A couple of weeks ago the Fence Collective came through Shanghai as part this sort of culture-ish thing with UK Now and Split Works and maybe also the cultural people over at the British Council. So essentially, it took a shitload of support to pry these guys out of Scotland and into the East.
If you don’t know, the Fence Collective is a loosely knit group of musicians from Scotland (mostly) who collaborate and release under Fence Records. King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) is sort of the ringleader of them all, and from what he told me he basically started up Fence because he just got tired of the endless grind of trying to make it happen in the music biz–he was much more interested in staying around his home in Fife, writing, recording and releasing what he wanted in a format he liked, playing shows that he wanted to, and collaborating with musicians who were interesting. As of now, there are about 25 or so different musicians and groups who are part of the Collective, and they regularly perform by themselves or with others in the Collective.
The ones who made it to China as part of the tour were King Creosote, Found, and OnTheFly. I talked with the members of Found and OnTheFly before their show at Yuyintang to find out how their Chinese tour had been going, and basically it had been a bit shit. More or less. Your typical Chinese tour stuff: wrong permits, bad equipment, improper venues. They’d had some good shows and some bad ones, and it sounded like some of the stuff could have been prevented but the other stuff was really just part of trying to tour in China as a Western band. But they were glad to be Shanghai and looking forward to the show, which they were almost forced to miss (just through some piss-poor planning from the tour management this time)! But they made it and they were nice guys; pretty heavy on the beards, too. A full interview with all their trials and travails is up at Layabozi here.
I sat in on an interview with Kenny Anderson as well, just because I like his music and what he does, and also his philosophy behind the Fence Collective and Fence Records. He certainly knows his stuff as a musician, and I appreciate his utter devotion to vinyl and making music an experience to be had instead of just a background thing, but I don’t know how this man will ever sell enough music to make a living being as how he’s vehemently anti-digital because of the compression issues, of course. Domino must have a field day with him when they want to release something. King Creosote is very much a DIY musician and I like that. I like the thought and effort behind his music and even though if I were a musician I’d be releasing that shit all over iTunes all the time, I understand his point about how he wants to preserve the specialness of music. I get that. I like it.
As for the show itself, it was…varied. It really was a collective. In particular, King Creosote’s solo songs were amazing and OnTheFly was a phenomenal drummer. I don’t usually say that about drummers because aside from John Bonham–greatest drummer who ever lived God rest his soul–I don’t really know enough about the percussive arts to take much notice unless the drummer is really terrible. But OnTheFly was quite the opposite of terrible. The show though, towards the end, did feel like it digressed into just a bunch of boys onstage playing with their toys and got a bit messy and I remember thinking, “Maybe this is why they struggle to tour outside of Scotland.” It just started going all over the place. But I still enjoyed seeing them, and there were a great group of guys.