The story of Dirty Fingers is twisted and tangled with ups and downs. As one of the most exciting, talented and intriguing bands in Shanghai and China over the past decade, they've also courted their fair share of controversy.
While the foursome are older and wiser, with a number of side projects under their belts, trouble does have a way of following them, as seen on their recent tour through Chengdu and Chongqing with Beijing band Jajatao, where dozens of fans jumped on stage, forcing them to end their set early.
Drummer Alex Amazonia left China for his native Brazil earlier this year. He returned three months ago and the band reformed for a group of free gigs around the country, something Alex says was a great marketing idea, but not the best moneymaker. At the end of this month, Dirty Fingers are gearing up to play at Shanghai institution Yuyintang's 15th anniversary alongside Absolute Purity, The Mushroom, Banana Monkey, Sonnet and Forsaken Autumn. We caught up with Alex ahead of the show to talk about the band's 2019, their future and his personal projects.
So you guys are playing Yuyintang’s 15 anniversary celebration, are you excited?
Very much! We haven't played in the old Yuyintang for a long time and the venue has been a very important chapter in our journey.
If you had to pick six bands from the past 15 years of Shanghai music, who would you choose?
Pairs, Top Floor Circus, Torturing Nurse, Absolute Purity, Mirrors and Dream Can.
Can you talk about the changes the band has gone through over the past year?
We have become more wise and calm. You can feel it in the new compositions and in our stage presence.
Image courtesy of Dirty Fingers
Can you go into detail about the drug bust that happened earlier this year?
It happened. We were innocent. Now we are free. We moved on.
Obviously you left China earlier this year and came back in September/October, does it feel good to be back?
Mixed feelings. Way too complex to convey here. But I'm happy to be together with my band brothers and travelling the country.
For you personally, have you had any moments of soul searching throughout the year and how much of that has been in your personal life and how much in regard to your music?
Initially I was mad. Later, I figured that it was something I needed to experience to understand what is my actual purpose in life. Now, I see clearly that me as an artist and that Dirty Fingers as a band have a mission to deliver. 2019 was a breaking point.
You talked about how you are cutting regular drinking out and eating healthier – how has that impacted your work ethic and also your day-to-day mood?
I've become grounded and realistic about my limitations. And, instead of drinking to get over my nerves and anxiety, I prefer to face them soberly with medicine and patience.
Tell us more about the Yehaiyahan residency in Yunnan you’re helping to facilitate?
This is part of a project that I developed with the Brazilian Embassy. It is called China Tropical. In March we brought Ava Rocha and Negro Leo to make some tracks with 33EMYBW & Gooooose. In January we are bringing the grammy award siblings Tulipa Ruiz & Gustavo Ruiz for a week of interaction with Yehaiyahan and an orchestra of Naxi musicians in Yunnan.
Image courtesy of Dirty Fingers
You’ve been publishing more solo work lately, are you trying to focus more attention on putting out music by yourself?
Yes. I have always dreamed of having my solo album where I can play in an experimental style, with multiple instruments, so I made two solo albums and one EP to present to labels to get a record deal for it. It's been promising but nothing has been guaranteed yet.
You talked about being hit up for a reality TV show – why did you guys refuse and was there anything contractually that made you guys refuse?
Speculations more than actual offers. We had the chance to look into the standard contract and terms about image, music and lyrics were very sensitive for us. So, under the terms that we saw, it was not suitable for us and for them to have Dirty Fingers involved.
Does the continued growth of rock music offer more opportunities for bands like Dirty Fingers to expand and reach a bigger audience?
Yes, for sure! It has created a demand for rock bands. So, even if we don’t get the mainstream exposure the wave will definitely hit underground bands like us.
What does the future hold for Dirty Fingers? Are you guys recording new music, planning any tours or collaborations?
We are working on the third album. Not sure with who yet. But something will be out in 2020.
[Cover image courtesy of Dirty Fingers]