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January 22, 2010

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Flowers from a Blue Garden

IT'S hard to imagine the emergence of a Chinese band today along the lines of global sensation U2, but the sincerity and pioneeering work of Shanghai rock band Blue Garden deserves attention.

They will perform tomorrow in Beijing at a Chinese Album Association ceremony honoring their first album "I Love Fake Rock" (2007). The album was recently awarded a Golden Album prize.

The band Blue Garden was founded in 2000 by vocalist Lu Lan (known as Da Lu) and guitarist Zhang Wei. It now has four members, including bass player Zhang Qi (known as 77) who joined in 2001 and drummer Chao Yi who joined and 2002.

The band was named Best Original Music Band at the 2005 Asian Music Festival. In 2008 it was awarded silver for Best New Comer in the East Music Award.

"We are surprised by the good news about the Golden Album award. It's a big honor as Beijing is full of mainstream rock bands," says vocalist Lu.

At the ceremony the band will play "Happy Birthday" from the album and probably the Chinese classic "On the Golden Hilltop of Beijing." Vocalist Lu and guitarist Zhang were classmates in East China University of Science and Technology. When they gave campus shows they won many fans.

"I remember on the show we sang an original song and other hits from the popular Taiwanese duo Ukulele," recalls Lu.

The Shanghai duo decided to form a group and their schoolmates named them Blue Garden.

The style changed from campus folk to hard rock. But under the influence of independent English music, they now feature a soft metropolitan rock style.

"At first we started our creative work by imitating. From pop, hard rock, new metal, we had a lot of tries," says guitarist Zhang.

The band has a natural musical style to express their ideas.

"Our independent music style was formed after many years of struggle - rock music involved plenty of musical elements," says Lu. The musicians are around 30 years old.

The first album "I Love Fake Rock" (2007) featured pop, rock and roll, and folk and was full of emotion.

Han Han, a post-1980s writer, penned those lyrics but the band mostly writes its own.

"When we compose the melody of a song, we don't think too much, we just present the emotion of the music," says bass player 77. "But lyrics will enrich the content of songs and we can get more feelings when we perform them."

Other songs such as "One Person," "Happy Birthday," "My Wife" and "I Am the King" are popular in the Chinese rock music circle.

Blue Garden is devoting most of its time and energy to a new album.

"We are creating plenty of new songs now and we will pick the best of the best for the next album," says Zhang.

Check detailed performance information at The Band Members Vocalist: Lu Lan (Da Lu)

Lu majored in industrial design at East China University of Science and Technology and between studies he composed songs. Since middle school, he has collected record albums and now has more than 2,000 rock albums.

"As a student I saved money to buy albums, even eating cheap noodles every day," recalls Lu.

His favorite bands are Black Sabbath, H.I.M, The Doors and Linkin Park.

Guitarist: Zhang Wei

Zhang majored in chemistry at East China University of Science and Technology. He has been playing the guitar since he was very young and gave lessons to university schoolmates, including Lu.

Zhang is very interested in musical instruments and technologies.

"I spend a lot of time and energy studying music facilities in the studio to improve our records and I have started to help other singers with their albums," says Zhang.

He likes U2, Coldplay, The Verve, Travis and Thirteen Senses.

Bass: Zhang Qi (77)

Like his fellow band members, Zhang likes U2 and Hong Kong legendary rock band Beyond. "My music career is deeply influenced by them. I like all the songs of Beyond," says Zhang.

He is a good cook. Few of his fans know that Zhang used to be a professional chef before he took up music.

"I like to cook for my friends at home parties," he says.

Drummer: Chao Yi

Chao is not only a musician but an avid fan of auto racing.

"I like cars and watching racing competitions," he says.

He likes Beyond, Tang Dynasty and Metallica. What critic says about Blue Garden Zhang Li

Renowned Chinese music producer I HAVE been following Blue Garden since 2002, and was immediately attracted by their creations. We started our musical cooperation in late 2006.

The band's average age of 30 represents the purity of a boy and maturity of a man. The four members are lovely boys, and I think they are now at their golden age to become a good band.

Their music is pure, natural and straight-forward. They are telling their life stories through songs and guitar playing.

In the domestic (Chinese) music industry, Blue Garden needs to persevere in their career and I am very confident in them.


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