The members of Hong Kong’s hottest indie rock troop may be nearing their 30’s, but they’re still juvenile delinquents at heart.
“We’re in our late 20’s but sometimes we feel like we’re a lot younger, especially when we’re making music and playing live,” Pak Ting “Jack” Leung, singer and guitarist for Hong Kong shoe-gaze quintet The Yours, says in advance of their performance tonight at YYT. He then elaborates on the band’s youthful spirit: “It’s not about age, it’s about what you do. We’re sure that we will continue to be this way as long as we play in a band.”
The YYT gig will be The Yours’ Shanghai release party for its latest album, Teenagarten. In advance of the show, Leung told Shanghaiist about the band’s tattoo fetish, their fixation on a certain Gen X leading lady, and their zen attitude when it comes to the stage.
Your Bandcamp says Teenagarten is, “rawer, darker and more intense than its predecessor, yet maintains the bandʼs rich melodic structures and teenage angst.” What inspired this darker material?
The album is certainly darker than the previous one, The Way We Were. It was quite melodic, bittersweet and nostalgic. But that was two years ago. We wanted to move on and try something new. We’re always exploring ourselves when it comes to making records.
What part of yourselves were you exploring? Why do you have this teenage angst?
We’ve always loved youth culture and everything about it. Being young feels very energetic and creative. At the same time it comes with a lot of emotions, and angst is one of them.
Your Bandcamp also says: “Dynamic vocal interplay continues to be one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the band.” What made you first pursue this technique, and did it become such an important part of your band’s sound?
We have two vocalists, myself and Nic (Wong), who I founded the band with and have known since we were kids. There’s a very strong chemistry between us when it comes to songwriting, and we wanted to put it into display with vocal interplay. So when people listen to the album, each of us sings as much as the other, and we share a lot of vocal interaction.
He’s not your only vocal collaborator. You also harmonised with Fuhan, of Beijing groove rockers Queen Sea Big Shark, on this new album. What was the best thing about working with her?
We love Fuhan. She’s such a talented musician that we were able to get into the groove on the click, right away. We were so impressed, she’s a true professional to work with.
What was is like to work with Yang Haisong, of P.K. 14 fame? How did you first meet him, why did you want him to produce your album, and what are his greatest strengths in the studio?
We actually opened for P.K. 14 when they toured Hong Kong. But that was in 2011, so we met but never got in touch again until last year, when Zhang Shouwang from Carsick Cars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carsick_Cars) suggested that we worked with Yang for our new album. We had heard a lot of good things about his production, and thought that he would understand what we wanted. He turned out to be a perfect fit. The best thing about him was that he let us be ourselves. All the instruments were recorded live and there’s almost no overdubs. It’s a very raw album, and we all agreed that it’s the best way to capture our sounds, the real ones.
Speaking about those new songs, tell us more “Winonaʼs Tattoo.” What inspired its title and lyrics?
The song is a tribute to one of our favourite actresses, Winona Ryder. She represents a lot of good things about the 90s. The tattoo thing is a story between her and her ex-boyfriend. Google it and you will know everything about the song (laughs).
Are you talking about Johnny’s Depp tattoo, which read “Winona Forever,” until they split up and he changed it to “Wino Forever”? Are you a big fan of his as well?
No no, I have no feeling for Johnny Depp at all. But Winona? Yes (laughs).
Tell us about your own favourite tattoos.
Everyone is our band has quite a few tattoos. For us, getting a tattoo is a impulsive thing. We see it as having the freedom to express yourself in whatever way you like.
So which of your tattoos is your favourite?
My favourite ‘tat should be the one I just did myself last week— it says “Chloe.” It’s on my left arm.
Who is Chloe?
It’s a secret (laughs).
Good answer. Tell us about the best and worst shows that you have ever played, and what made them so memorable.
We’ve had a lot of good ones and bad ones. We give 100 percent every time we play, so we don’t judge ourselves whether a show is good or not. We let people decide it. It can be very frustrating when you care too much about what people think. We’re perfectly fine and happy with our own effort, that’s good enough for us. There’s a lot of factors that make a show good or bad, and there’s no way to control all of them. So in a way, every show is a good one, at least to ourselves. The best and worst ones happen in our dreams.
21:00 // 60RMB at the door // 51 Kaixuan Lu, near Yanan Xi Lu, Changning district [长宁区凯旋 路851号, 近延安西路]
By Kyle Mullin