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November 25, 2010

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Phatty Club eyes Santana-like success

THE band Phatty Club is finally making money, which gives them more freedom to make their own music.

The band formed in 2007 and has four members - bassist Xuan Yiheng, who usually goes with the name Heng Tou (Heng Head), keyboardist Zhao Kaiwei, guitarist Wu Jun and drummer Hao Liang.

Phatty Club, known locally as Baixiang Yuedui, plays everything from blues, jazz and pop to reggae, new folk and rock. They are hired for commercial events, but they usually play at the Melting Pot on Taikang Road.

"We love all music styles. There is no so-called 'favorite.' All that matters is wether it's good music or not," says Wu.

The band has no vocalist and they see this as an advantage.

"On one hand, we can collaborate with different singers to get new exciting effects for live performances," Wu says. "On the other hand, the four of us can focus on creating original melodies."

Band members say they hope they will one day become as famous as Carlos Santana.

"When Santana held concerts, the fans went to see this rock guitarist who collaborated with different big-name singers," says Xuan, the bassist. "We are making efforts to be like that one day."

The search is on for a singer who can collaborate long-term with Phatty Club.

"We hope we can find someone who sings well and we will provide original songs for him or her," Xuan adds. "We want to become a group combining a band and a singer, not a simple band with a vocalist. They are two different concepts."

The band members see themselves as a big family and getting along is important.

"We must be good friends first," Hao says. "Then we can play music together."

Unlike some bands, there is no leader in Phatty Club. All issues are discussed and resolved in meetings in a democratic way.

They say the band is not just about making money although they take their jobs seriously.

"Music is about life, making friends and realizing the value of life and dreams," Xuan says.

The band says sometimes it's difficult because they think many music fans in China only care about a good-looking singer who sings about sentimental issues. But they say they are mature enough to face reality while continuing to create music they like.

"But we still feel lucky that at least we are playing music, the thing we love," Xuan says.

Although they play a lot of songs written by others, they create many original tunes.

"I have hundreds of original works of melody at home," Xuan says.

The Band's Name

The four members of Phatty Club were much fatter when the band was formed.

"At first we only had a Chinese name called Xiao Pang Zi band (Xiao pang zi translates as small fatty). People started asking us whether we had an English name or not, so we used Phatty, which refers to the original meaning," bassist Xuan says.

Gradually the four lost weight and they found "Xiao Pang Zi" no longer suited them.

They then decided to change the band's Chinese name to "Bai Xiang," which is Shanghainese dialect and means "play."

"We are playing music based in Shanghai - this is bai xiang," the band says.

What Success Means

"We are very realistic now after so many years of pursing our dream. We don't talk about dreams casually with others now because the aim is set, and we are running toward it without doubt.

"If you ask our definition on success, we can just tell you a picture of the future in our mind.

"In 40 or 50 years, when all of us are in our 80s, and we are all lucky enough to still be alive in this world, we want to perform together in a small pub.

"We will invite singers of our age, who still remember us, to perform with us. This is our dream and definition of success."

Attitude Toward Family

All of the band members are married except for guitarist Wu.

They have a similar attitude about love and family.

"Many people think pop musicians, especially an underground band like us, are libertines. But actually, we feel family is very important to us. And I don't feel so lonely since getting married," says keyboardist Zhao.

"There is a person who you love and care, who shares everything with you. And you take more responsibility for your family and yourself. This kind of feeling is good and hard to describe."


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