Where: Yuyintang // 851 Kaixuan Lu, by Yan’an Xi Lu (凯旋路851号, 近延安西路口)
One of our favorite local bands is playing a CD release concert tonight at Yuyintang and we think you should go check them out. Summer Sweat is Pairs‘ second album in as many years, and they’ve earned themselves a reputation for DIY methodology and audience-centric ethic.
The duo, made up of Australian native Xiao Zhong on drums/vocals and his Chinese counterpart F on guitar, can get absolutely maniacal on stage and it really doesn’t matter if you like their music or not – you’ll have a great time anyway.
We caught up with Xiao Zhong this week with a few questions about the new CD, their ‘awful’ sound, and the various types of DNA made it into the album cases.
Okay first things first – how/when/where did you two meet?
I was creeping around the X Games watching some Japanese brothers do something on a halfpipe when F tapped me on the shoulder and said she liked my t-shirt. She claimed she was at the X Games with a friend, but I never saw said friend. Originally, she was going to sing and I was going to play guitar and make some loop, glitch, moronic music. But when she came to practice, she picked up my guitar and shredded a little bit and we wrote a song. Not a good song, but a song.
Did you guys play in bands before you were paired?
This is F’s first band, but I’ve been in a bunch. Nothing too good, some were alright and toured and radio play, but it doesn’t mean anything.
Pairs is notorious for providing and receiving very non-music descriptions of your music. Fuzz, wilderness, dead rodents, and all adjectives synonymous with “awful.” That kind of thing. Why is that, and do you rue the day all your previews and reviews stamp the same label on you?
Whatever anyone wants to say about us is cool. It’s the Eminem approach. Doesn’t really matter what we’re called/labeled. I’ve seen awful bands have amazing write ups from desperate bookers, so you have to take everything you read about a band with a grain of salt. We add terms like ‘awful’ and ‘dog rat’ so you’ll come meet us clinging to the lowest rung.
What’s the song writing process like between the two of you?
Generally I write something on my cheap Tianjin bought acoustic, record it on my 6 year old stump cam, send it to F. She says ‘whatever’ or ‘I guess’, we practice it. F makes it sound better, then I add drums and make it sound worse and we just try and find a balance between better and worse. Fighting the good fight.
The one thing we all notice during your shows is the energy – where does it all come from? Ever lose your voice?
We’re just easily excited. I knew a guy who had an over active adrenaline gland, that’s real energy. Super hard to keep up. But for us, we play semi by the sea fast stuff and it’s hard not to move a little. I eat a lot of mentos as I’m striving pretty hard to get the sugar piss disease, so maybe that helps. I’ve lost my voice a couple of times, but mainly if we have 2 or 3 shows in a row and the worst that happens is that I can’t sing any high notes, but that’s never been an issue we’ve had to deal with.
Tell us about Summer Sweat. Any specific inspiration for the title? You guys say you hand licked and labeled every one of your new CDs – any sweat make it in there too?
Our name is a spoiled single word and we’ve craved for a twin brother/sister/m2m, so we’re all about alliteration. It was recorded in the Summer, made in the Summer and something else in the Summer. Plus there is some reference to it on the CD. But I can’t remember what came first. Chicken or the sweat. I had to peel off 1,500 stickers and by the end they would cut under my nail so there is a bit of blood and I sneezed on 2 and it’s very, very noticeable. No sweat though, all done under air conditioning, not good air conditioning though, a lot of humming.
What’s the weirdest thing that ever happened to you during a show?
Probably just going to Zhuhai. That place is an odd beast. Getting heckled buying beer, then heckled with the same heckle during our set for 25 minutes. Something like “I am not the stage, you are the stage, I want rock and roll, you are rock and roll, I want shit, you are shit” – I didn’t know what to do with that information. The guy didn’t let up and after the set came on stage and abused us, then the bartender yelled at him from the bar and he started crying on stage. Turns out he was singing in the next band. He made it through 2 songs and left. Nice guy. The stage was two pool tables, the bar said they did ‘party favors for kids’ and the first band did a Jason Mraz cover, then I bought a towel from a prostitute so I could have a shower. Those last things are all stock standard. Just the crying heckler was a little odd.
If your duo-mate were a household appliance, what household appliance would they be and why?
F would be the juicer I have at my house. Pretty cool and can make some good juice, but once I forgot to secure the bottom and when I lifted up the jug heaps of juice ran out all over the counter and the floor, then we feared an ant invasion. Take from that what you will.
Sum up the Shanghai local rock scene in three words.
Shanghai Rock Scene, or Hotter than Teppenyaki.
What comes next for Pairs?
We’re recording again in November because we’re idiots. Plans are to go to New Zealand in Jan to slink around on some shows. Heading to Wuhan, Guangzhou and Hong Kong in October. Going to see the Illumin8tors at Mao Livehouse on November 10th. I’ve got some friends visiting in February and it’s my birthday around then. Going to Amsterdam in December for a work training thing. That’s the current plan. Probably keep messing up with google translate on our Weibo.
We also recommend checking out the translation antics in their Q&A with fans Douban. Listen to their stuff here. Download their first album free on bandcamp, get the new one for
free donation tonight!