Interview: Pairs

Pairs are a tall glass of shut the fuck up and make some noise. It’s a bombardment of your senses, a kick to the nuts, and straight up cutthroat fun. When I stumbled accidentally upon them at the Old What? Bar a year and change back, the duo, which consists of Xiao Zhong and F, on drums and vocals, and on guitar, respectively, played a blazing, take no prisoners set, which climaxed in my roommate using a chair to chime in on the drum set. These two simply don’t mess around. With their newest double-vinyl release “If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I Will” pressed to hit the capital this weekend at XP, I threw some verbal accusations their way to get to the bottom of what makes the Shanghai-based Pairs just so damn infectious. Here’s what they had to say…


First off, apologies to F – last time you guys played at the Old What? Bar I made some lewd declarations of love in your ear while you played guitar – on that note, what other sort of freaks have you two encountered at shows? 

XZ: We generally attract the good freaks and drunk kids who like to ask if we like McLusky. We sometimes get hyperactive German guys putting on an electronic festival that want us to come and jam. Too many business cards are given to us – that’s the worst kind of freak.
The Old What Bar show was one of the best, most fun as fuck shows we\’ve done. Old What rules!
F: Haha! Honestly I don\’t remember that. But that\’s really a lovely thing to do at shows and you are a good freak. After ages spending my side/back towards the audiences!

We have some very lovely freaks (I will put you on the list as well) coming at the shows and doing something wickedly ridiculous which have made our life less boring. Someone once sat in a chair on stage reading a book and eating an apple when we were playing to show how he feels about our music. Someone who\’s already drunk and jumped onto the stage yelling for encores when we were the first band that night and he\’s in the last. Someone who came after some house party and eating take away KFC chicken ribs and throwing at us, maybe lamb chops I can\’t remember.

So I was just writing a few weeks ago about you two releasing Grandparent and what, you guys already have another release out – what motivates to keep plugging away?

We recorded Grandparent in November last year. The mixing stage took ages as the guy who did it kept taking on other jobs and just didn’t have time, We were originally going to release it in March.
Our songs are god awfully simple. They don’t take too much effort to right and there’s only two of us which makes it even simpler still. I guess we just don’t want to get bored playing our own songs or feel like things are stale or forced, so we keep churning out the hits.

Momentum seems to be a huge part of everything that Pairs is? Is there a need to continue creating, to playing, recording – what would happen if you guys just put down the stick and guitar for a week?

For better or worse, I can’t stop. I’ve always got some half baked bullshit idea running around in my head or near my fingers. I am slowly learning how to hit the off switch a bit, but I’m still just too much. The other day I wrote four songs and sent them all to F. I’m lucky that she can handle me as I think it would be a bit exhausting for other people. There’s some people that see opportunity and creativity in the majority of things and there’s some people who just naturally want to be engaged in everything – I think we kind of float in the middle of that. We don’t practice that much, maybe just before a show, but I’m always playing the guitar. Pretty much the whole time at work, a lot of our songs were written at work and I’m always shredding fuck hard at home. Drives the lady friend crazy.

On Grandparent, whose idea was it to create music videos to accompany each of your songs? What was the most grueling one to make? 

It was my idea, but it’s been done before. The awesome New Zealand band Rackets did it as well. They weren’t overly grueling for us. Those poor Redscale Studio girls drew the short straw. We filmed everything in one day from our end and then it was all editing and fucking around. I think Eighteen Shakes took awhile. Fuck me, nothing but sympathy for them. Listening to our songs over and over, seeing our faces when they close their eyes. It has to be the closest thing to hell.

Your latest is called If This Cockroach Doesn’t Die, I Will – what’s the story behind the name? Grudge against the little guys?

I saw it years ago somewhere; that this exterminator was using it as his slogan and it just stuck with me. I’ve added my own piece of piss and cum to it in my mind.
Nothing too much against actual cockroaches, although they are gross and shit and now as I’ve slowly and begrudgingly become the man of the house, it seems it’s my job to kill them if they come within a 200m radius of our house.

On your latest, you two have decreased the tempo quite a bit in many of the songs – do you feel more self-reflexive? Feeling those wrinkles setting in?

Absolutely! I feel well old. Old soul in a deceptively old body. There’s a running theme in a lot of songs about getting old and dying too early.


Xiao Zhong, how are your vocal chords still in tact? Using any special remedies?

The morning after a show I’m fine, but if we do two shows in a row, I start to die. In New Zealand we did around 6 in a row and I completely lost my voice after the third show, but it came good just before the show thanks to the bar staff feeding me whisky and honey. You just get used to it. Ask me to sing in tune and I’ll strain and do some real damage.

Ummm, so everyone is bailing Shanghai – why haven’t you guys made the leapt yet? What does Shanghai have that we don’t?

Mostly just DJ Spenny. But if you take him out of the equation – Shanghai subways fucking rule. The traffic doesn’t completely suck. All the Shanghai bands aren’t sponsored by sunglasses companies. Good competitive salaries here although everything is insanely expensive so it evens out. Doesn’t snow super hard although we don’t have that awesome indoor heating that your apartments do. Skrillex came here. We also have Dave. Dave generally makes it all worth it.

Any hijinks we need to be aware of in the near future?

Chasers might be doing another Logies Bonehead thing. Not sure. I think the Offspring are still original pranking things.
Pairs hijinks – don’t have too much planned for the future. Nothing in concrete boots anyway.

Couldn’t have asked for anything better – seriously, if your Saturday isn’t already planned out, get down to XP where the duo will be supported by 16 mins, Baby Formula, and Gum Bleed – the spirit of punk will be on the prawl. Check out their
douban and band camp pages for downloads and more.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.