For the last six years, Chengdu-based promoter New Noise has been feeding China’s hunger for post-rock by organizing national tours for genre giants like Tortoise and Mono. But it all began back in 2010, when the company arranged an inaugural mainland tour for Swedish band pg.lost. Now it’s bringing the post-rock quartet back for more.
“For the first tour, we’d actually contacted Jef [Vreys, founder of New Noise] to help arrange some shows for us in Belgium, because we thought he lived there,” laughs pg.lost’s bassist and keyboardist Kristian Karlsson. “He responded, saying that he could set up a tour for us in China because he thought we’d be popular there.
“When we arrived at the airport, he was late and we thought it was all a joke. But he finally showed up and the tour was great.”
Since then, pg.lost have repeatedly packed livehouses across the country on their three China tours, which include a headline slot on New Noise’s fifth-anniversary shows last year.
“Touring China is completely different from Europe,” Karlsson says. “In China, the audience really listens to the music. We appreciate that. In Europe, it’s more about going for drinking and partying. The music is just one part of the night, with things competing against each other.”
Formed in 2004 by a group of university friends eager to make noise, Karlsson notes the band quickly outgrew their early influences, which included Texan post-rock standouts Explosions in the Sky.
“One good thing is that we got bored of the normal type of postrock quite early on,” he says. “There are a lot of good instrumental bands out there, but it’s easy to fall into that sound of big delayed guitars, big drums and everything sounding bombastic.”
“We wanted to sound more cool than big, using dirty guitar sounds and other little things; to be more inspired by Iron Maiden than Mogwai in creating something new.”
Through a succession of standout releases, from 2007’s It’s Not Me, It’s You! to 2012’s Key, the band have amassed a loyal following for their distinct take on the genre, including their use of effects-laden vocals.
However, on their upcoming album, Versus, they’ve dropped this signature element of the sound. It was part of a forced evolution brought about by guitarist Mattias Bhatt’s decision to move to London.
“We had to sit down by ourselves much more and try to figure out our parts individually,” Karlsson says. “We sent things back and forth, so this one is more of a ‘written’ album.”
He admits that the process was difficult at first. But the resulting record is the first that all of the band’s members are individually pleased with.
“The title Versus doesn’t refer to things being against each other, but more about how things can merge together,” Karlsson explains. “A lot of these songs w ere originally two completely different tracks that matched up, even though it doesn’t seem to make sense when you listen to them as separate parts.”
The band is eager to premiere the new disc during their 10-city China tour that stops off in Shenzhen (Sep 2 @ B10), Guangzhou (Sep 3 @ Fei Livehouse), Beijing (Sep 9 @ Yugong Yishan) and Shanghai (Sep 10 @ MAO Livehouse).
However, pg.lost’s relationship with the Mainland isn’t a one-way street. They’ve released a joint album with Dalian post-rock band Wang Wen, as well as helping them book European festival shows last year.
“We want more people to hear them,” Karlsson says. “There’s definitely more mystique for a band coming from Asia to play Europe. They just have a completely different story and can definitely find an international fanbase. Just look at Mono.”
pg.lost China tour:
Shenzhen: Sep 2, 8.30pm, RMB100-120. B10, see event listing.
Guangzhou: Sep 3, 8.30pm, RMB100-120. Fei Livehouse, see event listing.
Wuhan: Sep 4, 8.30pm, RMB80-100. VOX.
Xi’an: Sep 6, 8.30pm, RMB80-100. Da Hua 1935.
Dalian: Sep 8, 8.30pm, RMB80-100. Hertz.
Beijing: Sep 9, 9pm, RMB120-150. Yugong Yishan, see event listing.
Shanghai: Sep 10, 9pm, RMB120-150. MAO Livehouse, see event listing.
Hangzhou: Sep 11, 8.30pm, RMB80-100. MAO Livehouse.
Chongqing: Sep 12, 8.30pm, RMB80-100. Nuts Livehouse.
Chengdu: Sep 14, 8.30pm, RMB80-100. Chengdu.