After a lengthy hiatus, Chengdu-based post-punk quartet The Hormones are back. With a new line-up and a new album, the band are hitting the road this month - including a visit to Shanghai.
Here are five reasons we're excited to have them back:
1 They’ve channeled their fallouts
The Hormones released Beckon, their first album with their new line-up, earlier this month. For the record, Zhu Mengdie (vocals), Wang Minghui (bass), Zhou Jian (drums) and Wang Jiao (guitar) were partly inspired by fallouts the Chengdu-based band suffered when Zhu represented them on the TV show Bands of China, in 2015. With some members turned off by the overtly commercial approach, The Hormones' original line-up splintered, and pushed the band into a period of uncertainty.
'"Beckon" symbolises temptation,' Zhu says of the title track. 'We had arguments because everyone wanted different things... It didn’t feel nice to see conflict, so I wrote this song to remind the band to feel the circumstances with heart, not just look at them [at face value].'
2 Their sound has expanded
Previously influenced by dark indie legends such as Joy Division and pulsating electronic music, Beckon sees The Hormones widening their musical horizons. Zhu cites Patti Smith and Björk as influences, and brass instruments also feature on the record.
Zhu: 'We found players from the Sichuan Philharmonic Orchestra – we wanted a more "real" sound. Besides brass there are other "real" instruments on it such as a Chinese drum, gong and a big bucket we found outside the studio.'
3 They drank in PJ Harvey
The band covered British musician PJ Harvey’s 1995 song 'Down by the Water' for the album, resulting in the most angry-sounding, direct moment in The Hormones’ career so far. 'The song tells the story of a woman drowning her daughter,' says Zhu. 'We are women too, and we wanted to amplify this sadness of losing a daughter.'
4 Inspiration struck in Tibet
'We love spicy food and drink a lot,' says Zhu with a giggle, when asked if Chengdu’s famously laid-back vibe affected The Hormones’ sound. However, she says that she found more inspiration from visiting the Tibetan city of Lhasa, and ended up writing the song that takes the city’s name.
Zhu: 'Talking to local people, I saw that they devoted so much to their beliefs. They gave money to temples, went on pilgrim trips and tried to keep themselves innocent. Our generation lacks belief, be it religion, natural power or science. We are more indifferent and numb.'
5 They’ve got new blood
Founding members Xiao Xue and Li Jing recently left The Hormones, who used to be a five-piece, with Wang Jiao stepping in to make the new four-piece line-up (not in time for the the above photo shoot, sadly). 'New members bring new blood', says Zhu. Xiao Xue and Li Jing are pursuing other musical projects. 'Her decision to leave was voluntary,' says Zhu of Xue. 'I think now she mainly does baking.'