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September 1, 2011

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Duck Fight Goose turns to the dark side

WHEN the gaze of the international rock music press turns on China, it tends to focus to Beijing. But over in the peripheral, Shanghai has three bands that have received some due: Pairs, Top Floor Circus and Duck Fight Goose.

After interviewing Han Han, lead singer and guitarist of Duck Fight Goose, I was struck by how well spoken he is about the band, their development and their anxiety about living in Shanghai.

Formed about three years ago, "we were listening to lots of math-rock bands and those rock bands from Brooklyn," says Han.

After one and a half years, they released the first EP, which was influenced by the Battles. The band then took a good hard look at what they were doing and where they would go next.

"We decided to describe the things that had happened to us through our music," Han says. "We wanted to present a more straightforward attitude. But our friends said it's still a little weird. And we found it difficult because we've never been so straightforward.

Han says every member (of Duck Fight Goose) had (a different) band previously - those bands all focused on noise or shoegaze rock, or a kind of post punk. "All of those styles try to hide something," he adds.

With the band's new LP, "Sports," there is a much darker theme compared with past songs, Han says.

"The cover features an Asian woman in a gym. It's kind of a symbol of where our music is now," he says. "It's more descriptive, within the China context.

Even though all the lyrics are in English, they describe what the band encounters every day: the city or the country, Han says. "You can see from our lyrics that they couldn't have been written in, let's say, the US or the UK. I think that's the point.

"I don't know other cities well enough, but Shanghai is, let's not say international, kind of multicultural, especially after the year 2000, so it's normal for us to write songs like that," says the singer.

Shanghai is different from the rest of China and this seems to be reflected in the local music, Han says.

"Shanghai is a city of, I don't know, conflicts ... There is a saying in Chinese that 'Shanghai is not China.' They're saying that on the Internet.

"The city itself is kind of isolated. Everyone thinks that Shanghai has it's own language, it's own pace of development. Beijing is like the cultural capital, and the rock scene is so with it. The more time I spend here, the more I think our music is like the city. It seems like it's isolated, it's not from here, but at the same time it is describing the city. Is that too serious?" he says, laughing.


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