I keep trying to convince all of my friends to become massive fans of New Pants, and none of them listen to me. HOWEVER I just found an interview of them with English subtitles that summarizes the contents of their book, so I guess it’s time to once again make the rounds:
To me, they are such an incredibly “Insert Credit” band. Perhaps that is arguable, since it’s not like they’re obscure — they are one of the biggest rock bands in China right now (though I feel like people just like their newish stuff, which is conventionally good, and therefore less exciting. (they’ve gone Nintendo!)) What I mean though is that they take things that seemingly no one could possibly care about, then pour an inordinate amount obsession into creating some massive edifice out of it that only sort of makes sense, but which sticks in the soul for a lifetime. I want to someday write some definitive (as in I’ll never have to write another) 20,000 word essay about them, because they are this quasi-bottomless well of ideas and concepts that are very difficult to put into words without talking about literally everything they’ve ever done. Just listening to any one of their songs (or even albums) totally misrepresents them.
That video makes them sound like an 80s revival band. Trust me! They’re not. Even if there are a bajillion references to everything they loved about the 80s (and 90s (and 70s)), the references are never the point.
Peng Lei, the singer/guitarist, is my idol. Other than music, he’s also a director. He went to film school, and for awhile just directed music videos, until at some point he saw Jia Zhangke’s movie Platform, which he described as [me paraphrasing from memory] “An extremely long movie about the most boring stuff imaginable, made into something impossible to look away from,” so he thought he could make movies too. I don’t actually agree with that characterization of Platform! But I think it definitely applies to the two full Peng Lei movies I’ve seen, Equal Love (野人也有爱) and Follow Follow (this one has English subtitles). Maybe I’m just a weirdo, but Equal Love in particular is laser etched into my brain, and despite how dumb and goofy is, it has all these moments that I keep contemplating over and over, perhaps unable to fully comprehend them. It also features a bunch of Peng Lei’s paintings. Painting is the other one of his weird talents.
Please await the day when I’ve mustered the energy to actually say something meaningful about this band, instead of talking around them because I’m too baffled to think clearly.
Some music videos for your perusal.