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Defeat the Giant Vocalist Winston Liao on Waving the Hardcore Flag in Taiwan

Defeat the Giant (Photo: Ian Lin)

"I started to listen to metal music when I was around 13 or 14 years old and I was pretty into it, I couldn’t play any instrument back at the moment, instead, I tried to scream," laughs Defeat the Giant vocalist Winston Liao. "Then I met up my drummer at the age of 15, and he asked me to start a hardcore band. He’s 3 years older than me, and he was playing in a local metal band.

"We both didn’t know what hardcore exactly is at that time, he just showed me Hatebreed and said, 'Let’s play New York hardcore, bro.' Well, everything began there."

Defeat the Giant hails from Taichung City, Taiwan, and their 2018 debut album, Things We Grab In Shatters, is packed with the kind of energetic hardcore anthems made for maximum posi-jump action. 

"If there’s a band that changes all of us, I would say that’s Have Heart," says Winston.

"We used to try to make music really heavy and write something very negative. Have Heart changes not only our perspective on this kind of music, but also the mindset of life. We all have our own favorite musicians, and I would say Have Heart is the one in common till now."

During our chat, Winston tells me there's only about 10 hardcore bands in Taiwan, a crazy factoid considering it's a country with a population well over 20 million people. "It’s even worse, to be honest. I think we just have around 7 or 8 hardcore bands here while the active ones (who play over 5 shows a year) are less than 5.

"The so called 'indie music' scene is growing so fast here recently, but I think the variety isn’t going that way, it’s all occupied by indie pop and 'chill musi' artists.

"Heavy metal, punk and emo bands—which were not bad in the past—are also declining in this wave. The hardcore bands here we all mostly play in mixed shows, with punk bands, metal bands, emo bands, or even indie-pop bands.

"If we want to play a 'hardcore show,' we have to organize it ourselves. I’m not complaining, it’s honestly pretty fun. I think we have only 2 or 3 hardcore shows a year in the country. Well, we’re trying to make more."

Defeat the Giant (Photo: Evan Yelverton)

No Echo asks Winston to tip our readers about some of other the bands in the Taiwanese hardcore community that are trying to do cool shit like Defeat the Giant. "My favorite Taiwanese hardcore band is Hateful Rezpect, who are from Taipei. They play really simple but groovy hardcore, and their lyrics are also simple and straight forward, to show their anger to the hypocritical society.

"The other one I would like to say is a band called From Ashes, they’re from our local Taichung. They play heavy and angry stuff, and they’re recently a lot more active. I’m excited to see what happens next with them. Also, they mean a lot to me personally because they started at my high school (most of them are from the same high school with me).

"There are others like Spit from Taipei, who play a fast and punky sound mixed with some heavy mosh parts that are just amazing. The grooving style Kaohsiung band Deadpan is outstanding, but they’re not really active.

Hateful Rezpect (Photo found on Facebook)

"For now, Hateful Rezpect has organized their annual hardcore show for years. So does Defeat the Giant, and we always try to do DIY shows, to make the venue and the content close to what we feel is important about hardcore.

"This year, From Ashes started to organize their first show, adding their perspective to the event, which was really amazing. Bands are trying to put together more hardcore shows, not only for the scene’s growth, but also for the community aspect because we all live in different cities, and can't hang out a lot because of that. 

"We have only a few bands here, but fortunately, we have a lot of amazing friends that support us whether they love hardcore or not. Also, we haven’t had a label yet, and I believe we will have one soon."

Defeat the Giant (Photo: Ian Lin)

Defy the Giant recently dropped a live session Winston is psyched about. "We met the owner of Rebel Sound Studio, Slater, in a show we played last year in Taipei. And one day earlier this year, he asked us to record a live session in his new studio.

"We’ve written a bunch of songs after the last album, and we haven’t released any of them, so it was an opportunity to share a new song in a different way."

2020 has kept Defeat the Giant away from playing live gigs, but that doesn't mean Winston has been chilling at home. "I just finishing serving in the middle of this year (men have to do military service in Taiwan). I found a mate in the same squad with me also loves music at that time.

"So, I talked to him a lot about the band experiences. One time when we were taking the bus back to the base, I showed him my band’s music. Then we never talked about music anymore [laughs].

"Anyway, hardcore is really cool to us no matter what. It gives us a strong reason to do something cool on this land. We don’t have a huge scene here, but we actually really enjoy it. It kind of allows us to discover this culture through hands-on experiences. We really appreciate it."

Defeat the Giant (Photo: Ian Lin)

Defeat the Giant on social media: Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

Welcome to Taiwan! We have a lot of cheap and amazing boba tea (I think boba tea is originated from our hometown Taichung City) if you like it!

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