2020 was a bad year for a lot of people, but it was a great year for Hong Kong Fuck You, and a great year for Hong Kong Fuck You is a great year for punk. Last year, the Tijuana-violence powerhouse released three instant-classic albums, more than doubling their entire discography. They would then add a split with Guilt Dispenser in February 2021, by then tripling their pre-2020 output over the course of 13 months. Masterminded by drummer Christian Hëll (also of Tittyfucker and Plague Bringer), HKFY combines the raw aggression of Neanderthal and Weekend Nachos, the stop-on-a-dime precision of Sidetracked and Hellnation, and the gonzo tongue-in-cheek satire of Spazz and early Agoraphobic Nosebleed. The powerviolence and grindcore worlds have taken due notice of HKFY’s indefatigable work ethic and unfailing songwriting quality, and while a relatively young band, Hëll and his stable of bassists have already secured a spot in Global Grindcore Alliance 2.0, the second installation of the Gurkha Commando Blast Team‘s world-encompassing tour of modern grind masters.
Hëll’s playing is faster and more precise than a drum machine, and while his superhuman percussive abilities are enough of a draw, the band has also received plenty of attention for its three-bassist lineup, much like Chepang’s two-drummer orientation. This assembly gives hardcore fans more of that bowel-shaking low-end that they know and love. In an interview with Cvlt Nation, Hëll says, “You ever masturbate with a shower head on massage mode? Or ride on what some would call “bitch” in the back of a Harley going full throttle? That’s the vibrational sonic experience I’ve only wanted for everyone’s genitalia while cranking three distorted basses. When I saw Family Vacation (Drum and 2-Bass fastcore trio) play in a basement, my jaw dropped, and I knew I had to give it a whirl. With that in mind, after someone asked me if I wanted to ‘play fast?’ in Tijuana in the summer of 2016, I dove through that window of opportunity in a Tom Cruise fashion, and we wrote our first song, ‘Hong Kong Fuck You,’ a week later. Tom Cruise doesn’t require stunt-doubles for the record.”
The band’s special blend of lightning-fast, heart-palpitatingly low grindviolence is a winning recipe, gaining them well-deserved acclaim among critics and musicians alike, and they’ve been consistently championed by those who are both, such as Gene Meyer (of Bandit, Kerrang!, Decibel). Hëll says, “I couldn’t think of anyone who has done 3 bassists before. We are sincerely considering a 4th bassist. I can’t stress the vibrational sensation of that enough.”
On finding the right musicians for a successful punk project like this, Hëll says, “HKFY can seriously be anyone dumb enough to either lug 3 bass rigs on tour and or pretend they enjoyed 3 different band’s sets, kiss ass, and casually mention they need to borrow a cab/amp. Currently, those three would be Erik Zendejas (Year of the Dead Bird), Jake Abassi (Dopemess), and my horrible roommate. My roommate is labeled on Bandcamp as “New Guy.” We don’t verbally communicate with him. There’s been a vow of silence, however, grunting and pointing are permitted. We actually hate him.”
While Hong Kong Fuck You are poised to play an even more central role in the hardcore world with their ever-expanding catalog of songs that are faster than Hummingbird of Death, angrier than Cave State, and shorter than “You Suffer” and “Collateral Damage,” their influences are diverse ones. On sources of inspiration, Hëll says, “Avril Lavigne is hands down the face of all sub-genres. I can’t stress that enough. If there was a currency for HKFY, her face would be on every bill or coin. Family Vacation from Washington is also a massive influence. That band in my opinion was the one to accomplish the sonic wave of having two bassists that my penile frenulum was missing in life during the time of HKFY starting. I also can’t ever answer this question without mentioning Nü-Metal. Everything I do in music, I have to pretend my 12-year-old self is gonna want to pirate it on Limewire. Lyrically, it’s all free writing to match the theme of a song title that we just came up with. Usually consisting of inside jokes between the band, or whatever is on my mind really. I perpetually think of bass/vocal melodies and drum patterns. Before I forget, I try to “hum,” “beatbox,” or “sing” the ideas into my phone. I have a recording of me “whisper screaming“ the vocal melody of “This is a Friendly Public Service Announcement” when I was taking a shit on the clock at work. The proof is in the sound of the bathroom fan in the background.”
In addition to the quality of their music and their breakneck release schedule, Hong Kong Fuck You has also won plenty of attention for the visual aesthetic on their album covers, which feature art that one might associate with some pan-Asian dystopia. Rather than the gruesome, grainy found photos from foreign wars that one might expect in a genre like this, HKFY covers harken back to early Slap-A-Ham releases, featuring art that is silly or cute, disarming the listener before the aural assault that is to come. “I want to say inadvertent reverse psychology. An ex-member asked me to draw a ‘brutal’ logo and some ‘dark’ artwork for the band. I went the complete opposite way and fully charged the ‘cute’ and ‘iconic’ route. For inspiration, I always found cartoon characters from 1950’s propaganda really charming, and in my opinion, the idea of cute characters with glistening giant eyeballs curated to manipulate the masses into condoning war and rallied hatred is more evil than any goregrind album cover I’ve ever seen.”
Furthermore, earning them even more notoriety, the band’s name has been the source of some publicity, rumors, and confusion. “It’s sincerely a nü-metal band with blast beats in the length of time it takes someone to prematurely ejaculate . . . we aren’t named after an “infamous strip club in Tijuana” so, everyone please stop saying that, for the love of God. ALSO – it’s not a Fuck You to Hong Kong, it’s a Hong Kong Fuck to YOU. Not you, Evan. Just the general. So I guess you too, but, not really. We like you. Hong Kong Loves You.”
Hong Kong Fuck You’s approach to fast, heavy hardcore is emerging at a perfect time, as powerviolence is experiencing a renaissance, a new wave. While, like the metal community, the punk community seems to love arguing over subgenres almost as much as (or more than) they enjoy listening to the music, powerviolence is one of those labels that may have a different definition to every person who utters it, with plenty denying that its a real style at all. While HKFY’s songs are varied enough that it’s unfair to pigeonhole them into one category, powerviolence’s boundaries are blurry and can encompass a lot of what they do. Hëll does Cvlt Nation the courtesy of defining the genre as he sees it:
1)Put a fork in a blender.
2)Turn on a radio, and tune in to some staticky white noise.
4)Turn on your blender.
5) Do your best impersonation of Pee Wee Herman as you try to retrieve the fork.
6) Stop after 1 minute.
Hong Kong Fuck You are quickly becoming torchbearers for the TJHC scene, a pocket of incredible metal and hardcore that is too often ignored. “Come to Tijuana,” Hëll says. “We have meth-cut cocaine, broken bottles in the pit, cops waiting to take your money, locals waiting to mug you, drug-cartel waiting to kidnap you, and Tecate. [You should] definitely go watch Violencia, DFMK, or Balacera when you’re here.”
Asked to elaborate on the state of hardcore and powerviolence right now, as well as on the role of humor in the latter, Hëll continues: “It feels like [powerviolence] is more relevant than it has ever been before, [and that is] what I am loving about it right now. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, so long as each band is having fun doing what they’re doing. I’m not trying to suck the fun out of everyone’s buns for sounding like a copy of a copy. Powerviolence’s humor is always satirical or inside jokes. For us, it’s solely for our own entertainment, and trolling people. Not to mention all those classic Slap-A-Ham or 625 Thrash 7”s we buy on eBay for $100 were written by teenagers 25 years ago. Let that fact sink in. Of course, they’d slip in silly song titles.”
Hong Kong Fuck You has certainly embraced this aspect of powerviolence, as especially exemplified by their most recent release, on which each song is dedicating to the ancient art of analingus (e.g., “Short Trek to Go Eat Some Ass” & “Starvation Cage for Non Ass Eaters”).
Following their rapid-fire release of three HKFY EP’s in one year, the band released a split with Los Angeles fast mathcore maniacs Guilt Dispenser in February of the following year. “I am good friends with them, let alone a fan of Guilt Dispenser and their band (Twitch) before they started. They reached out to me asking HKFY to do a split and I agreed. 1 year later, I’m getting close to the deadline and had put out 3 EPs before even feeling any inspiration for it, and had writer’s block. I had to improvise the whole thing in the studio recording all the instruments myself. Our tuning is standard EADG, so, I switched to DADG to spark the creativity. After I recorded random drums, it was all downhill from there. When it came to vocals, I just thought of people I absolutely would kill if it were legal, and improvised them. Akin to a cute cartoon character conditioning you into being drafted for war, I gave them irrelevant silly song titles. It needed the balance from the dark energy I was putting into music intended for my own homicidal catharsis.”
Carried on by the collaborative spirit, Hong Kong Fuck You then joined what is possibly the best illustration of the worldwide punk-and-metal community: Global Grindcore Alliance. Established by the founders of “immigrindcore,” Chepang, this festival demonstrates the universality of grindcore and all its permutations by inviting bands from all corners of the world to play sets for a digital audience. Cvlt Nation wrote about the first installation of this amazing event here, and on May 29th, the Gurkha Commando Blast Team is hosting another once-in-a-lifetime lineup of twenty bands who are unlikely to play in the same event ever again due to the limits of geography. Hëll says, “Kshitiz (Chepang member and founder of GCBT) reached out to me asking us to contribute to the virtual festival. I was more than happy to oblige. The process has definitely felt like a tour in the sense of all the meticulous planning that went into it. We had to find a studio with enough channels for 4 vocalists, 3 basses, and drums; a camera crew; an additional producer to mix/master; and a video editor. Also needed to find new members to fill in, and that’s where Jake Abassi came into the picture. I guess my roommate too, but, fuck that guy. Imagine the protagonist from The Stranger (Albert Camus) as your roommate – a self-proclaimed nihilist who can’t give a straight answer without either reminding you that there’s no point to anything or spoiling a movie’s major plot twist. It’s just excruciating to be within earshot of him. We are seeking a replacement. If you’re reading this, please help.”
While you are contemplating moving to Tijuana, rooming with Christian, and becoming the third or fourth bassist for HKFY, purchase your tickets for Global Grindcore Alliance 2.0 here. Bands featured in this mindblowing lineup are (in alphabetic order):
1. AK//47 (Indonesia)
2. BAS ROTTEN (Portugal)
3. BRUCE CAMPBELL (U.S.A)
4. CHIENS ( France)
5. CHULO ( Colombia)
6. DAGGRA (U.S.A)
7. DER ( Brazil)
8. DIE CHOKING (U.S.A)
9. FACADE (Brazil)
10. FED ASH (U.S.A)
11. FINAL EXIT (Japan)
12. GRID (Sweden)
13. GRIDE (Czech Republic)
14. HONG KONG FUCK YOU (Mexico)
15. IXIAS (U.S.A)
16. NEEDFUL THINGS (Czech Republic)
17. ONA SNOP (England)
18. HORRIBLE EARTH (USA)
19. SKIPLIFE (Czech Republic)
20. WVRM (U.S.A)
Asked for any final comments, Hëll says, “If you watch our live session with Grindcore Global Alliance 2.0 this May, don’t acknowledge my roommate. He’s just temporary.
“Till then – Hong Kong Thank You, and have a nice day.”
Purchase Hong Kong Fuck You’s music here.
Buy tickets and merch for GCBT’s Global Grindcore Alliance 2.0 here.
Featured image art by Francesco Franz Longhi.