"No lyrics that criticize the ruling party," says The Captain, who does bass and vocals for Shore Leave. "No lyrics about ghosts/supernatural stuff." One anti-capitalist rule insists artists refrain from romanticizing the luxury life -- so no songs about tigers on leashes and Crystal-filled hot tubs, please.
The vague nature of these laws lets the government censor whatever they like for basically any reason, and a scary number of those reasons come down to bigotry. "You used to be able to sing pro-LGBT songs," says The Captain, "but that's changed," which keeps Shore Leave from performing this album opener:
This is the case despite the fact that China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from the official list of mental disorders in 2001, but maybe it's not too surprising. After all, the country still has forced electroshock conversion therapy.
Many bands dodge fallout by changing their most controversial lyrics before they submit them for review. Take Shore Leave's not-at-all-political ode to Parks And Recreation's alien cult leader, Zorp. "The promoter told us the 'revolution' lyrics in 'Armagedon-A-Go-Go' might be problematic," says The Captain. "So we wrote 'Revolution / They gonna burn city hall' as 'Evolution / They're gone, Arsenio Hall.'" Hey, nobody said the new tunes had to make any sense.