Wednesday, November 23, 2011

INTERVIEW: My interview with progressive metallers CRANIAL INCISORED (Yogyakarta), 13 Oct 2011

My interview with Obet (drums) and Halim (guitarist) of CRANIAL INCISORED (Yogyakarta, Indonesia progressive death-metal)

By Dr Kieran James (University of Southern Queensland)

Interview: 13 October 2011 at Yogyakarta

Extra comments are given by Oki, bass player for DEATH VOMIT.

“Here if there are ten bands there are ten genres” – Halim, CRANIAL INCISORED

CRANIAL INCISORED is: Obet (drums), Halim (guitar), Mal (bass), and Didit (vocals).

Introduction: CRANIAL INCISORED is a progressive avant-garde death-metal band from Yogyakarta. It has a strong reputation and a sizeable following both in Indonesia and overseas. Its 2003 album Rebuild: the Interpretation of Irrational Behaviour was rated 82% and 77% by two reviewers at The band played “Bandung Berisik” in front of 20,000 people, the biggest metal event in South East Asia. The interview started just with Obet and then Halim joined us halfway through. Halim is an articulate and thoughtful guy and he provides very detailed answers. I am pleased to be able to present you my interview with him and Obet in Yogya on 13 October 2011. Extra comments are given by Oki, bass player for DEATH VOMIT.

Agung, Dimex, Obet, Halim (CRANIAL), Kieran
Kieran James: Hi Obet, can you please tell me about the band history.

Obet: I joined the band around five years ago, 2006. I know Cranial was born in 1998. I’m the third drummer. The first drummer was Fadly, the second drummer was Roy [Agus] of Death Vomit, [and] I am the third. I joined with the band. Actually [before this] I was a fan and a listener.

KJ: What type of music do you play?

Obet: In one song I play a bar of material ... [then] there is chaotic math, math metal; an example is Dillinger Escape Plan [USA]. It is also like the band Naked City [USA].

KJ: What are your main influences?

Obet: Each player has a different influence. Personally I listen to many types of music not only death-metal – jazz, rock, [and] progressive [KJ: Obet works as a drum teacher.]

KJ: How many albums has the band had?

Obet: Two. I play on the second album. [KJ: The two albums are Rebuild: the Interpretation of Irrational Behaviour in 2003 and Lipan’s Kinetic in 2009.]

KJ: Which cities have you played?

Obet: Jakarta, Bandung, East Java, Bali, Central Java. Actually my band’s music is not too much death-metal.

[At this point Halim arrives and joins the interview but unfortunately the restaurant has stopped serving food]

Halim: We started in around 1998-99.  Of the original members I am the only one [to continue] until now. It started as original, old-school death-metal. We played Cannibal Corpse covers in the studio [everyone smiles including Oki of DEATH VOMIT who is here watching]. We changed in the year 2000. We put in many other influences such as jazz, math music [and] noise. We made our first album in 2003. That’s the first time we unveiled our new style to the public. This was maybe the first time this music [style] has been played in Indonesia. Others may have begun to experiment but had not yet released an album in that style. We used this drummer [Halim pats Obet on the shoulder] in 2006 and we made our second album in 2008. We released this album in 2009. After releasing in 2009 we got award for Best Death Metal Album in 2010 in the magazine Trax. The album was called Lipan’s Kinetic.

We have another change after this album. We always explore from one style to another, we have more jazz, more math, [and] it’s more complicated [and] unpredictable. When we gave our first album people were still shocked by this style but, by the second album, we stuck with our style and broke all the borders within the style. People think some aspects are not compatible with death-metal but we put it in our own music.

KJ: Oki, what do you think of this band?

Oki DEATH VOMIT: It’s a good band to me; it’s an old band too. With their style they are the first in Indo.

KJ: What are the future plans you have?

Halim: To explore. We don’t know what style we will progress to. We grow, we develop, we push our limits, [and] we don’t know where we will go...

KJ: Now for what all the other guys in other bands say is the hard question: Why do you think death-metal is so popular in Indonesia now?

Halim: I think maybe because New Wave of American Heavy Metal [KJ: this term includes 1990s bands such as Pantera, Biohazard, and Machine Head and later Unearth, Shadows Fall and Lamb of God] makes the young people to like new bands and a transfer in popularity [takes place] from the old-school to the new. Many young people like it just temporarily now. We don’t know whether they will like it [more than] temporarily. The mainstream media assists in making us popular – many new bands, many new styles.

KJ: If some people say “you are Indonesian why do you play western music”, what will you say to them?

Halim: This music is universal. We play some western music but we mix it with other new styles. We take many styles and we put it out with many new styles.

KJ: What are some good things with the Yogya scene?

Halim: One word: “different”.

KJ: “Different” within itself or “different” from other scenes?

Halim: Different in itself and different from other cities, not just in death-metal but in culture and art. It’s like a treasure but it needs to be found. Many artists here perform different types of art but they are still unknown in other countries. Here if there are ten bands there are ten genres.

KJ: Are there any problems in playing death-metal here?

Halim: No because we play for fun.

KJ: What other jobs do you have?

Halim: Graphic design.

KJ: What is the contribution of DEATH VOMIT to the scene here?

Halim: A major contribution as I learned from them. I personally learnt from Sofyan [guitar/ vocals for DEATH VOMIT] as to how to contact metalheads outside, correspondence with bands in other countries, how to get magazine interviews, something like that. That made me an addict with that. When I send my demo and someone I don’t know gives a review that is priceless. It’s very different if they know me. That made me an addict to contact and know others.

Obet: I agree with that.

KJ: What are your lyrics about?

Halim: Science fiction, psychology, the future, no gore. The vocalist writes the lyrics. He asks what we want to put in the lyrics. I suggest to him maybe something from the movies. He does all the details.

KJ: You don’t like to write gore lyrics?

Halim: No, no [smiles].

KJ: What are your upcoming plans?

Halim: We plan South East Asia tour and the new album in process.

KJ: What have you started for the new album?

Halim: Three. The final song is still in process in the studio, not ready to play.

KJ: What are the changes for the new album?

Halim: Like Meshuggah [Sweden], the tempo, make it more like math.

KJ: This is similar to the earlier question about death-metal in Indonesia but this time it’s more personal. Why do you like to play death-metal?

Halim: It can push my limits. When I do it I will get more character to grow up, to develop my skills, [and] to gain knowledge. That’s why I explore new influences, to grow up.

KJ: Lastly, any message for the fans?

Halim: The music is fun and that’s why we still play what we play now and tomorrow.

KJ: Do you look forward to play in Hellnation Festival on 17 October?

Halim: Yes. This is the anniversary so it’s like a party for us.

KJ: Do you play in any other bands?

Halim: Our bassist plays in DEVOURED.

KJ: Do you like to have other bands join you on stage like Bobby Rock of BLEEDING CORPSE sometimes joins TURBIDITY on stage?

Halim: I like to but we have not prepared it yet [laughs].

Halim: We played once in jazz festival here. It was a two day fest and we were the only metal band that played there. The experience was [that] people were shocked. They gave us a big applause after their initial shock. Many old men were there.

Cynic [USA] was a major influence, Gorguts [Canada] maybe, the Obscura [1998] album yeah. Also Cephalic Carnage [USA], they use many jazz styles, and Dillinger Escape Plan, and Meshuggah.

KJ: Are there any other bands in Yogya using this style?

Halim: No.

[The interview had to end here as it was 12.30am and I had an early train out from Yogya the next morning. It seemed that Halim still had more things he wanted to say! I look forward to interview CRANIAL INCISORED and the other Yogya death bands again another time.]


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