I sat down with Touming Magazine at the 4 a.m. Café to discuss their music and the punk-rock scene in Taiwan.
Please tell me your name and what you do in the band.
Hung – I am the singer and the guitarist.
Vince – Guitar.
Trix – Drums.
Martin – I’m the bass player, and I am Martin.
Lots of laughter
Martin is a great name.
Hung – His English teacher named him that.
When did you guys start playing?
Hung – 2006 or 2007.
Your name, Touming Magazine, is a mix of both Chinese and English. Is there any particular reason you decided to name it that way?
Hung – It’s kind of a gimmick. I think “Transparent” would be too normal. “Touming” sounds a lot cooler.
What were you guys doing before Touming Magazine?
Vince – I play in a metal band called Bazooka.
Trix – I played guitar with Fall of this Corner.
Shit, really? I have an awful memory.
Trix – Yeah. We’ve met before.
Hung – He didn’t have his moustache before.
I think I’m just getting old.
Martin – This is my first band.
Fall of this Corner started back in 2001. How has the scene changed in the past ten years?
Hung – When Fall of this Corner started playing, there were more punk rock bands. Now there are a lot fewer.
Hung – Young people don’t think punk rock is cool or fun anymore. They like to follow what’s going on in America and Japan. Now, in Taiwan, electro and garage rock are more popular. We are still in love with punk rock. It’s very different than ten years ago. There were many more punk rock bands ten years ago. There are probably only five in Taipei now.
Vince – Taiwan only has about twenty.
A lot of those guys from back then are playing in reggae bands or doing DJ stuff. Why do still play punk rock? Why haven’t you switched to something else?
Hung – We have started doing a few other things, like on our album; it’s not entirely a punk rock album. But, of course, we still play punk rock because we love it. It’s still fun for us; playing hard and fast. We love that. But, if we only played punk rock, the audience would leave. We all have many influences, and we try to incorporate those influences in order to not strictly play nothing but fast, aggressive punk rock songs.
On your album, you do have kind of a wide range of genres mixed into your songs. There’s the fast and heavy song, Sometimes I want to punch you in face, and then you have, Illmaga, which has some Beastie Boys style rapping in it.
Hung – You know, it’s a funny thing. When we play the fast punk songs live, the punk kids in the audience go crazy, but the other people just kind of stand there, not knowing what’s going on. When we play the slower songs, the audience can understand the faster ones a little better, and then they actually start to mosh and go crazy with the punk kids. It works out great for us.
When you guys play, there are always a lot of people there, and they’re all having a great time. How do you guys connect with your audience in that way?
Hung – We don’t really think that much about it. We play with all of our heart and they just get it.
You look like you’re having a lot of fun on stage. Who are your influences?
Vince – Weezer, Superchunk, Slayer, and many more.
Hung – Old Motown, Fugazi, Weezer, and, when I play, there is always one role-model, and that is Iggy Pop.
You definitely have that Iggy thing going on when you’re on stage.
Hung – He’s the best.
Trix – Dischord stuff. Always Minor Threat and Fugazi. Punk and Hip-Hop both influenced me greatly. I’ve been listening to that stuff since junior high.
Martin – I like progressive rock, psychedelic rock, and many bass master bands.
Who is your favorite bass player?
Martin – Mike Watt from the Minutemen and fIREHOSE.
What does “punk” mean to you?
Hung – Being open-minded and always trying to make things fun.
Trix – Punk rock is life. It’s an attitude. . (Well, this one sounds a lot cooler in Mandarin than in English.)
Vince – Since I started listening to punk rock, I’ve become more open-minded when it comes to other music.
Hung – Hey, don’t use my answer!
You can’t just say the same thing as Monkey. That’s not allowed.
Hung – I can answer for him. Since I have started listening to punk rock, no girls want to sleep with me.
Martin – The punk scene in Taiwan isn’t as intact as it is in Japan or America.
Trix – We were lucky to have punk rock be so huge back when we were students.
What ever happened to those bands from ten years ago?
Vince – Reggae, Reggae, Reggae.
Hung – They just changed their style. I know those people; they still have punk hearts.
Ben-Ben sings on one of your songs, Teenage Girl. Did you like doing collaboration work, and would you like to do any more in the future?
Hung – We were friends, so I just called her and asked if she would like to sing it. She’s a genius. She had never heard the song before she came into the studio.
That song seems very sad.
Hung – It’s about a girl who commits suicide. It’s sad, and it happens frequently in our society.
Did you write it?
Hung – Yeah, I wrote it.
The outtro with you and Ben-Ben singing, Goodbye world/hello heaven or hell, is my favorite part of the album.
Hung – Thank you. I really enjoyed singing with her. I would love to do it again.
Will you be releasing a new album soon?
Hung – I hope we can have a new EP sometime this year.
Before the interview, you mentioned that you would like to do more singles and EPs rather than full-length albums. Why is that?
Hung – It’s a personal preference. I have always enjoyed collecting 7 inches, singles, and EPs from artists I like. I think EPs are better than full-length albums. LPs have too many songs.
You said 7 inches. Would you ever actually record on vinyl?
Hung – I would love to, but it’s very expensive in Taiwan.
Trix – The Deadly Vibes did one, but they had to do it outside of Taiwan.
Hung – Yeah, and so did Sugar Plum Ferry.
A lot of bands have been touring outside Taiwan recently. Would you guys like to do that?
Hung – We would love to. We had planned on going to Japan, but then the earthquake and tsunami happened. I’ve been playing music in Taiwan for ten years, and I have never played out of Taiwan.
Who are some other bands in Taiwan that you guys listen to?
Hung – Hang in the Air, Wayne Is So Sad, Selfish Sucker.
Vince – Sleaze. Do you know that band?
Isn’t King Kong in that band?
Vince – Yeah. He’s in that band.
I asked him what his favorite bands were and he said, Sleaze.
Hung – He usually talks a lot.
Vince – Bowz Tiger. The Looking Glass.
Why don’t more punk bands come to play Taiwan?
Hung – It’s very simple: Kids in Taiwan don’t like punk rock.
Vince – NOFX came.
Hung – Yeah, NOFX came. They are huge. If bands like NOFX or Rancid come to Taiwan, it would be a very successful show. If other bands…
Vince – Dillinger Four.
Hung – Yeah, nobody would go to that.
The five of us would go. You guys could open.
Hung – It’s a very small scene here in Taiwan. We will fix it.
Didn’t you used to have a distro?
Trix – I do Chngin Records. We import a lot of stuff from overseas.
Vince – A lot of bands from Japan and America.
Trix – It’s called The Waiting Room. It’s in Shi Da.
We were just there recently. It’s a great store. Your shirts are too small. I need a Dwarves shirt in extra-large.
Hung – There’s nobody in Taiwan who wants to buy a Dwarves t-shirt, especially extra-large.
I would. Do you have any shows coming up?
Yi-Fan (manager) – Minchuan University in Shilin on May 20th.
Ok, that’s about it. Thank you so much for doing the interview. Is there anything else you would like to say?
Vince – Come to the Waiting Room.
Hung – Help us go to your country.