Despite not being able to speak much Mandarin, 32-year-old Zaruf Ezhan took a leap of faith when he moved to Shanghai, China two years ago to pursue a career in writing.
Little did he know then that his passion for playing hardcore music with a band called Spill Your Guts would instead garner him a following among local Chinese youths in the republic’s biggest city. And especially after an unofficial video of one of the band’s songs, Full Blast, went viral there.
“We were shocked to see that it was going viral, although it didn’t come from us. Some guy just took a bunch of videos, shared them on WeChat and just slapped our song on it,” he told Star2.
Zaruf, a former radio producer who currently works as a web search evaluator, said the band was more surprised to find out that the video had been shared by mostly Malaysians.
“Even the Rockaway Fest official Facebook page shared it and it had nothing to do with me!” the guitarist, who is originally from Bangi, said.
Spill Your Guts (SYG) is a five-piece punk band comprising expatriates living in China. Besides Zaruf, the band features vocalist Dima Bir from Russia, guitarist Larry Miller from Scotland and Canadians Tyler Bowa on drums and Ian Tang on bass.
According to Zaruf, despite the language barrier, the band has had no problems communicating with fans as three of its members speak fluent Mandarin.
“Only Larry and I are still terrible at Mandarin,” he said, laughing.
He explained that the hardcore scene in China, popularly known as CNHC, is booming and there are always crowds at gigs and concerts.
“It is a very tight community. When we did a South China tour in May, there were fans who came to see us every night in different cities,” he said.
Full blast ahead
SYG was formed in 2012 by Bir, Bowa and founding bassist Toshi. Tang, Miller and Zaruf joined later in 2016 after some changes in theline-up.
The band recently released a full-length album entitled Hungry Crows, which consists of nine tracks such as Praise The Fire, Party Town and No Visas For The Wicked.
However, Full Blast, the title track of the band’s previous EP – and the song that turned SYG into a viral sensation – is not included on the new record.
But Zaruf did not rule out the possibility of the tune being included on the band’s vinyl release in the near future.
“At this point, almost 30,000 people have seen the video, so we might put the track on the vinyl release. Maybe!” he said.
The band, which is preparing to tour Russia in the coming weeks, also looks forward to entertaining its fans over there.
“Our new album is doing well there and we’re going to play with some top Russian bands,” he said, adding that the band’s 2014 split EP with Russian outfit Broken Fist has sold out.
Zaruf said most of SYG’s releases are available on online music stores such as Bandcamp as well as China-based Xiami and QQMusic.
“But we are coming soon to Spotify and the iTunes Store,” he added.
On whether the band has plans to rock stages around South-East Asia, and especially in Malaysia, Zaruf said SYG is working on it.
“We talk about playing (in Malaysia) all the time because the guys had such a great time previously. They last played in Kuala Lumpur in 2014, and it was before I joined the band,” he said.
And it would be even better, he said, if the band was invited to be part of Malaysia’s biggest rock festival – Rockaway Fest.
“We’d love nothing more than to play at Rockaway Fest! They have shared our Full Blast video on their Facebook page but still haven’t invited us over.
“Oi, Rockaway Fest, what are you waiting for?!” Zaruf said with a laugh.