Beijing, China – Gou, 27, is the rhythm guitarist and frontman of Residence A, a four-piece band made up of Chinese youths who have been gigging and gaining recognition in China’s capital for the past few years.
He hardly speaks a word of English and never went to college, yet his raucous music and earnest, feverish performances prove he has a PhD in rock and roll.
Enthralled with English rock band Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon”, a teenaged Gou left his hometown of Baoding, Hebei province – the origin of Chinese stress balls – and moved to Beijing with the sole purpose of becoming a rockstar.
At 18, he lost part of his index finger on his left hand in a worksite accident in a paper factory. Already a skilled guitar player, the accident nearly drove him to suicide.
Incredibly, he retaught himself guitar in reverse – using his right hand to form chords and his left hand to strum. He also taught Xiao Bing, Residence A’s lead guitarist, how to play guitar.
Residence A, named after a modest lodging in the neighbourhood that Gou and Bing once dreamed of having the means to live in, is one of the hundreds of bands that have sprung up in Beijing, and across the country, over the past decade at a speed equal to China’s economic development.