Xiao Zhong Talks of Pairs


Somethingyousaid.com introduced Shanghai band, Pairs, a while back, labeling them as being a couple of  ‘ace cunts’, which, if you’re not from Australia, means that we’re fond of them, and they are good. Well, Xiao Zhong (aka. Rhys from New South Wales), from the group is fleeing China for a while and and having a couple of solo shows in Australia, to which you should go. It’s entry by donation, because Rhys is a nice guy and will do almost anything if you throw a 50c piece at him.

Carol Bowditch chewed the fat with him about the weird and the wonderful highs and lows of living in Shanghai and what’s been happening with the band of late:

What’s Pairs been up to in 2013?
Currently, I think we’re still recovering from a beach festival we just played in Dalian. Messy fun. We started the year in Indonesia playing in rehearsal spaces to hardcore kids. Then we went to Vietnam for a couple of shows which fucking ruled. We released Eltham Join which is an album of songs on piano – some people loved it, some people hated it. I recorded a solo album thing to release later in the year. [bandmate] F went to America for a holiday, I got married. 2013 has been a pretty good time already. Later in the year we’re probably going to record two more records, head to Korea and continue to suck our own dicks.

How does music-making work for Pairs? Do you spearhead the writing yourself or just play together until something sounds alright?
I still don’t think we’ve mastered this ‘getting things to sound alright’ part. I write pretty much everything. That doesn’t mean it’s good, it just means I don’t work well with others.

The worst thing I can hear is ‘let’s jam and record it and listen back and pick out the good shit’. Makes me feel ill. I like to come in with a purpose and already have a song. So I usually record the guitar, send it to F and she says if she likes it or not, although she usually trusts me which is probably her biggest flaw.

You have a couple of gig’s in Australia coming up. Why can’t your band mate F make it? Will you play solo or enlist a guitarist, or just go it alone?
Short answer: F wasn’t invited. Long answer: My wife is Chinese and she applied for immigration to come to my country, steal my job and fuck my women, and she has to enter Australia before July 22nd for it all to kick in. So it’s a trip to head home, see some friends, breathe some fresh air, and my wife wanted to go to Sydney so I thought fuck it, I’ll just borrow a guitar and do some solo shit. I’ll play guitar and sing and only do Pairs songs, but they will be a bit different to how they sound with F.

How would you compare getting a gig in Sydney to organising one in Shanghai?
Sydney was a bit of a prick to figure out, purely because I can only do it on a Monday night, so a lot of the venues were closed or not suited for a creep with an acoustic guitar. I was looking at The Newsagency but they said it was $300 to hire, which I can handle, but they said minimum door price had to be $10 and I’m not worth that kind of coin, but thankfully Black Wire Records came through and are total legends.

Do you remember a few years ago you did a set covering Wham songs on Halloween? Has Pairs done any covers since?
Yeah, I sure do remember that! Thank fuck we’ve never had to do that again. Nah, we don’t waste our time learning other people’s songs. We really struggle to learn and remember our own ones. I will sometimes rap Tupac’s Hit ‘Em Up just to show people that I’m totally street.

What are Chinese fangirls like?
You assume we have fans. There are a few girls that like me, but they don’t know me. I think, and I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I think they like me purely because I’m a foreigner. They see my sickly white flesh as exotic and I say this because there use to be this girl who would come to our shows and basically hump my leg, not let go of my neck and constantly ask me ‘when are you going back to Australia?’ – she’s settled down which is good.

But the thing I will say is that because China has so many people, they are used to growing up with competition so the girls here don’t give a fuck if I’m married. I’ve got messages from girls saying ‘I’m on my way to your house, tell your girl to leave the house’. Insanity.

There are so many great bands in Shanghai, who should we be listening to?
Rainbow Danger Club just released their kind of break up album, Souvenirs, which is doing really well. Gou Shen just released some shit, Round Eye have tracks up that sound mean but best album so far would have to be Fei Ma’s record.

China is a pretty funny place to tell people about if they haven’t ever been. I like sharing stories like the time that I saw a naked infant sitting in a kerb pissing into a plastic cup while laughing its head off… Have you got any great China stories that you like to tell people that have never been?
I pretty much only have these kinds of stories. Living here since 2008 and going to heaps of places has given a heap of insane tales. There was the time I went to an internet cafe and the toilet was on the second floor and all it was was two planks of wood going across a floorless room and you had to shit into the first floor room which was full of shit. Imagine falling into that…

Also, once I saw a guy, I think he was a member of the mafia, pick an occupied toilet of a nightclub with his credit card, open the door to find a guy mid shit and told him to get the fuck out, which the guy did in a real rush without wiping or anything. Mafia guy stood with the door open and took a piss and then left.

I once ate snake with two guys. One guy shit his pants and another guy had to go to hospital because his guts hurt so bad. He couldn’t speak Chinese so I told him that he needed to give a stool sample and he ended up having to shove a spoon in his arse.

One time in Tianjin, I was eating noodles and a Mum ran across the road with a baby, held the baby at my eye level and the kid did a shit all over the window.

I have way more shit based stories. Ask me in person and I’ll make you regret it.

Lastly, Paris or Pears, which do you prefer?
We get called Paris way, way, way more so let’s go with Paris. I haven’t eaten a pear for ages. Thanks for the reminder actually, I need to eat more fruit.

So if are in Aus and want to catch one-half of Pairs live, head along to the gig at Long Play, in Melbourne on July 5 or Black Wire Records in Sydney on July 8. If you’re not in Australia, or you want to steer clear of more shit stories at these gigs, then you can just have a listen to the band over at their bandcamp page.

Words by Carol Bowditch.