China Magazine

Interview: Xiao Rong, Brain Failure Frontman

Brain Failure is a legendary punk band based in Beijing. They played punk music since the late 90s.

Their singer, Xiao Rong, is the son of a prominent member of the Communist elite and he is one of the first punk in the Mainland. The origin of Brain Failure dates back to 1995 when Xiao Rong was still a teenager in one of the most prestigious schools in China. Together with three classmates gave birth to a real phenomenon.

In 1997, Gao Yang, another historic exponent of the Beijing scene, which at the time was playing in a band called Underground Baby, joined the band. Their base was the local Scream Club, in the Wudaokou district, which opened in 1998 and soon became the main center of punk made in China. In the same year, they released their first self-produced demo, entitled “Punk shines on China.” The transgressive look of Xiao Rong soon became a brand that influenced thousands of young Chinese. Their real first appearance dates back to the compilation “wuliao Jundui” published by Scream Records, linked to the Scream Club, which has revolutionized the local scene.

In 2002 they released their first album, “Turn on the Distortion” for the Japanese label “Bad News Records” and then they started a long tour through Asia and the United States.

How do you think it’s changed the punk scene in Beijing and China?

The Chinese punk scene started with music. Today punk music in China becoming much more professional and popular in the position of Rock music. And at the same time, it didn’t lose the spirit of music. The message of the music is more down to the ground. it tells the story of the Chinese youth. How do we think about the world outside China and What are our dreams? And the question to the space that we are living in and what happening right now over here in the Far east. Very true and very real. And the music comes out much more powerful than when it was just started.

How is touring the US? Which are the main differences between making a tour in China and US?

I can see it in the US and even in EUROP and Japan. Music, Rock music, and Punk Rock are already a kind of industry. There’s a booking agent and tour back up around you and work with you. But in China, All this music seems still a scene. You have to DIY from A to Z if you want a tour and do something with your music. The music is much more powerful and professional than years ago but the holy music thing is just started. And we find out many problems with it. For example, transportation in China is still kind of crapy and crowded. And the youth in China won’t be able to spend, that much time on a rock show or any music concert.’ cos All your point of life is to get a better degree than another. then maybe you could get a better job and more in life. So we could say there’s no real-life for Chinese youth. Study that’s all you need.

Which are your main influences?

The Clash and Rancid, I think they are the most amazing band in this world till today.

Can you tell us something about you?

I’m a Chinese guy who came from a very simple family in China. All I do today is for the music I like. I’ve got everything started with music.

How long have you played with Brain Failure?

Till this year. I did 10 years with Brain Failure.

Can you tell us something about your next projects?

We’ve done 2 full albums and 1 ep and some very underground releases. So I really would like to do another album and maybe I would like to do it in China or in California.’ cos We’ve already done two recordings in Boston, USA. I really would like to try another studio somewhere else in the world or at home in Beijing.

Have you ever done soundtracks? Did some directors contact you for composing music for films?

Not much. maybe one or two times for Chinese movies and some foreign Indie films. But we are always looking for a chance to do it like every band. Sometimes we like to upload some mp3s to let the visitors better understand what we are talking about. If you want we could upload one or two mp3s by BRAIN FAILURE. If you want there are a couple of mp3s for download on our web download page and you could get a good one from our myspace page. The track called “City Junk” it’s a really new one.


Interview: Matteo Damiani

Topics: wuliao jindui,wudaokou,beijing,brain failure,gao yang,xiao rong,punk,music,Chinese punk music,interview

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