show I\'m deaf so I just act like I\'m listening to what people are saying to me. Danielle: They have historically been a little frightened and surprised by the level of sound that we tend to put out and the energy on the stage. But after the last few performances we\'ve been getting a lot of great support; I always thought that they would love us given the chance. I think people are warming up to us even if we are suck. Tom: I haven\'t seen a lot of locals at the shows, which is something I\'d really like to change. When they do come they seem a bit shy and don\'t really say too much. C\'mon up and say \'howdy\' folks! H11: What is the current state of rock n\' roll in Taiwan and what do you think the future holds for the scene? Kyle: Nonexistent. Personally, most of what I\'ve seen here so far belongs in a high school gymnasium at best. If the few good bands were hyped half as much as the shitty ones we\'d all be better off. Danielle: I want to see A LOT more integration between the foreigners and local music scenes. I think they both have a lot to offer one another. Tom: Exactly what Dani said. There are some talented people here. We see a lot of kids practicing at Player and APA and it would be nice if they would take it beyond a hobby level. I went to a metal show at the Wall once and was amazed at the number of people there and the energy they had. My one complaint is that there isn\'t more diversity in the styles of music being played. Mac: There are some seriously awesome bands littered around this island. Moneyshot Horns, The Deadly Vibes, Coach, Varo, Children Sucker, Divebomb, The Doolittles... I could go on and on. We need to get together and start organizing shows up and down the island. Many bands here seem to feel that the end-all in playing is to have a show once a month for all their friends. That\'s cool, but we want to do more. If other bands are reading this article then I say to them, \'let\'s got this shit going, let\'s tour, let\'s drop bombs up and down the coast. Let\'s put this place on the map!\' H11: Why do you think Taiwanese shy away from your sound? Do you think there is a certain expectation from the audience and when it is not met (in this case, no guitar) and therefore people leave puzzled and confused? Danielle: At this point we have been getting incredible responses from the local crowd, like at our last show with The Capelin. In the early days I think that they may have expected something a little more mellow, as our first recording is much less gritty, energetic, loud and heavy than our live performances and newer material. Not to mention that some people actually know who we are now, they actually come to see us. Word-of-mouth has been starting to work for us in both the international and local communities. H11: What is the main stumbling block for rock n\' roll in Taiwan? Is it simply a newborn scene or are there other driving forces keeping it hidden in pockets around the island? Mac: As far as local bands go I think it is just in it's baby stages. Rock comes from disgruntled youth for the most part, and here in Taiwan the culture has traditionally been devoid of this. At least compared with the west. I am sure it will come in due time. As for the ex-pat scene: it\'s always on the clock so to speak. People are here for a short while and so are the bands. This makes it hard to build a scene, as most bands only have a shelf life of a year or two tops. That being said, we could build something awesome here if we (bands) worked together, got a tour circuit going and really tried to promote the scene as well as our individual bands. Danielle: Just a guess, but I think because it is in such baby stages, the music scene is still largely unheard by the masses in Taiwan. I have to wonder what percentage of young people in Taiwan have actually seen live music made for their social scene and generation as compared to in the West where it is almost a right of passage for a youngster. It is a normal activity and a wide spread past time for westerners. It doesn\'t seem to be the case here, it seems like it is still underground for the most part. Also most of the music heard and seen is either imported or REALLY commercialized pop. This leaves little room for a thriving Indie scene or a demand for something different on a large scale right now. But, all that said, I do have faith that in time it will come.
You May Also Like
Page 1 of