From left to right: guitarist Chen Lei, lead singer Ding Wu, drummer Zhao Nian and
bassist Gu Zhong. [China Daily]
Many bands break up, stop performing, or its members start new careers, but Tang Dynasty, China's first heavy metal band, is still going strong.
While the album Knight of Romance, released in 2008, came after eight long years, the band will take to the stage at Beijing's Starlive venue to present songs of the album that will be released later this year.
The band first saw its line-up change when guitarist, Liu Yijun, or Lao Wu, the nation's first rock guitar hero, left in 1995 after their bassist Zhang Jun had a fatal accident.
Kaiser Kuo, a Chinese-American who helped found the band but was not a regular player, stepped in for Liu then.
"We will keep to our tradition of fusing Chinese culture with heavy rock in these new songs" says Ding Wu, another founding member and lead vocalist, famed for his high-pitched and powerful voice.
The soon-to-be-released double album focuses partly on Chinese history and partly on Chinese culture. One of its songs, Ups and Downs, explores current social problems and people's impulsive reactions. Another, Deer's Tears, calls attention to environmental issues and the idea of harmony.
The upcoming concert will take fans back to the band's heyday with classic songs such as Dreaming Back to Tang Dynasty, Sun, and Flying Bird.
Tang Dynasty came into existence in 1988 and rose to fame with its first major album Dreaming Back to Tang Dynasty, in the early 1990s, when rock music first started to catch on in China. The album officially sold about 2 million copies worldwide. And in 1998, seven years after their debut album, they came up with Epic.
The band's unique music blends traditional Chinese culture with Western heavy metal rock making them a pioneering rock band that has paved the way for others.
"Thanks mostly to globalization and the rise of MySpace, the current independent rock scene in China is full of artists who may be from China but sound as if they could be from the United States or Britain," Ding says.
"Tang Dynasty pioneered the era of Chinese rock 'n' roll and we still maintain that spirit."
The band will perform at Starlive with Punk rock band Brain Failure as the opening guest.
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