Where: Mao Livehouse, 570 Huaihai Xi Lu 淮海西路570号
From: 9PM onwards
Cover: Advance tickets are RMB130, and RMB150 at the door. Buy them at www.maolive-sh.com
Two big acts are coming to Shanghai’s Mao Livehouse this Friday (April 16th). Hailing from the UK, Puressence and Mani (Gary Mounfield), of Stone Roses and Primal Scream fame, are visiting China for the first time on a two stop, two-gig tour of Shanghai and Beijing.
Here’s Shanghaiist’s interview with Puressence’s bass guitarist Kevin Matthews. An interview with Mani, who will be doing a dj-set, coming this Friday.
Could you tell us about the background to Puressence’s China tour?
Kevin: It was really just an off chance opportunity that came through John McCauley, but it’s been coming along for a couple of years. We’re going to be five days in China, Beijing and Shanghai; a five days roundtrip really, just the two gigs.
That’s a short time, is it Puressence’s first time coming to China?
Kevin: Yeah, it’s our first time coming to China, so we don’t really know what to expect, we’re just hoping that people will come and listen to our music. Come to the gigs and see what Manchester is all about. We’re bringing Mani as well, who was in The Stone Roses and Primal Scream.
What is the relationship between Puressence and Mani, we understand that he is doing a DJ-set at Mao Livehouse on April 16th?
Kevin: Well, Mani’s been a friend of mine for many years, before we even started Puressence really, as The Stone Roses were getting together. So we’ve always kept in touch really and because we started up from Manchester he’s helped us in some production of records to our career and now he’s in Primal Scream. He does DJ events, he’s coming with us and he’s never been to China also, so it’s very exciting for Mani as well. We want to try and help promote Manchester music in China, in Shanghai and see what the reaction would be.
You were talking about bringing a piece of Manchester to China. If a Chinese young person wanted to hear a bit more about Puressence for the first time, how would you describe yourself?
Kevin: Britpop was a big movement in the 90s and, while Britpop was around, Manchester music was a little bit darker-edged really. Like Joy Division, The Smiths, Stone Roses – quite dark, melancholic guitar music, dark lyrics I suppose. Really we’re based around quite melancholic, windswept guitars, dry drums, if you’ve not heard us, and that’s it in a nutshell.
How developed a fan base would you say Puressence has in Asia and China? What kind of reception have you guys had prior to these Beijing and Shanghai gigs?
Kevin: We started promotion, with John’s help, things like that. Because of the Internet you can get really good promotion on it and there’s been a lot of sites and magazines that have been picking up on us making a trip to China. We certainly picked up a bit of interest really. Douban, I think it’s the social networking site, have been picking up on some Puressence songs, so people can listen instantly. I think the interest is there, so I’m sure that it will build over many years, hopefully. If we do well and we start to create some interest, then we’ll come back every year and bring different acts, or Manchester music, or John will help bring in more UK acts that have never been to China, but would like to go.
China covers such a huge area and it’s got a massive economy and yet there still seems to be a comparatively small number of Western rock or pop artists that tour here on a very regular basis. What do you see as the future of China and Asia’s music scene?
Kevin: It seems to have a great youth culture, China and Asia is opening more to the Western world and it’s going to be very exciting. I suppose it’s like what we were going through in the late 80s, late 60s where youth movements and cultures just really started to take over music. I’ve listened to a few bits of Chinese music and it seems to be young bands, young guitar bands, starting to make marks in China. Music does transcend many boundaries and China’s not going to be the exception to the world.
Aside from the China tour, what’s the current situation with Puressence?
Kevin: Well, at the minute we’re just finishing off writing the new album so this is a little trip before we start to record. We’ve virtually finished the new album, going to China’s going to be a bit of a break and as soon as we get back to the UK we will be in the studio. We do well in Greece, so we’ll be touring there again soon and maybe America, but that will be September again.
Do you think China will be the next Greece?
Kevin: I hope so! I’ve done my homework recently, looking into China because of the youth movements and the culture and guitar bands that are there. So it does seem exciting that the opportunity might be there for us and for Chinese bands as well. We could maybe do a swap? Bring some Chinese bands over next time to play in the UK.
Finally, gigs aside, what else are you guys excited about re: coming to China?
Kevin: We certainly want to get a bit of sightseeing in and some of the Chinese food. We’ve got Chinatown in Manchester and we are frequent visitors! Also in Shanghai when we’re visiting the Grand Prix is going to be on as well, which I’m a big fan of. Really it’s just a stroke of luck and Mani knows a few people…Eddie Jardin, and Jenson Button. We’ll be inviting the British crews and stuff from Formula One!