Giant Robot Store and GR2 News


Is Carsick Cars the biggest independent band in China? Possibly, and they’re probably the best-known Chinese band in the U.S. as well. With the gorgeous drone of the Velvet Underground, experimental edge of Sonic Youth, and a touch of Kraftwerk, the group has familiar (and impeachable) elements for Western ears. I saw them at Los Globos last week during their current North American tour promoting 3, the new LP engineered by Hamish Kilgour from The Clean and mixed by Sonic Boom from Spaceman 3. Afterward, I had a short conversation with the band’s founding member, guitar player, singer, and leader, Zhang Shouwang.

The new album sounds great and so did last week’s show. How has the new lineup’s sound developed since getting together?
We spent a long time to create the chemistry, learn, and record. I think because we spent so much time at it, we feel comfortable with each other. We’re very stable and the two new members bring a lot of fresh ideas.

You knew the guys before, right?
It’s a small music scene in Beijing, and everyone sees each other all the time. After the last Carsick Cars group broke up, I had already played for fun with He Fan from Birdstriking and it was very natural for him to play bass in the band. It took more than two drummers to find Houzi. The rhythm of Carsick Cars is simple, but it’s not like anyone can do it. The other drummers didn’t really know how and had their own style.

You always play with the coolest drummers.
Wang Xu in White+ is the best drummer in Beijing. Most drummers there just play rock but he pays everything, such as jazz.

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On Sunday night, the Maybe Mars crew from Beijing made a stop in Downtown L.A.’s Redwood Bar with their flagship band Carsick Cars. I got there just in time to catch White + (featuring Carsick’s guitarist and singer Shouwang Zhang with drummer Wang Xu from The Gar). Their last song had a cool Krautrock-style drone that I’d like to hear more of. Carsick Cars has a new bass player and drummer but played the great, melodic, Sonic Youth-informed old stuff and snuck in some new, more rocking sounds as well. Shouwang is still an axe master, mixing the minimal technique of Steve Reich with the hooks of Pavement and making Carsick Cars the best gateway band to the Chinese indie scene. Rounding out the show was The Gar, whose most jangly song kinda reminded me of Libertines. What do you think? It was good to see Charles Saliba, one of the guys behind Beijing’s Maybe Mars record label. He facilitated the coverage of Carsick Cars, PK14, and other great bands from Beijing in Giant Robot mag as well as an in-store at GR2 years ago. Charles said that this year’s tour was scaled back some, with just a handful of shows in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Austin, and New York City. If you get a chance to catch the tour in the Big Apple, don’t miss it. Who knows when they’ll return? ZINE REVIEWS Moshpit (52 pages, 4 or 5 bucks) This isn’t new, but I picked it up from the Hamburger Eyes table at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair a last month. Ray Potes’s zine of SF Giants riot pictures was sold out, so I got this instead. In Moshpit, photographer Josie Raymondetta collects nothing but hyper contrasting images of hardcore punk and metal shows, directing her lens at the crowd as often as the stage. Who are the bands? Where are the venues? Who cares! The energy and images totally rip, and convey the power of heavy music silently and brutally. [] Perpetually 12 9 (68 pages, 5 bucks) I’m a big fan of this San Diego based-zine, which boasts an adolescent name and format but is fully informed when it comes to indie punk, art, and life. I dig how McHank loves the old bands (RFTC’s John Reis contributes an essay about The Ramones) but celebrates newer ones as well (Q&As with Mary Animoux from White Murder and Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles). The interviews, which are often hand-written, are separated by art contributed by the likes of Bwana Spoons, Skinner, Tim Kerr, Travis Millard, and McHank himself. Very cool and totally unfiltered, with a touching essay on the passing of Tony Sly (NUFAN) by Joey Cape (Lagwagon). [heymchank[at]] Cometbus 55 (72 pages, 3 bucks) Two decades (and then some) is a long time to read about a guy’s relationship with the scene and his crushes, girlfriends, and bands that pass through it. But Aaron Cometbus’s view of radical politics in Berkeley goes well beyond the...
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