P.K. 14's thrashing chords, dark bass lines and frenetic beats resonate with echoes of Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Fugazi and the New York Dolls. But the Beijing band's charismatic vocalist, Yang Haisong, 34, says he takes his lead from songwriters such as "Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and a whole generation of protest musicians." Think of P.K. 14, in other words, as neither punk nor postpunk but postfolk.
This is fitting for an act with a populist bent (their name, despite the members' ages, stands for "public kingdom for teens") and whose message, Yang says, is "Think for yourself, not anyone else." While P.K. 14's music isn't overtly political, their DIY ethics and independent spirit are de facto anti-establishment, and their lyrics often manage to hit home without explicit criticism. "This is my hand," Yang hollers in Mandarin in the song Speaking Wounds, from the 2005 album White Paper. "At the moment when blood flows out/ make a V sign, and scream loud."
Yang and fellow members guitarist Xu Bo, 29, bassist Shi Xudong, 34, and drummer Jonathan Leijonhufvud (who is Swedish by nationality but has lived almost all his life in China), 27, began the year by performing shows in the northern Swedish town of Umeå, where they are recording an album with longtime producer Henrik Oja. Due in March, it will be P.K. 14's fourth release. "It's too early to say what it will be like," Yang says. "We're curious ourselves."
Next Goodnight Electric