Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interview with A Band Once

If you're a fan of alternative Indonesian bands such as Sheila on 7 or Padi, and if you're looking for a band with a local Bruneian flavour, then look no further than A Band Once. Already gathering quite a following amongst Bruneian music fans, they're poised to break through the local barrier and into the international mainstream consciousness.

The story of how the band formed seems like one accident after another, snowballing into the culmination of their band as it is now. Since then they have been championed by local radio, Pelangi FM and stormed into their charts, and recently they've won the Best Newcomer category for 2008/2009 Pelangi Awards.

The most important thing though, is the music. Their songs are of heartbreak and hope, almost an apology to past relationships that never worked out. Does that differentiate them from other bands? No, but does it matter when it's done this well? A Band Once are talented musicians, with songs to match.

Anyway, the interview was done with Syafiq Affendi, who will be shortened to S. And I, as always, will be initialled M.

S for Syafiq

M: What are your primary influences for this band?

S: Kerispatih, Samsons , d'Masiv, Peterpan, Sheila On 7, Padi, Switchfoot, Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, Muse, Silverchair, Maroon 5.

M: When did all of you start listening to Indonesian Rock?

S: Since 2001-2003

M: When was A Band Once formed? Are all the original members still playing?

S: A Band Once was formed initially by three of us - Syafiq, Izzat and Padil. From a three-piece, we became a six-piece slowly from 2006 until now.

M: Any memorable live performances?

S: The most memorable live performance has to be a private function in 2006, when Faizul just came into the band. We performed in front of hundreds of people our age, and their response was overwhelming, despite us not being well-known at that time. On the other hand if you consider the fact that the band is now quite well-known in Brunei, the recent Pelangi Awards 2008/2009 was definitely THE MOST memorable performances. As we played our songs we could hear the 3000-strong crowd cheering on throughout. Plus, we only found out when we watched the recording of our performance that the crowd was all cheering and singing along to our songs. Most memorable, and very heart warming indeed. :D

M: Your two most famous songs are 'Te'a' and 'Kembalilah.' Do you have anything else written or plans to write other songs? Any plans for an album?

S: We have submitted three songs to Pelangi FM, Kristal FM and Pilihan FM, the two you mentioned above as well as 'Waktu Berakhir'. Our fourth recorded song is on its way, and we actually have more songs up our sleeves. We are planning to release an EP, once we get everything organised, our music mastered fully and we're also waiting for the right timing to release the EP.

A Band Once - Kembalilah (Live)

M: What or who are you lyrical influences? Any musical/non-musical heroes that have influenced you musically or ideologically?

Faizul: The fact that I'm a singer, I sing my ass off different kinds of genre except for Dangdut and with that it gave me much exposure for me to write lyrics and honestly it's never been easy , ideas come spontaneously..

M: Local support is obviously vital to help the local music industry thrive. How has the local support been for your band? How has the reception towards your band been?

S: Local support has been very, very overwhelming! Initially of course we were very nervous as to if the public will have a positive or negative impression of us, releasing a song which sounds Indonesian. But at the end of the day, we kept receiving requests for new songs, and thus we're out in the Brunei music scene with three songs on air, and more up our sleeves.

M: What's the story behind your band name, A Band Once?

S: Well, this one's quite long, you can get the details from our Facebook fanpage biography, bro! :D

M: Some local people are very skeptical towards the positive progress that has been made by Bruneian bands. Do you think these people are justified in thinking so, or do you think they're just being cynical?

S: We've met lots of people, with different views - the negative ones tend to be more cynical towards bands like us, calling us copies or whatnots but hey, the majority of the people out there love our songs and we are glad.

There are some of them who are just skeptical, but most of them, if not all, have changed their minds after seeing us progress, and we hope that all of the local artists including us, continue to open up the minds of the negatives.

M: How far do you think Brunei is from a music industry where musicians become professionally appreciated and can be viable career choices rather than side-projects?

S: Brunei is still far from reaching that status, although we are progressing, it's very slow. I can only see ourselves as the people who starts the spark where the music industry in Brunei will become as big as overseas, and future artists may benefit from our efforts.

M: Last question, in five words, describe your band, without using genre labels.

S: Fun, friendly, open-minded, positive, neutral.

*End of Interview*

If you're reading this in Brunei, please request on the radio for their songs to be played on Kristal FM, Pelangi FM and Pilihan FM. You can request for 'Kembalilah,' 'Te'a' and 'Waktu Berakhir'. Support our local scene.

Signing out

Over and out

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