Some of us may dismiss Halloween as nothing more than an excuse to dress up and get drunk. Anyone craving something deeper should look no further than YYT this Friday, where four of Shanghai’s most popular rock acts will not only don costumes, but also attempt to embody their idols.
Local reggae troop Hello Money will pay tribute to Sublime, while alt rockers Girls Like Mystery will portray the Strokes, along with punk troop XXYY as Blink 182 and members of Friend or Foe, The Machinery of Other Skeletons and Pyroglyphix as Rage Against the Machine. Below, members of each act share how these elder bands influenced them, and how they hope to capture the essence of their legendary performances on YYT’s stage this Halloween.
How does it feel to not only dress like your heroes for Halloween, but also perform as them?
Michael Bush, XXYY: It makes the whole experience more fun, I think. I mean, most people tend to do a little play acting when they are in costume. It’s just that we are on stage for 30 minutes with all eyes on us, and that makes it more exciting. I might get to try out a few different rock and roll moves that I would normally be super embarrassed to do, because as just a local rock group you might look douchey doing them.
Michael Hurwitz, Hello Money: For us, the costume part is sort of secondary to getting the music on point, but it is definitely a fun aspect of the whole thing. It gives you a really specific thing to go for, and there’s lots of source material. So instead of [trendy costumes like] the chick from Frozen, or Ebola or whatever, you’re going for “[Sublime frontman] Brad Nowell the way he performed these 9 songs in the early 90’s.” For lazy people like me, that don’t want to think of a real Halloween costume, it’s golden.
Armando Maiorano (Friend or Foe): It will be challenging.The all idea is to do a show where, probably, most of the audience never saw the original band, and try to transmit the same energy. And you know how much I love costumes.
Kevin Wright (Girls Like Mystery): It should be pretty awesome! I have always been a huge fan of The Strokes, so I expect to get quite into the show.
So Kevin, which Strokes song are you looking forward to covering the most on Friday?
Kevin Wright (Girls Like Mystery): “The Modern Age,” has always been my favourite Strokes song. But since we started playing the songs, I have started to like “Soma,” more and more. I think it’s mainly because it suits my vocals a little more.
What about you,Michael? What is your favourite Blink-182 song?
Michael Bush, XXYY: I am the worst at picking favorites! But right now, after rehearsing these songs for about a month, I’d say my favorite is “First Date,” because it’s the most fun for me vocally. I just like the way he (Tom DeLonge) sings that song and I also like the little breakdown in the middle. Harmonies, a good melody, and a nice breakdown will always make me smile.
And Armando and Michael? What about you guys?
Michael Hurwitz, Hello Money: That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say “Pawn Shop.” It just has that dirty, dubby vibe that makes reggae so cool. Also, it’s a good song to work out to, for some reason.
Armando Maiorano (Friend or Foe): I really like Rage Against the Machine… I don’t have a favourite song, but there is one in particular that reflects my way to see life: “Freedom.”
Which band members will each of you be dressed as, and how will you mimic their mannerisms, appearance, and performing style?
Kevin Wright (Girls Like Mystery): I will be singing, so I will try to be (The Strokes frontman) Julian Casablancas. I think downing a few beers before the set should help with getting in character. I just need to make sure I remember the lyrics.
Michael Hurwitz, Hello Money: Our vocalist, Jaysen , and I will both sort of be dressing up as (Sublime frontman) Brad Nowell, who usually performed either shirtless or in an undershirt with board shorts and sandals and a shaved head. While I won’t be going shirtless, I’m definitely going to rock the rest of the outfit, especially the haircut. Unfortunately videos of their performances are sort of hard to find, so we don’t have a ton to go on, but we’re gonna do our best to imitate the way he used to move around a lot on stage, all the vocal reverb he used, and the many covers they used to play live.
Michael Bush, XXYY: It’s tough because I am playing the bass, so that means I should be Mark (Hoppus). But I am also singing all the songs, which means I could also be Tom (DeLonge). The truth is, I am fat and have a beard, so I never get to really look like the people I’m trying to dress as anyways… Plus, they (Blink-182) just wear 90s SoCal skate punk clothes, and I pretty much dress like that every day. So I will have to sell it through obscene humor and ridiculous dance moves. Although, come to think of it, I do that with XXYY too. Hell, this is gonna be easy. Thanks Satan!
Can you each tell us about when you first discovered the band you’re portraying, and how they appealed to you right away?
Armando Maiorano (Friend or Foe): When I first discovered Rage Against the Machine, I think it was 1996… a damn long time ago. And I always remember holding my first bass, not knowing how to recreate their sound. So I had this piece of wood with four strings… and with a RATM inscription, and the tape. It was terrific. But slowly, after 20 years, I figured out how to better play their songs. Now, I’m ready.
Michael Bush, XXYY: I was definitely a fan of all types of punk in the 90s, but by far my favorite was poppy punk. I really dug— and still do, haters— Green Day, Blink 182, Face to Face, Screeching Weasel, Millencolin, No Use For A Name, and a billion others. So obviously, the first time I heard them (Blink-182) I was like “Yep! Fun harmonies, catchy riffs, silly immature lyrics. I’m all in.” I even lived in their hometown for about two years. In one of their songs, “Josie,” they talk about going to Sombrero’s, and I used to walk to that restaurant every day for a burrito. This was after they were super famous, so the unisex bathroom in this place was a shrine for teenage girls to defile the walls with their misplaced and undying love for these guys.
Kevin Wright (Girls Like Mystery): I first saw the Strokes at the Leeds Festival around 2001 or 2002, and I just became obsessed with “Is This It?” In fact, our set is heavily influenced by that album.
Michael Hurwitz, Hello Money: I think I first heard of Sublime when “What I Got,” became popular. I was probably 11 years old at the time. Back then I loved any song with cursing in it. But the general vibe of the song was so laid back, it was something I hadn’t really heard before. As I recall, I borrowed my older sister’s CD copy of their self-titled album and basically wore it out. I had never even conceived of anything like the ska and reggae stuff they were throwing down, and I was immediately hooked. Their insouciant attitude and tragic backstory— [frontman] Brad Nowell OD’d on heroin a few months before the album came out— struck a chord with me. But most of all it was that reggae vibe. Holy shit. It just changed my outlook on everything.
How have each of you been influenced by the bands you’ll portray at this Halloween show?
Michael Bush, XXYY: Blink and other pop punk pretty much took the wheel when it comes to my own musical writing. I was in a pop punk band in America for years, and though I didn’t write those songs, we were heavily influenced by that style of music, because it was pretty much all we listened to at the time. So once I got involved with XXYY and started writing, there was really only one direction my mind wanted to go. Our songs like “Baifumei,” and “Magic Missiles,” really have that feeling of 90s pop punk. I’m just trying to recapture my youth and play simple poppy punk as fast as possible! Now that being said, I would not call XXYY pop punk. With the musical influences of all three of us, it ends up being more… indie punk, maybe? I am horrible at classifying music. I do think that, no matter what you or your friends or their mom says, XXYY is a punk band. But I’m not sure what kind. Crappy punk?
Kevin Wright (Girls Like Mystery): It’s kind of difficult to say, as GLM and The Strokes have very different styles. Although our newer songs… are moving towards their style, like “Christian,” and “Eyes.”
Armando Maiorano (Friend or Foe): They (Rage Against the Machine) had a big part in the way I learned to play music. But which Friend Or Foe song is most influenced by them?… Wow, I don’t know. I always try to have the same sound that (RATM bassist) Tim Commerford has. So when I think of “punchy baselines “ I think RATM.
Michael Hurwitz, Hello Money: Through their style and the covers they did, Sublime helped introduce me to roots reggae, which totally changed how I thought about music. I had no idea that something so syncopated and groovy could even exist. I think the fact that a fat, Jewish, preteen like me could be totally blown away by reggae speaks to the universal power of the genre.
Most of all, for Hello Money, Sublime showed us how reggae can be mixed with alt rock and hip-hop really well, without losing any of the groove or aggressiveness each genre brings to the table, which is something we try to do with our songs. Their songs, like “Get Ready,” “April 29” and even “Santeria,” showed me that you can have a reggae song that still has a strong, driving beat and a nice catchy pop song-style construction. Basically, they took all the different kinds of music I loved and mashed them altogether.
50 RMB ENTRY // 21:00~MIDNIGHT // 851 Kaixuan Lu, by Yan’an Xi Lu