Hong Kong quintet Nowhere Boys are known for a unique musical style they call “cinematic rock”, influenced by the drama and emotion of films. When they played an acoustic Live@YP set, drummer Nate Wong accompanied his bandmates on a cajon drum. The jazz-trained musician also plays with Canto-pop star Sammi Cheng Sau-man.
Who are your musical influences?
Eminem is a mainstream artist who became successful without writing “relatable songs”, having a positive public image, or following the rules. This is common among many great artists, like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.
I love Chris Dave, a drummer who has such a distinctive sound that every drummer of my generation is influenced by him in some way.
I studied with an amazing jazz drummer called Ralph Peterson at Berklee [College of Music, in the US] ... it’s such fun to hear him play and I have so much respect for him.
Who’s your role model and what’s the best advice you’ve received?
I can’t think of one role model; there are many people in my life that I respect a lot. I’ve always been a huge fan of the NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers – he’s not the most athletic player but he’s one of the greatest. He makes up for his weaknesses by preparing well, studying the game and knowing his opponent. I overcome my own shortcomings by preparing as best I can.
Is there a song that should be made into a movie?
Stan by Eminem is quite an easy answer since it already tells an entire movie-like story, so how about Rhapsody by Nowhere Boys?
If you could change one thing about your band, what would it be?
I wish we could all sing really good five part harmony! … I’m the missing link on this one.
How would you like to further develop your music?
By making uncompromising personal and daring music, and finding the best way to fit the music we want to make into society.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
We’ve already been lucky enough to collaborate with a few of the people we really like, such as Heyo and Jing Wong. We’d like to collaborate with more female artists, and experiment with genres like classical or jazz.
What’s the best gig you’ve seen?
I once saw Manu Chao in the pouring rain in an arena in Ecuador. I will never forget that concert. The playing was incredible and the atmosphere was so fun. That night I decided that I didn’t want to just be a jazz drummer – I wanted to do big concerts, which is a really different discipline.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done on stage?
At the end of my first Sammi [Cheng] concert, I was supposed to hit the drums a few times to encourage the audience to keep chanting for an encore. But I panicked and did a drum solo. The crowd thought it was a new song and stopped chanting – exactly what we didn’t want to happen! Luckily the pianist saved my butt and started playing the next song.
If you had unlimited budget to make a music video, how would you do it?
Wow that would be awesome! It would probably involve teleporting and time-travelling between HK, NYC, Dubai, Prague and London. We’d have drone shots, fight scenes, fast cars. I’d probably make Van [Chan, singer] jump out of a plane and sing the song while he was sky-diving.