The Ever So Friendlies
Still rocking in spite of it all
By Derek Kensinger
Translated by Angel Pu
Whoever said the Taichung music scene was dead has never heard The Ever So Friendlies (TESF). If there were an accolade a la the Grammys or BRIT Awards for top Taichung rock band, this band would be a worthy contender.
While bands often seem to ephemerally come and go in this town, TESF has been rocking steady since 2009. Their particular brand of power rock has moved crowds at a host of Taichung locales, getting their start at PJ's Cafe before moving on to 89K, the Taichung Book Exchange and The Refuge among others. Fans lucky enough to attend their shows witness a combination of the raw, guttural, strength of The Black Keys, and the experimental, anti-establishment punk of The Clash with a tinge of reggae and rockabilly.
TESF currently comprises of three long-term Taichung residents--singer-songwriter-guitarist Shaun Armstrong (British, 6 years in Taichung) , bassist Craig Sigmundson (Canadian, 12 years in Taichung) and drummer Arlan Bonwick (Canadian, 6 years in Taichung). A fourth member, Simon Mowforth, is currently on hiatus from Taiwan but, according to the band, "he will be back!"
Simon and Shaun's musical relationship predates TESF and goes back to the late '90s, when they toured Europe under the band name The Carol-Anne Show Band. According to Craig, it was there they got "the best/worst tattoo...available to see on request." Not long after that, Shaun and Simon moved to Taiwan and met Arlan and Craig at The Refuge, where a particular session got unfriendly and Simon jokingly suggested "The Ever So Friendlies" as a band name, which has since stuck.
As Taichung music veterans, TESF is qualified to comment on changes to the music scene here. "The biggest difference to how the scene was before is the sheer lack of venues. It is very hard for a new band to get their foot in the door when most of the doors have been bolted shut," they lament. On a more optimistic note, they add that they do love being a band in Taiwan, because they get to play music with people from all over the world.
The band rarely records, so catch them live if you can. Their next show is scheduled for Dec. 17 at the Brickyard Club in Kaohsiung. They do have an available CD titled "Splonderick" upon Facebook request under their band name. In the meantime, if you want to stream tracks, check indievox.com.