Pete DeMola

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Beijing Babylon

Posted by Pete DeMola on 23. Aug 2009

Thee Missfits, a supergroup of Beijing-based musicians, will perform classic Misfits songs for charity with renowned punk drummer London May on Sat, Sept 5 at D-22.

Brainchild of irreverent local punk guitarist Skip Lunch (You Mei You), this one-off gig undertaken to raise cash for wayward animals while paying homage to the world's first horror punk band was inspired by a performance last Halloween at D-22, when the Wudaokou venue was transformed into a boozy, cross-dressing freak show of epic proportions under the banner of Punk Rock Karaoke.

The flashpoint, according to Lunch, was when local musicians Adam Gaier and Chery Bomb pulled off a "flawless" impromptu duet of Misfits anthem "Horror Business."

Through a mutual friend, Lunch invited the LA-based May to come to China and participate in the long-planned gig, a place that the 42-year-old globetrotter always wanted to visit.

According to Lunch, a few hours preparation time is all that should be necessary for the newly-minted quintet to master the "bulletproof set" that the two assembled.

"Minutes, even," quipped Lunch.

In addition to Bomb (You Mei You) and Gaier (Fanzui Xiangfa, Overdose, Bu Hao Chi) on vocals and bass, respectively, the crew is rounded out by guitarist Lucifer Li (Rustic, Gum Bleed) and Lunch himself, who had a "souped-up Frankenstein metal guitar" assembled specifically for this gig while vacationing in Thailand earlier this month.

Only songs from the classic Glenn Danzig era of the Misfits, which has gone through several incarnations and reboots since its initial formation in 1977 and subsequent demise in 1983, will be performed.

GLOBAL LEGACY


"I learned to play guitar by listening to these songs," said May, explaining that the entire early Misfits catalog is essentially one of the introductory primers for punks everywhere.

Bands as mainstream as Guns N' Roses, NOFX, Pantera and Red Hot Chili Peppers have cited the American band, who broke new ground in welding together 1950s-style rock and roll with punk, B-movie horror flick imagery and metal, as major influences.

When the heavy metal community jumped on board after virtual gods Metallica began including Misfits covers in their sets on a regular basis, their iconic status skyrocketed.

May performed in Samhain alongside Danzig from 1985 to 1987 after the Misfits disintegrated, regularly performing many of the classic Misfits anthems in their sets.

Other remarkable acts followed, including playing with influential psychobilly act Tiger Army, the Samhain-inspired Son of Sam and a brief mid-1980s stint with influential American band Dag Nasty, a band who many argue laid the blueprint for the emo and post-hardcore genres later in the decade.

HARDER, FASTER, LONGER


May's current project, Millions of Dead Comps., pays sonic homage to hardcore's roots: a time when the genre was still defining itself from metal and punk in the States in the early-1980s.

Comps. is a non-for-profit tribute band who play covers -- specifically recreating entire old school hardcore punk compilation records -- to raise money for a variety of causes.

"We've simplified everything," May said. "We 'play' it forward, covering old music and giving the cash away," explaining that inspiration for the project came, in part, from Dischord Records co-founder Ian MacKaye, the globally-admired frontman of Minor Threat, Embrace and Fugazi whose name is synonymous with using the DIY ethic both as a source of self-advancement and as a tool to implement positive societal change.

Comps., whose lineup is a revolving roster of like-minded musicians that varies with each show, donates to different causes for each show, which rotates according to issues that the band members feel strongly about, explained May.

Past recipients of their largess have included the Shriner's Hospitals for Children, Toys for Tots, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund and various animal charity welfare efforts, whom will be the beneficiaries of the Beijing gig, as well.

May and Comps. co-founder Chris Bratton learned a bunch of hardcore songs at a time when bands were slowing down. "We wanted a challenge -- to see if we had the stamina at such an advanced age to play really hard, fast and long as we could," May laughed.

Their first project was to tackle Flex Your Head (Dischord, 1981) in its entirety, a 32 song, 45-minute compilation record widely viewed as monumental in the genre, featuring songs from then-unknown Washington D.C. pioneers Minor Threat, DC Youth Brigade, State of Alert and others.

Future plans for Millions of Dead Comps. include tackling Process of Elimination, an obscure 8-song effort clocking in at just over 11 minutes.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEVILOCKS


For this gig, in addition to receiving a helping promotional hand from local start-up record label DM Records (Demerit, Cold Case, the Flyx, Angry Jerks) additional support is coming from Danzig himself, who donated three classic autographed Misfits T-shirts to be auctioned off.

Another potential result of next month's gig, albeit minor, indirect and fleeting, is to construct a bridge between Beijing's segregated metal and punk communities. This seems almost likely, mused Lunch, considering the Misfits are a band that appeals, with their amalgamation of hardcore punk and metal, to both factions in the capital city.

"A surprising number of people here know the Misfits more than we thought -- even beyond the T-shirt," he said, referring to the now-iconic Crimson Ghost logo that many view, like the classic Ramones seal, as a fashion accessory, not necessarily as an indicator of two of the most influential bands of all time.

"No matter what, we're doing this for ourselves and animal welfare," said May. "We can have a really great experience playing together for a good cause, and that's all that matters."

Thee Missfits will perform on Sat, Sept 5 at D-22; Demerit, the Flyx and Cold Case will support. Bondage gear may or may not make an appearance.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Niederhauser. From left: Chery Bomb, Lucifer Li (top), London May (center), Skip Lunch, Adam Gaier (far right).




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