In February 2015, the four artistic goons of Me Chinese thought it would be a good idea to ask Karina and I to join them for a four-day mini tour of South Florida. Saying that the tour was memorable would be an understatement; it was a life-changing kaleidoscope of emotion, friends, and experiences that I’ll never forget. We felt everything and captured more than that. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing with you the roller coaster that was touring with Me Chinese. Enjoy.
Here’s the list of characters you’ll grow familiar with:
Matt Kamm (vocals, guitar)
Kyle “Kyle Studios” Harms (perma-smile drummer)
Ben Wright (vocals, keyboard)
Artie Burer (bass, vocals)
Rachel (Artie’s better-half, TVW guest film photographer)
Me (Matthew Weller, The Vinyl Warhol, goon)
Karina Curto (photographer, also goon)
And we are off!! After a righteous practice set, we struggled to load guitars, amps, and a drum set into a 1992 Buick and a PT Cruiser.
Butt bugs are the leading cause of twerking. When infected with butt bugs, a victim’s body tries to force out the butt bug’s eggs b4 they hatch, this is done by furiously shaking one’s hindquarters.
Thursday night- after a fairly uneventful car ride that featured a surprising Marilyn Manson/Powerman 5000 jam session – we arrive in West Palm Beach for the first show at Respectables’. It’s a beautiful night; the stage is set on the patio behind the bar. Morale is high. And the drink special was something heavenly. The boys burn through the setlist. The night is made. Let’s dance.
But before we dance, let’s talk about Me Chinese’s music. Because more important than their name – we’ll get to that in a bit – is their music. It’s a genre-bending, psychedelic madhouse that pulls influence from doo wop, art rock, acid rock, garage rock, rock n’ roll, etc. I could go on and on, but what it really boils down to is: I do not really know what the Me Chinese “sound” is. They don’t even know what it is. Karina christened it F.A.F. or Funky As Fuck, and that’s probably the best description I’ve heard so far.
What I do know, is I like it. Artie, Ben, and Matt bring these character voices that create these sugary, slimy harmonies. They’re paired with this continuously morphing landscape of organ, guitar, bass, and drums. It’s as if the First Methodist Church Choir was gently tossed into a wood chipper. Sometimes it’s pretty. Sometimes it’s not. But, it always grabs you. Because I’m not sure if any of what I said actually means anything, I’ll let you know that you can check out previous pieces I’ve done on Me Chinese, both on their Shaving EP, their set at Grandma Party, and “The Single.”
Now we dance. After the set, I show the boys how to ravage the dance floor. Karina, Kyle, Ben, and I dance for about an hour, sipping the tasty pink fuel that was the special of the night. The night peaks during dance fever that occurred during “Last Night” by The Strokes.
Then Karina gets kicked out for being underaged. No problem. We all get pizza. Then, two intoxicated West Palm inhabitants start berating me outside of the pizza place. All four members of Me Chinese push back. Kyle tells her to go blog about it. See what I meant by roller coaster?
“Why don’t you go blog about it?” – Kyle Harms
Me Chinese is a family, a fucked up family, but they look after each other. One drunk couple telling us off will easily turn into a fist fight.
7 on 2
Odds aren’t in your favor!
This isn’t a band, it’s a WWE faction.
Once the drama dies down, we hit the road for Miami. On the way, we stumble into conversation about one of the band’s most defining facets, their name. Chances are, if you know anything about Me Chinese, it’s that they’ve picked up a lot of negative response on their name. Last year, a few weeks before the bands’ NYC CMJ run, a blogger got wind that a band named “Me Chinese” was booked for some shows. She took her opinions to Facebook, which caused even more people to stand up, both for and against the band. Ultimately, this stir led to Me Chinese getting kicked off a few of shows.
And this wasn’t a singular instance of denunciation. This issue makes up a large part of the tour’s overall conversation, because it, like the Me Chinese’s music, instantly grabs you and is hard to come to a definite conclusion about. There’s something I find so incredibly post-modern about a band whose members are so racially diverse – Kyle is from Aruba, Ben is half black, and Artie is part Korean – calling themselves Me Chinese, and being labeled racists for doing so. Whether the band is disgustingly offensive or an absolute joke, I can’t say. And honestly, I don’t think they can either. But I think in part, Me Chinese acts as a funhouse mirror, reflecting, but also distorting our views of race, art, and right-and-wrong.
During our conversation, Matt declared, “Our art is about nothing!” This statement stood out to me, not only because it’s an Andy Warhol quote, but because to me, it reads into how the band views themselves. They simply display their art. The meaning of everything (their name, their genre, their motives) is decided by the viewer. Me Chinese, like Warhol, are as much a part of their art as their art is. To them, their art is about nothing. But to us, it’s about everything.
Me Chinese tests people’s morals. On its own, their name causes people to think: Where is the line? When does something become socially wrong?
[Their name is] not offensive enough to be obviously bad, but [it is] offensive enough to make people think: Is this okay?
The art of Me Chinese is the response they evoke, [both through their music and their name.]
“Our art is about nothing.”
“We are dadaists. We are absurdists.” – Matt Kamm