Coming up next weekend at Sydney’s Factory Theatre, the third annual Sydney Psych Fest will be taking place for what’s set to be another blistering year. Along with some of Australia’s best, the festival features two class acts out of Beijing, Carsick Cars and White+ – both of whom will also be playing some shows in Melbourne. Ahead of the tour, we catch up with Carsick Cars‘ Zhang Shouwang to find out how they are anticipating this Australian festival, plus their own headline shows with Birdstriking.
You’re playing shows in Australia with Birdstriking as well as the Sydney Pysch Fest – what are your feelings about the band?
We’ve known Birdstriking since their very first shows as they were one of the bands that started out at D22, the club that was home to most of us, and He Fan of course plays with Carsick Cars. Almost from the beginning, they were one of my favorite bands and it doesn’t surprise me that they have done so well.
How do you manage to share his time between both White+ and Carsick Cars?
I am very lucky, because the two bands have very different music styles and this allows me to chase very different musical ideas. There are periods when I spend most of my time with the drone and noise sounds of Carsick Cars and times when I am much more interested in [the] time signatures of White+.
Who are some of your favourite Psych bands?
For me the most exciting music comes from live shows and because they have never travelled in China, this will be the first time I have a chance to hear any of these bands live. I am especially interested in hearing Flyying Colours and Mere Women, and also want to check out Dreamtime.
What have your experiences been like in Australia in the past?
We loved touring in Australia. It’s not just that people have been very friendly, but also that they treat us as musicians who just happen to come from China. Very often foreign audiences have very strong ideas about what they think Chinese musicians sound like or should sound like, and they judge us against these ideas rather than based on what we are trying to do. I think Australian audiences are more open to the idea that we are just musicians trying to express our own feelings, and do not represent their ideas of what Chinese musicians are supposed to sound like.
What are you most looking forward to about your visit in February?
I think the best part is to be able to meet lots of different Australian musicians and music lovers and just make as much noise as possible. We have so many friends in Sydney and Melbourne and it is great to be able to see them again.
What can fans expect from your shows?
Three guys who make lots of mistakes who will pretend that we made those mistakes on purpose.
The live music scene in China has been evolving quite rapidly, with more festivals and more opportunities for bands to perform. As a band who emerged from a truly underground scene, do you feel the changes have been good for the scene – particularly in Beijing?
Of course, everyone misses that very special time from 2005 until 2010, or 2011 when it felt like everything was fresh and new and all of our friends were making such great music, but things always change and we must adapt to those changes. We have many more opportunities now, and we can work with friends abroad who we used to admire so much and feel that we would never have the chance to play with them. For example, who could imagine ten years ago that someone like Ricky Maymi from Brian Jonestown Massacre would be working so hard to help us do shows in Australia?
What else will 2017 hold for you?
We will probably record our fourth album this year and the Australian tour will be our first tour of 2017, but there will be a China tour, a US tour and probably a European tour later this year. If we are lucky maybe we will be invited again to Australia.
The Sydney Psych Fest is taking place at The Factory Theatre on Saturday, February 25th. For more information, visit sydneypsychfest.com.au. You can also catch Carsick Cars with Birdstriking and White+ on the 24th at The Tote in Melbourne.