Rising Stars in Rock'n'Roll: Gigantic Roar
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
A band that has pork, frogs, fairy tales, and ancient poems in the names of their songs is probably a little strange. But if you listen to Gigantic Roar's music, and get to know the members, you will learn they are just a group of candid and passionate Kaohsiung natives. They want to rock Taiwan with the live shows they have grown proud of.
Wang Jhih-you, lead singer of Gigantic Roar, recalls: "Tang-syuan and I went to the Affiliated Senior High School of National Kaohsiung Normal University together. Bo-di went to Kaohsiung Municipal Haicing Vocational High School of Technology and Commerce. We were in different bands before. Band events organized by our schools brought us together. We got along well, and decided to start Gigantic Roar."
Bo-di adds: "The bands we play with are the ones we're already friendly with, but we don't hang out a lot. My friends and I therefore started bands to keep ourselves busy."
Speaking of the different band culture in Kaohsiung compared to Taipei, Bo-di explains: "No one controlled what we wanted to sing when we were in high school. It was carefree. I heard that seniority is strictly respected in schools in Taipei. Juniors have to play whatever their seniors choose to play. Also, if you don't play well, you can get in trouble."
Tang-syuan continues: "It might have something to do with the school culture, and it's not necessarily location-related. We really enjoyed being in a band. Some people considered it more of a school activity. That mindset is different to ours."
Jhih-you adds: "However, if we were in a school where seniority was important, we would still play the way we wanted. We wouldn't care what the seniors said!"
Asked where in Kaohsiung the band recommends people go to enjoy live music, Bo-di says: "If you want to see band shows, you can go to The Mercury in Zuoying, Paramount Bar on Minzu Road, and Rocks in Yancheng. Many venues for student performances were created by people from Rocks."
"We usually practice at the Doremi Music Store," adds Jhih-you. "There's a new place called 91 Studio in Shinkuchan Shopping Area. It's a go-to place for bands to practice and enjoy themselves."
Gigantic Roar completed a major winter tour which ran from November 28 to January 9. Their next performance will be at Megaport Festival at Pier-2 Art Center. Bo-di is extremely excited about the festival. He has a special connection with music festivals in southern Taiwan because he grew up in Kaohsiung's Yancheng District.
"Being able to perform at Megaport Festival makes me feel like I'm hosting my very own music festival at home. I used to attend the festival before I joined the band. I feel very proud to perform at the festival," says Bo-di.
"When we're not performing, we go to watch different shows. Oftentimes, we meet friends with whom we used to play music in high school. It's always nice to see familiar faces," Jhih-you remarks.
"Sinbin Pier used to be next to Pier-2 Art Center. I used to sneak into the pier and go fishing when I was young. Everything has changed rapidly in recent years. Now the pier is a tourist spot," Bo-di recalls.
Tang-syuan learned how to play the piano in Yancheng District. He has his own memories of the area: "Street food, such as pan-fried buns, oyster vermicelli, and stinky tofu around Jhongsiao Elementary School is delicious. A lot of eateries don't have names. We used to call one pan-fried bun shop 'Next Round,' because you always needed to wait in line until the next round of buns was cooked."
Where will Gigantic Roar go once it has established itself? Will they stay in Taipei, or return to Kaohsiung to help build the music scene? "This has to do with the values one wants to pursue. I personally have a strong connection with my hometown, so I will go back to Kaohsiung after a couple of years," answers Tang-syuan.
"Jhih-you and I will stay in Taipei. The Internet is so convenient nowadays that if we want to play together, distance shouldn't be a problem. There's always a solution," says Bo-di.
No matter which direction Gigantic Roar chooses, the band will continue to rock Taiwan with their punk music!