It all started in 1997 when recent high school dropout Xiao Rong started looking for something fun to do to waste time. He soon began writing his own songs and playing in some of the few clubs that existed in Beijing at that time. A year later Xiao Rong and his band were playing in the infamous Scream Club (RIP), one of the most important places in the early Beijing Punk scene. 1998 & 1999 Four Scream Club veteran bands, Brain Failure, The Anarchy Boys (AKA Anarchy Jerks), 69 and Reflector put out a split together called 10000 Years Punk (VA) on a vinyl 7" in France's Xiandai Gongren Changpian (Modern Worker Records), this was the first ever Chinese punk record on vinyl, at the end of 1998.
The same bands were later released in 1999 on the compilation Wu Liao Jun Dui best translated as “Army of Annoyance”. This album showed the people of China intensity never found before in Mainland Chinese music and anger at the boring life forced upon China’s youth. From there Xiao Rong was asked to appear in a Levi’s commercial in Europe. Wuliao Contingent (VA) was later in 2002 released in Malaysia by Music Trax for the South East Asian market.
2000-2002 The year 2000 saw many changes in Brain Failure’s lineup. Several members had left the band for various reasons. The drummer and guitarist were replaced by Xu Lin and Wang Jian from the band Azrio. Veteran bassist Shi Xudong of Wuhan’s hardcore band Shit Dog was brought in.
The success of this lineup sold out the famous CD Café in Beijing and solidified Brain Failure’s place on the Beijing Scene. In 2002 they toured Japan with Japan’s Last Target, Sobut and Garlic Boys. Xiao Rong also discovered a talent for tell-it-like-it-is lyrics. Coming Down to Beijing expresses the unhappiness of many locals of seeing the city that they grew up in becoming a place they don’t recognize.
For Brain Failure “urban renewal” is urban decay as the old homes of Beijing become glass walled sky-scrapers. The tone of urban isolation and destruction carries through in the songs Living in the City and My Simple Life, an ode to the boring existence of youth in Beijing, staying up all night looking at porno on your computer. Harassment by your neighbors because you look different or act differently gets covered in Call the Police a hyper ska song about people threatening to call the police on you all the time. The pastimes of local yuppie “trend-setters” get covered in songs like Fucking Disco and KTV (Karaoke Bar) about how these locations are basically just whore houses for local elites.
Most of Brain Failure’s lyrics deal with the social problems and attitudes present in China today rather than political problems. Their rise in China was difficult because of average people’s aversion to rock n’ roll and a near complete lack of any media coverage. 2003-2004 Finally after years of fighting underground Brain Failure achieved one of their dreams in 2003 and played in the US on Asian Night at SXSW (Austin) and CMJ (New York). Later they would play with the Dropkick Murphy’s in California and form a friendship with Ken Casey, who would produce their 2004 album American Dreamer.
In a Boston Globe article about the recording, Casey praises Brain Failure saying “I love their music,” and that “their musicianship is incredible, and the songs are very catchy. It's real interesting to see a band come out of a place where punk rock is very much underground, while over here it is so commercialized.” Soon after the release bassist Shi Xudong left the band for personal reasons and was replaced with Ma Jiliang, a former band mate of Xu Lin and Wang Jian. 2005 Supporting their new album and trying to make a name for themselves on the US scene, Brain Failure played a few dates on the East Coast with the Dropkick Murphy’s, Stiff Little Fingers, and Kings of Nothing. 2005 was a big year of touring for Brain Failure seeing them do two US tours with The Unseen and Street Dog.
During the summer that year they did a small tour with the Briefs and Street Dog and even played a weeklong stint on the Warped Tour. They also appeared on Hellcat/Epitaph’s punk compilation, Give ‘Em the Boot Vol. IV, and had 3 songs on the Xbox 360’s Amped 3 Snowboarding video game. A year later they were back in the studio working on a split with Big D and the Kid’s Table called From Beijing to Boston, once again Casey was in the booth for Brain Failure’s tracks.
In the same year they toured the US two more times supporting Against All Authority and the Business. Watching Brain Failure play is an amazing experience. They bring a power and a passion to the stage from years of playing underground shows in Beijing. No other band in Beijing can pump up a crowd like they can.
Xiao Rong is relentless, tireless, like a possessed man. Wang Jian’s wild antics and Xu Lin and Ma Jiliang’s determination create a spectacular stage presence. Off stage they are friendly and love to meet new people wherever they go. As the irreverent punk rock voice of China’s burgeoning youth culture, Brain Failure has been featured in the international media, including European Levi’s Commercial, Details magazine, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The San Francisco Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Giant Robot, Revolver, Skratch, Slap, Alternative Press, AMP Punknews.org, and many others.
MTVU and MTV Chi, MTV’s new Asian American channel, also did a news piece on the band which also lead to Brain Failure hosting a half an hour of their favorite videos on MTV Chi. 2007 May: They performed at the Midi Music Festival 2007. September: They performed at the Beijing Pop Festival 2007. 2008 October: They performed at the Midi Music Festival 2008.
Their latest EP Beijing Calling features Public Enemy's Chuck D performing on the opening track: A Box On The Broken Ball(北京呼唤 Beijing Huhuan). 2009 In May they participated in the Strawberry Music Festival 2009. Further in May 2009, Xiao Rong is voted the no. 16 coolest rock star in Beijing by Timeout Beijing Magazine. Their 1998 demo, called Punk Shines in China, was the first punk release on the Mainland, and established Xiao as the leader of a new punk movement that formed around the Scream Club in the late ’90s.
Brain Failure still sound as raw and dangerous as ever, and command a die-hard legion ofmostly Chinese fans. And while Xiao may have lost the Mohawk and leopard-print hair he’s sported in earlier days, he’s still a steely vision of punk menace. August 8th 2009, they performed during the InMusic Festival 2009 on the Zhangbei Grasslands on the Main Stage. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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