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Nerdish but these Knives are sharper than most

ONE of the more original British bands Young Knives look like bespectacled nerds but their music is winning them friends all over the world. Yao Minji meets the band on its first tour of Asia.

They are not the prettiest, coolest or sexiest rockers. They wear tweed. According to their hit "The Decision" they are difficult, abstract and mild. As well they claim to be the Prince of Wales and the Monarch.

They are the British band Young Knives, who are in Beijing preparing for their first ever performance on the Chinese mainland today.

The three have already impressed rock fans in Hong Kong when they opened the Clockenflap Music Festival there. And they will continue their heavy guitar sound, harmonious explosive chords and the seriously ironic lyrics in Shanghai on Saturday.

The band's vocalist and guitarist Henry Dartnall tells Shanghai Daily they had a lot of fun playing the music festival in Hong Kong last year.

"It is really exciting to be visiting some other places in China. It has always been on my wish list of places to visit and the fact that we get to show off in front of people makes it even better," says Dartnall.

The three want to meet Chinese musicians and learn about the local music scene during their stay.

On the band's official site, they describe their music style as "indie, pop, funk, classic rock," and some critics add "alternative rock and post-rock." The first impression one gets from their posters or videos is geek rock, or nerd rock, a musical sub-genre of alternative rock.

From the 1980s, the term is used to describe performers whose personalities or appearances are thought nerdy, rather than describing the music style.

YK is certainly not frightened to be nerdish. The band comprises Henry Dartnall on vocals and guitar, Thomas "House of Lords" Dartnall on vocals and bass guitar and Oliver Askew on drums and backing vocals.

In their hit "The Decision," the group claims that "decision was mine" again and again with their expressive voices. Their dramatic expressions make it even better in the witty music video.

The three appear in their signature nerdy style - old-fashioned math-geek-like hairstyles, large glasses and unstylish sweaters and suits. They argue about the directions as they get lost in a forest, discover a fairy-tale village, get shocked when the villagers suddenly turn into monsters and wake up in the dark again.

With their unique geeky style of humor, they show how people can play with music and how much fun can be created this way.

The Dartnall brothers and Askew got together as a band and played their first gigs in 1997 when they were still in high school.

After hundreds of performances, they have evolved from singing standard classic or pop songs to establishing their own music identity. The unique style is very British, nerdy, indie, multi-layered and ironic.

Though they made some recordings, the band didn't get much attention until the album "... Are Dead" came out in 2005, when retro started sweeping through fashion, music and art.

The explosive dancing beat, witty music videos, expressive voices, classic melodies, ironic lyrics and energetic live performances have won them praise from the critics.

The band started getting into the music charts in 2006 with their second album "Voices from Animals and Men" and released their third "Superabundance" in 2008. They continue to explore musically while keeping their unique musical identity. And Dartnall says they are pleasantly surprised by success.

"We never thought we would be successful because we write music that can sometimes be difficult. But luckily we can knock out a tune and people seem to remember the songs," says Dartnall.

The vocalist and guitarist attributes their success to "perseverance and a bit of luck."

The group will sing the classic rock song "Keep It Up" by the Soul Brothers to match the retro theme and the Clubmasters. But they plan more than a mere copy of a classic piece.

"It translates well into our set and we have made it our own. The vocal harmonies are great to sing," says Dartnall.

Date: March 6, 9pm

Venue: Dream Factory, 28 Yuyao Rd

Tickets: 120 yuan


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