Happy New Year. There, I said it. Now that that’s out of the way, music is always about issues. Those issues could be political or they might be personal, but they are always at the core of any music that might call itself relevant. Pop rock might not be the first musical genre that comes to mind when you think of bands tackling socially conscious themes, but local act Hush! (樂團) could change that perception.
Hush! started out three years ago, and was founded by singer/songwriter Hush Chan (陳家偉). The three-piece group, laidback both musically and in person, is rounded out by drummer Bear Xie (謝曜輿) and bassist Cabeza Yu (余謹匡). They released a full-length album, X, not long after getting together. That album was based around Chan’s knowledge of reading Tarot cards, a craft he studied for eight years. Now, Hush! has a new album to promote, Psycho Love (異常現象). This record, says Chan, is about someone who has never been loved discovering the emotion for the first time. At first glance, it seems like standard pop fare, but bear with me.
Here’s where things take a turn from the typical pop-rock schlock. Same-sex marriage has become a hot-button issue in Taiwan of late, with mass protests both for and against taking place on city streets. Certain members of the pop community have come out in support of gay marriage, with A-mei (張惠妹) holding a concert paid for out of her own pocket to rally fans and show that many believe homosexuals should be given equal rights when it comes to matrimony. Hush! has also emerged with a strong showing of support of their own. The band’s video for the track Lovers in the Sky (空中的戀人), one of the singles off Psycho Love, features what could be the first openly gay love story in Taiwan music video history, culminating in a man bending down on one knee to place a ring on the finger of another man.
“We tried to support this,” Chan says. “That song is talking about two guys who can’t be together, but they love each other.”
Call it one giant progressive leap forward for the music scene in Taiwan, and here’s hoping more bands come out in support of logic rather than pseudo-religious bigotry and willful ignorance. End rant. It might be pop-rock, but that doesn’t make it mindless. Far from it. Chan wants to make people feel; to make them examine themselves and the world around them, and experience equality that transcends many different levels.
“I enjoy watching fans smiling, or crying, or thinking,” Chan says of his observations of the crowd during shows. “I enjoy the atmosphere that we’re friends, no matter you’re on stage or not.”
■ Hush! stages its final CD release show in support of Psycho Love tomorrow at The Wall, B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1). Doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets are NT$400 in advance, NT$450 at the door.
Now on to issues of a more personal nature. This Saturday will also see a performance by fast-rising Taipei-based pop-punk act Destroyers (擊沈女孩). The band, started by guitarist/singer Jon Hom, a transplant from Los Angeles, and drummer Lee Joseph Weatherall (魏敦華), only got together in late 2011, but has already released a string of three independently produced EPs and played somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 gigs in 2012. Completed by bassist Johnny Kao (高華聰) and guitarist Dawei Liu (劉哲麟), Destroyers is known for cranking out hooky, irreverent three-chord punk numbers about drinking and partying inspired by the likes of California pop punk progenitors like Green Day and Blink-182, but the band has taken a slight turn towards the introspective of late.