New beginning for Mr. men

New beginning for Mr. men

The five-strong Canto-rock band were glad to say farewell to 2012 and are now determined to put their frustrations behind them

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(From left): Hong Kong rock band Mr. - Ronny Lay Chak-yan, Tom To Chi-huen, Dash Tam Kin-men, Alan Po Chi-lun and MJ Tam Kit-ming.
(From left): Hong Kong rock band Mr. - Ronny Lay Chak-yan, Tom To Chi-huen, Dash Tam Kin-men, Alan Po Chi-lun and MJ Tam Kit-ming.
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP
Many people like to start a new year with something positive - just for luck. We don't know if Canto-rock band Mr. believes in this. What we do know is that they are just glad to put 2012 behind them.

"Last year was a tough time for us. We weren't able to release our album or put on a concert," says bassist Dash Tam Kin-men.

"But we were finally able to do both last month and the fans gave us such a positive reaction. It was just like the one we got the first time we played at Hong Kong Coliseum in 2010. We felt the same type of energy from them. It was like this feeling of lost-and-found."

It's been five years since the band released their first EP, Mister. It all started out as some after-work activity for the guys to release stress. Soon, their music caught the attention of Canto-pop legend Alan Tam Wing-lun. A record deal followed.

The band have since released five albums and EPs, built up a strong fan base and played three packed concerts at Hong Kong Coliseum including last month (January being the third), quite a feat for a local rock band in the Cantonese music industry where solo acts usually dominate.

Part of the appeal of Mr. is their every-man image, which is reflected in their band name. They chose it for just that reason.

"Our image is very similar to that of our fan base," says guitarist Ronny Lay Chak-yan. "We can really relate to them. We're singing about things they can all relate to - like relationships, friendships, and problems that come up in life."

Yet just like many other bands that have been around for some time, things can get stale, so they wanted to shake it up and try something new this time around.

At their recent concert, they added solo parts for each member. That gave them some extra pressure, but it proved to be a good decision: their fans heartily cheered them on during the shows.

With their latest album, appropriately entitled New Beginning, the boys wanted to take some risks. At first they planned to make an all-dance-music album, but finally settled on just two dance tracks.

However, the album still manages to show Mr.'s new side. "Our new direction has involved making our sound more cohesive," says drummer Tom To Chi-huen. "We have had some communication problems between the five of us in the past, so we knew that we had to change that.

"If you don't have good communication, you don't have new music. Even if you have new music, but no communication, it doesn't sound good. So the biggest change that we wanted last year was for us to find a new way of communicating."

Lead singer Alan Po Chi-lun believes the band's growing maturity over the years has contributed to their willingness to try new things, such as dance music. He says he is pleased with the results of the new album.

"After being in the entertainment industry so long - honestly, it's not really the music industry - it's easy to be influenced by entertainment aspects of it," he says. "Yet songs like Below The Sky, they're for listening to. I prefer making songs like that. I really want to once again make music that reminds me of what made me like to make music in the first place. I used to listen to Beyond, Radiohead, Pink Floyd so I wanted to go back to that."

Mr. had a say in the lyrics, songwriting, and arrangement for New Beginning, which they hope to continue on future albums. This new year will bring yet more challenges, too; they're set to record an all-Putonghua EP as they hope to take their music to a wider audience.

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