What an absolute gem to unearth! The ex-producer of an awesome TV station in Hong Kong called RTHK, Gary Pollard, had made this documentary following a bunch of rock acts of Hong Kong in the 80’s. It is such a treat to be able to look back at the history of that era of Hong Kong rock and to hear what bands of that timeframe had to say. Not to mention how cool they looked!
Unfortunately, not much has changed in Hong Kong since then for heavy bands. Sure, there are certainly more opportunities to perform now than back then – but without an ecosystem and a community that helps record, release, promote, market, produce, nurture, support bands here by actually attending shows, purchasing music – digital or physical, buying merch, etc., all the bands we know continue to play music as a side-hobby. Which is just the reality we’ve all accepted…but the fallout from that is that for some bands, why put in more effort than necessary if the only people that will enjoy it are the band members themselves? A lot of band members have grueling day jobs – 10 hours shifts, etc – in order to survive. Then, after a day like that, you can finally go to your practice room and start hashing out new songs, etc., but by then you’re mentally and emotionally worn out from the day. The older you get…the harder it is to find that fire again. Hence why many bands tend to taper off as they get older. So at the end of the day, there really isn’t much that PUSHES bands to get better at creating and performing music when there doesn’t seem to be opportunities to celebrate the work or even an ecosystem that will help bring life to your art.
So, while watching this and being in awe of how cool the scene was in the late 80’s, it’s still interesting to notice that things haven’t improved much for heavy bands 33 years later.
However, there is one part in the documentary that really encompasses the people of Hong Kong. One of the interviewees was asked “But playing this music isn’t going to get you any money. What pushes you to keep going?” His answer basically sums up every true HKer’s existence: “Spirit 精神”.
The HK spirit keeps going no matter what.
Video Credit: Gary Pollard
Photo Credit: Nathan Hughes Hamilton