The Slants Taiwan Tour was—and still is—my favorite musical adventure. Tyler, Ken, Joe, and I had spent much of the past year solidifying our live show on stages across North America, so it felt like the right time to take Asia by storm. We were invited to perform at Spring Scream, an annual outdoor music festival in the southernmost region of Taiwan, and we decided to tour our way up and down the island. I had not been to the area since I was four; this could also be an opportunity to visit family members that I hadn’t seen in years. We wanted something to capture the experience, so we launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised the money needed to film the adventure.
Unlike all of our previous tours, I planned plenty of days off so we could explore the country. It was the first trip in six years where I wasn’t working on some kind of legal documents while traveling. I never felt so at ease! We spent most of the time hunting down the most delicious foods possible, especially in the sprawling night markets. In Taiwan, we were always known as the American band. All of the posters for our shows would say THE SLANTS (U.S.A.). No one called us the Asian band or even the Asian American band. Racial identity had an entirely different context there.
Here’s a music video for “Heartbeat is Heaven” that has scenes from the film we shot while there:
A few Taiwanese nationals were familiar with our band because they had read about our trademark woes in the newspaper, but they couldn’t wrap their heads around why the government was so disapproving of our name. They would say, “Wo bù míngbái wèishéme zhè shì yīgè wèntí” (I don’t understand why this is an issue). People in Asia never think that references to slanted eyes could be insulting. Why would they? Experiences with racism are vastly different when you’re the majority population and in power.
Here’s how we closed out our show at the Spring Scream festival: