Chinese Psywaves is a collaboration between Neocha and M-Lab by Modern Sky. Throughout the month of May, we’re going to introduce four Chinese alternative rock groups who are making waves. For them, music is a spiritual sustenance that transcends the boundaries of genre. This week, we’ve got The Molds, straight out of Beijing’s Xicheng district.
We live in fast times: no one has time to exchange a few friendly words anymore, because we’re inundated with information, and what’s new today is obsolete tomorrow. The Molds, who sing old-fashioned songs of love and vengeance, are determined to resist these trends. They have a fondness for the showdowns and shoot-outs of Western movies, and generally for anything in life that sticks to its guns and refuses to change. Though the members may not look like cowboys or desperados, their impassioned croons seem to be made for riding off into the Wild West.
「Chinese Psywaves」系列由摩登天空 M-Lab 和 Neocha 联合推出。整个五月，我们将为你查探四个中国区域地下摇滚乐队的独特波形。在他们的眼中，音乐不会任由形式的条框，精神的养料脱颖而出。本期，我们找来了北京的西城大镖客们 The Molds 乐队，一起来看看他们的故事！
这是一个快速的时代，人与人相处不需要多余的寒暄；这是一个信息爆炸的时代，事物总被不停地淘汰。The Molds 乐队选择用爱恨交织的故事对抗这样的时代，他们沉溺于西部片中剑拔弩张的画面，还有生活中那些从不改变的偏执色彩。当几位故事的主角换上复古的衣装和皮鞋，世上的浪漫被他们低声吟唱，相信能载你通往风流倜傥的西部大道。
The Molds got their start in the heyday of Beijing’s avant-garde rock scene around 2010, when all kinds of underground punk and post-punk artists were active on the scene and hung out at Beijing’s D-22 club. The Molds stood out for their rockabilly sound, with echoes of Elvis, 60s psychedelia, and surf rock. Asked if their sound might be out of step with life in China, Liu Ge, the frontman, just asks, “You really think so?” The love and revenge that The Molds sing about are universal, and while their lyrics aren’t quite as bloody as a Western flick, they’re sung with a rugged charm.
The Molds 乐队始于一个摇滚先锋们辈出的年代，2000 年代中期各路地下才俊纷纷行走江湖，后朋克和朋克乐分庭抗礼，不少乐队和艺术家以北京 D-22 俱乐部为根据地。The Molds 猫王式的山区乡村摇滚（Rockabilly）和六十年代迷幻、冲浪摇滚的曲风在当时独树一帜。当被问道这样的音乐形式与中国生活格格不入时，主唱刘舸回答道：“你真的这样觉得吗？”。的确，The Molds 讲述的情仇故事是人世间共同的主题，没有西部片中拔刀相见的血腥之气，不过是以 “浪荡” 的姿态演绎着身边的故事。
Click here to listen to tracks by The Molds:
点击即可试听 The Molds 的歌:
In the more than ten years since they got started, The Molds have always kept a low profile and an air of mystery. Each time they start to generate buzz, they opt to take a pause or gradually fade from the public eye. By 2016, when The Molds again were in the limelight, D-22 had long since been converted into a pizza joint, and the other rock clubs seemed to have lost their edge.
Today, the band is made up of frontman Liu Ge, drummer Li Zichao, bassist Liu Fang, and guitarist Qiao Xi. As they put it, they’re as close as brothers, and this relationship makes writing songs a breeze. “If someone talks shit about me or says I suck, I don’t care,” says Liu Ge. “But I won’t stand for someone talking shit about the other guys in the band.” Qiao Xi agrees: “We’re like that propaganda slogan from the 30s: united, alert, earnest, and lively.”
在成立至今十余年的时间里，The Molds 一直在摇滚圈里保持低调与神秘，每次在获得出色口碑过后，乐队却选择停摆或从人们的视野中渐渐淡出。2016 年，当 The Molds 再一次重新出现在人们视线中时，D-22 俱乐部也早已成为贩卖披萨的店铺，摇滚乐似乎也缺少了当年的热度。对于他们来说，玩乐队只不过是一场游戏，没有必要追逐你死我活的名利，只是浪漫地、无欲无求地过着自己醉意的生活。而在摇滚乐的江湖里，“午夜镖客们” 的故事已在乐迷们口中相传。
Click here to listen to tracks from The Molds’ new EP L’Ultimo Saloon del West:
点击即可试听 The Molds 最新 EP《西城最后的沙龙》的部分曲目:
The Molds released their first LP, Born Astride the Grave, on the Space Fruity label in 2018. Most of the tracks, which are reworkings of their earlier songs, center on lost youth, decadence, disappointment, and betrayal. It’s a reckoning with their past lives and works.
The band’s new EP L’Ultimo Saloon del West offers something new and unusual. It’s the first true collaboration since they formed their new lineup, and it’s presented as the soundtrack to a non-existent film. This “film” involves a romantic entanglement and evokes the nostalgia for their years in Beijing’s western district of Xicheng. The track “The Theme Song,” closes the album with their most unexpected song to date, a duet sang by a fictitious couple madly in love. With the release of the new EP, Neocha caught up with the band to chat about their lives and their music.
L’Ultimo Saloon del West is now available on vinyl and can be purchased here.
2018 年，The Molds 在 Space Fruity 厂牌下发行了乐队首张 LP《Born Astride the Grave》。专辑围绕逝去的青春、颓废、挫败、背叛等等主题展开，其中大部分歌曲是对之前作品的重新演绎。如果说这张专辑是对过去生活和创作上的一种交代，那么 2020 年乐队的全新 EP《西城最后的沙龙（L’ULTIMO SALOON DEL WEST）》为我们带来了更多不一样的新意。整张 EP 是乐队新阵容组建以来，真正意义上合作的作品。其概念是为一个不存在的电影配乐，“影片” 中除了纠葛的感情故事之外，表达了乐队四人对曾经在北京西城生活的赞美。你还能在《The Theme Song》歌曲中听到男女深情对唱的桥段。 在最新 EP 发行之际，Neocha 和他们聊了聊创作和生活的议题。
Neocha: On your new EP, why did you use the pseudonym “The Bad Molds”?
Liu Ge: The name is our alter ego, because men don’t just have one face.
Neocha: Where did you find the name of your latest EP, L’Ultimo Saloon del West? What story does it tell?
Liu Ge: For the last ten years we’ve been living in Xicheng, on the west side of Beijing. As for why it’s the last saloon, maybe it’s a sendoff, an elegy for the beauty of the past. It’s mostly a love story about life and death, and the ending is rather poignant.
Liu Fang: It’s set in a virtual Westworld.
Qiao Xi: It’s cinematic, and the listener can imagine film scenes to go with the music.
Neocha: If the new EP was a film, who directed it or who would you want to direct it?
Liu Ge: A lot of people say our music reminds them of Tarantino, but I think that’s going a little far.
Qiao Xi: Jim Jarmusch or the Coen brothers could direct it.
Neocha: 为什么在最新 EP《西城最后的沙龙》中，乐队引用了假名 “The Bad Molds”？
刘舸: 我们过去十年都有在北京西城生活的经历，所以取名叫 “西城”。而之所以叫最后的沙龙，可能是对过去美好的一种葬送与赞美吧。主要讲述了一个死去活来的爱情故事，结局有一些凄美。
Neocha: Where do you usually find inspiration? What areas of life are relevant to writing music?
Liu Ge: Sometimes when I’m walking down the street, there’s a tree blocking the person walking toward me. If neither of us move, our faces are always obscured by the tree, and we can never see what the other looks like. Moments in life you can’t quite put into words or make sense of can spark my desire to create.
Qiao Xi: Our work draws on the current state of our lives. Getting by, dealing with emotions—these are all things we want to express in our music. Literature, film, and other people’s music all have a subtle influence: an image or a scrap might gets recorded in our minds, and create a chemical reaction with something happening in our lives. And that combines to make our music.
Li Zichao: Playing the drums is like cooking, it takes both hands to make something of value.
Neocha: You guys draw heavily on Western movies. What is it about them that attracts you?
Qiao Xi: Westerns have really strong characters, and these forceful personalities are unwavering throughout the film. They never change.
Neocha: In your music, you wax poetic about earlier age. Do you think modern life is still rubbish?
Li Zichao: It’s fine, I guess.
Liu Ge: Yes. There are too many choices. Writing songs is a way of resisting the modern lifestyle.
Liu Fang: Technology makes things a lot easier, but at the same time it moves too fast and makes people shallow and impatient. Slow growth is better. I don’t really look at my friends’ posts on social media, I don’t think there’s much of a point.
Neocha: What do you think it takes to make a good band? How would you tell good music from bad, from a fan’s perspective?
Li Zichao: Being a good person.
Liu Ge: I think a good band needs to have a style—everyone should wear leather shoes! Whatever the style of music, the band has to be on the same wavelength. The members have to have an unspoken agreement.
Liu Fang: I think a good band should create music that moves themselves as well as others. It’s crucial for a band to be steadfast about their personal tastes.
Neocha: How can musicians stay true to themselves in the face of the commercialization of China’s underground music scene? Is there anything you want to say to the current age?
Liu Ge: I think it’s pretty good. It gets people in the habit of listening to underground music.
Liu Fang: I think there’s good and bad. The good side is that underground music gets exposed to a mass audience, and more people can hear it. Last year, after “The Big Band” reality tv competition, more people have become interested in seeing bands perform live. The bad side is that if musicians chase after these goals too much, it’s hard for them to be committed to their own vision.
Qiao Xi: I think there’s a lot of confusion in today’s Chinese-language music scene. Reality shows are educating people. Underground music has gained a lot of followers because of the media, which in itself is a good thing.
Neocha: The Molds 的音乐像是对过去生活的某种赞美，你们觉得现代生活变好了吗？
刘舸: 我觉得挺好 ，培养了大众消费地下音乐的习惯。
刘舫: 我觉得有利有弊。好的一方面是，地下音乐可以被推崇到大众面前，能让更多人听到。去年 “乐队的夏天” 节目之后，看演出的人比以往更多了；不好的一面是，如果过于追求这些东西，艺术家们容易对自己的作品不够真诚。
Neocha: Does the spirit of rock still live on? If so, where?
Liu Ge: You’ve got to believe it does. It lives on in anyone willing to challenge conventional ideas.
Qiao Xi: The spirit of rock isn’t tied to one style of music anymore. No matter what your style, if you can express yourself, you’ve got that spirit.
Neocha: If what your new single says is true, “the band’s about to go on hiatus.” What are you each planning to do on this hiatus?
Liu Ge: We want to get this year’s tour lined up, and then we’ve got some new songs to record. The style won’t be different. We’re like the bad guys in a Western: we never change.