Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mini-Interview: Xu Xu Fang

If taken in excessive quantities, Xu Xu Fang may well destroy you. The LA psych rock band contains addictive qualities and can cause intoxication, euphoria, and instances of light delirium.

We spoke to Xu Xu Fang drummer and lead Bobby Tamkin about the act’s origins, its recent spread, and how its pervasive influence may affect you and your children at home...

Bobby! How the fuck are you?

I am in wonderful fucking spirits!

So, Xu Xu Fang. How long has the band been together in its current form? What came before that?

Xu Xu Fang's been together in its current form for almost a year. Xu Xu Fang [first] existed in early 2000 and our show was a very specific, almost theater-style performance. It featured a thirteen-piece band and we performed in front of a film that I shot. We were described as a band that provides a live soundtrack to a film. I felt, however, that it had run its course and it was time to move on.

Yyour first release is very, very, very different from what you guys are doing now -- a mix of an old radio drama and something John Zorn might do. How and why have the band’s focus changed since then?

Xu Xu Fang really has no specific form. Yesterday it was a radio drama, today its rock and roll, tomorrow it will most likely be a boy band or torture device used by the US Military.

I felt as if people were enamored with the concept of the last show/record, but overlooked the music. All these weird references to people I had never heard of or liked, bugged me. It was flattering, but strange. I initially did it to try something different, but then longed for music that actually stuck with people.

At that time, I’d also never written a song before. I was a drummer in other bands and never tried writing songs with vocals. So, eventually, I tried to write a song and These Days came out. I played it for a few friends and when none of them believed that I wrote it, I continued to write more. The focus now is on whatever happens when I pick up an instrument.

What the hell’s a “Xu Xu Fang?”

Dunno. I wrote it on a notebook while daydreaming about silly glam band names during a school lecture and thought it looked funny. Years later, I opened a box, found the notebook and saw it. I thought it had to be used for a band name. Apparently, the words Xu and Fang exist in many languages. In one dialect of Chinese, I’m told it means “Cool Cool Breeze." Not sure though.

You guys use a lot of horses in your t-shirts and myspace page and what not. What’s with all the horses?

Equine Enthusiasm. Horses combine beauty, power and a stoney aura. Same with the Fang.

You used to be in The Warlocks. What was that like?

Fucking awesome. Well, most of the time. Musically, one of the best bands I have been a part of. I love playing music with Bobby. I was a fan of his previous bands, so it was great to play with him.

They recently re-formed, right? Do you keep up with them?

I believe they just took some time off. I’m not sure if they actually reformed as some of the same people are still around, minus a few. I keep up with Bobby and see Plucky now and again.

You released a vinyl EP for some of your new Xu Xu Fang material. How did that happen?

I put the song These Days on Myspace and people started sniffin’ around. Two well-known labels asked to release an entire album, but we only had two songs at the time. One person, without a label, showed lots of genuine love, so we went with her.

And you’re working on a full album now, correct? How’s that going? Have you been talking to any labels or do you plan it as a self-release?

Yes, we’re working on a full-length. We’re recording it with The Wrangler again. The new songs are great and different than what people have heard in the past. We have a ton of new songs. We’ve been talking to a few labels, but we don’t want to make any moves until the album is completed. We’ll probably go with whoever likes it as is and doesn’t ask us to change anything.

What’s next for you?

We just shot a video with Simon and Joe from Artificial Army. So far, it looks insane. We are going to continue writing and recording new songs, play more shows and continue our quest to find the perfect horse.

Last question: What other local bands have you been listening to lately?

LA Guns, Pretty Boy Floyd, Tuff, Faster Pussycat, Dokken, Ratt, Bang Tango, and Warrant.

That’s it. Thanks for your time, Bobby.

Thank you, Joe. Our show at Boardners as part of Radio Free Silver Lake's Let's Independent! concert series was our favorite show this year, so far.


Blogger Blair said...

very informative! great band!

11:19 AM  

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