10 Questions With Yang Yu: China’s Metal Super Hero

leading up to Painkiller Magazine’s 13th year anniversary party this sunday, i decided it was about time I caught up with one of my favorite people in the music scene in China. Someone whose love for Metal and Rock n roll keeps him on the frontline pushing and battling to improve the experience of bands and fans alike!
He’s a founding member of Painkiller Magazine, he is one of the masterminds behind Rock in China, he is one of the key players for MIDI festival when it comes to booking bands, He is the guy that brought Wacken to China..or is it China to Wacken… and above all, he is just one hell of a stand up person and a friend: Yang Yu.

i'm soooo mean!!!

i’m soooo mean!!!

1- Who is Yang Yu and what are you up to? This is your chance to plug your shit!

Yang Yu is a super hero and about to save the world but do you really want my super hero shit?

2- Congrats on 13 years of Painkiller. When you started this with Zakk, Han and the others, where did you see yourself 13 years later?

Thanks, it makes my very proud for what we have achived so far. We never thought that much about the future. Along the whole down to now, it has always been countless of issues, problems, challenges, tasks etc. that you have to face all the time, basically you were too busy to look back or far ahead. But to behonest, i never thought that we could do this so long, there has been far more frustrating moments than triumphic ones. That’s life, isnt it?

Latest issue of Painkiller Mag: Vol 50

Latest issue of Painkiller Mag: Vol 50

3- I’ve called you once “the discreet wheeler and dealer of Metal in China” because your hand is in everything from painkiller to MIDI to Wacken without most people knowing you. Is that correct?

Well, those who know me personally basically know what i m doing, sort of. I dont like it to make a big fuzz about things, at least not my part. Of course you always see those famous scene figures who seem to be very powerful but without those who silently help them to achive all those great things, they would be in a lesser position. For what i do, i m always behind the curtain and also often in between of different worlds. It’s my job to help others shine in their roles and functions and i value all the colleagues and friends too much to put myself before them.

4- Throughout the past few years, you’ve organised a lot of interesting gigs in Beijing including this upcoming party with Kreator. Which one stands out?

Yes, we put together a lot great shows where my input only plays a small part. speaking for all “Painkillers” it must be Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying and especially Opeth, when you see legends like his mastermind Kaiser Kuo banging in the front row, you’d know you did it right. But my personal most rememberable shows were with Obituary and Cannibal Corpse, i simply grew up with these bands, especially Cannibal Corpse, they did such an amazing performance regardless what happened to the original plan. We run into some illwilled trouble and had to move to another venue in a misty night action and transport hundrets of audience to the new location, and the drummer suffered some extreme back pain, he couldnt even sit up right after he came down from his drum throne.

5- 13 years is a lot of history. Can you try and think of the best 3 things that happened and the worst 3 things that happened.

Launch of Painkiller, launch of Rockinchina.com, boom of Midi Festival.

Bad competition that stops at nothing, the short sighted thinking of many fellow industry people, and i dont get enough time for beauty-sleeps.

6- Metal in China… what is it?

It still is a collumne in Painkiller Magazine to introduce Chinese metal bands and print up reviews of Chinese metal shows. I met Max (aka Azchael) on a show in old Get Lucky Bar and we became good friends. He started helping Painkiller on website coding. Around that time, inspired by Metal-Archives.org i wanted to create an online data base of Chinese metal bands and Max became my partner, but he started to add Chinese bands of other genres such as punk, rap and everything related to rock. So Metal in China became Rockinchina.com, which has now expanded to music-china.org.

7- Word association: for each one of these words, try and write the first thing that comes to your mind when you read it:

Tang Dynasty: once a great legend


Cui Jian: Chinese urban folk LOL

Lamb: of God

Pain: Killer!

Polka Dots: polka what?

the Painkiller crew circa 2001

the Painkiller crew circa 2001

8- Having been in this scene for so long, what do you think is the biggest change it has seen since the magazine started?

China has slowly emerged to a new tourable location for international pro-bands. The rise of the new rock festival culture gave a big boost to everything related to rock and underground. The government becomes more and more open minded and supportive towards youth culture and “new music”.

9- You’re famously vegetarian when lots of Metal is bloody and gory… explain yourself!! we expect metalhead to rip meat off the animals and eat it raw.

All my Chinese friends alway was make a big deal about what to eat whilest i always have been ok to everything, quite boring. Some years ago i got sick of meat cuz my mom always cook a lot and we end up finishing the left overs for a week or so. Turns out to be quite fun to act picky on orders in the restaurent. So why not. As for pretendous metal culture, well there are many vegeterians among those brutal bands, the rest is as much entertainment as horror movies and splatter comix (except for the few Norwegians who really did burn down some churches and killed some one…)

10- Help the readers: give me 5 songs that define Chinese Metal

Tang Dynasty – “International Anthem” 唐朝乐队《国际歌》

Suffocated – “Onwards in Sadness”

Spring and Autumn – “Legend” 春秋乐队-传奇

The Falling – “New World Order” 堕天乐队《New World Order》
official site http://site.douban.com/duotian/

Nine Treasures – “Arvan Ald Guulin Honshoor”
Listen to it on their douban: http://site.douban.com/ashan/
Check out their video from Wacken http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNjA0MjM4MDIw.html

Thanks to Yang for the candid answers and for all the things he does. Folks, this is DIY at its best with fans putting something on for fans because they love it… Come out and say hello/thank you to Yang and the whole crew from Painkiller this sunday. There was so many things i could have asked of him but i’ll save some of the other questions for next time!


Painkiller Mag 13th Year Anniversary
Feat: Kreator, Suffocated, Bad Mamasan, Crack etc…

Sunday October 27th, 2013
Yugong Yishan

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  1. October 25, 2013

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