History of Punk in China

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A brief history of punk music and its development in China.

General information

Author Wiki Users
English title History of Punk in China
Publication Rock in China
Date of publication exactly on 29 March 2013 04:23:45
Original URL The original article was posted on http://www.music-china.org/w/History_of_Punk_in_China

Entities mentioned

In this article, especially the following entities (bands, artists, cities, articles, etc.) are being called out:

Brainfailure, Reflector, He Yong

Keywords & Genre

The following keywords / genres apply for this article:

China, Punk

The beginnings

Punk music started in China in 1994 and continues to thrive until today (2013).

The first wave of punk (1994-1996)

Rock music history of China
Main Articles

Electronic Music | Metal | Punk | Rock

Regional Scenes

Beijing | Chengdu | Chongqing | Hongkong | Macau | Qingdao | Shanghai | Wuhan | Xi'an

Timelines & Lists

Domestic Bands | Foreign Bands | Labels | Tours | Records

Special Articles

History of the Midi Music Festival | Research

Individual Years

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 | 1991 | 1990 | 1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1986 | 1985 | 1984 | 1983 | 1982 | 1981 | 1980 | 1979

The Year in Review (Photos)

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995

Underbaby with Dou Yi Yang(1997)

Punk became famous in China around 1994 - 1996 (first Chinese punker: He Yong) and was succeeded by New Metal (influenced by Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, others). Together both movements are part of the so called "New Sound" of China.

In 1994/1995, the first two punk bands after He Yong emerge: Underbaby and Catcher in the Rye (1994).
These two bands both had similar backgrounds and similar tastes. Most members were local residents of Beijing, most were influenced by late 70's, early 80's punk bands (Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, Dead Kennedy's and several others). However, the bands had distinctly different sounds. Underbaby was speed, energy, angst and catharsis while Catcher in the Rye were bubble gum, styrofoam, Robert smith, and accapella. Both were extremely influential to the next generation rising out of the crowds that went to see these first punk shows.[1]


Gao Wei of Underbaby and XTX, Solutions Bar, April 4th 1996, photo (c) David O'Dell

New Pants was formed in 1996 under the name 金属车间的形体师傅 and later signed its contract with Modern Sky Records in 1997 with which they renamed the band to New Pants.

April 4th 1996, Underbaby and musician XTX performed at a Kurt Cobain memorial concert at the Solutions Bar. For Underbaby it had been their first live show.[2]

On May 2nd, as a celebration to Chinese Youth Day, Underbaby and Catcher in the Rye performed at the Bo Er Ka Club.[3]

In August, Underbaby's song "All the same" was included in the compilation record China Fire II (VA), one of the first recorded punk songs of China.


In 1997, SMZB is formed in Wuhan, one of the first punk bands of China and the first in Wuhan, paving the way for Wuhan to become known as the "punk city". Furthermore Brain Failure started in 1997 when recent high school dropout Xiao Rong started looking for something fun to do to waste time. Also P.K. 14, one of China's most famous post punk bands, is formed in 1997 and they have their first gigs in December the same year in Nanjing.

Furthermore, three kids from Wudaokou – Guo Feng, Ye Jingying and Tian Jianhua, who had been friends since grade school got their hands on a Guns n' Roses record. The boys immediately decided to form a band, which we now known as Reflector. They pretty much did nothing but "practice", and by '98 they were performing in a series of gigs at Scream! Club.

On July 10th, the concert entitled "The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle" took place at the Sunflowers bar with Reflector, XTX, Thin Man, The Metal Factory Boys, 69, Catcher in the Rye and Underbaby performing. The name of the concert was also the name of the punk underground zine distributed at the same gig.[4]

The Strengthening


Gia (Hang on the Box) live in the Scream Club on September 16th, 1998, photo by Yoshito Katori

In January, 1998, the Scream Bar (嚎叫) opens it doors for the punk community of the capital with the famous words 金属与老梆子不得入内 (Metalheads & Old People are not allowed in) written above the entrance.

In the summer of 1998, Hang on the Box (HOTB) is formed in Beijing. At that time vocalist Gia W (Wang Yue), guitarist Yang Fan, bass player Yilina and drummer Shenggy (Shen Jing) were only 15 years old. The all-female band made its first appearance on July 20th 1998 in the Scream Club, shocking audience and punks alike with their songs "No Sexy" and "Asshole, I'm Not Your Baby", rising to fame afterwards.

The Flowers, dubbed as "China's first famous adolescent band," had barely blossomed into youth when they first appeared on the Chinese music scene in 1998.

In December, the compilation 10000 Years Punk (VA) was released in France as well as in China. The bands of the Boring Army (Brain Failure, 69, Anarchy Boys and Reflector) are featured on it.

1999: The second wave of punk

In Spring 1999, Misandao was formed as oi punk band. Their singer Lei Jun was among the first skinheads spreading the original Chinese skinhead subculture in Beijing since the late 1990s.

In January 1999, with the release of the compilation "Wuliao Contingent" (translated: Boring Contingent or Army of the Bored), the second wave of punk (including such bands as Brainfailure, Reflector, 69 and A-Jerks[1]) is started, which is seen as a major impact and milestone for Chinese punk. All representated four bands are featured by the Scream Records release, making it to be a "Yaogun classics" as mentioned in the Insider's Guide to Beijing 2008.


In 2000, HOTB's record Yellow Banana was released in Japan.

In March, the underground compilation tape Sub Punker (VA) is distributed among book stores and underground stores throughout Beijing.


In March 2001, Joyside is formed Bian Yuan, Liu Hao and Xin Shuang.

In October, Recycle is formed in Beijing and art-punk band Top Floor Circus is established in Shanghai.

In December, No Name, old skull punk band, is formed in Xi'an.


In in the cold Beijing winter of February 2002, SUBS was formed by vocalist Kang Mao, guitarist Wu Hao, drummer Shi Xudong and bass player Sun Xia.

On April 1st, 2002, the split 7" Anarchy In The P.R.C. (of Brain Failure and Anarchy Jerks) is being released in the USA by Broken Rekids.

In September, HOTB's record Yellow Banana was released in China.

Also in 2002, Ouch's debut record Mania Heart is being released.


The Believers in Beijing

In 2003, melodic punk band SKO is formed in Beijing.

In July, HOTB's record Di Di Di is released. A-OK is formed in July in Beijing, playing "pop-punk". According to their MySpace page: "Our music expresses our recently life condition. Hope our music can touch you. We will keep on making good music from the hearts. Nothing can stop us. Please go to watch our shows often. In the bored years, let's go crazy together!"[5]

In August, street punk band The Believers is formed in Beijing. One week after that, they started off their first performance at RAVE CLUB (which is near Chaoyang park).


In February 2004, 1979 is formed with their first practice on the 23rd the same month and their first gig on March 12th at the Old Get Lucky Bar.

In Summer 2004, for the love of street punk life style, Li Yang (vocals/guitar), Xue Yang (bass) and Zhang Wei (drums) decided to form a band named Demerit in their hometown Qingdao, Shandong Province. Also Beijing punk band The K is formed.

On August 21st, Brain Failure's record American Dreamer is being released.

In September, Joyside releases their record Drunk is beautiful and HOTB releases their record Foxy Lady. On September 24th, Caffe-In is formed by Masato and Sayu in some of those bars in Houhai (Beijing). In October, Subs releases their SUBS Life (EP).


In April, 2005, the US Edition of American Dreamer of Brain Failure is released by Thorp Records.

In October, under the influence of wester punk acts such as Rancid, The Clash, Dropkick Murphys etc., R.W.F is formed by vocalist Guantou and guitar player Ma Duo. After graduation from the Beijing Midi School of Music, they spend the whole following winter in the rehearsal room of Midi School and created over 10 songs there!

On December 24th, 2005, a punk concert at the What Bar gets recorded and is being released later as punk compilation called Forming (VA).


Ricky Rustic of Rustic, 2010

In March, Rustic is formed by Li Yan and two of his friends at the train station in the city of ShiJiaZhuang. The same month Demerit releases it's demo record Never Say Die. On March 11th, the punk and oi compilation Forming (VA) is released.


On March 14th, 2007, the split record Beijing To Boston (by Brain Failure and US band Big D and the Kids Table) is being released. On March 23rd, Brain Failure releases their record Coming Down To Beijing.

In September, HOTB releases No more nice girls.


April 30th, 2008, the EP Beijing Calling is being released by Brain Failure.

In June 2008, Girl Kill Girl is formed by Hang On The Box front girl Gia and actually two HotB fans. On June 1st, Demerit releases its full-length record Bastards Of The Nation on Maybe Mars Records.


May 1st, 2009, Brain Failure releases their record Downtown Production which features a song with US "Chuck D".

Further information

At RiC

Additional Sources


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Brief History of China's Punk Rock Scene". David O'Dell (That's Beijing) (August 2002). Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  2. Inseparable, the memoirs of an American and the story of Chinese punk rock, David O'Dell, 2011, page 16-21
  3. Inseparable, the memoirs of an American and the story of Chinese punk rock, David O'Dell, 2011, page 32-35
  4. Inseparable, the memoirs of an American and the story of Chinese punk rock, David O'Dell, 2011, pages 78-80
  5. A-OK MySpace, accessed 2008

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