Ordnance (en)

While in Beijing recently I interviewed Chinese metal veteran Liu Lixin, frontman of Ordnance and in many respect a very central figure in the Beijing Metal and Rock scene. As Liu speaks very little English, translation was provided by my wife, Susan Huang. Because of this the wording in some places is not a completely literal reflection what was said, rest assured however that the spirit of the transcript is accurate

interview Ordnance (CHN)Liu, as not everybody in Europe and the USA are very much at home with Chinese Metal and the artists behind it, could you start with giving a short introduction of yourself?
Sure, I’m Liu Lixin, I am 38 years old now and a former soldier of the People’s Liberation Army. Ever since I quitted the army, I’ve been playing with my band “Ordnance”, which name, in line with my background, is indeed a military term. Since more recently I am also managing 13 Club, which is a Metal/Rock live club in Beijing city. Besides that I’m also involved in the management of “Dime Records”, an independent record label over here.

Could you give a short overview of the origins and history of the band Ordnance?
We started out in 1999 as a four piece group, have gone to a few line-up changes through the years and have produced two full length albums so far, “Struggle” on RHC label in 2005 and “Rock City” in 2008 on Dime Records, - Which I mentioned before -. At present we are a five piece as we have added a second guitar player.

What is your position in the band?
I have been with Ordnance since its formation. I play lead guitar and compose most of the material.

Many of the Metal insiders in the West consider your music to be Power Metal, what are your ideas about this?
Oh, maybe some of our songs may fit in that genre, but then others do not. So we just call our music “Metal” , as that sure covers everything we produce.

What are the main themes of your songs?
Basically there is only one: Social Criticism. Sometimes we can be rather sharp in that such as in songs like “Fuck You (Police)”

So, we could say Ordnance is a political band?
Yes, indeed it is.

That sounds rather daring, as discussing politics publicly in a critical way is still a rather itchy thing with the authorities in China. Doesn’t it bring you troubles?
Well, Yes, actually it does: Our second album “Rock City” has been banned by the department of arts, meaning that the album can’t be sold in any licensed record stores, Nor can it be played on radio stations.

Doesn’t that badly hamper the distribution of your material?
To a certain extent it does, but as you will have noticed, the record does get around anyway. As Metal and Rock are still kind of underground subcultures a lot here is still grassroots & grapevines.

What is your own opinion about this whole affair?
Understandably I am not overly happy with the fact that our artistic efforts are not appreciated by some, but it is not that big a deal. I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding playing a role here. We do not intend to
interview Ordnance (CHN) attack the government with our songs in any way. It’s just that in our society, like in probably all human societies, there are things that irritate you and we use our music to express our discontent with these things.

Generally spoken, is it difficult to be a Metal musician in China?
In some ways it is. Fan-bases for Metal and Rock music here are still very small compared with Western countries and much must be improved on that. Although the efforts of bands are not really hampered with nowadays, the establishment looks with some anxiety towards the alternative scenes. To that can be added that for new bands it is very difficult to find stages to perform live, especially outside the major cities. Unless you are well known already, getting material released is also a drag and most young outfits are kind of forced to pay for the production of their initial releases themselves. So, those looking for instant fame and/or quick money: Better try something else!

What about your live performances?
Playing live is indeed important for us. During our years of existence we have on average played live in Beijing once a month. The releases of both our records have been accompanied by promotional tours of China’s major cities.

Where you aware that, although certainly not a big name there in Metal yet, Ordnance is known to more than a few in the Western countries and that for instance is has a page on Spirit of Metal webzine and even a couple of fans on it?
I wasn’t aware of the Spirit of Metal page until you showed it to me earlier this evening and it sure makes me happy. Following the banning of our 2008 album we got a lot of attention from Western media, among others BBC radio, a French and an American radio station came to do interviews with us, so, we already knew that at least some metal diehards in the West were aware of our existence. One could say that the banning of “Rock City” was kind of good advertisement for the record and the band.

It seems that there is quite a close relationship between the band Ordnance and 13 Club, am I right?
Officially there is no relationship, but as you are aware that I am both a member of Ordnance and the manager of the club you can imagine that Ordnance is kind of a “House band” here haha…..

As all your available energy and time seems to go, one way or another, into Metal music and you have explained that Metal is still far from a goldmine here, how do you get along in your life?
The band’s income alone wouldn’t be enough to sustain my life, but the club is popular and does well enough to provide me with the necessary funds for my day to day life as well as enough means to invest in necessary equipment for the band.

During my visits to live concerts at 13 Club I have noticed that it ofte
interview Ordnance (CHN)n features young, virtually unknown bands, is that some kind of policy of the club to give the stage to new talent?
13 Club will stage any band that is involved with serious Metal/Rock, from the top attractions of the scene in China to the most unknown just formed students outfit. And, yes, we have a strong faith in offering the stage to the young generation

Now that I have already gone astray in this interview, I can’t help asking about Dime Records also. What is the idea behind that?
Nowadays there are quite a few well organized and capable institutional record companies in the country. But a special feature of them is that when signing up artists they tend to involve themselves in anything that has to do with the artist’s creativity and career. For many of those who are into playing Rock and Metal that is just too much infringement in their affairs. So, Dime was set up along the idea of “You create it, Dime releases it. No frails attached”. Not unlike many of the small independent record labels in other countries.

Back to the band now; What are Ordnance’s plans for the future?
To be honest, we do not make any long term plans, we live from day to day and from month to month. Our main idea has always been, and still is to keep performing live, exercise relentlessly an write new songs. For sure we hope to make more releases in the future.

Is there something in the pipeline to be released soon?
We’re not sure right now. Recently we have composed 4 new songs and have added them to our repertoire. Now we face the question of releasing these 4 as an EP or wait until we have written enough material for a 3rd full length. So far no decision has been made in this matter.

Chinese Metal and Rock have now been developing for some twenty years, what are your expectations about it for the years to come.
Given the existing enthusiasm for the music among the younger generations, I am sure that it will continue to grow and develop. But, like most things in China it will most likely be a slow process and it is really difficult to make a prediction where we will stand ten years from now.

Any wishes, hopes you want to express for the future of the genre in China?
I sincerely hope that one day we Metal and Rock artist may enjoy the same artistic freedom, the same amount of facilities and an equally large fan base as is the case now in most Western countries, but I guess that is a long shot for now

Thanks very much for your kind cooperation in this interview and your revealing answers. I hope our readers will like it. I would like to finish with wishing you, Ordnance, 13 Club, Dime Records and Chinese Metal in general all the best for the future!
Thanks, you’re welcome, the pleasure was entirely on my side!

Interview done by gletscherwolf

2 Commntarios

0 Like

hack - 17 Junio 2011: Thanks for this interview. Although I've never heard of this band or any other Chinese band, it gives us Westerners some insight into the Chinese Metal scene. I used to associate Chinese music with strange acoustic picking. They've come a long way from that ancient stereotype.
gletscherwolf - 17 Junio 2011: Unfortunately the "strange acoustic picking" and worse, Asia pop of the most deplorable kind, still by far is the mainstay in China. But, sure, the good thing is that now there is a Metal and Rock scene here and it is growing!
    Tienes que ser miembro para poder añadir un comentario

Ver más