1 Hi John, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview with us. First can you tell us how you first got introduced to Indonesian metal.
Thank you guys so much for having me in your great mag, Im really glad to be featured and that our book has hit the world! Well, thats a good question - it all started actually with mine and my sister Lenas mothers 60th birthday. I´ve always been a huge fan of rock and metal music from an early age and we´ve always traveled much with our family for vacations when I was a kid. So the passion for travel was something I kept as an ”adult kid” haha so I backpacked as much as I could possibly afford during my 20´s ... actually I try to travel as soon as I get a chance today as well, I just love it. Anyway, when our mom would turn 60 the family wanted to celebrate her extra special so we bought her a trip to Southeast Asia - my nr 1 favourite choice - so we went to Thailand and Malaysia. I work as a photographer with mainly live shows and events (preferably metal hehe ) so I wanted to combine my 3 biggest passions in life - metal music, travel and photography. I wished to do like a cool photobook with only pics from metal gigs throughout Southeast Asia and my sister Lena who´s a journalist would write smaller captions to the pics. That was the plan. I remembered this metal gig I accidently stumbled upon up in Northern Thailand back in 2006 so I decided to find out more about the metalscenes in Southeast Asia. Since I knew nothing about this back then I assumed that Thailand would have the biggest and most developed scene since it has much more tourism and therefore better contact with the West, I thought. But when I dug deeper into the jungle of Myspace and got in contact with more and more fans, bands, labels etc the truth soon hit me and I discovered a whole new world. Damn, I was so overwhelmed by how fucking big the scenes were and especially in Indonesia, even back in 2008 you would see that the profiles on Myspace with the coolest music and artwork and of course with the bigges following - they were basically all Indonesian metal bands. I found Man Jasad and his band Jasad, Outright, Burgerkill, Beside, Siksakubur, Dead Vertical, Deadsquad, Demons Damn, Forgotten, Tengkorak, Eternal Madness etc etc and I realized that most of these kick ass bands came from one and the same city, some city called Bandung. What was this all about? Some Tampa-thing just popping out form the middle of nowhere, away from the capitol and with some of the coolest and most special bands? I just had to know more about it and when I got to know Man Jasad and the guys at Common Room everything just exploded, and we both knew my sister and I that we just had to go there and interview them all for our book. So after our parents left Malaysia to go home to Sweden when the holiday was over we stayed for 3 months, travelling around in the underground metalscenes of The Phlippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. We had our own ”metal guides” taking us around in their scenes wherever we would go and we were once again totally overwhelmed by the vastness and complexity of the scenes we discovered - and especially Indonesia who´s by far the most dynamic, alive and throbbing scene in the entire Southeast Asia! And all the people w emet told us so fascinating stories about their lives so we felt we had to skip the original idea of just live pics from gigs and instead make a ”real” book with more text and interviews, like portraits of the driving spirits in the metalscenes. So it became this 208 pages monster of a book haha and took almost 4 years to complete.
2. How has the book "Labour of Love and Hate" been received in your home country and in South East Asia?
The reception has been incredibly great, much better that we could have ever expected man. We decided to do everything DIY so we had to learn how the hell you make a book haha. My friend Robert did the layout and design, I did all the work with the photographs and Lena did all the text and text work and we let our friends who were into metal and journalism to proofread everything. And since we had spent all our savings on the project we did a successfull Crowdfunding campaign in 2011 were people supported the project by preordering the book - which made the beautiful and expensive print possible. So its so extra special when the book gets fine reviews in the biggest media over here, we really take it to out hearts. This is our Labour of Love & Hate you know hehe. It has been reviewed and featured in Swedens largest newspapers, calling it a master piece, in Swedens biggest metal mag, 3 full pages in Metal Hammer with additional text and comments from almighty Max Cavalera, in The Independent Sunday Edition, Bizarre Magazine ( calling it ”spectacular and a rock n roll revolution that will blow your mind! ”, just to name a few. Actually we havent got so much media coverage in Southeast Asia yet for some weird reason, which is kinda strange since the book is released in The UK by one of the worlds biggest distributors. But on the other hand, since I´m doing all the marketing and promotional work I have to focus on one thing at the time and I had to focus on the Western media first - to get the word out over here about the fantastic scenes in Southeast Asia, cause almost no-one knows about this over here. So I thought that that would be the most important first - to spread this metal/hardcore/punk evangelium to the West first. And now Buzuk Magazine!
3 . What was your motivation for writing the book (along with your sister)?
4. Have you kept any records of worldwide sales figures so far?
The thing is that since we are doing this by our own, with the help of some great distributors of course, then we can decide everything about anything - I love that. We´ve decided do use some of our stock as a capital for PR and promotion and some cool guerilla marketing - like giving the book to famous and important metal artists like Max Cavalera, Lamb of God, Machine Head, Cannibal Corpse, Gojira, Devildriver, Killswitch Engage, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Black Dahlia Murder etc etc. And of course to all the magazines and websites that has reviewed and featured us. We also gave the book to almost everybody featured in the book itself, as a thank you for all the incredible help. I ´ve also sent many books to Common Room so they can sell the book directly to the fans in Indonesia. All this means that many books have been given away for free, giving us some invaluable exposure and promotion, so all the books are not sold to buying costumers. But lets say like this - we made 1000 copies in the first original run, 110 of them were pre-orders from the Crowdfunding and maybe 150-200 books have been promotion books given for free, and now we only have around 250 left in stock. So around 750-800 books are out there in peoples hands or book shelves and thats awesome.
5. Is there a plan for a Bahasa Indonesian version? You know some of the metalheads struggle with the English.
Hell yeah, we really hope that will happen! Zemo in Common Room in Bandung has given the book to a local publisher so we hope that turns out great, and Kimung is working on a translation but Im not exactly sure how thats going as we speak. We are absolutely aware of the language barrier and would love ot if someone would like to make an Indonesian version. Hopefully there is an US-version in the works but I cant tell you anything more about since its still very unofficial hehe...
We actually only went to Jakarta, Bandung, Bali but also to Banda Aceh up north on Sumatra, so I´ve never been to Surabaya, Yogja etc. I would love to go sometime though cause I´ve heard from friends in the scene that these places also have a brutal and vibrant metal scene! Our favourite scene is without a doubt Bandung, its amazing whats happening there. So many bands in all kind of genres and also the fact that they are developing this kind of Sunda Death Metal, its soo cool! I really think that if Indonesia or any other country for that matter, would like to stand out on an international metal market then they have to somehow make something from their own roots, and not only copy their western idols. Take what you love about these western bands and try to mix it with something unique and special and characteristic from where you are from, your musical roots. I think the Scandinavian melodic metal sound comes from somewhere within ourselves, some strange Nordic melodic string that dates back to our ancestors, or just back to something primal nordic. If you would listen to our folk songs then you would notice that it kind of shares this melodic thing, with our death metal and also punk. So when these bands in Bandung mix their local Sunda tribal instruments and values then it becomes something unique and special, something that people havent heard before and I just love that about Bandung. I know there are some bands on Bali incorporating Gamelan and local music and that also sounds really progressive and cool, I wish more bands would dare to look where they are and what they got to make them unique. Be proud of your heritage and your local culture and music - it will set you apart from the rest! And also why love Bandung is because they have such a great movement going on, with people working closely together and crossing genres and always working towards their local scenes best. We dont have that anymore in Sweden man, at least not as big as it was back in the 80´s and 90´s. I really think that Indonesian metal will be the next metal revolution!
|BLEEDING CORPSE (Bandung)|
Yeah I know these scenes exist but I have never been there. There´s a scene in pretty much every city and state in Indonesia, its so cool. When we did the book we went home to one of our very best friends Man Jasad´s childhood home in Garut. I think we misunderstood Man Jasad when he said that Garut is just a small village, he cant have meant that. But the funny thing is we wrote in the book that Garut is a small village. Then I realize, years after when seeing a poster on Facebook about something like Garut Death Fest - I was surprised since I thought it was just some village and I´d check it out and see that there´s like more than a million people living there. Hahaha, our capitol in Sweden has like 1 million people! So anyway, we went to Borneo for the book but not Kalimantan, only the Malaysian side. We visited Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. For some reason there´s more Death Metal and hardcore down in Kuching and more black metal up in the northern parts, in Sabah. But I suppose thats all as it should be - Black Metal up North hehehe... I would love to go to Balikpapan to Yoedi - thats so awesome, thank you so much! Hope he recovers wells and fast man!
8. OK, I was asked this question by a chick Ms. Feby doing a university thesis on metal in Bandung - "is Sundanese Death Metal a new genre?" (hard question hey)...
Hahaha I actually think its not sucha hard question and the answer is - Fuck yes there´s a genre called Sundanese Death Metal! I mean just look at whats happening in Bandung right now! Bands like Jasad and Forgotten are already mixing Sunda elements into their death metal and Karinding Attack who´s doing it hardcore with only bamboo instruments - I really think thats something unique and it will set the Bandung scene apart from the rest and hopefully in 10 years or so from now the genre will be full-blown with more bands pushing the limits. Like I said earlier, I really truly think that in order to make a mark on an international metal map, a genre like Sundanese Death Metal has to come alive and it has to be nurtured and bands cant give up the idea if it doesnt happen for them quickly - you have to refine it and work with it in order to make it really good and perfect. The Gothenburg sound just happened, people still have problems explaining exactly why it happened - it just did - but the bands nurtured it and kept on refining it since it was something that made them special and it felt natural, it came from the inside. I think we´re just in the begining of this Sundanese revival and I cant wait to see more proud Sunda band taking this to the next level! Do it hahaha! Oh I must point out that I absolutely love the Sundanese break down on the Laras Perlaya album by Forgotten, when the flutes comes in, I mean its just so fucking heavy and sick - it gives the songs a whole new level and the atmosphere is so evil and creepy yet powerful and mighty.
9. Can you give us one story from your experiences in Indonesia which is funny or weird or interesting (which is not in the book)?
Eh, hmmm, let me think....this is going to be a looong answer hehehe. Well the most weird is actually in the book, when Man Jasad took us to an Debus Api and let us witness first hand how powerful the force of Debus is. Thats the most interesting and mindblowing I´ve experienced in my whole life I think. The Api beat me over the head with a Rotan baseball bat really hard, but I didint feel a thing! No blood, no pain - just magic haha. But of course I have lots and lots of stories that has happened to the both of me and Lena during this 4 year adventure that it took us to complete this monster book. But I´d like to focus on the important memories that we really have taken to our hearts and that made this book possible.
Most memories are actually from all the fantastic people who we´ve met and that helped us, they opened up their lives for us and they were really so fantastic. Like the guys in Ipoh in Malaysia who waited for us at the train station, we had never met them and had no contact with them but their friend was the organiser of the Metal gig that we came there on a 7 hour train ride just to see and he had told them to pick us up. So they were waiting for some bules they´d never met and then they just took us around Ipoh helping us book a return ticket back to Kuala Lumpur, getting money from ATM´s that wouldnt work, got us food and took us to the venue. We met such incredibly friendly and hospitable people all over Southeast Asia wherever we went in the metal scenes - and especially in Indonesia.
Man Jasad, I actually consider him to be my brother after everything we´ve done together. When my mother and wife followed me back to Bandung in 2011 when the book was sent to print, we went home again with Man to his mother and sister in Garut. We´ve always said that someday our mothers should meet. That was a very emotional meeting, Mans family is so wonderful and their hospitality knows absolutely no boundaries or limits - I think we all cried for like 3 hours hahaha. Me and Man Jasad even share the same birthday so we got the opportunity to celebrate our birthday together with our mothers and family in their living room, they had even bought a cake for us. My mom had brought real Swedish bracelets from our indigenous people as a gift to Mans mother and sister, since Man is interested in tribes and all. We also gave Man a Swedish Thors Hammer necklace and I´m wearing the crossed daggers that symbolises Bandung Death Metal Syndicate arund my neck, made out of bones. I will never forget the love and warmth that Man Jasad and his family has given me and my family - if you read this Man - we truly love you and thank you for everything from the very bottom of our hearts. Brothers.
And I have to mention Bart from Outright who really helped us in Bandung, letting us sleep and live in his house with his great family and he took us around Bandung, showing us the metal movement from the inside. All the guys at Common Room, Gustaff, Kimung, Zemo, Butche - the list goes on - you all made our stay in Indonesia something extremely wonderful for us! Respect!
And Dayu HongKong and her husband Moel from Eternal Madness on Bali who took us around the entire island, showing us the Bali Metal Heads and how they operate and work together. We actually got featured in Balinese metal radio with Dick from Bleeding Soul - that was really cool!
MangMing and the Maggots crew up in Banda Aceh - who took us on a Tsunami tour around town and showed us the devastation from the Tsunami, it was a wonderful experience to see how metal music can exist in such hostile environment with civil war, tsunami and strict sharia laws making it more difficult for the scene to work - but they keep on fighting and making good music. Oh by the way, Maggots (metal band from Banda Aceh ) are also making some local ethnic Aceh Metal with bamboo flutes and traditional drums and stuff like that, singing about their struggle for survival in there region. Its in the books last chapter, I really love that one.
Lastly and this is of course my strongest memory hehe, I proposed to my girlfriend Karolina to marry me in Common Room, right after Karinding Attack had band practice. Luckily she said yes and chaos erupted in Common Room hahaha - people were jumping and shouting around the room and everybody were so happy. Myy mother and karolina cried of happiness ( I dont crie since I´m a cool metalhead haha, no just kidding, I also cried a little hehe ) and its just such a fine and strong memory. I have the inscription” Bandung 12-01-13 ” on the inside of my wedding ring against my skin. Thats how much Bandung and our Bandung family means to us.
I think its awesome what you are doing and I have no comments on how to make it better, its already so good man. Of course I wish more articles were in english but thats just me. And maybe in a near future some of those interviews/articles will be in english somewhere else ;) Teamwork - lets do some magic together hehe.
11. OK, we don't make anyone jealous but can you give us your five favourite Indonesian metal bands (any city, any genre)?
Ok, here it goes, without any specific order I just list all the bands I like and since they are so many Im sorry if I forget someone, please dont put an evil spell on me :)
- Bersimbah Darah
- Demons Damn
|Popo (DEMONS DAMN), Bobby Rock (HYDRO)|
Yeah - you should be proud of yourselves and know that you have support world wide - the Indonesian underground metal/hardcore/punk movement is unique and extremely skilled, vibrant and strong. Its getting recognition more and more internationally now, you are in the beginning of something huge. We actually dont have this kind of strong and united scene here in Sweden anymore, Im really jealous of how you guys work and live together in your metal communities - I wish that I could be a part of something remotely similar here in Sweden. You have so much love and passion for what you´re doing. Me and my sister are extremely thankful to be a part of your movement and we will always do our best to promote and support you. Believe in yourself and keep on fighting for your passion and music, no-one can stop you if you´re true to yourself and make the kind of music that comes from your heart and soul. Please, please dont make the same mistakes that´s been done overhere when many bands start focusing on which music is the most profitable and will get them laid or on the radio or shit like MTV and make them famous - then the fire in this movement will die and the communities will be divided and weak. Unite yourselves and fight for the scenes, dont care about borders of genres and stuff like that as long as its true and has the right spirit. Let the music you love be a vehicle for your rebellion against everything you want to change in your life and the society - if its politics, religion, conservative parents or groups that oppress you in anyway - your own music and this strong music movement is your best way to be heard and maybe make a difference, and also find your identity in this globalised world. Be strong and proud - Sampurasun!