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PAIRS: from cold Shanghai with love

PAIRS is a Shanghainese noise rock duo with quite unusual approach to writing and performing music. They caught my first attention after my 2012 chat with THE INSTIGATION and recently their drummer Xiao Zhong approached me. And here we are – below you can read our interesting (and very pleasurable) discussion about Shanghai, PAIRS, traveling, the 90s, and a lot more!

Press the play button, unveil their crazy beats and meet one of the Shanghai’s most exciting and explosive live bands.

Hey, guys! Good to have you here. What’s up? What are you up to these days? [smiles]

Hey hey, thanks for having us, although it’s really just me. F [guitarist] is currently in America or on a plan home from America, so you’re stuck with me.

Nothing too much is up, really. Just back at work after the Christmas holiday, trying not to complain too much about how fucking cold it is in Shanghai at the moment.

Actually spent the majority of 2013 trying to help bands organize tours across China which generally just means constantly writing emails.

How are you?

Oh man, you have no idea about cold. Come to Warsaw and you’ll know [laughs].

What’s F’s real name? [smiles] What’s she doing in the US?

Fair call, but I imagine Warsaw is set up for the cold. There is no heating in Shanghai houses so it’s just as fucking cold inside as it is outside. Beijing has government controlled heating and it’s pretty good in the Winter, but Shanghai just hurts the bones.

No one really knows F’s real name. She’s a mystery. She picked that name for herself when she was real young in a primary school English class, and like most Shanghainese people, she introduces herself by her English name. I remember once she passed out in Best Buy and I had to literally carry her to a hospital and she wouldn’t tell nurse what her name was. It’s some kind of Rumplestiltskin shit. She’s in the US for a bit of work and pleasure. Last photo I saw, she was ten pin bowling in Washington.

How did you guys meet in the first place?

Sadly, it’s a boring as fuck story. I was at the X Games in Shanghai and F saw me and liked the shirt I was wearing and decided to come up and introduce herself and then she wouldn’t leave me alone all day, no matter how sunburnt I got.

Not so boring, mate. Sounds like a scene from a college comedy [laughs]. Do you skate? Or surf, perhaps? You’re from Australia, God damn it, right? [smiles]

I can barely swim, let alone surf. I can skate a little bit, but only as a mode of transportation – no ollies or grinds and even then I’m only a small stone away from breaking both wrists.. I can find the tapes in Tony Hawk though. In my first month of high school, I saw a kid with a skateboard and yelled ‘do a king flip’ and he said ‘it’s a kick flip you fuckhead, now fuck off’

When we were in Indonesia, we hung out with this guy, Asep who is a champion finger boarder. I couldn’t even get air on a finger board. I’m generally pretty useless.

How did an Australian boy end up in Shanghai? [smiles]

I did a Bachelor of Education in Australia and it’s painfully common that all graduates head to the UK to get a shitty full time substitute position and live in a flat with a New Zealand guy and another Australian guy. I wanted to travel or at least get the fuck out, but saw absolutely no challenge in living in the UK or going around Europe, so I decided to go somewhere where I knew no one and where English wasn’t the first language. Looked up some jobs online and applied in Japan and China. China was the first one that got back to me so I flew to Tianjin which is up near Beijing and had an amazing year. So much fun and good times, and I met a girl who then moved to Shanghai and I followed. Now I’ve been here sucking in the Shanghai smog for nearly four years.

What are some of the best and worst things about the city from your perspective?

For me, living in China is like manic depression. The highs are insanely high and the lows are real fucking low and it’s super hard to get that middle ground and to find any balance. Of course, you constantly have those times where you find yourself saying ‘this is insane, I’ve never done or seen anything like this in my life!’ and that can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

For my personality, it doesn’t make too much sense being here because I don’t dig DJ shows and I don’t care about electronic music or Steve Aoki coming through town for the sixth time in a year. I don’t give a shit about doing brunch or getting a massage or after work happy hours. I’m not a massive player taking advantage of the hottest drunken girls you’ve ever seen and I obviously don’t like how it seems to be near unable to produce a band that I can believe in despite having the entire population of Australia in one city. But I like challenges, I like creating and putting myself in different situations and living and working in Shanghai gives me that opportunity every hour of every day.

Well said. Why is it nearly impossible to put up a band of your dreams in Shanghai?

I’m not really sure. It’s a question I often ask. I really love a lot of the music coming out of Melbourne at the moment and I wonder if it’s because I miss home more than I realise or I can relate on some kind of different level.

It could be that few bands here have a common reference point often being made up of members from various countries. I really would love to answer the question properly. A lot of expats here make healthy money so I think they can afford to go out of town for shows or afford a rehearsal space once a week, and all venues supply backlines and sound guys so that isn’t much of an issue.

Maybe it’s just a money making city that speaks more to electronic producers than it does to scrawny indie kids.

So how would you describe the alternative rock / indie rock scene you’re circling around? Do you attend to hardcore punk shows? Metal gigs? Tell me about your vision of the scenes representing genres and styles from IDIOTEQ tag cloud. What’s your awareness of such environments? [smiles]

On paper, Shanghai has everything you want. Yeah there is a death metal band and they have metal friends and these metal kids play with that metal band. But there aren’t many. I come from a small town with a population of 100,000 that would have just as many bands as Shanghai with a population of 22 million.

There aren’t too many hardcore shows – there is a handful of hardcore bands but they float in different kind of circles and line ups are always a bit of everything. Indie and alternative rock bands are way more common at the venues that I go to and the people that I know.

There seems to be a venue and location thing. Like this venue in this part of the city attracts these kinds of bands and that venue over there attracts those kinds of bands but when you listen to them, it’s hard to find a common link between them. Just seems a bit all over the place, but it probably comes down to the size of the scene more than anything else.

Quite strange, I’d say. Maybe it’s the cultural differences, considering all the expats in the city? But wait, hell no, it should result in opposite effect, right? Just look at New York City [smiles]. Why’s that, then?

There definitely are some cultural differences. Ultimately, I think it comes down to personality and experiences because it works for some people and not for others.

I was in New York about six months ago and loved the fuck out of it. But I challenge anyone to go there and hate it. It had that big city vibe that I do like and everyone had personalities and character which sadly, can’t really be said about Shanghai.

I don’t really know too much about anything, I run with gut feeling way too much so I wouldn’t come to me for anything other that rambling vague opinions and frustrated head scratching.

[laughs] Alright. You mentioned your helping bands, organizing tours, etc. Tell me more about your engagement regarding such things. Do you run an actual booking?

Nah, fuck that. I absolutely love having a job that has nothing to do with music so I can get away from that and use my brain in different ways. I couldn’t handle mixing hobby and work, it’s got to be the quickest way to burn out. I just help bands get in touch with bookers and answer any questions people ask and do any promotional work that I can do. Anyone with an email address, Google Chrome’s in built translation function and Adobe Illustrator could do it. I do get a lot of emails from people interested in Asia in general and try and hook them up with like minded bands or people I know around the place.

I seem to only really help friends or friends of friends who have been thrown my email. I don’t make any cash and just do it to try and feel useful and to help give people a good time.

Last year I did the China Bridge Mixtape with TANZENMEN and that was pretty well received. I think we’ll be doing that again in a month or so. Basically anyone can submit a song and a photo and we compile it all to a China friendly streaming site and throw it around the mainland and see what happens. Worse case scenario is a few new ears hear your songs.

Do you use those contacts to promote PAIRS, as well?

Actually, I know the majority of bookers, writers, promoters through Pairs or previous bands I played in, so there’s no real networking or ‘check out my band’ shit or any of that having to prove myself dick swinging. The reason China Bridge Mixtape started was because we played a festival one year in Beijing and did it again in Shanghai two years later and the line up was nearly the same. BLONDE REDHEAD headlined both times, XIE TIAN XIO played both as did NEW PANTS, DA BANG, HEDGEHOG – it was just fucking sad so we did it to hopefully show Chinese festival bookers that a lot more bands were interested in coming to China. That and most bands out of China find it very confusing to even begin thinking about touring or travelling China, so I felt that I was in a position to lend a hand from within the main land.

If I want to promote PAIRS, I usually cold email websites or blogs that I like and just say hi. I mean, that’s how we’re doing this interview. I saw you had interviewed THE INSTIGATION so I dropped you a line. I’d never reply to any China Bridge submissions pushing PAIRS or asking them to post our video on their Facebook or scrawl our names in The Tote toilets.

[laughs] How much promotion does PAIRS need? How would you put yourselves in the map of alternative rock / indie music popularity in Shanghai?

PAIRS probably doesn’t need any more promotion. On a personal level, PAIRS has done absolutely everything I wanted to do and even more. It currently takes up as much time as I really want to do, right now I feel like it’s a nice balance between PAIRS, work, family and the rest of the life crap. We came out pretty promo hard when we first started, but I think it’s all relative as a lot of Shanghai bands were only promoting themselves to their own friendship group and not emailing magazines or blogs as much as a band probably should. There was a lot of waiting to be written about and bitching that it wasn’t happening rather than asking to be written about, but that seems to have changed now.

I honestly have no idea where we are on the popularity scale. We are nowhere near the most popular band in Shanghai and never will be, and we don’t get big crowds but we are known in small pockets around the place and I think people think we are productive and opinionated and get what we are about but whether they like us or not is another story.

I’d say more people know about us than actually like us.

Really? What’s probably the most annoying and pissing off about you?

My mouth runs ahead of my brain all the time and sometimes I say shit for comic effect and it gets taken out of turn. I am pretty dismissive about a lot of shit and generally pretty cynical. I have been told I write emails both simultaneously vague and blunt and that pisses certain people off a lot.

I guess I can be too much for people from the start, and I swear way too much in conversation and that can get people’s backs up real quick.

Just like any opinionated jerk in a small scene, you attract likeminded people and repel the rest. Most people generally give me pleasant conversation if our paths cross, but I’m positive I’ve said something that has personally pissed a lot of people off here that they later complain about to their girlfriend who doesn’t give a fuck about the masturbatory music scene.

[laughs] And the band, which I actually meant by saying “you” in the last questions? [smiles]

Ah fuck. Look at that ego. All about me. Fuck, sorry. People could say that F can’t play guitar, overrated, I drop beats, can’t drum, speed up, slow down, that we have no melody to our songs, that you can’t understand the lyrics and when you can, all they are is a list of complaints. All fair points and nothing I’d disagree with too much, if at all. I do think we have way more melody in our songs that people realize and the lyrics are better than we generally make audible – but some people get it and some people don’t and that’s always going to be the case in everything in life.

I’ve found so many kind words about you, including naming you one of the best rock bands in the area. You seem to be quite popular there, huh? [smiles]       

There are definitely people who like us and we’re still mind boggled by the amount of support we get and insanely grateful . We have some amazing friends who like the band and support everything we do. The best feeling is having the respect of someone you really, really respect. We have a lot of kind words written about us, and I think we are well known outside of China just because we seem to be one of the few Chinese bands that reach out to the West a lot. We’re active on Facebook, we talk to a lot of movers and shakers around the place, we constantly send packages to a lot of countries, we’ve been to New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and are heading to Vietnam in April – so we get out and about. Most Shanghai bands seem pretty stoked just staying in Shanghai with the annual trek to Beijing.

I reckon our pulling power is over estimated here by bands in the scene. We often get asked to go to Beijing with other Shanghai bands because they think we’ll bring a big crowd, which I don’t really feel is true. Our records aren’t flying off shelves,we aren’t packing out venues – but we get good offers, we’re still writing new songs and seem to be attracting some great and friendly people.

Something else to factor in, because the scene is so small – we generally know the writer writing such words.

Speaking of the city known as Pekin in Poland [smiles], how is Beijing comparing to Shanghai?

I used to like Beijing way more. I still love a lot of the people there and think they have some great venues and bands, but the air there is extra bullshit and I find the public transport to be pretty shitty and last time we were there taxi drivers wouldn’t pick us up. Shanghai has better air, better subways and better taxis. But also, I got a real sense of vagueness from the place last time I was there. Because it’s a pretty cheap place to live and it’s got a reputation of having a small creative industry there and has an artistic reputation, it just attracts a lot of people who are doing a bit of everything. Part time this and part time that and maybe doing this and doing this solo project and recording this and sticking that. Just seemed a bit vague to me and like there was no direction.

It’s hard to find anyone in Shanghai without a job because it’s so expensive to live here, and I really believe that if you want something done you should ask a busy man – so there is less vague kind of maybe this and that in Shanghai than Beijing, although the downside of that is the amount of business cards people hand out in Shanghai.

Sorry if I’m not doing it justice. It’s probably like Berlin – having never been there, but I imagine it’s a bunch of creative people starting projects and not really finishing them before they start something else that they won’t finish.

Some real good bands though in Beijing, my favourite Chinese band YANTIAO is from there but they broke up.

Ok, so let’s move on to your heritage. Please sum it up for us. How many records have you put out so far?

We released a self-titled 7 track CDR  first. That was released in hand stamped brown envelopes.

Then we did Summer Sweat which we recorded in Beijing with Yang Haisong and that was released with a DVD that we made called Shanghai Sweat. It was also released on cassette by UK label Bomb Shop.

Then came Grandparent which we recorded with Manny Nieto and did a film clip for each song with the amazing Redscale Studios.

We just released a double record on Metal Postcard called If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I will.

We’ll be releasing a new album sometime in March all going to plan that will be a totally different thing from the other releases.

We also released a 7″ on Metal Postcard and did a field recording for Bomb Shop a couple of months ago.

What are you proud of the most when it comes to your discography? A particular song? A riff?

Shit man, real good question. I really like the lyrics to Cloud Nine but we never player it live anymore. I like the lyrics to Permanent Residence and Regional Victorian Lover as well.

I’m pretty proud of Gig Of The Week as I remember when we wrote it, it felt like a real song with proper chords and the closest we’d actually come to song writing. I reckon the chords for My Body is Not A Wonderland are real nice, but actually, the songs I’m most proud of are our new ones. Probably our best song writing and lyrics. Doesn Doesn’t t mean they are good songs. Just our best thus far and we like them.

What makes the new ones so unique?

I think we’re getting better and playing our instruments, well I know F is getting way better at the guitar. She only knew two chords when we first started, so each song was teaching her a new chord. My drumming is getting a bit worse but my lyrics are becoming a bit stronger and I’m actually remembering them.

You go through patches of writing then nothing then shows then writing then a holiday then promo and shows, right now we are just writing and the songs just seem to be working better – a little bit smarter, maybe. I think we have a better idea of what the end goal each with each song. I don’t really know. Everything I write sounds wanky. Could be that they are new so fresher .We haven’t changed much. Still the same guitar, same pedals, same practice space. Maybe we are becoming mature.

What’s the best or most surprising thing you’ve ever heard or read about your music?

Douglas Heaven once said we were in one of the top punk bands on the planet and listed us with REFUSED, MELT BANANA and MINUTEMEN amongst others. That was pretty crazy. Mostly because people who usually say that are people I know, and I’ve never met Douglas. There is a guy called Doug at my work who used to live in a town in Canada that was minus 40, but I doubt he wrote it. But basically, he picked the best punk bands from various countries and posted it on the internet. It was pretty flattering.

Generally, it’s nice when anyone bothers to write anything about what we do and I’m not just saying that to be humble and what not. When I used to say I hated something my Mum always used to say the opposite of love is not hate, it’s nothing so if people are writing something about our whatever, then it means we’ve made some impact somewhere.  Hopefully we encourage two reactions: That’s amazing and I want to do something good or that’s utter fucking shit and I want to do something better.

Wow, I didn’t expect that, mate [laughs]. I think there’s an additional dose of sympathy when people realize how you run this band. What would you consider the most alternative and unusual thing you’ve done promoting or simply being in this band?

We basically guilt people in to liking us – we are all about sympathy votes. Promoting wise, we did a CD listening party in a laser/lazer tag place. That was a lot of fun. We co-organised a secret show with a bunch of life saving friends where we got a venue on the outskirts of town, organised four buses to run people from different ends of Shanghai and put on a free show where everyone got a free bag full of CD’s, stickers and other promotional stuff. That was something that was a lot of work but a lot of fun.

We got to play in a small tunnel in Tauranga in New Zealand thanks to Scowlin Wolf and also played in a few odd places in Indonesia like a huge fucking house with a studio on the second floor which I vomited at due to the brutal heat and tiny, tiny practice spaces full of nice heads. We’ve done a few bigger festivals, but they are always a bit weird. Just odd vibes but always nice to see photos of afterwards.

It must be costly to organize such events, huh?

Fuck yeah it was, considering it was all free and there was a lot of promo and shit to do and only a small group of people helping out for it. That’s why I said they were life saving. I had this idea and good friends got behind it and put their money where their mouth was. Hopefully they feel as proud of what they did as we do!

What was the highest number of people that showed up at a PAIRS-themed gig?

Man, thanks for asking real good questions! They are getting me to think pretty hard, and although that may not be reflected in my answers you’re making me use a part of my brain I don’t use nearly enough. I reckon it would be the Summer Sweat CD launch at Yuyintang in Shanghai on September 30th, 2011. It was our first proper release, we promoted it fuck hard, people weren’t super sick of us yet and it was just after the Summer break. I think 250 people came. Around that mark anyway. Super fun night!

Amazing! What moves would you make people do if you could force your audience or simply control their bodies at shows? [smiles] How would you stage-managed your perfect live party?

I’d like to see them do the Melbourne shuffle or do the Triskull Shotgun dance. But the Triskull one involves a bunch of pills, a near empty living room, Infected Mushroom and a passed out Hobbs on the couch.

But I’d probably be way more likely to just let people do what they want. I don’t like it when bands ask people to come closer to the front. I like to run with the theory that they are adults who can make their own choices and if they want to stand up the front, they will.

A perfect live party would be everyone having a good time that doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s good time however it would mean that anyone who says ‘this is boring’ and sticks around to tell everyone how bored they are get thrown the fuck out. Only the boring get bored.

What was the meanest thing someone told you about PAIRS?

Nothing that I wasn’t already aware of myself, like the fact I can’t sing and F is new to guitar. We get told we need a bass player all the time, but that’s mostly from creeps.

One thing one guy did that I didn’t like was he wrote saying he really liked my approach to music and that he wanted to make some music with me. I figure if someone reaches out to you with enthusiasm, you should follow through – so we met up and I had four songs I had written on guitar and was eager to play. He said he’d rather I play drums and sing as he liked my style in PAIRS and wanted me to do the same kind of thing which basically meant he thought he was a better guitar player than F, which, technically is true, but on a creative level – he was nowhere near her. It’s not overly mean, but it left a real sour taste in my mouth.

[laughs] Oh man, oh man… [smiles].

Ok, let’s go back to your discography. I love the idea of releasing it on so many cool formats. An album on USB? Come on! How cool is that? Do you have more ideas for unusual formats for your music?

It is cool, but it’s not as cool as you’d think. It’s certainly not original. A whole bunch of bands have done it before us, I remember the MINT CHICKS doing a really fucking cool one. The USB’s were easy to order, we made up a design, paid for them and then single handedly loaded each one up with videos and songs and early demos and the like.

I’ve wanted to release something on VHS but that’s a pipe dream. No real plans, our next release will be an internet only thing. No idea about future stuff. Internet seems to be winning the game at the moment.

Hell yeah, VHS is back! I was told in one of my recent chats that it’s not back, because it never left! [laughs] Are you into 90s?

Oh, VHS left. It’s fucking dead. It has to be. When was the last time you saw a VCR for sale? At least there are still old cars that only have tape decks.

I was born in 1986, so a lot of my memories are from late 90’s, like a bunch of us hitting a kid’s erection with a ruler whilst he was watching a sex ed video in primary school and another friend kicking a cup of shredded carrot on to another kid’s woolen sweater so the carrot all got stuck on him, or Agro’s Cartoon Connection and orange popcorn and shit like that. I reckon late 80’s were a good time to be born because I feel like I’ve gotten to taste most things. We had a phone that had a physical dial and then I remember mobile phones creeping in. My Dad had vinyl and then I had a walkman so I knew about cassettes and used to buy them, then I remember CD getting popular and then the internet slowly creeping in to schools and taking whole days to download one leaked Tool song which always turned out to be a fake, I remember my friend going to America and coming back with an iPhone before it was released in Australiaand then I got to taste Napster, iMesh, Youtube, Facebook – it’s been good. I’m not sure what future generations will experience, maybe just iPhone 5 to iPhone 40 but I’m happy I got to feel and play with a whole heap of stuff before it got replaced by something else, if that makes sense.

Fuck, sorry, such a long answer to a simple question. I should have just said yes.

[laughs] No, feel free, please. Anyway, there are so many new music videos shot on VHS to honor the 90s. What about the TV? MTV, Viva Zwei, lots of great music has been around when I recall it. It turned out shit now. MTV doesn’t even broadcast music [laughs]. Did you use television as one of the ma

[smiles]in sources for music, too?

Yeah, mostly TV and radio. I used to tape RAGE all the time, and later my Mum got Pay TV so that had like five music channels. Music magazines were a big one as well and also my friend had two phone lines and one was dedicated purely to the internet so he was always downloading stuff and passing it on.

The way I discovered a lot of albums was that in my small country town there were two CD stores right next to each other, so I bought one album, took it home and burnt it and then two days later took it to the other CD store saying I bought it, lost the receipt and wanted to exchange it. Then I’d get a new CD, take it home, burn it and take it back to the other store and say ‘I bought this for my Mum for her birthday but my sister got her the same CD, can I swap it?’ It was the circle of life. I got around ten new CDs out of that. Most notable was GLASSJAWEverything you ever wanted to know about silence which is still one of my favourite CDs ever and AT THE DRIVE-IN – Relationship of command.

2 amazing albums. I know them by heart! [smiles]

So what’s lame about current days in music? Is there something that pisses you off?

Oh what!? You’re a GLASSJAW fan? That’s awesome. Have you ever seen them live? I was in New York the night after they did a show to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, I was pretty fucking annoyed.

Nothing really pisses me off too much about current music. I find it harder to have a connection with new music, but that’s probably more of an age thing as well as a technology thing. When you had a walkman or discman, you were kind of stuck listening to an album for ages but now I’ve got an iTouch and I have 100 albums in my pocket. It makes harder to make a lasting impression.

I still listen to a bunch of new music and am loving a lot of it – mostly stuff from Australia like LOWER PLENTY, SMITH STREET BAND, MINING BOOM, HARMONY for example.

I read that thing Dave Grohl said about drummers not having character anymore, and I do agree with it for the most part. I wonder in twenty years what our kids will be coming back to? Who will be the mainstays? Like the U2 and ROLLING STONES and BOB DYLAN? It can’t be MUMFORD AND SONS or TEMPER TRAP can it?

I’ve never had a chance to see them live, bro. BUT I was devastated when I found out that AT THE DRIVE-IN performed live in Wroclaw, Poland back in 2001 and charged 15 zlotys, which is like 3.57 euro [smiles]. I lived in a different city back then and was too young and too fogbound to realize what was going about 500 km from my neighborhood. Too bad [smiles].

I really dig your point your point of view on today’s flood of music, resulting in knowing more names, but not dedicating to certain albums just like it was back in the 80s and 90s. BUT, I believe there are names from the last 10 years that may rise up again sometime in the future. Like HAVE HEART [laughs].

Alright… what else, Xiao? [smiles] What are you cooking up as PAIRS this year? What can we expect?

Ah shit, bummer. I wanted to go see AT THE DRIVE-IN when they came to Australia for Big Day Out, but my Mum said I was too young. I wanted to see them and MUDVAYNE so it’s probably for the best that Mum put a stop to that. Who knows what road it would have led me down.

I reckon COLDPLAY might stick around – I saw their 2012 live DVD and it looked like it was an amazing time.

Not sure what will happen this year for PAIRS. I know we have a new record coming out soon, I have to record vocals for that on Saturday and we have a practice next week to write some new songs, so who knows? Depends on a bunch of shit. Currently my wedding is sucking my wallet dry so that’s money that won’t be spent on touring, although we are going to Vietnam for two shows in April.

What are your plans for this year?

Wow, amazing. I got married last year [laughs]. What’s your date? What’s the idea for the whole party?

My big plan a.d. 2013 is to finally buy an apartment, but it’s fuckin’ tough here in Warsaw. The prices are incredibly high, even for a married couple having 2 decent jobs. Bummer. I’m looking for it since September, every single week [smiles].

Congrats, man! How are you finding married life? I reckon married life fucking rules. Shit just relaxes; it’s having a kid that changes everything.

Our date is early May, we’re already married, just doing the ceremony. As for the whole idea, I’ve been in China long enough that no matter how many meetings, emails, phone calls I make – people will agree to it and do what they want anyway, so I’ve resigned myself to one rule: the photography crew can not put their cigarettes out on the aisle. I saw that at a friend’s wedding last year and the bride got all these cigarette butts in her dress as she walked down the aisle. Fucking disgusting. So we’ll have it in a restaurant and then head out to this hall to dance and what not, but my main thing is that people don’t out their cigarettes out in moronic fucking spots. I’d actually like to ban smoking at the wedding, but you have to pick your battles here and that’s one I’ll  never win.

Weddings aren’t really about the groom. Firstly, they are mostly for the parents and the bride. All I really need to do is get there and do what I’m told, and I’m comfortable with that.

Good luck with the apartment hunt, man. That shit can break you.

Ha! You got it!

Is it still bloody cold in Shanghai? [smiles] Maybe it does have something to do with the recent end of the world, huh? [laughs] Do you believe in shit like that?

The last few days it hasn’t been super cold. I’ve been fine without wearing my big Winter coat.

I don’t think the world will end on a predicted date, but I can see it getting shitter. Some schools here have been keeping their kids inside due to high pollution and others are suggesting their kids go out and play wearing face masks. That’s pretty much the bleak, no hope kind of future that most cynics have predicted.

Have you seen “The Impossible”? [smiles] Are people in Shanghai afraid of tsunamis?

I haven’t heard of The Impossible. I know Mission Impossible 4 because my wife watched it on a flight recently. Should I watch The Impossible?

I’d say Shanghai people are more afraid of not getting a seat on the subway or having their bare feet touch the ground than tsunamis. That’s more of a Japan thing.

[laughs] Yeah, I know, I was just wondering how do you see it. Oh, and the new movie with Ethan Hawke and Naomi Watts? I don’t know, I hate reviews, so I guess you’ll gonna have to judge it all by yourself.

Ok, my friend. I guess we’ve just hit the ceiling. Do you have any interesting stories you’d like to share?

Oh, I just saw it on a list of new torrents. It will be out int he DVD stores here in China within the week.

I think we just hit the pink ceiling. Thanks heaps for giving me some time to talk shit. Really appreciate it.

I have a lot of interesting stories, but they always work better if they come up naturally in a conversation or have some context.

Thanks again! Let us know if you’re ever in Shanghai.

Thank YOU! I will!

Cheers for the very interesting chat [smiles] All the best for you and the band [smiles]. It was a pleasure.

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