Next for Ai Weiwei: Heavy-Metal Album
Seems prison time turned Ai Weiwei toward hard rock
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2013 2:52 AM CDT
Updated Mar 12, 2013 3:33 AM CDT
Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei waves to the journalists before he enter the Beijing No. 2 People's Intermediate Court last fall.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – Artist, activist, and persistent thorn in the side of Chinese authorities Ai Weiwei has decided to turn up the volume—by way of a heavy-metal album. The 55-year-old dissident says he gained an interest in music during the 81 days he was detained by authorities in 2011. The guards "would often ask me to sing songs, but because I wasn't familiar with music, I was embarrassed," he tells Reuters. "All I could sing was Chinese People's Liberation Army songs. After that I thought: when I'm out, I'd like to do something related to music."

Two of the songs on the artist's soon-to-be-released Divine Comedy album are about dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng. Ai says he isn't worried about authorities persecuting him over the album, but he doubts censors will allow it to be sold in China. For advice on distribution, he has turned to Elton John, who infuriated Chinese authorities with a shout-out to Ai during a concert in Beijing last year.