Band Profile: Guai Li

Posted by Pete DeMola on 11. Feb 2009

Guai Li is a Confucian idiom that explores the relationship between evil, heroic figures, rebels and God. And it’s also a Beijing-based quintet that comes from solid Chinese sonic stock.

In Nanjing, drummer Shi Shidong was a member of one of the country’s earliest hardcore bands, Shit Dog. He went on to found scene stalwarts SUBS and was the early bassist for punk godfathers Brain Failure. (He is also currently the bassist for critically-acclaimed progressive act PK-14.)

Vocalist Wen Jun left Wuhan in 2006 after performing with Wuhan dance-punk act AV Okubo, traveled around for a bit, came to Beijing and joined forces with guitarist Xu Sheng.

Guai Li, the band, was born and is soaked in that quintessential Beijing sound: angular guitars, flecks of noise and feedback; melodic, off-key vocals and quirky time signatures with abrupt breakdowns. Some songs are accentuated with children’s toys—like the band’s eponymous track, for example.

“We’re a ‘left punk’ band,” Wen said. “Not straight—we’re moving in a different direction.”

Although some of her biggest influences are Japanese vocalists—particularly the underground figure Jun Togawa—Wen admits that it’s easier to sing in English, explaining that the tonal system of her native language prohibits many vocalists in this country from hitting the lyrical cadence that they desire in this genre of music. “But we’ll try to write more Chinese songs.”

The band is now shopping around for producers to record their debut LP for Maybe Mars Records. In addition to “making a great album” before the year is out, they plan on continuing to “express the wisdom and philosophy from this area.” 
Guai Li will perform on Saturday, Feb 28 at D-22. See listings.

Photo courtesy of Jin Yuxin (金与心)

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