The Shanghai Times was founded by Darren Hardy and Steve Watts in mid 2009 after the dispersion of their previous band. Darren Hardy started writing songs with the seven or so chords he knew on the acoustic guitar, so he could express his creative energy, after being the drummer in his last band. These simple songs were soon transformed into more complex and catchy tunes as his guitar skills were honed and with the help of Steve Watts on the bass guitar. Not long after this the two boys plugged in, turned the songs electric and took to the stage with a couple of friends in early 2010.
The search for the perfect lead guitarist was a drawn-out affair, but good things come to those who wait, and December 2010 saw the entry of Ash Pye. After jamming acoustically at a party with Darren, he debuted with The Shanghai Times two days later on the Michael and Dando radio show on Pulse FM. The rest is history.
Today, The Shanghai Times can be found playing all over the country, wowing crowds with spectacular music. The Shanghai Times draws its inspiration from the 90’s grunge movement, from bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and combines this inspiration with influences from each members favourite bands and musicians, to give The Shanghai Times their unique sound.
Their music ultimately can be described as alternative grunge-rock infused with modern guitar riffs, pounding drums, tasty bass-lines and heartfelt lyrics.
The Shanghai Times have been seen rocking the stage alongside some big names such as The Redcoats, Justin Derrico and Jaime Robbie Reyne.
Following their recent success on Triple J’s Unearthed, and taking the live music scene by storm, The Shanghai Times have begun the process of writing and recording their debut album, which they hope to have out in the next 6-12 months, after which they will be gigging extensively across the country.
The Shanghai Times have recorded three ‘2 track’ singles titled ‘Antagonist,’ ‘Come At Me’ and ‘Triad’.
Jamsphere recently ran through the band’s currently available tracklist to see what all the fuss was about.
ANTAGONIST – Released February 2012
On “Antagonist” The Shanghai Times come charging out of their blocks with a rock vengeance. “…five…six…are you ready for this,” shouts Darren Hardy over blazing guitar hooks and pumping basslines supplied by Steve Watts on bass and Ash Pye on guitar. This is your classic, epic-rock, set opener. Crank it up and blow it out, and let the crowds bang their heads until their chins drop off!
“There She Goes,” is the song that impresses me the most out of the band’s repertoire. I can tell, because I’ve listened to it more than twenty times now! It really defines the direction the band should be taking, if it’s commercial success they’re after. The sound and arrangement structure is very reminiscent of a glam rock band that dominated the late 80’s and early 90’s, selling over 100 million albums and proving to be one of the few rock groups from that era, capable of taking their heavy stadium chants right across onto Fm Radio effortlessly.
They smashed the charts all over the world, as if they were an outright pop band. They were even more popular on MTV than Michael Jackson at one stage. That band was of course Def Leppard. They mixed up hard drum beats, bellowing bass lines, crunching guitars riffs and catchy vocal chorus, turning them into chart-toppers like “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Love Bites,” “Hysteria” and “Animal.”
“The Shanghai Times” display those same sharp songwriting and performing qualities in this song. It makes their melodic rock just so much more sweeter on the ear and radio friendly, without loosing any of it’s powerful crunch, gut-busting bass drive or fresh appeal.
COME AT ME – Released May 2012
By the time I get to “Come At Me,” it becomes clear that Darren’s voice is fine-tuned like a Formula One Ferrari engine. It needs to stay at screaming high revs, to obtain optimum performance. Low revs just keep the motor gently growling, awaiting to release that clutch pedal and fly into overdrive.
“My Way” takes overall second place on my “Best Of The Shanghai Times” list. Restless, troubled and strung-out, somewhere between The Rolling Stones and Nirvana, it’s hypnotic qualities draw the listener into a viscid and oppressive rock rhythm, that twists and torments itself into a swamp of emotion.
TRIAD – Released July 2012
“Triad” forms part of the more recent TST tracks. The overall sound is more melodic with the vocals generally closer upfront in the mix. The track runs a gauntlet of tempo and mood changes in the style of Birds Of Tokyo. Ashley Pye on guitar and Darren Hardy on drums dominate the track with mutating riffs, hooks and beats, while Steven Watts’ bass holds the back-end straight-up and tight.
“Already Gone” sets foot deep into Nirvana territory, with an obsessive driving rhythm that pushes Darren’s vocals into his ‘high-revving, comfortable zone’. This is when he sounds at his best and the entire band benefits from it. You can hear their spirits ignite and light up on every riff and beat. This is the pace that they want to be playing at. And this is when they sound at their best. So if two rights don’t make a wrong, TST should just let it all hang out!
This six track trilogy of singles, loosely connected by time, furnish a thorough insight into where The Shanghai Times have been, are, and should be going.
All this within the space of one year, means that the band is moving ahead at the speed of light. Almost as quick as the rhythms they play.
Playing guitar-based rock in today’s panorama of music, is a tough choice and a hard road to climb. But in the past, both remote and recent, Australian bands have demonstrated their resilience and determination by scaling the world music charts every so often. Creating a true dynasty of original, world class rock and pop acts.
The Shanghai Times are a relatively young and upcoming band, who have been active since 2009. Within the next few months they will be releasing their first full debut album, which should take them another step closer to becoming an integral part of the dynasty known as Oz Rock.