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MP3 Monday: Quarter Acre
This week it's our pleasure to keep it local again with a track from local rock band, Quarter Acre, ahead of their show on Dec 17 at BeeDees
By Dec 6, 2010 Nightlife

MP3 Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up mp3s from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please email us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.

This week it's our pleasure to keep it local again with a track from local rock band, Quarter Acre. This one is off their new CD, Alt Ctrl Delete, for which they played a record release party for at Lune last Saturday. We were supposed to get this little interview and track on last week, alas, cosmic ballet, (my fault), we missed that deadline.

Anyway, read on, download away, and keep an eye out for their next show. Which happens to be on December 17 at BeeDees. That show sees Quarter Acre joined by a bunch more rock acts, including Caravan Boys, Osso and Spondees.

A little background: Quarter Acre comes to us from Australia as the project of Andrew Burgess, who released an EP and an LP in that country. Since the early '00s, Quarter Acre has gone through a few member permutations and a relocation to Shanghai, with Burgess working with a few different musicians and songwriters. In 2009 in Shanghai, Burgess teamed up with Shanghai-based Mike Herd to write a few tracks (including this week's download, "Petrolette") and released a CD called Alt Ctrl Delete, which features tracks from Quarter Acres various manifestations. Music is rock n roll, with a folky, low-fi slant.

Get in touch with the band through their MySpace or Facebook to get a copy.

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SmSh: What prompted the move to China?

Burgess: For an independent band that isn't signed, it's important to keep cost set to a minimum. I knew by coming here I could scout talent and record the project cheaper than I could have in Sydney. Shanghai is a city with great potential not only for business but for the arts as well.

SmSh: What's been your impressions of the Shanghai music -- local bands, crowds...

Burgess: The city's expat community is similar to the size of a small city population back home. Bands as well of crowds can be very transient. A band can pop up for a couple of months, play some great shows and then disappear. Band members move around the region and so do our crowds...

SmSh: Mike, how does it compare to Scotland -- musically, and in terms of opportunities to play and avenues to get your music out there?

Herd: With respect to Scotland, and particularly Glasgow where I'm from, it is far more competitive compared with here. Though Glasgow has a reputation as a hotbed for musical talent, there is still a lot of good, dynamic bands who come to this city, and personally, Shanghai definitely has a more underground feel to it, though opportunities to play are definitely easier comparably.

Burgess: Compared to Sydney, it's hard to say, simply because there are cultural and language barriers that make it hard to compare. In Shanghai, we don't have an alternative music radio station which makes it more difficult to get our music out there. Many expats don't really listen to the radio here which could be a very useful tool. Back in Sydney, we could ride out on bicycles and chuck up posters on telegraph poles, however, in Shanghai I have a bicycle but I can't find telegraph poles.

SmSh: If you had to describe the band to someone who hasn't heard it what would you say?

Burgess: Take a bit of '90s Britpop fused with folk and "punk" (keeping it simple).

SmSh: Who are your songwriting influences?

Burgess: As kids we start listening to classic rock bands like Pixies, Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, and then, of course, if you dig deeper and you find Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There's a lot to say that could be our influences. I listen to Verdi, Ella Fitzgerald and I sing "Hickory Dickory Dock" to my pre-schoolers.

SmSh: Since Quarter Acre's inception in the early 00s, you've gone through a few variations with partnering songwriters. Is it your intention to change collaborative partners or has it just turned out that way because of necessity?

Burgess: It's a collaborative process due to the fact that I only play drums and sing, so I'm in constant search for guitarists and bass players. It's a challenge to write with other people but you can hear the process within the music.

SmSh: How has the music changed or evolved in the process of working with different people?

Burgess: Personally, I like working with different people because I have a lot of ideas. Some work and some don't, but by working with different musicians and styles give me the opportunity to manipulate certain sounds or songs.

SmSh: Do you see a bridging element in bringing together the three writing teams onto one CD, musically or thematically?

Burgess: Something borrowed, something blue, something stolen, something new...

SmSh: Future plans for Quarter Acre?

Burgess: Now with the internet, musicians have a stronger demand to produce newer content on a higher frequency. I believe we have the potential here in Shanghai to produce music at a low cost and just put it out there. We probably are not gonna play that often, so when we do, it's gonna be special. We have a good swag of gear that hope to unleash in the year of the dragon.


Check out Quarter Acre's MySpace right here and their Facebook page here. They're playing again at "BeeDees on December 17.
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