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INTERVIEW: Meet Xi’an Post-Punkers The Fuzz

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Originally published on Genjing Records

A couple of weeks back we excitedly dropped the Golden Cage 7” which contains exactly 8 minutes and 66 seconds of awesomeness in the form of new material from the Xi’an post punk outfit, The Fuzz. Heady days were those, friends. Heady days. What now? Well naturally, we figured it best to keep The Fuzz promotional train a rollin’ because that’s what we do, plus, we figured you, dear Genjing blog reader, are (hopefully) as stoked about this particular release as we are and we want to just keep on giving you more! With that said, we invite you to read through the below interview that we conducted with Peng Liu, frontman of said band in question. The interview format is one of those win-win kind of situations where we all learn a little more about The Fuzz, which is a very good thing indeed. For instance, we had no idea their first ever gig consisted of Ramones covers. How rad is that! Did you know The Fuzz are recording a new album here in Beijing, literally, right now, as you toil away on the interwebs? Even more rad, right?! Nuggets of informative information a plenty are to follow just beyond the jump.

The Fuzz have been a live unit for around five years now. Tell us a little about your origins. How did you meet each other and begin creating music?

I returned to Xi’an from Beijing in January, 2010 and met all the other band members through Douban. One month later we formed The Fuzz and started rehearsing together.

Everybody has a story about their first live gig. Where was yours? Can you remember anything specific/anecdotal about it?

Our first gig was “Tribute to the Ramones” in the spring of 2010. We covered three of their songs that night to a large crowd. Though we were a new band at the time, we received warm affection from our audience, to which we are always grateful. It’s a great start for all of us.

How does your live show differ, sonically, from your recorded material?

I think our recorded material sound more structured and perfect. There are so many uncertainties during the live show, which always excite and motivate us. We prefer livehouse shows to music festivals, since we are looking forward to people who love our music.

What and where is the best venue you’ve ever played and why?

Real Live in Xiamen, Hidden Agenda in Hong Kong and Vox in Wuhan are our favorites for the same reasons: they all have perfect sound equipment and well-rounded service. These two characteristics are important because we can achieve our expected sound with much less time, which then ensures the show to be of high quality.

The Fuzz

Tell us a little about the current Xi’an music scene, I know it’s a small scene with a longer history. Has the city grown/changed (from a musical standpoint) during your tenure there? Are there local bands you find to be kindred spirits or otherwise respect artistically?

Xi’an’s music scene is getting better now with more established venues and rehearsal rooms. There are various bands of different genres and styles, some of which have already started to tour and play music festivals, mainly the older bands, but there is also a downside of Xi’an music scene where new bands grow so slowly. Lan Ye, the guitarist of The Fuzz, has formed a neo-psychedelic band with his girlfriend, which you guys should hear soon.

Do The Fuzz have a principle songwriter? What is your typical songwriting process like?

Usually the singer or the guitarist write a few motifs, and then the rest of the band jams along with it. Sometimes, the rehearsal is total improvisation then we choose the parts we are satisfied with and write a song out of it. The singer composes both lyrics and melody for his part.

You worked with Modern Sky’s House Party imprint, overseen by Yang Haisong, for your first two full length releases. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

There was a time when we were worried about recording. The thing is we already had well-written songs, but we couldn’t find a suitable producer. We sent our demo through email to Yang Haisong, who decided to help us right away. During the recording, everything went smoothly. Obviously, he is key to our success.

Speaking of Yang Haisong, what’s your working relationship with him like? What specific role does he play as producer when you personally team up with him?

Besides working patiently, he also offered a lot of useful advice. It was overall a very pleasant experience. We learned from him not only in music. We matured after that recording.

Compared to your previous releases, The Golden Cage 7” seems quite bit more intentionally “composed” to a certain degree – the production is very vibrant, yet stark, not unlike something Martin Hannett would have had his hand in, production wise, in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Is this something you and Yang Haisong intentionally discussed/cultivated or did it just sort of go that direction, aurally, when you set out to record?

We are not tied to any genre or style in each of our records. The production style is always based on our own thoughts and the characteristics of the songs.

2015 has been an incredible year for music across the globe. What artists/bands are you currently lending ears to most this year?

Some of our current favorites are: The War on Drugs, Motorama, Moscow Olympics, and A Place to Bury Strangers.

What “older”, more established artists and/or bands have been showing up on your personal playlists of late?

There are so many! We love bands like: JAMC, Wire, The Cure, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Sonic Youth, Shellac, CAN and Low.

How do you view the current state of Chinese rock? What challenges do you face being in a Chinese indie band circa right now? What changes do you feel need to be made (idealistically) for left of center Chinese music to grow in virtually every sense of the term? Do you feel that alternative music in China is gaining traction, en mass, by this point?

Honestly, although alternative music has a much broader audience, it is still hard for the indie music scene to thrive. For now, the seemingly flourishing, rock music scene is still dominated by those mainstream genres. To better our composition and be creative is our future path.

What was the inspiration for the Golden Cage sleeve art?

Actually, it is the sight that you see when you are inside the cage, which means the outside world could be either beautiful or cruel.

The Fuzz lighter

What would your ultimate merch item be?

We once made a limited version lighter.

We know you are coming to Beijing to work on a new album with Yang Haisong, can you tell us a bit about that? Will it be a continuation of what you’ve done in the past or are there any new ideas/ directions you are hoping to explore?

Yes, we are going to record at the end of June with our engineer Cao Cao and producer Yang Haisong. The songs will sound darker, but still with our signature guitar melodies.

Can we expect any new Fuzz live dates in the near future?

We will be playing at XP’s closing party with White+ and The Yours on July 4th.