Tony Cummings reports on the world's top Chinese Christian punk rock band. That, of course, is TITUS.
A Chinese Christian punk rock band from Newcastle-upon-Tyne is, of course, so unlikely it has to be true. Now, with their top rate album 'Point Of No Return', Titus are pulling in an ever growing fan base with songs like "Fight Another Day" and "What's Going On?" grabbing airplay wherever cutting edge rock is played. "What's Going On?" carries a hard hitting message. Singer, bassist Pak Chum, who together with Matthew Ng (guitar) and Paul Fung (drums) make up Titus, spoke about the message of "What's Going On?" "Basically it talks about all the things that are happening in the world; all the bad things. The chorus tells us that we should shine like the Son, just be like Jesus, be a beacon."
On Cross Rhythms radio Greg Sammons asked Pak about the origins of Titus. "We used to be a bigger band, I suppose like a worship band, where there used to be acoustic guitars and keyboards, but that's long gone. One of the main guys, he was called Johnny, he used to play the rhythm guitar but he also had to study, so he left us and we kind of evolved into what we are now."
Everyone knows Titus are of Chinese descent. But China isn't where they were born. "Our guitarist Matthew was born in the UK, North Shields, so he's pretty much a Geordie boy! I was actually born in Amsterdam and Paul was born in Hong Kong, so he's the true Chinese!"
He continues, "We came out of the same Chinese church. Our parents went to that church and Paul, Matthew and I all attended the same church, that's how we knew each other. We are more westernised now. We tend to go to English churches now because our Chinese is quite diminished."
Titus recorded two independent EPs, 'The Ground Had Shook' in 2002 and 'I Could Run A Thousand Miles' in 2003. But it was the deal with ICC's Elevation label that took the band to the next level. Remembers Pak, "We had these little promo packs where we had our records on them, like three tracks, which was I think 'I Could Run A Thousand Miles', 'Lost In You' and stuff like that and we had pictures, images of ourselves and we actually sent these down to record companies and I think ICC were the ones actually that took a big interest in us and thought they would do something with us."
The 'Point Of No Return' album, produced by Pete Lozinski, is a spectacular audio feast with its layered guitars and heightened sense of dynamics. Says Pak, "Our album now is a lot heavier, a lot more rock orientated, punk rock. Our earlier stuff was quite punkish. Some people want us to tone down, especially the older people! I think it's great what we do now because although we aren't totally in the mainstream we can slip and slide into the Christian and secular scene, which is a good thing. We've got a job just to do our Christian side but we've also got a job to do the mainstream side. Our music has to reach people who are not Christians because the message has to be out there, not just to the people who know it already but to the people who haven't heard yet. That is why we feel quite strongly that we should do all these pubs, gigs and all those other secular gigs. I would like to see us play a lot more pub gigs and more secular scenes so we think at this moment in time this is the way we are heading, although we will still be doing a lot of Christian gigs because we are committed to doing those things as well."
However much mainstream opportunities open up for Titus one thing is
certain, the group remain determined to fight the good fight and keep
battling on. Such a theme is reflected in the band's song "Fight
Another Day". Comments Pak, "The song talks about life being a
Christian. It isn't easy and everyday is like a fight. But at the end
of the day it's totally worth it and you see the rewards."