P.K.14 occupies a space in Chinese music that might be analogous to that of Talking Heads or Television in the New York of the 1970s. They are among the most thoughtful and self-referential of bands, with an enormous curiosity about music coupled with a complete inability to care about musical fashion. Among the astonishing group of young musicians that has emerged in Beijing over the last four years, they are almost unanimously cited as the band that has most influenced the young Beijing music scene. Although they are at the heart of the Beijing scene, at the same time they are wholly unique and seem to be traveling in their own space – one which consists of only one band.
Founded in Nanjing in 1997, P.K.14 made their debut in December of that year. In May 1999, the band opened for Sweden’s The (International) Noise Conspiracy in Shanghai, and since become one of China’s most admired and influential bands. In 2001 with the release of their debut album, Shang Lou Jiu Wang Zuo Guai (Upstairs, Turn Left), on Sub Jam records, they quickly established themselves as one of the major bands in the Chinese indie scene. The same year they moved to Beijing, China’s musical epicenter, from where they released their consequential Shei Shei he Shei Shei Shei (Whoever, Whoever & Whoever) on Modern Sky, followed by the eagerly-awaited Bai Pi Shu (White Paper), which was recorded in Sweden in 2005 and released later that year.
Only frontman Yang Haisong remains from the band’s original line-up, he is generally considered to be the epitome of P.K.14’s aesthetic approach to art and music. As one of China’s better-known younger poets, his lyrics, predominantly about China’s disaffected urban youth, have been important for the band’s style and for the regard with which they are held by their audience. In addition to vocalist Yang Haisong, the band includes Xu Bo on guitar, Shi Xudong on bass and Tan Tan on drums. Besides publishing poetry and criticism, Yang Haisong has produced some of the most important Chinese bands of recent years, including Carsick Cars, Ourselves Beside Me and 8 Eye Spy. Shi Xudong is a founding member of Guai Li, one of Beijing’s wildest new bands, while Tan Tan is an established photographer, graphic artist and occasionally plays with FM3. P.K.14 have performed extensively in China and abroad, both headlining and sharing the stage with many notable bands, including The (International) Noise
Conspiracy, These Are Powers, Ex-Models and The Soundtrack of Our Lives. The subject of numerous articles, interviews and critical pieces on Chinese, US, German, Austrian, French, Swedish, Norwegian and Australian television, as well as dozens of newspapers and magazines from around the world. In June 2006, the band was nominated for “Best Band” and “Best Rock Band” at the 6th annual Chinese Music Media Awards (the Chinese Grammy Awards).
June 2008 saw the release of the band’s fourth album, titled Chengshi Tianqi De Hangxing (City Weather Sailing) on Maybe Mars records. Produced in
Sweden by Swedish Grammy winning producer-duo Henrik Oja and Mats Hatmmarström and mastered in New York by Greg Calbi, whose credits include
Sonic Youth, Television, Talking Heads, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, David Bowie, Blonde Redhead, Patti Smith, Yo La Tengo, Strokes and Interpol. Later half of 2008 was spent touring China (50+ shows) in support of the new album. Also in 2008, TIME Magazine chose P.K.14 as one of Asia’s five “Best bands” and one to keep an eye on.
2009 was a groundbreakving year for the band, with their first US tour including sell-out dates in both New York and Washington DC. MTV China featured P.K.14 as their band of the month for September. They wrapped the year with a headline slot at the “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” festival in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 2010 sees the band returning to America for a West Coast tour including SXSW festival and dates with Roky Erickson. Equally noteworthy is their upcoming first visit to Taiwan. Plans to record a fifth album are also in the pipeline.
Yang Haisong - Vocals
Xu Bo - Guitar
Shi Xudong - Bass
Jonathan Leijonhufvud - Drums
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February 3, 2017
This week on KEXP’s Music that Matters, Wo’ Pop host Darek Mazzone interviews Snapline singer Chenxi and plays a whole slew of Maybe Mars tunes. […]