8 Questions with the Fever Machine's Dan Shapiro

Posted by Pete DeMola on 10. Jun 2010

BEIJING, JUNE 10 - Dan Shapiro is an American music journalist who lives in Shanghai and writes lots of articles with interesting angles about the city's music scene -- probably doing so while pensively twirling his amazing moustache -- which is a lot different than the one we have up here.

The scene, that is. Not the mustache, although it is quite unique (see above, center).

While residents of each city all have an opinion about who has the better or more developed underground scene when it comes to the sounds of the bands themselves, when it comes to the viewpoint from my distant perch from the capital city -- a perch from which info is gleaned through industry blogs, friends who shuttle back and forth, bands' douban pages and Shapiro himself -- it appears, prima facie, that the Whore of the Orient has more experimental bands who engage in envelope-pushing performance art and less gritty punk and lo-fi garage rock bands that ooze tightly-wound sonic anger while maintaining visages of unperturbed and laconic cool.

Shanghai also seems to have more pop artists and bands that play unpretenious, straight-up rock and roll.

Shapiro plays guitar and sings for one of those bands. They are called the Fever Machine and will play their first show in Beijing on Fri, June 25 at D-22 and in Nanjing the following night.

While I have never seen the Fever Machine and have only listened to two rough demos on their douban page -- I liked them very much, as well as enjoyed his former band the Rogue Transmission who I had seen several times -- I will let Shapiro describe his own music, because any initial attempt for me to improve upon the words of a music journalist describing his own band would be like bringing sand to a beach:

"The Fever Machine plays infectious, big-riff rock," he writes. "Combining the swirling, spacey elements of psychedelia with exciting and progressive song structures, The Fever Machine never shies away from a melodic, pop hook, yet they manage to harness the raw power and grime of stoner rock and proto-metal."

The trio is rounded out by Shapiro's former Rogue Transmission bassist Fabi and Miggs (ex-Amigos de lo Ajeno) holding it down behind the drum kit.

In a nod to Shapiro's trademark "8 Questions with..." series of band interviews that he contributes regularly to expat media outlet City Weekend: Shanghai, we decided to throw it right back at him.

The Fever Machine is a new band. What has the reception been like thus far in Shanghai?

We're new, but we've been gigging hard since March, and so far the reception has been real good. There aren't really any other bands like us around town, but we've managed to sneak on bills of all genres, so we've had the opportunity to expose new audiences to our tunes every time out, and it seems like the people keep coming back.

Care to pen a haiku about a typical the Fever Machine gig?

Stand in awe, amazed
Fever time's the latest craze
Sweaty Sweaty mess

How does the Fever Machine's sound differ from that of the Rogue Transmission?

The Fever Machine is a lot more ambitious than The Rogue Transmission. We still have the big, heavy riffs and the choruses and hooks, but the structures are more broad and sonic template is way larger. Our punk sound has more to do with stoner rock than garage rock. We have some of those classic 3:30 tracks mixed in with some schizophrenic epics here and there.

If given the chance to assemble the ultimate ass-kickin', whiskey-drinkin', rock and roll supergroup -- one foreign and the other domestic -- which musicians would you select?


  • John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) -- drums
  • Lemmy (Motorhead) -- bass
  • Izzy Stradlin (Guns N' Roses) -- rhythm guitar
  • Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) -- guitar
  • Bon Scott (AC/DC) -- vox


Well, I guess this rules out the Gang of Gin guys since you said whiskey, so:

Fuckin' A. Tell us about the first record that ever made a big impact on you and how it influenced your sonic identity.

Appetite for Destruction (Guns N' Roses, 1987) was everything for me as a kid and adolescent. I wasn't allowed to have any tapes with the "Parental Advisory," so I had to copy it from my neighbor and just the idea that possessing the album was an act of defiance made me love it. Sonically I just loved how aggressive the whole thing was, while still being melodic and having such a great groove.

Runner up: Core (Stone Temple Pilots, 1992).

I still listen to both of those records on a near-daily basis. What are the five records that people must own if they'd like to better understand the scene in Shanghai?

Well, there aren't too many local artists releasing albums, so it's tough to answer that one. If you're refering to what outside bands and aritsts are influencing Shanghainese rock bands it's probably some wack sauce like Blink 182, Attack Attack, Avril Lavigne, Linkin Park and some random J-rock shit.

Ugh. That sounds horrible. Have you found that bands containing all-foreign members have a drastically-different experience in navigating the Shanghai music industry as opposed to its native sons and daughters?

"Industry" is a tough word to use here since there is no industry so to speak. While there are some doors closed to foreigners, it's not that difficult to score a good gig here.

You have been to Beijing several times in the past, performing with the Rogue Transmission. What has been your most memorable rock and roll experience here in the capital city?

There was the one time I smashed my SG to smithereens at Yugong Yishan or the D-22 3rd Anniversary where there were like 100 people outside waiting to get in, but I'd say the most memorable show up there was our very first show at D-22 in April 2008 with P.K. 14. It was the last stop on our Rock/Electro ratio tour and playing Beijing and D-22 was really exciting.

The Fever Machine will perform on Fri, June 25 at D-22 with B-Side Lovers, Guai Li and the Molds, who will probably cancel like they usually do.

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