List of Asians in Rock Music

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pianoman
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List of Asians in Rock Music

Post by pianoman »

This list was crowdsourced from multiple Asian Reddit subs, with some of my own information. It is heavily indebted to these two threads:
https://www.reddit.com/r/asianamerican/ ... n_members/
https://www.reddit.com/r/aznidentity/co ... rockmetal/

This list does not include rock bands from Asia, since there are too many and such a list would be somewhat pointless. There is a very, very long tail of underground or independent bands in America and the West generally. I have found that there has been a definite, marked proliferation of musical acts in the new millennium and, concomitantly, a marked decrease in expectations. (This is an observation about rock music in general, not specifically Asian rock musicians.) In my opinion, the legacy of the music produced in this period has yet to be established and may still change to a large degree going forward, so I have put them in their own category. If anybody is wondering where all the Asian ladies are, you will find them disproportionately represented there.

Pre-2000 musicians are ranked on an entirely subjective evaluation of the importance of the music they played, the visibility of the member in the band, and the level of their Asianness. Post-2000 musicians are listed roughly chronologically according to the start of their musical activity.


Pre-2000:

Damo Suzuki—singer in influential German krautrock band Can from 1970-73, considered the band’s best vocalist (of many) during the band’s most influential period
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James Iha—guitarist and founding member of Smashing Pumpkins, 1987-2000
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Rex Goh—Singaporean guitarist and occasional songwriter for Australian pop-rock duo Air Supply for three albums (second album in 1977, sixth album 1981, and seventh album 1982) and session guitarist
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John Myung—Korean-American bassist and founding member of the prog-metal band Dream Theater, 1985-present
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Phil Chen—session bassist from 1960s to present, worked and appeared in videos with Rod Stewart, played bass for Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, Bob Marley and more
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Hiro Yamamoto—Soundgarden's original bassist, credited with pushing the band towards experimental time signatures, 1984-89
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Jeff Lin—guitarist of the Seattle, WA alternative band Harvey Danger 1992-2009
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Sooyoung Park—singer and bassist of the post-hardcore band Bitch Magnet out of Oberlin College, 1986-1990, and singer/guitarist of Seam, 1991-2000
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Mike Park—saxaphonist and vocalist for San Jose, CA ska band Skankin’ Pickle, 1989-96. Went on to form his own Asian-themed ska bands, The Chinkees and The Bruce Lee band, and run an influential punk/ska record label, Asian Man Records
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Sothira Peng—Cambodian singer and founder of influential Berkely, CA hardcore punk band Crucifix, 1980-84
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Arnel Pineda—Filipino lead singer of the American band Journey since 2007 (recruited from YouTube videos), a move that caused backlash among Journey fans that required a public statement by the band
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Pokey Mo—drummer for NYC hardcore punk band Agnostic Front in its revival, 2009-present, and influential NYC thrash band Leeway, 1990-96 and reunions
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Joe Songco, Jay Rufino—Filipino drummer and guitarist of NYC hardcore band Outburst, 1980’s and reunions (Songco)
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Jimmy Yu—bassist for NYC straight-edge hardcore band Judge, 1989-91, and Death before Dishonor (there is a more famous band from Boston with the same name). Became a Buddhist monk and then entered Academia, completing a PhD in religion from Princeton in 2008. Teaches East Asian religion at Florida State University and has published three books
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Joe Hahn—Korean-American DJ for Linkin Park
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Lance Hahn—singer/guitarist of the San Francisco punk band J Church, 1992-2007
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Steve Gamboa—Filipino-American bassist for DC punk band Nation of Ulysses, 1988-92
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Post-2000:

Kazu Makino—singer of the New York-based international alternative band Blonde Redhead, 1993-present (changed to their present sound in early 2000s)
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Herman Li—British-Cantonese co-lead guitarist and founding member of power-metal band DragonForce, 1999-present, best known for their song “Through the Fire and Flames,” which was used for the most difficult level of the video game Guitar Hero III
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Joe Kwon—cellist and backup singer of folk-rock band The Avett Brothers, 2000-present
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Yuki Chikudate—singer and keyboardist of NYC band Asobi Seksu, 2001-2013
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Nancy Whang—keyboardist and vocalist of NYC alternative band LCD Soundsystem, 2002-present, and The Juan Maclean, 2002-present
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Cynthia Yih Shih—pianist and singer-songwriter from California based in Detroit who works under the name Vienna Teng, 2002-present
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Thao Nguyen—singer and songwriter of the San Francisco folk-rock band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, 2003-present
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Craig Pfunder—Korean-adoptee singer and guitarist of the band VHS or Beta, 2004-present
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Alex Zhang Hungtai—Taiwanese-Canadian global nomad responsible for the post-punk/stream-of-conscious/ambient/noise/dirty-electronic music released under the name Dirty Beaches, 2005-present (honestly not sure this is rock, but maybe it is)
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Steven Chen—guitarist and keyboardist for the LA band The Airborne Toxic Event, 2006-present
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Sam Lee—guitarist and keyboardist of the Boston, MA electronic-rock band Magic Man, 2010-2019
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Andrew Choi—Ivy-League and Julliard-educated indie-soul singer-songwriter who works under the name St. Lenox, 2011-present (this dude is no joke fo realz)
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Linh Le—bassist of the grrrl band Bad Cop/Bad Cop, 2011-present
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Melina Mae Duterte—Filipino-American singer-songwriter who works under the name Jay Som, 2012-present
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Yvette Young—multi-instrumentalist of the math-rock band Covet, 2014-present
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Sabrina Mai and Nat Lee—dream-pop group from San Francisco operating out of Brooklyn called No Vacation, 2015-present
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Ian Chang—drummer of experimental band Son Lux, 2015-present
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Rina Sawayama—Japanese-born British-raised shock-pop artist a la Lady Gaga who occasionally ventures into rock territory, 2017-present
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Half Asians, Pre-2000:

Kirk Hammet—Filipino-American guitarist of Metallica
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Joey Santiago—Filipino-American lead guitarist of influential alternative rock band The Pixies, 1986-present
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Mackie Jayson—Japanese-American drummer of the NYC hardcore punk band Cro-Mags through various incarnations of the band, 1984–1986, 1996–1999, 2008–2019
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Chi Cheng—Chinese-American bassist for the alternative metal band Deftones, 1990-2008 (when a traffic accident left him in a semi-vegetative state until his death in 2013)
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Mike Shinoda—Japanese-American singer of Linkin Park
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Miki Eleonora Berenyi—Japanese-Hungarian singer of the English band Lush, 1987-96
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Half Asians, Post-2000:

Teppei Teranishi—guitarist of Irvine, CA alternative rock band Thrice, 1999-present
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Doug Robb—singer of post-grunge band Hoobastank, 1994-present (changed to their present, commercially successful sound with their first major label record in 2001)
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Matt Tong—drummer for British band Bloc Party, 1999-2013
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Reuben Wu—British-Cantonese keyboardist for the English electronic-pop group Ladytron, 1999-present
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Karen Orzolek—Korean-American singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 2000-present
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Don Blum—drummer of indie band The Von Bondies, 2000-2011
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Priscilla Ahn—Korean-American indie-folk singer-songwriter, 2008-present
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Mitsuki Frances Laycock—Japanese-American singer-songwriter who works under the name Mitski, 2012-present
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Elaiza Santos—singer of indie band Crying, 2013-present
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Michelle Zauner—Korean-American singer-songwriter who works under the name Japanese Breakfast, 2013-present
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Asian-American bands of note:

The Slants—Self-described dance-rock band from Portland, Oregon, most famous for appealing the rejection of a trademark for their name which went all the way to the Supreme Court, 2006-19
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Run River North—Korean-American indie folk-rock band from LA, 2011-present
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