By Kyle Mullin
Max sparks fiery rock n’ roll glorytheonfires
Her piano riff inferno and head banged red hair illuminate it all. Max Harman’s scorching onstage passion proves she’s a front lady refusing to fizzle out or fade away. The same can be said for her band mates in The On Fires, an Australian hard rock troupe that blazed their way across China with smoldering shows in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and several other locales last year.
Below Harman answers our questions about what sparked her band’s fiery trajectory as they wrap up an equally ambitious 2012 Chinese tour at Beijing’s Mao Live on May 5.
Tell me a little about the origin of the band’s name.
When we first started as a band we actually had five members and together we came up with a name that, at the time, we thought was great. Now we think it sucked (laughs). Anyway, we were called Asleep in the Park, but after playing in Eastern Europe we were anything but sleepy. We weren’t satisfied with the name, but didn’t know what to do about it, because people had started to know us.
Then, during a Winter Tour of Poland in early 2010, we were doing our normal energetic, fun show and having a great time with the audience. Everyone had such a great night, especially us, and when we came off-stage we were laughing and hugging everyone. One of the guys there was so sweaty and red in the face from jumping around, and he said “You’re not asleep, you’re on fire!” That was it, he gave us our name and we’re so happy about it.
Tell me more about touring in Eastern Europe, how did it change your band?
In 2007 we met a famous Ukrainian punk rocker, Sasha Pipa, through MySpace and arranged to do a show with him in Kiev. We went to Ukraine as a ‘nice’ rock band but Pipa’s audience were punks. Lucky for us they loved us and went wild: crowd-surfing, pogo-ing and ramming into each other with their shirts off. Their energy inspired us so much we exploded and we’ve been a high-energy rock and punk band ever since. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sasha Pipa and his fans!
How did your experience touring in China last year compare? What were some of the major differences in terms of culture shock and inspiration?
Strangely, we found a big similarity with Chinese audiences and Eastern European audiences. We’re guessing that it has something to do with coming from cultures that previously didn’t have the same kinds of rock, punk and pop music that we’ve had in the
west for years. Western audiences tend to have an attitude where they’ve ‘seen it all before’ and they expect us to prove ourselves to them. Which we always do (laughs).
But Chinese and Eastern Europeans are eager and waiting – it feels like they just want to party with us and have fun, and they’re waiting for us to give them that vibe. So for us, Chinese audiences are incredibly inspiring because we all want the same thing from the very beginning.
Saturday, May 5 @ MAO Livehouse in Beijing
60RMB // 10:00pm // MAO Livehouse // 25 Shaoxing Lu, near Ruijin Er Lu (绍兴路25号， 近瑞金二路)