While listening to the upbeat, yet chill, music of Chinese Football, it may be hard to believe that its four members previously all came from various genres.
Singer/guitarist Xu Bo had played in punk/emo bands, while guitarist Wang Bo had been in a post rock band, bassist Li Lixin had been in a post punk band, and the drummer at that time (2011) – Xia Chao – was from a pop rock band. They currently have Zhen Zili on the drums.
All based in Wuhan, China, Xu Bo said their previous bands had ended so they got together. Drawing from their mutual love of the band Toe from Japan, they started a new project based on this love and “to mix all our favorite stuff.”.
He continued that the name – Chinese Football – started out as a joke.
“I am a fan of the band American Football all the time, so when we think about the name for the band, I just changed the word ‘American’ to ‘Chinese’ for fun, and it sounded nice,” he said. “The other members didn’t know American Football, so they thought I just made fun of China Football team, which means ‘sucks’ in Chinese.”
The band calls themselves an indie rock/emo/post punk band that tries to keep the original tension of punk music and operates with a DYI attitude. Influenced by the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Get Up Kids and American Football, they specialize in a “potent guitar-based-driven wistful indie rock sound.”
“Chinese Football is devoted to expressing the fantasy of youth and its frustration,” even though the members are now in their 30s. Even Xu Bo said the three words that best describe the band are “youth, frustration and blood.”
And they are coming to South Korea for their first-ever show here as part of their East Asian tour, invited by Doindie. The group will play in Seoul on March 16 at CJ Azit and Busan on March 17 at Someday. In Seoul, they will play with Parasol and Cogason, while in Busan, they will joined by Goodbye Wendy and Bosudong Cooler.
“Don’t expect too much,” Xu Bo jokes. “We are just a four-piece rock band trying to rock as hard as teenagers, but we will try to speak a little Korean during the show and, of course, we will put on a good performance for everyone.”
He adds that when it comes to tours, the most important thing is eating, followed by sweating and putting on a killer show. “Please introduce some local food to us!”
He said the band has known a lot about Korean pop culture since they were in middle school – they listened to artists like H.O.T., Baby V.O.X. and CLON.
“I hear that CLON still plays in some night clubs occasionally. Maybe I will have a chance to see them in Korea!” he said. “Well, just kidding, but it would be nice. I want to see what the underground scene in Korea (is like) and want to taste the real gamjatang!”
While Xu Bo admits that they don’t know much about the punk or rock scene in Korea, he said it feels comfortable to make friends with punk guys as they are simple and sincere. He adds that he wants to know more while they are here and encourages folks to come out and enjoy the show, then stick around to chat and have a few drinks.
Being in an indie band isn’t always easy, though he says their biggest accomplishment so far has been discovering that people all over the world are listening to their music. For them now, it’s the struggle of playing music while still having full-time jobs.
“I think it is the same old problem for everyone who plays in band not as a full-time job. We have to work hard to make money so few times is left for playing music,” he said. “To find a job that allowed you to have more free time is very important, but also very difficult.”
He said for them, inspiration comes from many places – the music they listen to, the movies they watch, the people they meet. As a band, sometimes songs come to them from scratch while jamming together. Other times one of the guitarists will finish the structure of a song and others add their own part to make it richer. When the music is finished, they then decide on a title as a band and he will write the lyrics based on the title.
They do perform in Mandarin, but that doesn’t seem to stop worldwide fans from enjoying the music. Their self-titled debut released in September 2015 garnered attention from all over the world on the website Bandcamp, something that surprised them at the time.
They definitely have a sort of nostalgic vibe for those who enjoy emo from the 90s and aughts, but still there is something fresh to it that will get you bobbing your head. It’s sure to entertain fans while here in Korea.
“We are not even sure if we have any Korean fans or not! But just come and enjoy the show with us and hang out for a drink and a chat after the show,” Xu Bo urges.