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Interview: Shepherds The Weak (The Gig Week Hong Kong)

“Events like The Gig Week and venues like Hidden Agenda are absolutely essential to ensure that bands that love to play have an avenue for getting their music out there”

Night five of The Gig Week is all about metal. We chat to local scene stalwarts Shepherds The Weak to learn more...

Hi guys, tell us about your band.
Shepherds The Weak is a Hong Kong-based thrash metal band, consisting of five Filipinos and a Finnish member. Formed in 2001, our sound has evolved from hardcore metal to metalcore to the very much old-school style thrash metal of our forthcoming album. We've released two EPs – 2006's Strength in Numbers and Aeons, released in 2013 – and are about to release a full-length album this coming autumn. We're known for our energetic, loud and aggressive live shows, which the band has taken from Hong Kong to mainland China and the Philippines.

What're your thoughts on the local live scene?
Hong Kong has an interesting music scene where some of the big world stars and local Cantopop stars can pull thousands of people to an arena, and then there are small bars where you can fit 50 people in. But, there really hasn't been a great scene for mid-sized bands, who are not necessarily very mainstream. For a city of over seven million people, there really should be a much bigger live music scene, but it seems that the masses are not really that interested in local rock music.

How important are events like The Gig Week in keeping live music in Hong Kong alive?
Events like The Gig Week and venues like Hidden Agenda are absolutely essential in ensuring that the bands that love to play and want to perform have an avenue for getting their music out there. There aren't a lot of great venues or big events that local bands have access to, so when something like this happens, bands are chomping at the bit to play. There are a lot of good bands in Hong Kong, so there's a real need for events and venues that give them a chance to play.

Does that make it hard to advance in the scene?
If you're good at what you do, it's not necessarily difficult to progress in the music scene in Hong Kong. The question, really, is how far can that take you. If you're an independent band, without backing from a record label, then you are limited to the small scene that exists in Hong Kong and you're never likely to make a good living from the music. However, that doesn't mean there aren't places you can go. A number of Hong Kong bands regularly venture outside of the city to play in China, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines – even Europe and the US. If you have the skill and the passion and you're willing to work for your music, there's no telling you what you can on can't do.

What can people do to support local live music in Hong Kong?
It's very simple: go to shows, buy the music and merchandise. Local band shows are not usually very expensive, so if people really are interested and want to support the local scene, they should be able to do it. There are also some very good local bands of many different genres – metal, ska, Celtic rock, pretty much anything you might be interested in – so there should be something for everyone, go and check bands out!

Any advice for those wanting to get hands-on in the scene?
If music is your passion and you want to get involved in some capacity – performing, organising shows, promoting, anything at all – you should start by going to a show and talking to people. You will quickly find that there are people around with similar ideas and dreams, and most are always looking for people to collaborate with, whether through a band, venue or event. If you get to know the people in the scene, you'll find people who you'd like to work with and to share your passion with.

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