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December 16, 2010

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Rockers Forgive and Forget sing sad love songs

TO 20-year-old rocker Ding Wenbin, music is his passion, not his job, and he says he won't make music for money.

Ding - known as Xiao Dingding - is the vocalist for the two-year-old local rock band Forgive and Forget (FAF). The six-piece band is known for original songs such as "Escape," "Reborn," "Still Remember" and "Helminthes."

Ding is in his third year at the Shanghai Theater Academy, majoring in music.

He met guitarist Zhou Qihao (Peng Peng) and bass player Chen Bin (Xiao A) in 2008. Sharing a love of music and sports, they decided to form a band, which underwent several changes in musicians. The current six-piece band was formed in early 2009, with another guitarist Li Yingjie (Yi Yi), drummer Liu Yi (Sixteen) and keyboard player Wang Zhengji (Xiao Ji).

They made their debut in May 2009 in an underground band competition in Shanghai and won third place with their first original song, "Helminthes," written one night before the show. They were competing with around 80 bands and reached the final round with seven other groups.

"A lot of inspirations poured into my mind. Most of my songs are about daily life, especially unforgettable memories of love," says the vocalist with a shy smile.

The band's shows are energetic, and their music a mixture of rock, emo, new screamo, Indie emo and post hardcore.

"We show our young blood and emotions, and it's so important in the performance," says guitarist Peng Peng, who is now the band's leader.

After two years, the band members, who average 23 years old, have matured as musicians and learned to deal with difficulties. They rehearse every weekend and often get together to create music and share ideas.

They usually perform at the main live venues in Shanghai, such as Mao Live House and Yuyintang.

"We are very busy because all of us have other things to do besides music, like working and studying," says Peng Peng.

"We don't earn much money by making music, and the earnings don't cover our costs for instruments and other expenses. But we put all our passion into it," says Ding.

After graduation, Ding says he doesn't plan to become a professional rocker and make money from his music - that way he hopes to preserve his passion.

Forgive and Forget created the popular song "Reborn" early last year and included unusual elements - some Peking Opera and English-language lyrics. It's about the story of rebirth after a failed love relationship.

"Rock can release all kinds of emotions, like anger, craziness and happiness," says Peng Peng. "We combine rock with traditional operas to enrich the content."

On fans

FAF has an official dedicated group of more than 1,200 fans, including those who live in other cities.

"Of course, we expect more and more people will like our music, but we don't care about the size of the fans group. We only care whether they enjoy our songs and shows or not," says Xiao Dingding.

On the future

"We have a dream - to give a world tour show one day," says Xiao Dingding.

On management

"Some music companies contacted us about management contracts, and we know we might develop better with their help. But the most important thing is to make the music that we like, without any restrictions by commercial companies. Without freedom, we would rather die," Xiao Dingding says.

On mishaps

Guitarist and band leader Peng Peng recalls two embarrassing incidents, both in recent shows. In last week's Beijing music competition, the sound system failed for his electric guitar, and he had to pretend he was playing. In Shanghai a guitar string broke and he played out of tune.

"Both accidents were memorable," he says. "I was so nervous but luckily other members covered for me and helped me finish the performance."


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