Crane.tv produced a short video on Chinese punk rock in Beijing with the arrival of John Lydon’s band PIL playing their first show ever in the mainland. I was lucky to help out by providing background info, photos – and importantly, getting James Tiscone in touch with some of the old punks.
Before arriving, James Tiscone setup an interview with Lydon and wanted to find some of the pioneering names in Chinese punk rock to ask Johnny some questions in person! What an amazing opportunity! He contacted me and I suggested several people from bands like Underbaby, Misandao, PK14, Catcher in the Rye and Brain Failure. When the interview took place, some bands couldn’t make it or chose not to, at the end only 4 people were allowed into the green room with Johnny – not even James was able to go in. Gao Wei (considered the godfather of Chinese punk rock – my old roommate / bandmate), his brother Gao Yang (one of the earliest punk drummers), a sound man and a camera man. Regardless of who got to meet Lydon, this was an incredible event that brought Chinese punk rock full circle as we remember watching Sex Pistols VHS tapes 20 years ago and now having Lydon actually in Beijing playing a show.
Wow! Yuan Qing from China Daily (China’s national newspaper) interviewed me about the book and the charity concert, this is a pretty good article that comes out sometime at the end of September 2012.
Thanks Liz Tung for the article, it really helped get people to the charity concert!!!
Welcome to my site dedicated to my students and to the history of Chinese punk rock. You’ll learn a little bit about me while you’re here too. Check out the video galleries and science projects, you will definitely find something you’ve never seen before! If you have any questions about Tesla coils, 555 timer circuits, laser holograms or Chinese punk rock, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help out as much as I can.
First, if you’re here looking for my book, “Inseparable – the memoirs of an American and the story of Chinese punk rock” please visit the book page here and please be sure and like the Facebook fan page of the book. We are trying to support Half the Sky, a Chinese children’s orphanage, with the proceeds from books sales and other music related events.
Who is Dave? I’m originally from Austin TX and was lucky enough in college to travel to Beijing China for a semester in 1995. That semester ended up lasting nearly 8 years, I finally moved back home in 2003. My luck was red hot as I worked at some of the most innovative companies in the country. I was the entertainment column writer and designer for Beijing Scene, the first foreign entertainment newspaper in Beijing. With the connections I had in the newspaper I was able to promote the burgeoning punk rock scene that I had also become an early member of alongside some amazing pioneering musicians and supporters.
I was lucky again as fate would have it to meet Gao Wei and Underbaby, China’s first punk band at a party I threw in 1996 at the original Solutions Bar (when it was still a small tiny bar next to Moon House). Gao Wei and I became very close friends and moved in together, later on forming another punk band called Foundation. We organized the first punk concerts in Beijing with help from the local musicians as well as other notable forieigners, Anna Sophie Lowenberg, Rusty Mahakian and Jenny Chang. We organized the first punk festivals called “Punks Not Dead”. In 1998 the second generation of punk bands formed from the audiences we had garnished from our early shows. Mike Tu Qiang and I became friends and he introduced a timid young curly haired boy named Xiao Rong to me and said they were starting a band called Brain Failure.
Years later Xiao Rong grew out of being the timid teenager and I joined Brain Failure in their 2nd incarnation. Yes, many people don’t know, but Brain Failure once did have a foreigner! I was definitely the crappiest bassist in China, but I was more supportive than anyone on Earth for these Chinese punks. We quickly became the best live band to see for about 2 years until I had to leave the band due to my work schedule. This would answer the question, why does this site have so much Chinese punk stuff. I was deeply involved and appreciated every moment with the bands and regulars in the punk scene. Most of the pics I took myself, if not I mention who took them. Nearly all the video I shot myself in order to preserve the memories of the birth of Chinese punk rock. If you want a very broad and detailed look at Chinese rock and roll history, go here.
What else did I do? Well, I worked for Pearl Printing, where Bjorn Stabell and I were hired as the two-man technology arm which formed into Made For China, which subsequently formed into 51go.com. From this we were poached to work for Ogilvy and Mather Advertising to originally just handle the IBM site, but then were invited to New York to beg for the seed investment money for the new national Interactive department. Bjorn, Scott Silverman, Simeon and I along with some incredibly talented designers started a department that would get Asia Ad Agency of the Year for 1998. The department still exists today even though all the original founders have gone on to other amazing things. Bjorn went off with Enjia Yue to form Exoweb. Scott is a consultant and I’m not sure what happened to Simeon.
After Ogilvy I went to work my dream job with Rock Records. If you don’t know exactly who Rock is, I’ll explain. Sony, BMG, Virgin and countless other major labels have been in Japan for many years, nothing new. However before any of these were even major players, Sam Duan’s Rock Records was already huge in Taiwan and China. Rock Records owns the largest volume of Asian music on Earth, and they are the largest distribution hub for western labels to push their music into Asia. This was cool and all, but not the reason I wanted to work there. Rock Records had an employee named Landy Zhang who along with Niu Jia Wei helped produce and release China’s first major rock albums as well as the first alternative rock albums. Before Landy and his sublabel Magicstone Records, their simply was no major label support for any rock and roll in the entire country and the region. I was honored to work for them. My main job was to develop print and web promotions for their bands, as well as find new bands for the label. As well as working for Rock, I was able to work alongside Peter Loehr and his IMAR Film company. IMAR Films was the first independent film company in China and one of the few in Asia. It was also an honor to work in the same office with Pete, I didn’t do much film work at the beginning but later on with Pete’s encouragement I ended up doing some crazy stuff later on.
With the first recession and dot com bust, Rock Records pulled the plug on our projects in Beijing. I decided to move to Shanghai and try film work with Michael McDermott who I worked with at Rock Records. Michael had just started his Gung Ho Films company and I was ready to learn something new. I worked with him on a few of his first gigs and now he is considered one of the best commercial producers in China.
I had done piecemeal work on commercials, music videos, some voice over stuff, but Mike called and told me that Quentin Tarantino was doing a film in Beijing called Kill Bill and they needed an extra hand holding the microphone for a sound guy out there. I naturally said I’d do it, but then the job suddenly changed, I wouldn’t be holding the sound boom (I’m tall and skinny, definitely fit for the part). I was now the 3rd assistant director, directly under the 2nd AD and the 1st AD and Tarantino himself. I was responsible for getting all actors and actresses into costume and on set on time all the time… Easier said than done… So if you’re curious, and you watch the credits of KB, you’ll see Texas Dave near the end…
I’m now back in my hometown of Austin, TX. I reached my college dream and became a science teacher, more specifically, a high school physics teacher (with a few astronomy classes in between!). Every day is another day of learning for both my students and I. Teaching science has fulfilled so many of my creative desires and has satisfied my curious nature. I am currently in the University of Texas at Austin master’s program for Engineering Education MASEE. I still travel to China when the money is available.
UBERGeek fact about Dave: None of this ever would’ve have come to fruition until I started doing web pages when NCSA Mosaic was the only browser and the BLINK tag was considered “web design”. In 1993 a good friend of mine introduced me to “email”, my original email address was ” email@example.com“. We had to pay a high price for space on the ccwf machines. I was one of the early beta-testers for this new fast browser called “Netscape”.