Hedgehog returns to the live arena with a spiky new sound
Since emerging out of the Beijing indie rock scene of the mid-2000s, Hedgehog has established themselves as one of the country’s most popular bands.
They return to Shanghai’s Mao Livehouse on June 1 as part of a 16-city China tour to celebrate their latest album, “Sound of Life Towards,” that frontman Zhao Zijian declares as “the best record we’ve made so far.”
“Each song is perfect,” he says. “This is a giant Chinese rock album that you absolutely can’t miss.”
The 11-track album is a departure from the psychedelic pop of their last studio album, 2014’s "Phantom Pop Star." The band has mixed numbers such as “We Are Animals with gentler ballads,” “Sound of Life Towards” and an unexpected foray into rap on “Meng Ba La Na Xi.”
“On each album, we will try different methods of music expression without repeating our previous style,” Zhao explains. “But it’s still Hedgehog. Each song, we keep a single structure with innovative arrangements and beautiful melodies and harmonies.”
While the band may have retained the same songwriting philosophy, a lot has changed for the group. Since signing with Modern Sky in 2007, while they were still university students, Hedgehog has been synonymous with the Beijing record label.
They’ve released eight albums with them, including 2009’s landmark “Blue Daydreaming.”
They toured the United States that year, with label mates Queen Sea Big Shark and Casino Demon, and have been a seen at festivals in China and abroad, including shows in Helsinki and New York.However, they left Modern Sky to join Taihe Music’s Ruby Red imprint for this record due to budget constraints.
“We needed good recording conditions, studios, producers and engineers, so the choice was obvious,” Zhao says. “We wanted to make a good album and not always play the Strawberry Music Festival.”
The four years between studio albums also marks the longest the prolific group has gone between albums, but Zo says the band had a two-year break due to drummer Atom having a baby.
“But those two years made these songs even better,” he says. “The lyrics are more delicate and the arrangements more refined. These 11 songs stood out of the 50 recordings we made in rehearsal. We threw out so many songs for the ones we were all satisfied with.”
He credits the album’s producer Li Qing, who is also part of Beijing indie favorite Snapline, for contributing to the sound of “Life of Sound Towards.”
“She gave a lot of suggestions on the mix,” he says. “We always wanted to find a producer who understood us and had new ideas. During the process, we all ‘cracked’ each other and cried.”
Despite the new album and a tour that will culminate next month with a hometown show in Beijing, Hedgehog has been dogged with rumors they will break up due to a Weibo post that Zo posted at the end of last year.
Zo admits the group has “experienced some difficulties,” in recent years but promises “we have a very clear idea for new music.”
“The pain of life is the best source of inspiration for art and the best mentor in life,” he adds. “We had to have those experiences to make an outstanding record. Everything is natural and we express ourselves from the heart.
“However, after this tour we need to take a good rest and adjust for a while. Creating new work also takes time to find direction and the truth.”
Date: June 1, 8:30pm
Tickets: 130-180 yuan
Venue: Mao Livehouse
Address: 3/F, 308 Chongqing Rd S.