Beijing’s Garage Punk Rascals: Ravishing The Ravages
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Original photos courtesy of The Ravages.
Design by Rochelle Beiersdorfer.
What do you get when four well-known musicians in Beijing’s indie music scene team up together? The Ravages, a funk-forward, organ-worshipping punk rock super group, that’s what.
With members from Boss Cuts, SHA!, Oldy Baby and PoetryXMusic, The Ravages is what happens when schoolboy antics get amplified. “We want to have filthy-fuzzy trash dumb fun, be loud, hit shit hard and scream about stuff we want to,” the band states when asked about their philosophy, and that’s exactly what they do: Scream their hearts out on matters of the heart, thrash around, formulate heavy guitar grooves and funky keyboard refrains, and gleefully create jams that are simply enjoyable. Yet, there’s nothing impulsive or childish about the sonic devastation that The Ravages delivers. In fact, it’s well thought out and maturely composed.
Teleporting you back to the “good old days,” The Ravages’ music combines elements of psychedelic rock, surf music, new wave and old school punk. In other words, it’s packed full with all the pleasing and dirty sounds that made music from the 70s, 80s and early 90s so satisfying and addictive. The vocals even occasionally resemble the slick, sultry tone of Elvish Presley.
Talk about a thrilling time warp.
“The Ravages came when music started sucking, so, about 40 years ago or so,” the band jokes, “Not really. The Ravages came, according to Nathan, at UFO Space. We wrote, rehearsed, drank, cried, but none of it had the ravage we have now. Perhaps it was something about the small garage-y stage, claustrophobic, blacklight-y atmosphere of that not-Temple Bar environment where The Ravages took its full functioning form.”
For anyone who hasn’t spent 5 minutes in Beijing, Temple Bar was a notorious hangout for diehard music enthusiasts as well as Beijing’s weathered expats. From hardcore punk, art rock and doom metal to cover bands and DJs, Temple Bar had musical acts almost every night of the week and from every genre fathomable. With its black walls and quintessential dive bar décor, it possessed such an underground vibe. Temple was the place to go if you needed to cure any symptoms of longing for a proper rager in a beautifully dingy bar. In some ways, it was arguably the CBGB of Beijing.
Located in Manhattan’s East Village, CBGB was a famous music club that opened its doors in 1973. It is credited to be the birthplace of America’s punk rock scene. #TemperTeachings
Jokes and reminiscing aside, The Ravages is one of those bands that would inevitably form, and Covid-19 just made it happen sooner than later. A side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, The Ravages’ beginnings can be traced back to a conversation during China’s nationwide lockdown between their guitarist and keyboardist. “During the lockdown, Daniel was sharing some garage rock tunes with David,” The Ravages tells Temper, “The idea then popped up to start our own garage rock band but we weren’t sure who to get to sing.” Nathan’s musical talent was admired from afar and, after he joined, The Ravages’ psychedelic garage punk was born.
MUSIC AND FASHION
Wearing the go-to uniform of any rocker, The Ravages take to the stage in…shirts. “Shirts that promote inappropriateness,” the band blatantly responds when asked what fashion means to them. “I think inappropriate in the sense that appropriate can often be silly on its own,” Nathan, guitarist and vocalist, clarifies when asked to elaborate on what they mean by inappropriateness, “appropriateness needs
to stand in its rightful environment to be considered appropriate. We like things to stand out, even in environments they don’t belong. Especially in environments they don’t belong.”
The shortlist of who’s who in the capital’s underground music scene, The Ravages hails from Beijing.
Originally revved up for their first multi-province tour to promote their self-titled debut release, the band and their promoter, MusicDish*China 独立小炒, have had to postpone all August dates until mid-September. This postponement is because of China’s current nationwide coronavirus outbreak.
The rescheduled dates, so far, are September 18th at C’s Bar in Shanghai and the following day at Wuhan’s musical slammer, Wuhan Prison. At posting, the new date for the show in The Ravages’ stomping grounds (aka Beijing) has yet to be announced.
Composing headbangers and dance anthems alike, The Ravages’ music is one devilish joyride.
Mingling gritty distortion with exquisite melody, you’ll find yourself flashed back to a time when planning pranks was a top priority, music had spunk, and being audacious with your fashion was all the rage. So, put on your multicolored silk tops and combat boots because it’s time to boogie down and paint the town red.