click here for more


Interviewed by
Michael McClelland
Wednesday 25th January, 2012 8:51AM

Shanghai noise-rock duo Pairs kick start their New Zealand tour tonight in Hamilton. Touring on the back of new album Summer Sweat, the release follows their debut EP which local label Muzai Records distributed here last year. We caught up with one half of the duo, and former drummer of Bang!Bang!Aids!?, Rhys O'Loughlin who explained the ins and outs of playing music in China.

Is there a ‘music scene’ in China?

Yeah. It’s pretty huge - I mean, not as big as you would expect for a country of its size, but there are generally gigs every night of all kinds of genres/styles/blah blah. It’s way easier to tour here because every venue supplies their own backline, door man and mixer so all you need to do is rock up with your guitar and sticks. Makes traveling super easy. There are heaps of festivals here, although they often suffer due to poor organisation, last minute regulations imposed on them and a lack of critical thinking. But shit’s hard to organise. The crowds here are the best I’ve seen. They dance, they move, they don’t try to look cool. Just happy to be a part of something. It’s refreshing.

What were you expecting when you moved over there?

I really didn’t expect much. To prove my idiocy, I didn’t research the country or anything but I did think electronics would be way cheaper. They are, but you get what you pay for and shit breaks in 2 days. For some reason my dad told me I would need to go to a Western restaurant once a week to get protein, but Chinese people eat a lot of meat. I expected Mars Bars but they only have snickers here. Maltesers made a push for a while but I think they’ve given up.

Why did you move, anyway?

I did a Bach. of Education in Australia, and for some reason there are two schools of thought. One is to go get a job out in regional Australia in a town with 11 kids and get paid super well due to a government incentive. The other is to head to London so you can bounce to Europe on the weekend. Chasing that work life balance thing. The UK thing is bullshit though. Most of my classmates could only get a job as a substitute teacher and don’t dig it at all. My feeling is that Europe is Asia for old people. You can do it at any age and still figure it out, enjoy it. China is a challenge. Completely different thinking, different language, different beliefs – basically everything is different. That’s more of a young jerks game. So I chased that one and don’t regret it at all. Plus, old man knees won’t handle squat toilets very well.

Do people in China listen to stuff from other countries?

Absolutely. Dubstep is huge here. There seems to be a real love for Velvet Underground and Jesus and Mary Chain here. The Bob Dylan show was sold with the majority of people being locals. Lamb of God are coming through and all the locals are super excited about that. They listen to more Western music than you’d think; and often when they love something they know everything about it.

What local bands do you recommend?

YanTiao, Your Boyfriend Sucks, Rainbow Danger Club, Naohai, The Instigation, Armtrick,, Alpine Decline, Dear Eloise, Duck Fight Goose are all super good and really nice.

How would you compare Pairs to your old band, Bang!Bang!Aids!?

I am still surprised people remember Bang!Bang!Aids!, but I think a lot of people in New Zealand seem to remember it. It’s odd and I haven’t thought of it for 4 years or whatever. I played drums for Marcus’ new band, East Brunswick All Girls Choir on their two China tours and that band kicks the fuck through Bang!Bang!Aids!. The drumming is similar, but Pairs is a bit more 4/4 based - whereas we tried to be a C-grade Hella in B!B!A! Vocals are similar and some of the ideas are there, but I think Pairs write more songs, super short songs as well and I think Aids! wrote more ideas or around one vocal line we thought was funny. Also, not sure who started this, think it was Huf, but Aids! won’t be at Camp A Low Hum 2012. Pairs won’t be there either. Sadly I have to come back for work.

Has F been involved in anything else?

Nope. She was a total newbie, which is why it worked so well at the start. She was into everything, excited to be a part of stuff and that’s contagious, me thinks. She plays in Next Year’s Love now with two of her best friends and they are doing really well. But at the start I had to tune the guitar and set up the amp for her. Now she’s totes pro.

Does the Chinese political system ever get in the way of music?

Yes and no. China has way more freedoms than you’d think. I can do things here that there is no way I could do in NZ or Aus. It’s a really convenient place to live for the most part. Things are open at all times, taxis everywhere, people on every corner selling BBQ and beer. Can smoke wherever you want. We’ve had the CCP come to one of our shows and threaten to close it down, but it all ended well. If bands sign with a label and release a CD they need to have their lyrics checked, which is why most bands here sing in English as it’s safer. But usually shows go down without any issue, no noise police and can go until any time they want. I went to a live show that started at 1pm on Saturday and went until 1pm on Sunday, music and DJs the whole time.

Where do bands go when they tour China? It’s such a big country.

Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan are the big ones. I really love Guangzhou and then you just pop across to Hong Kong. Hangzhou is pretty cool to play and Dalian was a lot of fun. But it’s really easy to tour here and amazing and heaps funny. If you want to do it, email and we’ll put you in touch with some bookers. You won’t make much coin, but it’s pretty awesome.

How’d you record ‘Summer Sweat’?

In Beijing in a day in June. It was a pretty quick day, pretty easy actually. Worst part was I had a real bad hernia at that stage and was scheduled to get the operation a few weeks later; but it kept popping out when I was singing. Hurt real bad, so I had to record the vocals hunched over on my knees with my hand just above my dick making sure it stayed in. Good times.

How’s it being released/distributed in China?

By us. There are no real CD stores here so we have it at shows, other bands’ merch tables, night markets, internet and free download. Free downloads works the best.

Where else do you think you’ll go after this?

Not real sure. People keep asking us to go to Australia, but I have no desire to go to Australia and play just yet. If someone offers to pay for our flights we’ll do it, but I’d love to go play shows in Korea or Japan. That seems pretty ace. I always think of New Zealand as ‘good’ Australia in terms of playing shows as people there are real friendly, happy and don’t just stand in the corner looking cool. Maybe it’s the BZP. RIP BZP. We’ll do some more shows in China for sure, some smaller towns, go back to some places we’ve been. I want to go to Chongqing, Dalian and Chendgu. Heard those places are nice.


Here are Pairs' Summer Sweat tour dates...


North Island (all North Island dates with god bows to math):

25th January - Static, Hamilton (with Grass Cannons and Tied on Teeth)
26th January - Lucky, Hunterville (Afternoon Show)
26th January - The ARC Theatre, Whanganui
27th January - Mighty Mighty, Wellington (with Jetsam Isles)
28th January - The Lucha Lounge, Auckland (with Sharpie Crows)
29th January - The Tunnel, Tauranga (with THREAT.MEET.PROTOCOL)

South Island:

1st February - Dunedin (with TBC)
2nd February - Darkroom, Christchurch (with Ipswich)
3rd February - Auckland - Secret Show