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THE INSTIGATION to act! A short story about punk in Shanghai

8 mins read

Shanghai, China’s THE INSTIGATION have just self-released their debut 7inch. I took the chance to talk to these thrash rockin’ hardcore punks featuring members from 4 different countries  about their inspirations and Shanghainese hardcore punk / punk rock scene.

Their sound combines early 80s US hardcore punk with thrashy garage punk – you can check it out for yourself by launching the player below:


Welcome, guys! You’re the first Chinese band interviewed for IDIOTEQ. It’s a great pleasure! How’s it going, man? Hope all is well.

Cool. I’m pretty fine since I just got our first 7inch in China this week and trying to get distributors to distribute it, also get some zines to write our stuff. Feel really nice to have our stuff to out!
Since its self-release, manage everything by ourselves, so mean much more for me.

It’s not very sure if we can say we are Chinese band since we are based in Shanghai, China, but our band mates are pretty international as our band member are from Japan, UK, Canada and China currently.

Wow [laughs]. Ok, so I withdraw what I said earlier about the Chinese band [smiles]. How come you teamed an international pack like this?

Well, since Shanghai is pretty international city as there is over 150,000 foreigners stays in Shanghai. There is small rock scene in Shanghai and there is an expats rock scene in Shanghai too. So it’s pretty easy to meet some expats who’s playing music in Shanghai.

How were your beginnings in punk rock music? What were How did you get introduced to the genre you’re writing in?

I think it was RAMONES or THE SEX PISTOLS? Can’t remember well what was the first punk album I’ve got, but the point I’ve got into this kind of stuff was when I accidentally bought an album of SCARED OF CHAKA that garage punk/raw punk band from New Mexico.

Then I’ve got into garage punk that’s not like really 60s style and much more 90s style as teen generate or retards etc. then I’ve found DEAD DIRG, ROT SHIT, THE FATALS, REDREDRED, etc. I was getting prefer more faster and rawer stuff, then its kinda reached to hardcore punk as original hardcore punk was expended from punk rock.
So actually when I really discovered hardcore punk was after start this band in 2010. Our vocalist was really into hardcore punk, and he’s brought some influences. Before it was more kinda extreme garage punk.
Now I really like those early 80s USHC sounds like KORO, GANG GREEN, JERRY’S KIDS, CAREER SUICIDE, CUT THE SHIT, etc.


So, you have your debut EP out now. How are you feelings about that record at the moment?

Well, Yeah, I’m really happy that its finally released even its just self-release!

But maybe its self-release, it means more for me, since I’ve managed all of process to release. It’s like letting my friend to know what I want for the songs mixing, or seeking press plant, dealing with them by myself, manage sleeve how to layout etc.

Also since it took pretty long to be out. The songs were recorded in beginning of 2011, so it’s almost 2years to out.
So feel like, YEAH, FINALLY! [laughs]. But we still have 10 songs not out yet, so hopefully we can manage it soon to release somehow.

the instigation 7

A full length coming up?

I would like to take it as 2x7inches. Because there are some old songs that’s composed pretty beginning and other songs are pretty late. Old songs has more garage punk influence. And new stuff has more 80s USHC punk influence. So I would like to split it as 2 7inches.

Cool. How big is your love for vinyl?

Actually I’m not as big of a vinyl fan as other people in the garage punk / hardcore scene. And I don’t have a huge vinyl collection, I just have some records. It’s nice to listen to music by vinyl, especially those 60s oldies, but I’m not only dedicated to listen to music by vinyl, for me the format doesn’t really matter. When it comes to own releases I prefer to use vinyl, it kind of has more value and its memorable than cd or just mp3, it’s like a souvenir.

Yup. What’s your local hardcore punk scene like? Tell us more about Shanghai’s bands, venues, labels, distros, promoters, etc.

There is no old school hardcore punk scene in Shanghai, even I can say there is no that scene in whole China. Out there is some new school style hardcore that’s not my taste in China.

Shanghai scene tends to more like indie rock and post rock? The scene is pretty separated into two parts. One is Shanghaies/Chinese bands scene that’s pretty commercial and pop. They play for commercial gigs a lot and not playing at underground venues so much. The other one is Expats scene. It’s more indie/post punk/post rock style as mainstream in shanghai. It’s actually pretty active and a lot of bands releasing their stuff by cd, digital release or few is vinyl.

But there is no scene for what I like as garage punk or old school USHC punk. But there is some cool bands in Shanghai as well. PAIRS is the most active band in Shanghai. It’s in Aussie and Shanghaies. They’ve got a lot of releases on CD, DVD, vinyl, USB, etc. Always doing some new stuff. I prefer their old stuff since it’s more like low-fi punk. Now they are getting more noise/experimental direction.but they are always so active and interesting.

BATTLE CATTLE  is also pretty cool. Formed by 3 French in Shanghai. They play post punk/indie and a bit ska style. Their first stuff is nice, but lately its more post punk and getting more original and interesting. I think they are the best band in Shanghai right now.

DUCK FIGH GOOSE  is cool too. The only band i feel pretty good and it’s all Chinese in Shanghai. They’ve played at SXSW and now they are touring in Europe I think. It’s also indie/post rock style.

There is a hardcore band called SPILL YOUR GUTS in Shanghai.  in Shanghai. Formed by expats from Canada, Russia and us. Their sound is pretty new school that’s not my exact taste, but they are getting pretty tight and pretty powerful.

There is some labels in Shanghai. But it’s for shit commercial pops or post punk, etc. I really don’t know them.

In Beijing there is a label called Genjing Records run by my friend called Nevin and dedicated to release Chinese artists on vinyl (maybe lately they don’t limit it just on vinyl).

And there is a record shop called Up Town Records in Shanghai. They distribute vinyl and they distribute the instigation 7inch as well. Oh, also Nevin has a hardcore punk band called FANZUI XIANGFA (CRIMINAL MIND) that includes ex-DS-13 on drum. They are the best hardcore punk band in whole china I’ve listened in China I guess. They’ve toured Europe as well.

And promoters, there is some rock promoters. Biggest one is split works. It’s a promoting company and they arrange some festival in China as well. Bringing musicians from several genre, but in general it’s a bit hip. This town touring arranged by Australians in Beijing. They bring bands from AZ and NZ mainly.

New noise arranged by finish guy in Chengdu, they bring post punk mainly and an American guy called Abe – he’s brought THE MORLOCKS, FUCKED UP, and DEAD ELVIS to China. He’s brought several musicians, but those three are remarkable.

Also I’ve brought several bands to China actually. Since there is no scene for what I like and no bands touring in China, I’ve organized monthly garage punk live show with few friends in Shanghai and brought a lot of bands from mainly Japan and some from Europe. It’s been almost 2 years and there was silly arguments and fucked up. Now I’m doing it with my girlfriend. I’ve brought a lot of garage acts like the BARBACANS, KING SALAMI & THE CUMBERLAND 3, LES TERRIBLES, and just had an Italian hardcore punk band called THEE OOPS.

But anyway, to be honest I’m pretty fed up with Shanghai since there no music what I like and cant share same interests with anyone. I’ve been playing and bringing bands from abroad, but not so much people appreciates this kind of music here, so I feel a bit waste of time. So I suppose I’ll move back to Japan next year.

Why did you leave Japan in the first place?

[laughs] it’s been pretty long time ago, and that moment I wanted to go abroad. Also I didn’t play any music. I was just a kid. This 4-5years, I’m getting into those music more and more and started to playing music.

You’d be closer to ENVY. Maybe you could do a collaboration work together [smiles]. Are you into such music?

They’ve toured in China actually. New noise what’s I mentioned before arranged their tour. Their music is pretty clean and elegant, I prefer more raw and low-fi sounds. Simpler and fast.

Ok, my man. What else should we know about you?

I forgot to mention, I’m Toshi who is playing bass for the band! [laughs]

Well, I’m planning to set a Japan tour for THE INSTIGATION next year since I’m move back to Japan. Also try to manage those recordings out in 2 years. Then hopefully we can make Europe or us tour one day as well!

I know it’s pretty slow progress than other bands that has solid stable band mates does. Since everyone stays here temporary and everyone s leaving (actually me as well!) and I had to face member changing all time as there is no original member except me. But I will achieve what I’ve said somehow even the progress is pretty slow. Slow by slow, one by one.


Haven’t you thought about changing your name every time you form another crew anyway?

Usually I do as my other band did, but since I really like this name, I’ve never thought about it.

Also, Every mates contributes a lot and I really appreciated it especially the vocalist Simon. And its sounded pretty ego and arrogant, but I composed all of songs for the band, so in fact for just “composing” songs, it doesn’t matter who is in the band so much. Of course for “playing” songs, it definitely pretty matter which mate is in the band especially most of them are pretty good friends of mine. And of course if the composing songs for a band was contributed by all of band mates, like everyone brings some idea and jamming to build a song, (I’ve had a band like this before) and if anyone leaves the band, it’s pretty difficult to replace since the composing was managed by all, I would definitely consider to change name. It’s kinda long-winded, but simply and main reason is I really like this name, that’s it! [laughs]

And since all of member except me were changed once as vocal, guitar, drums and I’m still keep on playing with this, I’m kinda engaged I guess [laughs].

Alright. What are your plans for Christmas?

Nothing special. Probably cook and have some dinner. Japanese doesn’t celebrate it well as Western does. There is Christmas in Japan or China, but it’s much more commercial and provoking people to buy stuff [laughs].

How about you?

Oh man, Poland is actually crazy about this time of the year. It’s deeply Christian, it’s the very core of our religious beliefs and huge part of our history. There will be a ton of food on the table, fooling around, sharing Christmas presents and drinking vodka [smiles].

The Instigation by Thierry Coulon Photography

Is there anything you would like to add before we end?

[laughs] Sounds pretty nice there. I guess you are pretty busy for preparing the Christmas in these days.

Well, nothing really special to add. Yesterday I went to see BATTLE CATTLE what I mentioned before gig, and they are definitely the best band in Shanghai right now. Pretty good.

Great! Thanks, man! Let’s keep in touch and do another chit-chat sometime next year. Thanks!

Cool, thank you so much for the interview!

Next year i will move back to Tokyo, but still continue to playing music and organize gigs there. Also would like to dig some cool undiscovered underground Japanese punk music there, so maybe I can pass some info from there if you are interested!

Well, thank you so much again and merry Christmas!

Drummer photo by Thierry Coulon.

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