Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unearthing a forgotten Taiwan music video: 廢物樂隊:這不是一首芭樂歌

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I was a member of the Taiwan indie rock band Feiwu (廢物樂隊). The band existed from 1997 through 2001. Here's how I described the band in 2012:
The songs we wrote were original. Some were English, some were Mandarin. We recorded two CDs, and were signed to a local music label. We played all over the island, at clubs, festivals, universities, on the streets and under highway overpasses. One of the songs, "我愛台灣啤酒" ("I love Taiwan Beer") was a minor underground hit, and is still covered by local bands today.

One of the best things about Feiwu, besides writing and performing music with a group of close friends, was becoming a part of the local indie music scene. It was small when we started, but very dedicated. There were about three or four dozen bands around the island writing and recording their own music, a few practice spaces and recording studios in the main cities, clubs where we could perform, and the Spring Scream music festival (春天吶喊) which we played in 1998, 1999 and 2000 (see the inset picture below). There was a very strong DIY spirit throughout the small scene, and a feeling that people who loved music could make special music on their own terms.
Feiwu disbanded in 2001. We had two reunion concerts in 2013 in Taipei and Queens that were well-received -- in fact if we weren't so dispersed geographically (with members living in Taipei, Taidong, New York, and the Boston area) I am sure we would have done a few more shows.

As we were preparing for the Taipei reunion show, we unearthed lots of old photos, flyers, magazine articles, and even some practice videos which you can see on our Facebook page. As we went through the old materials, Andrew (guitar and vocals) mentioned a low-budget music video that I dimly remember being shot at some of our shows in the late 1990s but never saw in its completed version. I'm not even sure where we could have distributed it, as this was in the early days of the Internet when streaming video was rare and expensive (there was no YouTube at the time) and local television shied away from indie rock. Andrew said he had a tape somewhere, but we never got around to finding it or converting it to digital formats.

Earlier this year, I opened up my 20th-century media vault, which contains old audio cassettes, digital audio masters for music projects, videotapes of the newscast I used to work on, and even old film reels. I was looking for the old betacam tapes of the newscast to convert to digital, but I also found an old VHS video tape marked simply "KD Studios." Something clicked -- "KD" was the guy who had shot the concert videos so many years before! Someone had probably sent me a copy and I never got around to watching it (I didn't own a VHS player). I thought, I am already converting the betacam, why not convert the music video too?

This week I got the USB drive with the mp4 of the videos. The music video was awesome -- it's a song that Andrew wrote and sang, called "這不是一首芭樂歌" which translates to "This is not a ballad" but we often referred to as "Ballad." KD had spliced together concert footage from 1998 and 1999 along with Taiwan street life. Here's the video:

There are a few rough patches, but overall it's a lot of fun to watch and brings back some fun memories.

If you're interested in learning more about the band, check out our Facebook page or the interview we did with GigGuide. We also have two Feiwu albums for sale on Amazon.

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