Ever since Beyond peaked in the early 1990s, Hong Kong has been waiting for its next great rock band. There have been pretenders (Mister), promising contenders (Rubberband) and indie geniuses (My Little Airport, Chochukmo), but no outfit has managed to capture the zeitgeist – musically, culturally and in the mainstream – quite like that seminal quartet did.
In recent years though, Supper Moment has emerged as Beyond’s heir apparent. Since releasing their debut EP in 2010, the foursome of Sunny Chan, Hugh Chan, CK Cheung and Martin Leung have resonated with Hongkongers on a lot of levels.
In their name, they champion the simple pleasures of a shared meal. Their music, while evolving from acoustic sounds to heavier anthems and, in their latest tracks, electronic influences, has found a sweet spot between pop and rock. But it’s perhaps their general approach to life and the messages in their music that have elevated them from catchy Canto rockers to a culturally influential band.
‘With our music, we hope that we can inspire people or bring them joy, or extra sadness when they are sad,’ says Sunny, as we chat in a steamy Kwun Tong industrial building. Hugh joins the conversation: ‘A lot of people think our music is just about encouragement. But there’s more to it: we also want our audience to see and think about things from different perspectives.’
Down-to-earth themes and positivity have helped the band earn acclaim as the voice of a generation – an accolade that still seems to bewilder the group. ‘We never imagined we would have that kind of impact,’ says Sunny, ‘but I think people can relate to us. I think that’s at the core of it. We’ve always relied on ourselves for success and survival. It sounds cheesy but it’s the “Lion Rock spirit”, that determination and resilience. And we just hope we can keep doing what we’ve been doing.’
This resilience has been there for all to see in the past 15 months. Last year, Gary Chan, the band’s manager and a much-loved figure of the Hong Kong music scene, unexpectedly passed away. He had been with the band since their first releases, and was both a mentor and father figure for them.
‘At that point we were all at a loss,’ says Sunny. ‘We didn’t have him to give us direction and we really had to try to remember the experiences, conversations and lessons we learnt from him. Every night when I go home, I still look at the sky and tell him about things that happened that day. I do really miss him.’
The first song the band released after Chan’s passing was Say Goodbye, which they rewrote as something of a tribute. ‘Say Goodbye wasn’t about Gary when we first wrote it. The story was actually about a group of men who go to a party to talk about their feelings but they just end up drinking, eating and having fun,’ says Hugh. ‘But after Gary’s passing, we changed the lyrics to reflect life as a one massive party.’
The band hasn’t let the tragedy stymie their drive, however. In the time since Chan’s passing, they’ve undertaken some of their biggest projects to date. They played two shows in London, selling out both in a city where they aren’t exactly household names (‘We thought that maybe 50 people would turn up,’ says CK). They’ve toured Taiwan and collaborated on a project in Japan that remains a secret. And they’re also working on a new album, which the band says will imitate the atmosphere of a live set. They want to try new things for their actual live shows, too. ‘Often, when people think of a live show, they think it needs to be upbeat and have a really energetic atmosphere. But for us, live shows are about ups and downs, with parts that are very loud and hyperactive but also with quieter sections,’ says Hugh.
At Clockenflap, Supper Moment may give a sneak peek of what the album holds. They played at the city’s biggest music and arts festival six years ago, but this time they return as Hong Kong headliners, making it one of the most high-profile shows the band has played.
‘We are very happy to perform at Clockenflap this year. This time we are planning to bring our whole technical team, which includes a graphic designer for the LED wall, sound engineer, lighting team and mixing sound engineer,’ says Sunny. ‘We want to give everyone the complete Supper Moment live experience.’
Supper Moment play Clockenflap on 19 November on the Harbour Flap Stage. Listen to Supper Moment’s EP The Moment (see p96) and watch Music Café 2017: Supper Moment onboard now.