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Summers Gone

October 28, 2010

Morning found us calmly unaware/Noon burn Gold into our hair/At night we swim the laughin’ sea/When the summer’s gone/Where will we be?            — The Doors, Summer’s Almost Gone

It has been almost 2-months since the last entry. Anyone who has been checking, or who is reading this now, thanks so much for your interest. Truly.

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The summer in China ended with an epic tour — Alexei Perry and Dan Boeckner of the Handsome Furs. Hong Kong • Wuhan • Shanghai • Beijing • Dalian • Busan • Daegu • Singapore • Korea • Thailand • Kuala Lumpur. If there are any two western musicians who not only feel, but absorb, create and become part of the contemporary Chinese culture it is Alexei and Dan.  Actually, to limit their love for the unknown overseas to just China isn’t accurate.  These two have a great story that is still being written.  Here’s part of that story with a brief intro written by Split Works.

“It all started back in 2005, when Dan Boeckner, frontman of Canadian indie rockers Wolf Parade locked eyes with a bewitching girl in the audience during a gig in Vancouver. That girl was short-story writer Alexei Perry, and by the end of the night, the two were kissing by the merch-table.

Planning a romantic vacation around Scandinavia, the lovers had a flash of inspiration: why not form a band, and make a European tour out of it? Nevermind that Perry had no musical training save for a few childhood piano lessons. Boeckner got on the phone with his agent and booked the tour. The couple christened themselves Handsome Furs, the title of a short story Perry was working on at the time, banged out a set list of songs in a week’s time, and Perry performed live on synths for the first time ever in Oslo.

Now signed to Subpop — the iconic label that helped engineer the success of bands including Nirvana, CSS and Death Cab for Cutie – the Furs released their first album, Plague Park, in 2007, and followed it up with 2009’s Face Control. While the inspiration for Plague Park was taken from their travels through Scandinavia, Face Control draws heavily on their recent trip to Russia. The term “Face Control” refers to bouncers at Russian nightclubs turning customers away based on their physical appearance.”

The Handsome Furs were returning to Asia for their second tour and a decent amount of this you can watch — as they travelled with camera phones, interviewing one another, sharing their thoughts and experience with their fans.  You can see the recently produced travelogue here, and last years here.

Considering the magnitude of the tour, 6 countries and 14 cities, I had the pleasure of being with them for only 2 of the cities – Beijing & Tianjin.  Not yet released is a song they wrote inspired from their travels in China called “Serve the People.”  You can watch and listen to it performed in Shanghai here.

I couldn’t have wished for a better way to wrap-up the summer.  A few days with down-to-earth musicians who harnessed their intrigue with the country and people to create a moving influence of their own.

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