Dressed in oversized T-shirts, baggy pants and sneakers the three Beijingers look like any other youngsters in the capital, but are in fact China's first teen band, Huaer, or The Flowers.
They are preparing for their 10-year anniversary concert today at the Beijing Workers' Stadium, proving they are still one of the most popular groups in China.
They started their group when at school, vocalist and guitarist Zhang Wei was 15, drummer Wang Wenbo was 16 and bassist Guo Yang was 19.
"We're just crazy about music," Zhang, now 26, says. "The songs broadcast from the nearby store fascinated us which led to the birth of The Flowers."
They rented a 10-sq-m house in the outskirts of the city and rehearsed almost every day after school. Then they played at bars and broke out on the capital's music scene in 1998.
The name of the band was a result of their youth.
"In China young people are often compared to flowers, which represent the positive and active attitudes of Chinese youth-healthy, sunny and friendly," Zhang says.
After signing to a small indie music label, New Bees Music, they released their debut album, Beside the Happiness. Hits like Stillness, Class is Over and Disillusion, re-mixed by Hong Kong singers, topped the music charts.
"We had never seen that kind of stuff before, the crowds, screaming," Zhang says giggling.
"We were amazed and overwhelmed," Guo recalls.
In 2001, guitarist Shi Xingyu joined the band, allowing Zhang to focus more on his vocals. They gave many performances around China, causing a stir wherever they played. In 2002, Time magazine said they were representative of China's youth.
"We just want to bring happiness to as many people as possible. Since many people now live under great pressure, I hope our music can make them smile and relieve their heavy burdens," says Zhang.
"We want more people to know that young Chinese people can make great music as well. We are happy to show our attitudes toward life through our music," he adds.
In 2004, Flowers joined EMI and became known as a teen band. I Am Your Romeo, their following album, featured mixed musical styles such as hip-hop and electronica.
The band hit it big with the song Xi Shua Shua, from its fourth album Blooming Dynasty, in 2005. The album won numerous music awards around China and sold more than 200,000 copies, within 40 days.
"We are bold in experimenting with different musical styles and lyrics. Even our music videos are creative and funny," says Zhang.
For their following album, Flower Age Pageant, The Flowers shifted into a new direction, exploring their roots. The song Qiong Kai Xin, in particular, became a KTV hit with its familiar rhythms of traditional salespeople in Beijing. Songs like Give Me A Kiss and To Fall In Love With Onion became popular online.
"I miss the days when we first played on stage," Zhang says. "We knew nobody then and yelled out the lyrics without looking at the audience. It was probably horrible to them but we really enjoyed it. After all, being young and afraid of nothing are the privileges of being 15."
7:30 pm, tonight at Beijing Workers' Stadium, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang district. 6417-0068