Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tough Kid on the Block

By Fion Chua Yi Ting 

From meeting a fellow countryman across borders to recruiting a member from a rival band, Bamboo Star, not quite the greenhorn anymore, nearly seems to have been through it all- third year into its debut since May 2012.

Powerhouse Vocals: Wolf Red, lead vocalist and lead backing bassist (right), photographed with Terrish, lead guitarist, lead rhythm guitarist and lead backing vocalist (left), during Bamboo Star’s set in China One at Clarke Quay on 24 May, 2014. PHOTO CREDITS: Fion Chua Yi Ting

An average night in China One would have been spent soaking up the old-world Shanghai charm and oriental glamour of the dimly-lit interior while either having a shot or two at the bar, or chilling with company, playing pool together.

However, this night in the quaint bar at Clarke Quay was different.

A group of four guys was hurriedly preparing for their set under the bright stage lighting, plugging in instruments’ jacks, testing the microphones and readjusting their positions. After a couple of minutes, all of them had completed their preparations. Everything was in place and after a short greeting coupled with smiles for the customers who had gathered around the low-set stage with drinks in hand by then, the quartet started off their set with the first number.

This was Bamboo Star’s fourth and last performance at Music Matters Live 2014, but none of the members showed any signs of waning energy or enthusiasm, from beginning to end and even after the set came to a close.

On the band’s sentiments about performing at Music Matters Live 2014, Terrish, who plays multiple roles as the lead guitarist, lead rhythm guitarist and lead backing vocalist, exclaimed, “This has honestly been an outrageous experience. It’s been one of the coolest things we’ve ever done; to have a band like us come to Singapore, with all these fantastic musicians and really big names. The level of musicianship is so insane; I’ve never actually known that Asia has such talent and to bring us all together to play at these venues, at these shows, to meet one another- it’s been amazing. I cannot describe this event [well enough].”

“We’re absolutely thrilled and just astounded that we even got here,” added Wolf Red, lead vocalist and lead backing bassist of the Hong Kong-based hard rock band. “This is an amazing opportunity; it’s the first time we’ve flown into Singapore and we really love it.”

As my conversation with the band went on, one thing became clear- the four musicians were brimming with zeal and the vibes emanating from them were strikingly positive. That was a common trait that was both easily seen and felt, despite the differences in their outer appearances, be it Wolf Red’s large, black-lined eyes and straight hair in a matching inky shade or, say, lead bassist Duff’s shoulder-length curls (mind you, he’s the ‘hairstyle inspector’ of Bamboo Star, according to the band’s Facebook page).

“It’s a very trend-driven market [in Hong Kong] and we’re really just trying to chase our dreams in that particular city,” imparted Wolf Red, with determination.

What, then, drives their artistic direction and musical style? What makes Bamboo Star, well, Bamboo Star? Was it simply the passion they possessed that has been providing them with inspiration and keeping them going?

According to Terrish, the members of the band grew up listening to similar genres of music but were well-versed in backgrounds varying from rock to progressive metal.

“You put it all together and you create something a little bit different; that’s what we want to do. We want to create something that represents what we feel and what we represent as a band - not as individuals - but together,” he went on to say with a heartfelt smile.

As for what serves to inspire Bamboo Star musically, it is apparently the straightforward concept of music being a means of expression for the four, besides their influences growing up and the ways in which they had learnt music.

Terrish continued, “We draw inspiration from a lot of things. It’s not necessarily even music. We almost feel like we can create music out of anything. Inspiration is just what we feel, what we do every day, how we live and what’s important to us.”

Echoing his fellow counterpart’s perspective, Wolf Red said, “It all comes from everyday life and a very honest place inside of us. Everyday experiences, from relationships to friendships to even something like a cup of coffee. What does the coffee mean? What meaning does it hold for us and for the society that we grew up in?”

The band’s name, Bamboo Star, alone, is already a clear enough indication of that. Translated to Cantonese and pronounced “jook-sing”, the two seemingly simple words come together to mean Chinese people with Western backgrounds- basically a description of founding members Wolf Red and Terrish.

Despite being brought together by a common love of music, Bamboo Star did not actually start out the way all of us know it to be today. There were additions and member changes throughout the journey, together with a pinch of fate; Wolf Red and Terrish actually met by chance in a guitar store in Hong Kong while the latter was playing a piece by Guns N’ Roses “phenomenally”, recalled the former. Who knew?

“I think this band represents not just us, but that Asian music is progressing beyond Asia, or just Hong Kong. It’s really global now,” concluded Wolf Red.

Do not forget to keep an eye out for Bamboo Star’s first EP within the next few months! Keep up-to-date with their news at their official website, or check them out at their Facebook page ( and Twitter (

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