UT alumnus features new book depicting role in Chinese Punk Rock evolution

Brianna Pelayo

UT alumnus and current high school physics teacher David O’Dell is not usually the one to bring up the subject of Chinese punk rock, but if asked, he would be able to explain in detail how he helped start the Chinese punk rock genre.

O’Dell talked about the coming-of-age for Chinese punk rock at a presentation featuring his new book “Inseparable: The Story of Chinese Punk Rock” on Monday.

“The book’s titled ‘Inseparable’ and it’s because the development of the punk rock scene and my arrival in China and helping put together the scene, were actually so intertwined,” O’Dell said.

“My personal time in Beijing and the Chinese punk rock scene were almost one in the same. I helped start the first shows and helped develop the first band before there were any other foreigners in the underground music scene.”

Beginning in 1995 he helped start two bands with an unknown word and genre called “punk,” and now there is an entire Chinese genre of punk, O’Dell said.

“We kind of started the punk revolution and ignited the punk scene,” O’Dell said. “This is what the book is about. I wrote about that development.”

To begin his presentation, O’Dell started with a reading from the prologue of his book and proceeded to various excerpts throughout it. After reading an excerpt from his book he would then play a song from the first and second-generation Chinese punk rock bands.

“The presentation is me telling their story,” O’Dell said. “It’s about the Chinese musicians and their music, the clubs, the venues and the people that helped to make the scene what it is today.”

During the presentation, translations of the lyrics to the bands’ songs were displayed on a screen, an uncommon thing to see, according to O’Dell.

UT was the first stop on O’Dell’s book tour. He will soon go to Houston and New York to give similar presentations telling the real story about the coming of Chinese punk rock.

“The most important thing is for people to learn about Chinese punk rock because I want the story to be correct,” O’Dell said. “I feel that I saw something incredibly special in the people I was with and I wanted to remember that, and I wanted to make sure others remembered how it really started because no one really knows.”

Printed on October 11, 2011 as: Foreigner helped launch Chinese punk