Culture education

A top-level rock band came to an unknown village this summer

"the ordinary Road" uses four chords. Gu Ya thought, they didn't practice for three years as I did in junior high school, did they?

This article was originally writen by the Chinese wechat media Rearview mirror of earth (人间后视镜) and translated by PandaYoo.com after it was licensed. Copyright belongs to the original author and it is forbidden to reprint without permission.

At 3: 00 p.m. on July 25, 2020, the veteran rock band Miserable Faith came to Haiga Primary School in Liupanshui Mountain District, Guizhou Province, 2400 meters above sea level.

A month ago, Miserable Faith band`s Weibo, a official social network account with 1.35 million followers, uploaded a Kuaishou video. The content is about several mountain children playing electroacoustic instruments and singing Miserable Faith‘s song “Sing a Song for You” in a dilapidated classroom. The band posted a Weibo and said that: “I have found this teacher and hope to sing a song for you when I have a chance.”

Miserable Faith‘s Weibo post received more than 600 comments and was forwarded more than 5, 000 times. The teacher mentioned in his repost is Gu Ya, an ordinary mountain teacher.

When Gu Ya first came to Haiga four years ago, the primary school on the verge of demolition had only four teachers and 10 students. By 2020, Haiga Primary School has become much better, with a total of three two-story buildings on campus, 12 teachers and 108 students. And this summer, because of the video shot by Gu Ya, it became so popular that it even ushered in a real rock band.

Gu Ya rehearses with the students.

Gu Ya has always been a fan of Miserable Faith. In fact, he is also a rock lead singer and guitarist. Gu Ya himself has been in a trash mental band-the sound field is huge, noisy, fast-paced and ruthless, aggressive, and the lead singer has hideous facial features and roars angrily on the stage.

At this time, 33 year old Gu Ya was busy in the rehearsal room with a haircut, a T-shirt and baggy shorts. He designed the rehearsal room according to live house, with speakers and microphones at the end of the narrow room, which is the stage. The yellow and blue soundproof cotton on the four walls was posted by Miserable Faith and the teachers the day before.

When the familiar prelude sounded, Gao Hu, wearing a denim shirt and a ponytail, walked up to the middle of the stage with a big smile, grabbed the microphone and said, “I’m an unknown teenager.” Then he smiled and said, “I think I’m too old.” This year, Gao Hu is forty years old, and his children are also in primary school.

Miserable Faith sang “West Lake” and “Song of the Highway“, and invited two student bands to cooperate on stage. The girl’s clear singing sprang up, and Gao Hu lowered his body with horse steps, sang harmony, and leaned around the stage, handing the microphone to the lips of the children who were playing from time to time. Looking at him coming, the guitarist grinned, revealing his white little tiger teeth.

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Probably, this was the smallest audience performance for the long-famous Miserable Faith band. There were only a few dozen audiences, but they were very enthusiastic. The children clapped their hands and kept shouting “one more song” in their voices. Several teenagers mingled among the children, staring solemnly at the stage, shaking slightly with the music and pursing their mouths stubbornly.

On the right side of the stage, Mr. Gu Ya hopped and danced alone among his students, obsessively and deftly. At this moment, he changed from a teaching teacher to a pure rock youth.

Yellow and blue soundproof cotton is posted on the wall of the rehearsal room.

Gu Ya was born in 1987 and has one elder sister and one younger sister in his family. When he was young, his hometown,Panzhou, was still called Panxian, which was a small rural area in western Guizhou.

When Gu Ya was in primary school, the TV in the village was still black and white, not to mention the Internet. He had no idea what music was. An uncle worked out of town, came back with a guitar, and played “Children away from Home” and “Work Ballad” at home, which was the song of the popular stray singer Chen Xing at that time. 

“Actually, my uncle can’t play, there is no chord, he only plucks a single note.” 

Gu Ya held the guitar and played cherishly with his fingers. With a light tick, the strings quivered and rang. Long empty strings echoed in mid-air. He thought it sounds good.

This was how the seed of music planted. His uncle went out to work again and took his guitar with him. Gu Ya thought about it at night and couldn’t let it go. Since he was a child, he has been lazy, and no one can drive him to do farm work. From then on, what his parents told him to do, he became very positive and looked forward to be rewarded with going to the city to buy a guitar. At that time, it took four or five hours to drive from the village to the county seat, and it was not easy to get there.

Mom said: “what guitar? How much is it?” The family didn’t know what a musical instrument was. Year after year passed, Gu Ya’s wish did not come true. He was in the sixth grade and was about to graduate from primary school.

On a quiet summer night, the sound of a fife came from the village, clear and beautiful. Gu Ya followed the sound, and it was his other uncle who played. His uncle told him that there was a musical instrument called Hulusi, which was also good to hear. Hulusi is cheap, 20 or 30 yuan. Dad asked relatives to bring one back from the city. Guya played it all day.

“As soon as it was dark, my uncle whistled on the hillside opposite his house.”

Hearing the signal, Gu Ya went out and went to the hillside to learn to play Hulusi and flute and chat with his uncle. But he still had guitar on his mind.

In that year, there was a color TV set at home and the antenna was used to receive the signal. Gu Ya saw the Beyond— a rock band on the color TV! The desire for guitar was hot again. At that time, he played Hulusi well and became a little star in school, but he still desired a guitar. Gu Ya mentioned to Mom and Dad again, but Mom and Dad didn’t promise anything.

Gu Ya began the first rebellious period. Tired of school, skipping class, not going home to sleep. When he came home occasionally, as long as his father was on the table, he would take a bowl, add some food, and go somewhere to eat.

It was only when Gu Ya became a father many years later that he realized that it was not easy to being parents. At that time, all three children in the family had to go to school, so there was a lot of pressure. When he was very young, when the kerosene lamp was still lit at home, Gu Ya remembered that his father went to help cook for the company and got home very late. The first thing he did when he got home was to take a chicken leg out of his pocket and give it to the children. It was very happy to eat meat at that time.

Once, when Gu Ya came home, he found a letter tucked under his pillow, which was written to him by his father when he was not at home. The letter said that as a father, he could not meet some of Guya`s wishes and felt very sorry. He said he might not be a good father, but hope that his son could a strong, wise man. Gu Ya didn’t understand everything, but he cried.

The letter was still well preserved by Gu Ya. Many places were weathered, and he glued it carefully with adhesive tape.

The first rebellious period was over. Gu Ya went to junior high school, and that year his sister was in the first year of senior high school in the best school in the city. The elder sister was very sensible, loved her younger brother and sister very much, and saved her living expenses to buy gifts and take them home every month. Once his sister came home and brought a guitar to Gu Ya. The guitar sold for 120 yuan at that time. Gu Ya later learned that it was actually bought by the money saved by his father’s helper. At that time, his father worked in a sand and gravel factory with a salary of more than ten yuan a day.

Gu Ya practiced the guitar hard for three years. When he graduated from junior high school, he mastered the three chords of G, D and Em.

old photo of Gu Ya

After graduating from junior high school, the second rebellious period came. Gu Ya wanted to go to big cities, go farther and more prosperous places, and find people who know guitar and can teach him. He began to play truant again, carrying a guitar, wandering around with a few friends all over the country, not going home for a week. It broke his parents hearts and they finally compromised. They permitted Gu Ya to go to the music school he always want.

Gu Ya went to Liupanshui to take the music major in the Art Department of normal College. It was popular in those days to pull his hair straight. He bought a splint and pulled it himself. After pulling, he had a unique sense of fashion in rural China, which he was quite satisfied with. In the interview, he sang a singer Guangliang’s “Fairy Tales“, tried the sense of rhythm, and then went for a medical examination. After the examination, he and his classmates put the money together, went around the city, ate a lot of delicious food, and looked at high-rise buildings, feeling like in the heaven. At that time, he felt that he had succeeded and his dream was so close.

When he received the admission notice and saw the word “music” on the notice, Gu Ya jumped three feet with delight. He didn’t see any “normal school” other than “music”. He didn’t expect to be a teacher in the future.

Gu Ya’s second uncle is a capable person in the family, working and living in Liupanshui city. The second uncle drove to pick up Gu Ya from the village, took his luggage and backed to the city.

In the first year of normal school, Gu Ya was very happy. There were friends in the dormitory, many of whom caould play the drum or the piano. They sang Xu Wei and listen to the Zeropoint band. At the end of the year, Gu Ya found that something was wrong. There were piano, dance and art in the course. Why there was no guitar? He went to inquire and found that he was enrolled in a five-year school system and could not choose his own instrumental music major at all.

Gu Ya collapsed. Then he decided to stop taking classes and figure it out on his own.

Gu Ya’s classmate Xiaotao is also from Panxian County and likes guitar. There was another classmate who can play the guitar. They went to the Internet cafe for the night. They did’t play games, but listened to music and watch concerts. At that time, listening to the Xin Orchestra and May Day, they were so excited that decided to start their own band. They gathered two more people, “Erwan” from the Chinese Department, and Hu Jin, a guitarist who was still a high school student at that time. What if they were all guitarists? Guya must play the guitar. ‘The family is very supportive. As long as I start a band, my family will buy me an electric guitar,’he said. “Erwan” was forced to have no choice but to say :”all right, I’ll play the drums.” Xiao Tao was going to play bass. In this way, the members were set. Gu Ya was the lead singer and played the guitar. He thought hewas very handsome.

Band members rehearse together.

It was 2005. Gu Ya went to school in Liupanshui and went home only once during the holiday, with a monthly living expenses of about 300 yuan. With a band, they rented a basement in a place called Huangtupo. The room was very damp and dark, with a monthly rent of 200 yuan. After renting the house, the wall was covered paper boxex filled with eggs for sound insulation, and bought a string of small colored lights to hang for decoration. In this way, there was also a rehearsal room.

At that time, Guya had a girlfriend. His girlfriend listened to Guya singing under the flashing lights in the basement. However, Guya didn`t have a musical instrument yet. He called his father and said that his school suddenly informed him to buy a guitar, which was a professional need, and he couldn’t take lessons without a guitar. Dad didn’t say a word for a long time, and finally asked, when and how much. Gu Ya calculated and said, 5000 yuan.

With 5000 yuan, Gu Ya went to buy the Peak electric guitar with thin neck of the same style of the Feier band. His father borrowed 5000 yuan, gave it th him and didn’t pay it back until several years later. Of course, Gu Ya didn’t know at that time. At that time, everyone lived frugally, and the living expenses sent from home were put together and saved to upgrade equipment. Set aside only 200 yuan a month for everyone’s meals, go to the market to buy some oil and rice, brought potatoes from home, boiling porridge with a large pot of water, and cooking potatoes with it.

They ate porridge with potatoes for a year, bought drums, bought speakers, and changed musical instruments slowly, almost meeting the needs of rehearsals.

The band’s first performance was at a vocational school, where they sang a Beyond song “Really Love You” and “Glory Days“. Take a taxi and lost some money.

At that time, he did not feel bitter. Gu Ya believed that everything was OK, everything was for the dream.

Gu Ya is with the band members.

In August 2014, the second uncle drove Gu Ya to report to Lazhai Primary School, 50 kilometers away from Liupanshui.

Just as he did from Panxian to Liupanshui, he packed his luggage and had a bumpy road. But this time, he returned to the countryside from the city. The second uncle on the road told Gu Ya to be pragmatic, do not be misleaded , and work hard. Guya took a wooden guitar with him. Looking at the mountain village in front of him. He had no idea where he was.

For a long time after its establishment, Gu Ya’s band did not have any income. In the worst of times, band members went to work to make ends meet. They handed out flyers, worked as waiters in bars, put up small advertisements, and set up stalls to sell lighters. He was about to graduate in the blink of an eye. Just then, Gu Ya met a man.

This man was thirty-two or three years old, single, playing the piano in a rented house all day. Gu Ya bought a bottle of Erguotou, carried a small snack of 1.50 yuan which bought in the small supermarket, and went to the man to learn.

As soon as he entered the door, Gu Ya was held down by the heavy metal band posters all over the wall of the man’s house. “What is heavy metal?” He asked. The man took out several discs and said, “buddy, come on, what do you want to hear? Tell me!” Listened to Pantera first. It was amazing. Gu Ya knew for the first time that there was such music, and the guitar could make such sound. From then on, Gu Ya went to that man as soon as he had time with a bottle of wine, and began to watch, listen and learn.

From then on, Gu Ya stopped playing beyond, Xin Orchestra and May Day. They began to concentrate on rehearsing Metallica and Megadeath. Gu Ya searched for classic songs and asked te man to teach him. The bman gave him a “Joey heavy metal guitar textbook” and said, there was no problem for you to practice playing Pantera. So they practiced hard. In the year of graduation, Gu Ya found the biggest song and dance hall, “grumpy”, with the theme of “replay if you want to replay”-or in local dialect: play whatever you want.

old photo of Gu Ya

The special show sold tickets and didn’t lose money, but it didn’t make any money. It was 2011.

At that time, Gu Ya bought a computer and began to write his own songs. The first work was called “the final evidence“: “I will tell you with the final result!” At that time, most musicians were engaged in pop and jazz, and heavy metals were discriminated against. Gu Ya believed that they were young and one day they would replace those “old whips” (local dialect, meaning old-timers, old cannons). “We declare war on the old whip!”

With their own works, the band gradually received some invitations for commercial performances, but commercial performances should not too “heavy mental”. “Then forget it,” they said: “you can’t go against your original intention.”

Then, when they graduated, the family no longer provided for the living expenses. His parents have been advising Gu Ya to find a job. They said: “for the sake of your girlfriend, you can`t be like this”. When he was at school, his girlfriend gave him her tuition fee. Gu Ya could not afford the American Fender, used the money to buy a Mufen (Fender electric guitar made in Mexico). At the worst of times, they fried a bowl of rice and shared it. He could not forget these things.

In 2014, Gu Ya checked on the Internet, saw the recruitment of special post teachers, and signed up. He was hired. The family was very happy, and Gu Ya was a mixture of joys and sorrows. Joys were easy to understand; the sad thing was, “what you want to do all these years is over.”

On the day of signing the contract, others lined up to choose a school, and Gu Ya stood aside and said, “give me the rest you don’t want.” The last one assigned to him was Lazhai Primary School, Dawan Town, Zhongshan District, reporting for duty on August 20. It was stated in the contract that he must serve for three years.

The car drove to Lazhai Primary School, a dirt road and a brick building. When the second uncle left, a dark-skinned middle-aged man came out to meet Gu Ya. Gu Ya thought he was a doorman, so he asked where was the headmaster? The thin man, wearing a black coat, said: “I am the headmaster.”

Gu Ya put down his bedding, turned around and went back to the city. He didn’t go back to school for a week. He said to the headmaster: “don’t arrange me for the course yet, I’m still thinking about it.” He was struggling. He talked to his friends and his parents, and finally decided to try it first. He went back to Lazhai Primary School to take up his job.

The skinny headmaster’s name is Zheng long, who is more than ten years older than Gu Ya. Principal Zheng told Gu Ya that he had seen his performance before. “I also liked to play the guitar when I was young.” They talked to each other so well that they became friends with each other. But at that time, after school, Gu Ya still had to leave. He looked forward to the end of school every day. Lazhai Primary School was a job, and when the work was finished, he needed to live his own life as soon as possible, he thought. Back to the city, he drank, chatted, played guitar and sang with his friends in bars, and had a hangover on weekends.

Such a life was divided and decadent and excruciating. Principal Zheng said to Gu Ya, “Don’t run away like this. If you are afraid of being alone, I will accompany you.” The headmaster’s home was in a nearby town, but for a long time, as long as Gu Ya was at school, he came to accompany him, playing the guitar and chatting with him.

Slowly, after nearly half a year like this, the previous way of life was far away, but Gu Ya’s heart was still floating. He thought that in a few years he would still leave this place, return to the city and marry his girlfriend. Until the winter of 2014.

It was a day near December when Gu Ya taucht the third grade. Gu Ya said, “Hello, students. Please have a seat.” He turned around to write on the blackboard with chalk. When he looked back, he found that a girl sitting in the front row was standing and shivering. It frosted and it was a little cold. Gu Ya said, “Don’t be naughty, please sit down to class.” The girl sat down and stamped her feet at the same time. After a while, the girl stood up again. Gu Ya found that something was wrong and looked at it carefully. He was stunned. He saw a pair of small feet purple with cold, wearing a pair of pink sandals covered with mud.

Gu Ya and the students

Gu Ya did not speak all the time, and his stood stunningly for nearly ten minutes, and his mind was in a daze. He didn’t know what was wrong with him, and then he thought of his childhood.

After that, Guya never thought of leaving again.

In May 2016, Gu Ya accidentally discovered that Zheng long was also the principal of another primary school.

Zheng Long has been in the mountain village of Guizhou for more than ten years as educationer. He told Gu Ya that he used to be a headmaster and a teacher at Haiga Primary School, teaching general subjects. The local winter was cold and the roads were impassable. At its worst, there were only eight students in the school. Because of the lack, many local families could only send their children to the town to go to school, and they had to rent a house to accompany them, which was a heavy financial burden. Now, the school was ready to be torn down.

Zheng Long said he had been looking for a group of teachers to support Haiga Primary School. After hearing this, Guya immediately said, “I’m going to Haiga.” “It’s a rock thing. It must be done! “

After the holiday in July, they wrote applications and reported to the leaders, who were very supportive. That year, five teachers went to Haiga, plus the original four. In August, nine teachers went door to door to mobilize and told parents that they want to make Haiga Primary School a better primary school, and they hoped parents` children could come back to school. They saw the parents’ happy and skeptical faces, really? 

“What will happen to the children if you can’t hold on?”

They persevered. The children came one by one, and the lessons were restarted one by one.

In 2016, Guya also brought his guitar to Haiga Primary School. He was playing it in the office, and the children were lying at the window, huddling with each other, peeking at him. He felt nervous when he saw those eyes. After that, Gu Ya collected musical instruments in moments, and friends sent more than a dozen tambourines and three or four guitars. The first song he taught the children was “Farewell“.

guitars in the music room

Learning musical instruments is always boring at first and children were a little bit tired. Gu Ya thought that it was not easy to get so many guitars. Maybe set up a band?

The first band was selected from the sixth grade, and Gu Ya was a little selfish. From Lazhai to Haiga, two classmates were reluctant to give up and turned around with him. They were both girls. One was Xiaomei, and the other was Xiaomeng. Gu Ya arranged for them to play the guitar, and chosed drummers and bass players to start rehearsals at noon every day. The first song was “the Ordinary Road“.

The Ordinary Road” uses four chords. Gu Ya thought that they would not practice for three years as he did in junior high school, would they?

Once a visitor came to the school to see the children rehearse. Gu Ya was very proud and looked forward to the response of “young man, good, keep fighting”. Unexpectedly, the visitor said,: “young man, it is not easy to live in the mountains. But in your countryside (Haiga is a gathering place for the Yi people), ethnic minorities would be better if you dance bamboo, sing a toast and wear Yi costumes. If you play these electroacoustic instruments, how can you compare with those in the city?”

Guya almost rushed up and slapped him.

Of course he did not. But Gu Ya’s youthful mentality was aroused. What happened to our country boy? He made up his mind that the band must be started, not only to do it, but also to be the envy of the children in the city. He told the children that they must try to break through and prove themselves. He didn’t know if the children could understand. “Practice well. There is a bigger world outside, and I’d like to take you out to see it,” he added.

graffiti on the classroom wall

Since then, Gu Ya has devoted all his energies to the students and rehearsals were more stringent. On weekends and holidays, Gu Ya took the children downtown, went to the cinema for the first time, went to the zoo for the first time, went to the playground for the first time, and ate marshmallows for the first time, all together. He wanted them to walk out of the mountain. At that time, Gu Ya was already married to his girlfriend, and his home was in Liupanshui City. He took the children home and introduced them to his newborn daughter.

In the winter of 2018, Gu Ya’s own band played a special show, and the children went warm up for the show, singing “The Ordinary Road” and “Chasing Dreams without Heart“. When the music came together, Gu Ya couldn’t stand it and cried directly. His mind was like a rewind. Every picture of these years, bit by bit, was remembered vividly. He thought he succeeded.

On the evening of July 23rd, the day before Miserable Faith arrived, the graduated band “Encounter” returned to Haiga Primary School. After attending the tea party at school, Gu Ya went to Xiaomeng’s house again. She was already in the second year of junior high school. Xiao Meng’s younger sister is now a guitarist in the band Unknown Boys.

When the band was named, Gu Ya said: “five golden flowers!” The children laughed and felt very corny. Then the children name it as “encounter”. Gu Ya thought it was “Yu“, so he said: “you can’t have the same name as ‘Yu Band’.” The children told him that it was not the “Yu” of “depressed” but the “Yu” of “encounter”. “We are very lucky to meet such a group of teachers who are willing to pay for us.” The children said.

Gu Ya was very moved.

graduation photo

When Kuaishou was rising, Gu Ya felt that it was very vulgar, and corny. “The taste of music is so bad.” However, he was so curious that he also downloaded one. The first video he uploaded was followed by Metallica’s song pogo, “I told them this kind of music should be high and their bodies should dance!” In the video, Gu Ya and the children threw their hair down heavily when the first stress explodes. He thought that was cool.

Because of the epidemic, Haiga Primary School started very late this year. Before the holiday, Gu Ya called the band to come to rehearse quickly because they were about to graduate. The rehearsal was Miserable Faith‘s “Sing a Song for You“. The first and second graders came to sit and watch, and everyone shook their heads with the melody. Gu Ya filmed the scene with his mobile phone and posted it on Kuaishou. This was the origin of the popular video.

The day after the video was released, Gu Ya’s fans soared to more than 10,000, and he thought, “Oh, no, it might be hot.” Hurriedly went through the comments, but fortunately, he didn’t find anything negative. After that, he began to receive phone calls for interviews, while the hot spots continued to rise, and the video was spreaded on the World wide Web and other media. Colleagues said that “Gu Ya, you are famous”. Gu Ya thought it was bad, “a storm is coming”.

Gu Ya’s Kuaishou home page

“At that time, I expected that a lot of things would happen that I couldn’t imagine,” Gu Ya said. “I expected it to be good.”

The hot spot will pass, and Gu Ya knows very well. He said that too much praise made him uncomfortable. “I don’t think being famous is a great thing. If it is really a kind of energy, I hope the fire can illuminate more groups that we can’t see.”

In fact, Gu Ya had a very impractical idea about video. “I want to follow the band and film them in junior high school, high school and college for a total of ten years to see how their lives will change in the end.” The plan cannot be realized. After middle school, the curriculum is very tight, because education is almost the only way for these children to get out of the mountains. They also have musical instruments in their middle school, but they don’t have time to practice.

Gu Ya later said that “it’s really unnecessary”. “It would be nice to let them have an experience and feel an atmosphere through music. Music doesn’t have to be their dream. “

Gu Ya’s own band is called “Eye Dye“, which comes from the idiom of “often heard by the ears and often seen by the eyes”. The name was found in a dictionary before a performance-the previous band name was so poor-taste that it had to be changed. The band has released albums on several mainstream music platforms, with fewer than three-digit fans and comments. On the Douban station of the band, all their performance records are clearly listed to remember all those past days. Several diehard fans left devil’s horn gestures for metal fans in their comments.

Gu Ya said that over the past few years, he has basically devoted himself to the school, and “he can no longer listen to music with headphones plugged in every day, as he did when he was young.” The guitarist of the band is now working with Gu Ya in Haiga Primary School. Gu Ya mobilized him to come, “not only to work hard, but also to be a good band.” Except for them, the bassist teaches in the piano shop, and they all live in Liupanshui. Recently, Eye Dye began to rehearse again.

“Because I watched the band that was a little worse than us before is going very well. I feel like I left something behind. “

The picture is from the figure documentary team, the children of the band.

During the rehearsal a few days ago, they were discussing that they were angry and young so that they could play heavy mental, but now they may need to change the style. After all, there are too many restrictions on that style. Gu Ya thought about it again and again, but in the end, he still believes that he could not go against his original intention.

“This thing is an assignment for ourselves, not for others,” says Gu Ya. “I think it’s what I’m looking for in my heart. When we’re 60 or 70, if we’re still alive, buddy, we can sit together and play a CD we recorded before. I don’t think I’ll regret it. This is a song for myself. “

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