Asian music isn’t all about the J-pop, K-pop or C-pop. Check out these unique bands that are stirring up the rock scene. This piece also appeared in the Fall 2009 issue.
By Daryl Cheung
This hardcore rock band was once called The Legendary because of their lyrics and history. SuperChink was spreading the word to all audiences, highlighting the history and ongoing discriminations and injustices against Asian Americans while maintaining a “Yellow Power” brand of activism in their performances and music. Their fusion of rock and rap, partnered with strong lyrics, makes this band an interesting listen.
Listen To: “Feel the Wrath,” “FOB” and “4twenty9” on SuperChink’s MySpace Page.
The Slants is a four-person band formed in 2006 in Portland, Ore. It was founded by Simon Young, a musician who used to run Populuxe Entertainment, a music agency. The Slants combines electronic dance, techno and pop music. The band released its album on July 8, 2008, titled “Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts,” featuring the hit song, “Kororo” (I Fall to Pieces). Their music will have you breaking it down on the dance floor or, if you’re shy, in the privacy of your bedroom.
Listen To: “Kororo I Fall to Pieces” and “Stranglehold” on The Slants’s MySpace Page.
This Japanese rock group formed in December 1998 in Chiba, Japan, and is composed of drummer Hirotaka Takahashi, vocalist Takeshi Hosomi, guitarist Shinichi Ubakata and bassist Yuichi Takada. With their style of punk rock, alternative rock and emo, they resemble the Japanese version of The All American Rejects or Simple Plan. Vocalist Takeshi Hosomo’s strong grasp of English makes the band easy to listen to. They once collaborated with the American band Allister during South by Southwest (SXSW), a set of interactive film and music festivals that take place every spring in Austin, Texas, during January 2006 and Foo Fighters on Dec. 5, 2006 at Osaka Castle Hall.
Listen To: “Space Sonic,” “Stereoman” and “Fire Cracker” on Ellegarden’s MySpace Page.
Hard Queen, formed in early 2007 in Shanghai, released their first album titled “Holiday” after their most popular single in April 2009. The trio includes Sheena on the vocals, Zero on the bass and Damen on the drums. Their music sets them apart from the typical rock band with their mix of pop, slight rock and techno and funky.
Listen To: “Holiday” and “Jungle Queen” on Hard Queen’s Facebook Page.
Asian Rock Fest
There is an annual Asian Rock Fest that is held in New York City and San Francisco. It was first created in 2004 as a way to bring in Asian American rock bands from all over the U.S. It aims to celebrate the annual Asian Heritage Month of May. In 2009, Asian Rock Fest’s four infamous Asian rock bands, Burning Tree Project, Johnny Hi-Fi, Festizio and United High were invited to perform in San Francisco. If you are a big fan of Asian rock music, make sure to check out the official Web site.
There are a few other Asian rock bands that sing in their own languages that you should get to know: Silver Ash and Huang Yi Da (both sing in Mandarin), Dear Jane and Mr. (both are from Hong Kong), Gackt and UVERworld (both are from Japan) and Seo Taiji (a well-known Korean singer that mixed symphony/orchestra with rock style; his lyrics are all about the corruption of politics and government). All of their music can be found on YouTube.