Posted by Pete DeMola on 25. Sep 2009
Pet Conspiracy, a local electroclash outfit who have developed a loyal following in Beijing as a result of their sexually-charged stage presence fused with stellar songwriting skills (the international media has cocked their heads, as well) has returned to Beijing after spending one month in Europe showcasing both their onstage and offstage antics to 12 cities spread throughout five countries.
In addition to stories of car accidents, acts of vandalism and vengeful Italian mob bosses, the quintet is bringing back with them influential German electronic artists Jeans Team, veterans of the 1990s Berlin art scene (they're the former owners of the provocative Berlin Tokyo Gallery) and accomplished DJs who excel at creating music that manages to sound as cerebral and quirky as krautrock luminaries Can and Stereolab while retaining the dance floor slickness of the Bee Gees and Röyksopp.
We managed to track down Pet Conspiracy's Helen Feng and Jeans Team's Franz Schütte and Reimo Herfort to talk about their European collaboration, what they expect upon touching down in the Middle Kingdom and the choicest phrases to yell at their concerts.
WLIB: Helen, tell us a crazy story from your adventures in Europe.
Helen Feng: We got into a car accident our first day on the famous German Autobahn where they go an average of 160 kilometers per hour or more. Luckily the car wasn't seriously damaged, but before the cops arrived, one of our friends told us that we might get tested for drugs. Uh, let's just say we didn't.
We also somehow convinced a communist newspaper that was holding a rally (followed by a drunken communist party) to let us play the night before. It was totally impromptu, but when they heard we didn't want any money, they agreed. The stage was right in the center of Venice in a public space and was probably loud enough to wake every deaf person in the city. I think they let us play when we bought them a beer and told them we were a Chinese band (you know, proper Reds), but when our Italian drummer [Edo] showed up the next day for sound check, they thought they had been conned by a bad local band and threatened to kill him if he didn't get his instruments off the stage, Mafioso-style.
When they realized their mistake, they let us play anyway, and of course, we destroyed the stage. Then we ran.
WLIB: Cool. The WLIB team approves of your property damage. Did you have fun with the infamous Saint Mark's pigeons?
Feng: No. We got to the square and there were too many tourists -- mostly over the age of 65. Even the pigeons looked retired.
WLIB: How did you hook up with Jeans Team?
Feng: Through our manager Philipp [Grefer], who had toured them in China a year before. I went to their show when I joined him on tour, and loved it so much that I've been a big fan of their live show ever since. They are also just really nice cool and pleasantly strange.
WLIB: How strange?
Feng: Their yet-to-be-debuted new show (we probably won't see it in Beijing) will feature a third band member: a refrigerator. They are currently writing music for the fridge.
WLIB: Jeans Team, describe your music in five words.
Franz Schütte and Reimo Herfort: Compact, hard, love, dance and energy.
WLIB: We loved the Pet/Pitchtuner show this past March here in Beijing. How was the reunion gig in Berlin?
Feng: Even better with both of them. Pitchtuner as a band is really fun to see; there's something about Hannes' [Marx] childlike stage energy and [bassist] Miki's thumping away with the power of an anime super heroine. Hannes had constructed almost all of his own instruments -- from the guitar, to the bass, to the drum pads linked to his sampler -- and he's now working on some crazy synthesizer guitar sampler hybrid. Supposedly he's starting his own line of instruments, which to me is quite mind blowing.
WLIB: What did you think, Jeans Team?
Schütte & Herfort: It was a beautiful night with high quality music. Everyone did their best to make it sound really good, and the audience took it with lots of screaming! It was a great evening with lots of dancing and fun till sunrise.
WLIB: Have you ever been to China before?
Schütte & Herfort: Yes! We played with Jeans Team in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Changsha in 2008. It was within a small world tour that also included the USA, Canada and Russia.
Image: Pet Conspiracy offers their "stop smoking" public service annoucement.
WLIB: What are you anticipating most from this trip?
Schütte & Herfort: We love Chinese food! It is so joyful. And for us in general, the most exciting thing is to travel and see new places. This will be the first time that we'll visit Beijing.
WLIB: What should we anticipate from you?
Schütte & Herfort: We hope that you'll enjoy our performance, and if you like to dance, you can lose some weight. There will be great sounds, and last but not least, we will be there and you can meet us and see if it´s worth becoming a fan.
WLIB: Do you plan on buying any jeans here in China?
Schütte & Herfort: Jeans are good. We like them in grey or red. Or a normal light blue and a little bit disrupted and tight. We are also into Fantasy Uniforms.
WLIB: We'll have to discuss those Fantasy Uniforms when you get here. Pets, what is the first thing you plan on doing upon your return to Beijing?
Feng: Eat sleep, sleep eat, sleep eat and then eat and sleep.
WLIB: We don't speak German. Teach us some cool phrases that we can yell to you at your show.
Schütte & Herfort: ZU-GA-BE! ZUGABE! BRAVO! Ich liebe Jeans Team! GO REIMO, GO REIMO! GO FRANZ, GO FRANZ!
WLIB: We don't speak Pet, either. Helen, teach us some cool phrases that we can yell to Pet Conspiracy, too.
Feng: The all-purpose international "Woooo-hoooo," which in Pet Speak means "Your fly is undone."
Pet Conspiracy and Jeans Team will perform together on Sat, Oct 3 at Yugong Yishan. Detailed information can be found here.
Jeans Team and Pet Conspiracy photos courtesy of the bands.
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