New Pants at Modern Sky
New Pants at Modern Sky Shawn Hardison

Yesterday the China based Modern Sky Music Festival took place on Seattle Center's Mural Stage. Ariel Pink, Black Lips, and Gang of Four took the stage along with Chinese bands Hedgehog, Miserable Faith, and a synth-punk and pop four-piece from Beijing called New Pants. “New Pants were all over the place in a good way," said photographer Shawn Hardison. "There was a nice Bowie-esque vocal thing going on and the singer was off the chain having fun. Black Lips were OK, but I bet they sound better in Georgia. Ariel Pink was great, but with all the grandstanding and attitude, I’d prefer seeing the original, Pulp. And Miserable Faith was the fuckin’ shit.” With the help of a translator named Wei Duan, I spoke with New Pants:

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Hello New Pants. I love you. Please describe how you decided on the name New Pants.
Peng Lei: During the time of our beginning, most bands were naming themselves with too much ambition and power. We preferred something lighter. Something easier.

What are your favorite kind of pants? Have you ever worn chaps? [They are shown a picture of chaps]:
Peng Lei: Oh, this is not our style. Is it S & M custom? Before we liked skinny jeans very much, but now, being comfortable matters more [laughs].

Yes. Chaps are an American custom. Many incognito Republican politicians wear them when they’re at sex clubs soliciting sex from minors. Please describe your song “Sex Drugs Internet.” It seems like everyone can relate to that. Doing drugs and masturbating to the internet. Is that what it is about? Or is it a metaphor for something else?

Pang Kuan: “Sex Drugs Internet” states the social facts of young people’s life. No other meaning, only telling a fact.

What are you most excited to see in America?

Peng Lei: I’d like to know more about youth culture through watching local bands perform. This is totally different in China.

Pang Kuan: I’d like to observe local young people on the street. This is a totally different view for us to know more about Western world.

Have you ever eaten a corn dog? Please eat a corn dog while you are here. [They are shown a picture of a corn dog.] Is there a Chinese equivalent? If I was in Beijing, what food would you make me eat?

Peng Lei: The most interesting and powerful dish is called “Lu Zhu Huoshao.” “Lu Zhu” is kind of soup cooked with pig guts, like kidney liver, chopped into pieces and cooked together. The “Huoshao” is like pancake, but thicker, and its’ usually dipped into soup to eat with.

New Pants, Preshow, Modern Sky
New Pants, Preshow, Modern Sky Shawn Hardison

What is your favorite music from America?

Peng Lei: Ramones is our favorite and is a big influence to us on how to form our music style. At the very beginning, we studied Ramones. We like Ratatat, and they are performing in China soon.

What parts of American culture do you think are the strangest?

Peng Lei: Nothing seems weird to me. I'm just very curious about Mormonism. It seems not only existing in US, but also in Europe?

Do they have monster trucks in China? Big trucks that crush cars and jump in the air through fire for no reason at all. [They are shown a picture of a monster truck in the air.] Do they do that in China?

Peng Lei : Oh, this kind of truck is only on TV, haven’t seen any in China yet.

What is next for you?

Peng Lei: The next step will be a new album, which will be released in the end of 2015. Also, I will try to develop my talent in the movie field. My first movie is called Follow Follow. It’s story about Beijing bands confused about finding their own path. The movie was released on “Creator Project” organized by VICE in the U.S. I’d like to focus on stories of China youth culture, I don’t want to make fairytale or love fantasy things, but more showing a real world of China youth life.