The Noname
by Interviews

For over 20 years, Chinese punk rockers The Noname have been playing incredible punk rock and they will not be stopping any time soon. The band are getting ready to release their new album Fortress Besieged which finds them referencing Chinese literature, collaborating with friends from all over the world, paying tribute to Joe Strummer, and staying true to their punk ideals. Fortress Besieged will be out everywhere on July 12 via Smith and Miller Records, Abbruch Records, and Pasidaryk Pats Records. The Noname will be touring Europe and the UK starting later this month.

Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist Ray Yao through the power of the internet (email) to talk about the new album, finding community, the importance of collaboration, legacy, and so much more. Read the interview below!

You’ll be releasing your new album Fortress Besieged later this month on Abbruch Records, Smith and Miller Records, and Pasidarkyk Pats Records. How did you decide which labels to work with?

In fact, we have been working with S&M Records since 2001, and they released our 20th anniversary double album. They are great people and have given the band a lot of support, so we continued to work with them on the new album.

We learned about Abbruch Records through our good friends, The Rebel Riot. They are a very cool D.I.Y punk label that has always supported all good punk bands. After they knew about our new plan, they were very supportive and agreed to release our latest album together, including a limited special 7-inch record.

Interestingly, I met Andrius from Pasidaryk Pats Records during the Southeast Asia tour in Thailand in 2023. He was traveling at the time and watched our performance. We talked about punk rock music. Unexpectedly, after he returned to China, he readily agreed to join the label's support after talking about the release plan of our new album. It's amazing!

Of course, the Boyz League Records was founded by Gao, the manager of The Noname, in 2004. Although it is very challenging to run an independent punk rock label in China, we are committed to keeping it going.

The name of your album references Qian Zhongshu’s novel of the same name. What does this book mean to you? Why did you choose to name the album after this novel in particular?

You know, I was quite surprised because a Canadian friend asked me a similar question recently. It’s wonderful that more friends around the world are becoming aware of Qian Zhongshu, a renowned Chinese author with remarkable works. This includes the song “First Stratagem - ADVANCING SECRETLY” from our album, inspired by the ancient Chinese military classic Thirty-Six Stratagems. We aim to bring something unique to everyone by combining punk rock with distinctive Chinese culture. The famous quote from Fortress Besieged is: “Those outside the city want to rush in, and those inside the city want to escape”. It is particularly insightful and applicable to all aspects of life.

You’ve mentioned that the original idea for the album was to focus on the first twelve strategies from Thirty-Six Stratagems but you ultimately decided to split them into multiple releases. What are these strategies? How did the idea to focus on them come about?

I just mentioned the first of the Thirty-Six Stratagems. You know there are a total of thirty-six stratagems. Originally, this album was going to write twelve of them, but in the end, only one work was used. So there are still thirty-five works, and we will release them in different combinations to complete them.

The album also features guest spots from members of The Cho!ces, Big D and the Kids Table (who you released a split with in 2021), Perkele, and Non Servium. How did you decide who to work with? What was working with them like?

David from Big D and I often discuss independent music and support each other. Although The Noname isn’t a ska punk band, we do have a few songs with ska elements. Naturally, we reached out to our “old friends” for support. We also want to thank Matt from Reel Big Fish for his continued help with the band.

“Waiting for That Day” is the lead single from our new album. We wanted to find a vocalist with a distinctive, aggressive voice to complete it, preferably from a band on the other side of the world. That’s how we found Non Servium, and to our delight, they immediately agreed to collaborate. It was so cool!

For “Warrior of Faith”, we wanted a female vocalist with a great voice. You know I love street/hardcore punk, but The Noname has always made melodic punk rock music. When Jordy, our tour manager, recommended Jenny of Cho!ces, I knew she was the one! You all know how amazing she is, right?

Perkele, don't need any more introduction, they are such a great band. When Ronnie sent over the tracks, the band and I felt no further edits were necessary because they were already perfect.

Additionally, for the single “Anti-”, we reached out to our friend Rodo from Acidez for his signature solo style. We’ve known each other for many years, and this year, after a decade, we finally got to collaborate. Notably, we decided to create a special edition of the album featuring a collaboration with Sucker from the legendary German punk band Bad Co. Project (ex-OXYMORON). His duet was fantastic, and I especially loved his harmonies! This song is a tribute to Joe Strummer, and we included some of his famous quotes as lyrics. We also invited friends from around the world to sing (or shout) Joe’s classic quotes in their own languages.

Special thanks to: Ika/Havinhell, Alex/Tpelkua, Sonia, Hime and Masaru/Anthell, Arm Oi/Chaos of Society, Fred/Die Vräcks, Rob/Disturbance, Steen/Heroes 2 None, Kyaw/The Rebel Riot, Uwe/The Tickbreeders, and Terry/Disanxian.

Along with English you also have lyrics in Chinese, Spanish, and Swedish on the album. What is it about punk that transcends the language barrier?

I believe punk is global, and music even more so. Every language has its unique charm, and every place has its own culture. Therefore, whenever there is a good vibe and the right opportunity, we should try to innovate.

How would you describe your songwriting process?

Real-life insights, continuous word accumulation, and moments of melodic inspiration, combined with a creative conceptual framework, ultimately boil down to expression. Everyone faces numerous problems in every environment. Punk should directly fight back, destroy injustice, and innovate.

You have a song called “I Believe In Chaos”. What does chaos mean to you? What’s the best way to bring your chaotic ideas to life?

Everyone has their own living environment—social turmoil, commercial encroachment, industry scandals… there are too many chaotic things. Do you really think your life is truly happy? But we must find a way to be happy and enjoy the chaos.

On “Ska Poser” you talk about spotting posers in the ska scene. How do you spot a ska poser? How can people avoid being a ska poser?

In a country without a ska scene, living a life without ska, you want to start a ska band? Who taught you that? Tencent Music China?

On “Waiting For That Day” you advocate for unity and fight against the things that divide us. In your opinion, what’s the best way to bring people together?

Belief, true belief, is not just a word; it’s something that guides you throughout your life. And then there’s the intersection—shared beliefs! Shared actions!

You confront the idea of legacy on “Go Down In History”. What do you want your legacy to be?

Punk rock! Chinese punk rock band – Ray and The Noname Band. I believe! Everything is in the lyrics!

The Noname has been a band for over 20 years now. How do you feel you’ve grown as a band and as people during that time? What keeps your love of punk rock strong?

As I mentioned before: Belief! Next comes the punk spirit—never compromising! The pressure is truly immense, but the more pressure there is, the less I want to give in! I must show those who want to crush me, and the environment, what is real and what will be remembered in history!

You’ll be touring Europe and the UK this summer which includes a stop at Rebellion Festival on August 3. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows? What does playing Rebellion Fest mean to you?

I look forward to meeting many old friends, and of course, I hope to meet new friends as well! I also hope to learn from more excellent bands! Thanks for the recognition and invitation, Rebellion; we won’t disappoint you!

You’ve also said you have plans to tour the US and Canada in 2025. Which places are you excited to play?

Yes, I have already been discussing this plan with David from Big D. But I also hope to share it with more good friends! You know The Noname’s style has always been eclectic! But one thing is certain, we are punk rock!

What song off the new album are you looking forward to playing live the most?

Because the new album includes five featuring tracks with friends, I hope to share the stage with them afterward! But I will also perform in my own way! The entire album follows a storyline, presenting a conceptual narrative! Yet each song tells its own independent story!

How would you describe the punk scene in China?

Young and chaotic, but as we said: “I Believe In Chaos”! Haha!

Do you have any favourite local bands?

Local? How about the Noname? Also, I quite like Brother Gums Bleed and those bands that truly stick to their own style.

Which part of Fortress Besieged are you proudest of?

I have broken free from the confines! Punk is: persistence, destruction, and innovation!

Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you would like to add?

Why did we change No Name to The NONAME?Coz there are lots “No Name” all over the world! But, we don't care! Because names are a waste of us! And thanks to all of you who support us!!! Up the punx! This is more than just a slogan!

Jul 17Egons ClubWinsen, DE
Jul 18Logo ClubHamburg, DE
Jul 19Reset ClubBerlin, DE
Jul 20SAWA FestZupanja, HR
Jul 23Montepardiso FestPula, HR
Jul 24RhizVienna, AT
Jul 26Fest Pod ParouTrutnov, CZ
Jul 27DLB FestivalArgenta, IT
Jul 28Brasserie de FramontGrandfontaine, FR
Jul 29Dvg ClubKortrijk, BE
Jul 30Punk Rock Summer FestParis, FR
Jul 31Les vieux de la vielleReins, FR
Aug 03Rebellion FestivalBlackpool, UK
Aug 05Victoria InnDerby, UK
Aug 08Old Salutation InnNottingham, UK
Aug 09Dublin CastleLondon, UK
Aug 10Social Unrest FestDublin, IE
Aug 11Subside BarBirmingham, UK
Aug 13Steel Town ClubEisenhuttenstadt, DE
Aug 14SO36 ClubBerlin, DE
Aug 16AJZ BahndammWermelskirchen, DE
Aug 17SubraumRostock, DE