Sydney newcomers China Tiger released their debut single, ‘Belly Button’, last week and it is already making a splash.

The four-piece also announced a string of live shows to accompany the release, with more to follow. The first of these, the ‘Belly Button’ single launch, will take place at Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney on October 30.

Enter Tony friggin’ Hawk

If your parents didn’t let you have video games as a kid, let me fill you RIGHT in. Skateboarder Tony Hawk’s PS2 games were a bountiful cornerstone of millennial childhoods worldwide. Hawk is also a skateboarding champion in his own right. As if this wasn’t enough, he has forged an acting career as well, and set up a charity and a skateboard brand. The guy is a bloody Renaissance man.

tony hawk
Hell yeah

China Tiger are passionate advocates of mental health awareness. Consequently, they are donating the proceeds of their single launch to Black Dog Institute, a prominent mental health charity. The timing is auspicious, as October is Mental Health Month, with World Mental Health Day being marked on 10th October.

China Tiger reached out to Hawk to explain that all the proceeds from their single launch would be given to Black Dog Institute in support of World Mental Health Day. In response, the skateboarding legend gave the band a shoutout on his Facebook page. In typical Tony Hawk fashion.

“I just want to give a shoutout to China Tiger, the Aussie band,” Hawk said, “because they are doing a show in October for charity, for World Mental Health Day. I applaud that, I think that’s something we truly need more of.”

Hawk went on to explain that he has witnessed friends, and friends of his children, struggle with their mental health.

China Tiger’s ‘Belly Button’ itself touches on the strains that separation anxiety can cause to mental health. Singer and guitarist, Jake Stiles, said “‘Belly Button’ is about a period of time spent away from a loved one. The separation and the feelings of being apart.”

Far from being a tale of gloom and doom, Stiles said that the single is also, “a celebration of the women who have been important in my life. From my single mother, grandmother and partner at the time when I wrote this.”

“It’s no coincidence that we chose ‘Belly Button’ as our first release as it mirrors birth and the women that gift life into this world.”

A strange start

With Tony bloody Hawk in their corner, the birth of this Sydney band is anything but typical. This is clearly not lost on China Tiger, who described the shoutout as “the best thing ever!!” on their Facebook page.

China Tiger
China Tiger

After their single launch, China Tiger will play at Australian Music Week in Cronulla from the 6th-8th of November. This year, the festival features performances from a range of up-and-coming artists, as well as speeches from industry professionals. China Tiger are also preparing to announce interstate performance dates for later in the year.

In the lead-up to their first live shows, Hawk’s shoutout has undoubtedly bolstered China Tiger’s media presence. Indeed, Hawk is probably nowadays best known for his unique social media content, frequently documenting hilarious fan interactions on Twitter.

That’s not to say that appreciation for Hawk’s skateboarding career and video game portfolio has dwindled, however. In fact, the skateboarding legend is currently preparing to release a new documentary, Pretending I’m Superman.

The trailer dropped last month. And if that’s not enough Tony Hawk for you, Melbourne bar, The B.EAST, has some good news. The Brunswick East venue is hosting a free live gig featuring songs from the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack on October 12th.

It’s safe to say that we didn’t realise Tony Hawk’s career was so alive and well in 2019, and even safer to say that he’s an unlikely candidate for a China Tiger promo video.

However unlikely the partnership is, Hawk’s video for China Tiger reinforces the universal need to raise mental health awareness. To the skateboarder and the Sydney band that have reminded us of art’s power to initiate important discussions and act as an agent for change – thank you.