Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The one with the Chris B interview

Evening Rockstars.

As all of you should know by now, the Underground has released their 2nd compilation CD. The CD features 12 of HK's very own indie bands, and boy are there some great names on this one. Personally I'm looking forward to hearing tracks from Poubelle International, Transnoodle and Quasar.

In celebration of this release, the Underground are hosting not one but two parties. One being last Saturday (06/06/09) and the other taking place this coming Saturday (13/06/09)

I somehow managed to get Underground founder Chris B to take time out of party planning to answer some questions on not just the UG but being a rocker (and mama!) in HK as well.

So let it roll!


Care to shed the light as to why you go by Chris B as opposed to using your last name, or is this a mysterious secret that will cause the apocalypse if you tell us?!

Well it has much less mysterious origins... Chris is quite a common name and I was once in a band full of Chris's so to distinguish between all of us we used the abbreviation of our surnames. Well that's what I tell people.Actually I was inspired by The Spice Girls and Mel B is so cool, I decided to nick her surname. Next I want her boobs.

I'm sure you've been asked this many times, but for those who haven't heard the news, how long have you had the Underground going for?

Since April 2004, which is over 5 years now!! Over 90 shows. Over 300 different bands have played - phew!

What was your motivation for starting up the UG?

I just wanted to play a gig to try out new songs with a new band, there was never ever any intention to 'change' the face of the live music scene in HK... hahahahahaha. That came later.... ;)

How has putting on a UG show now, compare to putting on a show back when you started?

Great question! Easier in some ways, harder in others! The first 19 shows were free and I had no idea I would do 19 for a start and then I discovered I was rather good at organising shows and motivating bands to play! I think it was easier then than now though....My own fault! Now we have Compilation CDs, Shirts, The Underground crew, people to liaise with, sponsors to keep happy etc. When it all started, I was organiser, photographer, website mistress, in fact everything except Poster designer (although I did make one, which was appalling....)

You've also played in many bands yourself, what instruments do you play?

Guitar but really I'm a singer first. I play the guitar rather simply but you know what, girls with guitars look so cool, so I keep persisting with working on improving my playing, I'd probably be a better guitarist if I wasn't working on The Underground hahahahahaha Oh, I played keyboards for 6 months in the Sisters of Sharon when I broke a finger....

How many UG's have you yourself played?

Wow, no one has ever asked me that, in 5 different bands I've performed at The Underground - let me see which ones - Underground 3, 4, 6, 11, 15, 21, 55, 62, Djizoes in HK, 69 (ahem), CD2 Launch Party A. So that makes 11 of the shows! Hope The UG lets me play some more in the future hahahaha.

On those nights do you switch up between performer and host or is there a "Vice Chris B"?

Well I just had myself cloned so it was quite easy. Actually I usually just ask someone to introduce the band I'm in, at Underground 62 Soler introduced us!! That was very cool! When I wasn't physically at The Underground, I had Yan (Hard Candy) do the MC work for me, plus friends like Manek helped out too. A lot of people have volunteered their time to ensure these shows continue to happen.

Have you ever got to the point where you have run out of bands to put on a show?

No! Waiting list is still bulging....

Whats your favourite memory of the UG?

So many!! Really there are so many. I love seeing bands improve. I love seeing the joy in their faces when they perform (i love that feeling myself). I have some funny ones too.. And some rude memories...

The UG has now expanded out of HK waters, where else are you putting on, and plan to put on shows?

Well you know we are toying with the idea of more Underground shows in China, especially up in Beijing.... However we still need to strengthen Shenzhen and Macau's showcases before we add more cities :)

What are you doing when you are not getting ready for the next UG show?

Just that! Getting ready for the next show!! hahahahahaha Planning things. You know we ran a T shirt design competition earlier on this year and had over 50 entries. We have a winner but I've been too busy to get the T shirts produced. That is my next project, right after talking to you. Oh you mean my day job? I'm a Rock Mum to Chloe & Ashley who are now 2 and half and they seem to like The Underground Compilation CD 2 which they have heard a few times now....

Whats it like having twins? Do you have hopes for them to become the next "The Veronicas"

Well I hope they decide to learn to play an instrument. I'm pretty sure they can sing, especially Chloe who is pitch perfect! It's cool having twins cause they play with each other and hang out together. A sister and a best friend at the same time. Cool for them. Hope they don't fight over boyfriends when they are older....

Having seen many bands over the past few years, what style of music seems to be the favoured amongst the HK bands?

Well I would say pop rock. Plus metal is popular. And hardcore. We've only ever had one jazz band play. And contrary to a paid music magazine, we've never (yet) had a symphonic goth metal band play at The Underground.

What would be your biggest complaint about the HK indie band scene?

Singers who cant sing in key and then say "It's my style" or some crap like that. And then second biggest complaint are the promoters who continue to book bands with out of tune singers, what does that tell the singers? hahahah I understand that bands need the experience of playing live but no one would sit and listen to out of tune guitars, so why would we listen to out of tune singing??!?!

Or is it cause I'm not doing the right 'drugs'? Anyway a few lessons to help singers is never a bad idea. Do you know Evanescence's Amy? She was out of tune (horribly in fact) when they got signed to the record company, the company wrote it into the contract that Amy take singing lessons. The rest is history. Even Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson takes singing lessons, I don't see it 'affecting' their style, do you?? Some HK bands have got great songs, great image and a lead vocalist who sings out of key, which stops them from achieving great success... :(

Agreed completely, now this weekend is the 2nd party for the launch of the new UG compilation CD. How come you decided to have two parties for this one?

Two parties are always better than one, we wanted to give all the bands a chance to play and also have a week long promotion! We love parties! Although we're toying with the idea of having a mini-festival for CD 3 when its launched later this year.... 12 bands in one night!! hahahaha

A long haul gig, be sure to stock up on enough Asahi. How did the idea for the compilation come about?

Bless Koya (Mark 1 music Center) he arranged a meeting with me awhile back and then asked me if I would like to release a compilation CD - I of course said yes and the rest is history! He is the easiest man to work with, to record with and talk with. I couldn't have found a better partner for the Compilations.

Where do you see the UG in another 5 years?

Well i hope people will look to The UG for more credibility when it comes to bands, to see it as being cool and having a super duper role in HK's live music scene. We are not a 'charity' we are an organisation created by me and filled with musicians who want to make a difference. We DONATE TO charity. We all want the scene to get better and to have more shows to go to and more different bands to watch. We don't want to watch them in tiny warehouses or with shit sound. We want more HK bands to support overseas acts. We want more festivals.

So I see The UG being involved (in small or big roles) with all these projects/ideas etc. Did I tell you we helped Velvette Vendetta get a slot at Baybeats (Singapore festival) this year? How cool is that? The only HK band to play! Bands that give their passion, music and love to The Underground get our passion and love back haahahhaa Oh god I sound like a hippy...High Five!


Well I don't know about you guys, but I thought that was a good little chat. See you cats at party B!

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