Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Interview with Not Famous: Cousins, Chemistry & Caffeine


This is my first interview in quite a while, and I'm stoked about it. I managed to contact Paul Bokhari, drummer of Bruneian punk rock band Not Famous, and he has kindly agreed to be interviewed.

Before I direct you to the Q&A, you might want to check them out all over the interweb. They update their Twitter quite regularly, and they also have a video blog, which you can check out to see what they're up to. Songs from their first album are up for listening/scrutiny on their website.

Not Famous recently performed a series of gigs to mark their comeback after a four-year hiatus and are planning to record a second album very, very soon.

Not Famous is, despite the name, one of the more well-known local bands. Their comeback will definitely mark a change in their sound, and presumably a new-found maturity that might make their second album a more polished, more defined sound than the first. The first was a great pop punk record, akin to early Blink-182 pre-Take Off Your Pants & Jacket/Enema Of The State. The second, well, only Not Famous knows for now. Even Blink-182 had to grow up. And oh, even Blink-182 is planning a comeback record.

I'm M, and Not Famous is NF.

M: What are your primary influences? You remind me a lot of early Blink-182.

NF: A bit of everything. Honestly, we don't see ourselves being synonymous to other bands/groups. We mix it with our juice. Hahaha... and yes, we did started out sounding like Blink182 in the early days but since then, many has changed. Every one of us listens to different kinds of music nowadays.

M: For how long has punk rock been a part of the band members' lives?

NF: It's been way back. We don't think we could recall specifically.

M: The band was formed in 2001. How did that happen? Were you friends a long time before that?

NF: Actually, Adam and Asa are blood brothers and as for Paul, he's a cousin. FIRST cousin. So pretty much, we've been close since we were still running in diapers. Haha. Seriously.

M: Why the name Not Famous?

NF: We were actually participating for a small battle of the bands event held by some friends and we have not named our band during the periods of practice. And it all came in randomly when Paul said 'Not Famous'. Adam & Asa were puzzled but agreed for the name to be used for that event. The name just echoed into our ears from the chant we had from the audience. We kinda liked it and that's how it happened.

M: You recently performed your first show in quite a while. How was it? Any other memorable performances?

NF: It was pretty exciting but at the same time nerve-wrecking. Since we've been on a long 4 years hiatus, things weren't the same anymore. 'We're NOT 18 Anymore'. During the hiatus, we've all learn new things that we have incorporated into making the comeback. There were a lot of hard work and lots of practices as well as new songs to be written to achieve our next goal, the second album for 2010. Although we did screw up some of the songs in on the first show. But we're good. All we need is more practice. As for previous memorable performances, there were many but let's just focus on the future. :)

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

NF: As lyricists, there isn't any other lyrical influences other than life itself. Over the years, we've encountered lots of things. We seemed to be writing our life experiences into our music.

M: I hear you're recording your second album. When will it be released and what's the title?

We have yet to step into the studio for recording until January. We are actually preparing our music accordingly until we can find the best structures and elements for the songs. As for the title of the album, it has not been decided yet. For all we know, we could call it 'The Return Of The PooBags'.

M: Why the long wait for the second album? And what got you guys back into the music scene?

As we got older, life is not what it seems years ago. We've been busy with work and our social lives and in between that, it was difficult to keep track with our schedules together. After all, 'We're NOT 18 Anymore'. Haha :) How we got back into the music scene? Well, its simple really....We kinda miss it! One of the best things being in a band is performing on stage with people you know all your life.

M: How will the second album compare to the first? How have Not Famous developed both as musicians and as people between these two?

NF: It's way different. But then again, we'd rather have the listeners differentiate between the two albums once its out. We'd love to hear the feedback. We've changed a lot over the years as musicians and as people. That's all we can say for now.

M: Suggest us a local band other than Not Famous that you think we should check out.

NF: Well, during our first two recent shows, we got acquainted with a few local bands such as 'Klip', 'D'hask' and 'Bulan'. Check them out.

M: What gear do you use?

NF: Gears? Simply, we are still using our first album equipments. A Washburn Hollow Body guitar, a Fender Jazz Bass and a PDP Drumset. For the second album, we will be using some new equipments to go with the taste of our music including a ukulele, a monkey bass and bongos for audience attractions.

M: What's the song in the first album you guys are most proud of?

NF: We wanna say we like all of them but then, that would be a vicious lie. So in our honest opinion, it's not even a song from the album because it was unofficially released online a month after the album launch and it's called 'Day After Tomorrow'.

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?

NF: For now, we don't really see that happening but maybe, just maybe in the near future. Don't you think so, Jay? Hmmm....?? Hahaha :)

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

NF: Commitment, Chemistry, Creativity, Curses. And the next other 'C' word will have to be........... Caffeine.

*End of Interview*

I apologise for the constant Blink-182 comparison. I only do it because I was absolutely in love with Blink-182, like everyone else. And I was gutted when I found out they broke up. When I heard that they reunited, I felt like a child again. Not Famous reminds me of that special feeling.

Signing out

Over and out

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Green Light

It's been a while since I updated. Well, after a term of *cough* hard work, I'm now on holiday. For a disgustingly short three weeks.

Anyway, upcoming stuff include interviews with a quite well-known punk band in Brunei and a producer/musician recently nominated for the VIMA 2010. I'm also going to see Fran & Josh battle it out in London for a place at the Base Camp Rocks. After that is the long-delayed Lost From Atlas album launch.

I've got myself a new Flip Mino HD, which means from now on gig videos will be so much clearer. In all probability, the first chance I can use it might be in the first week of the new year, since I'm struggling to find any decent gigs in London before that.

Signing out

Over and out

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Rage Factor

Is it that time again?

The Christmas charts. The inevitability of yet another X-Factor winner being auto-tuned into stardom with a hastily recorded cover of an existing popstar touted as the 'perfect Christmas single.' And that single will become number one when Christmas comes. Just as it had been, since The X-Factor came about in 2005.

But wait, what's this?

Rage Against The Machine neck and neck with Joe McElderry in the UK charts? How can this be? A 12-year old track protesting against bigotry against a Miley Cyrus cover about the tough path to fame? Fuck you, I won't believe what you tell me.

Jolly stuff

But lo, 'tis true. A Facebook group with the self-explanatory title of "Rage Against The Machine For Christmas No. 1" is attempting to take back the charts with defiant Rage. Yes, it is quite surprising to find out people are actually quite sick at Simon Cowell trying to manipulate the public's musical taste by churning out pop puppets every year with a massive popularity contest that, as shown by the presence of horrible singers Jedward (amongst many), has never concentrated on actual talent.

In fact, I quite loved Jedward because it exposed The X-Factor for what it is. A popularity contest. It showed that people with no musical talent can make it in the show. At first I thought Jedward was taking the piss of X-Factor, only joining to protest ironically by being as bad as possible and still get through to the next round. I haven't been proven wrong.

So what has Simon Cowell said about all this Killing In The Name fiasco? Well, he finds it 'stupid' and 'cynical.' He has remarked that this attempt 'robs' Joe of his deserved Number One. Wait, what? I know that Simon Cowell is quite conceited, but this just takes the cake. So let me get this straight. The twat actually is convinced that the winner of his reality show has the god-given right to get a Number One Christmas single.

Rage Against Rage Against The Machine

Whoa, Simon. Get over yourself. You are not the chartmaster. Whatever you produce isn't an automatic number one. Like usual, chart-toppers fight their way to the top. They don't 'deserve' it. "Killing In The Name" doesn't have the right either, but it is sure as hell fighting for it. Being Numero Uno is not a right, it's a privilege. And if you ask me, a privilege that's not been handed to the right people most of the time. But hey, if that's what the masses want, I'll get out the way and get back to my obscure band CDs and look at vinyls at the local record shop.

And now a large part of the masses want "Killing In The Name" for Christmas. If more want it than "The Climb," then great. I'm happy, because it shows I'm not the only one disillusioned at the state of the music industry. If Rage gets Number Two, I'll still be happy. It shows that the pop music factory cannot afford to be complacent anymore. They can't afford to be lazy and just expect a Christmas hit single. Rage Against The Machine. What an appropriate name for the campaign.

Do I have anything against the X-Factor contestants personally? Well, to be honest, no. The road to stardom is hard. And it's the likes of Simon Cowell that's manipulating the crowd, not the contestants. But I do find Simon Cowell's choice of song for the single really vomit-inducing. "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus? A song about how tough it is to make it in the music industry? I won't even get into the fact that I hate Miley Montana or whatever her name is. That's another story. But to make it seem like Joe McElderry's climb to fame as something 'epic' or 'tough' is just extremely laughable.

He went from being an unknown to a household name in 6 months in a reality TV show. That is not tough. You know what is tough? The effort put by bands who tour, rehearse, drive their own vans, set up their own equipment, give out their own flyers, sell their own merchandise, write their own songs, and sweat it out in the smallest venues in the most obscure places. Now that's tough.

Unless you're driving one of these

Joe McElderry's "Climb" is more like an escalator than a mountain compared to the bands who's got so much blood, sweat and tears invested into making the music they love.

Signing out

Over and out

Now playing: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's All Clearer Now

After today, when I record gigs, it should be much, much clearer, with better sound quality.

That's because Pill got me a Flip Mino HD for my belated birthday. Woohoo.

Here's a sample. Don't forget to watch it in HD.

It'll also be great for exploring Paris. And a lot of other stuff.

Signing out

Over and out

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tumbling Down

I made myself a Tumblr blog (if that's how you call it).

So if you ever wonder what I think when I'm not writing about music on this blog, go on to Tumblr. But I really doubt any of you are interested. As it is, I don't have that many readers here anyway.

But again, just like this blog, my Tumblr is just a place for me to write about the things I love. And if other people happen to like it, then that's a bonus.

Signing out

Over and out

Now playing: Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life
via FoxyTunes

Top Ten Songs of 2009: List

I promised I'd write up about the top ten albums list I wrote the last time I was here, but that can wait. Here's another list. Now it's for songs. It's the top 10 songs in my opinion, of 2009, so don't get uptight because I didn't put in Lady Gaga or Kings of Leon. This list is mine. If you don't like it, make your own. And tell me about it. Honestly, I'd like to hear all about it. No sarcasm there.

10) The Joy Formidable - Greyhound In The Slips

9) The Lonely Island - I'm On A Boat (Feat. T-Pain)

8) Two Door Cinema Club - I Can Talk

7) Blakfish - Ringo Starr - 2nd Best Drummer In The Beatles

6) The xx - Crystalised

5) Tubelord - Propeller

4) Johnny Foreigner - Criminals

3) Animal Collective - My Girls

2) Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This

Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This on MUZU

1) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

Signing out

Over and out

Now playing: Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Zero"
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2009: A List

I'll update properly soon. Here's a list of my top ten albums of 2009. I'll write up about it when I have time.

10) Emmy The Great - First Love
"First Love"

9) Band of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey

Band Of Skulls - Fires on MUZU

8) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post-Pavillion
"My Girls"

7) Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

6) Dananananaykroyd - Hey Everyone
"Some Dresses"

5) Blakfish - Champions
"Ringo Starr - The 2nd Best Drummer In The Beatles"
No video

4) Gallows - Grey Britain
"I Dread The Night"

3) Tubelord - Our First American Friends

2) The xx - xx

1) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
"Heads Will Roll"

I guess the inclusion of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The xx might be obvious, or even Gallows. Your top ten might be different. I'll talk more in detail next time about my choices. Here are some notable mentions:

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Beirut - Holland / March Of The Zapotec
Red Light Company - Fine Fascination
Asobi Seksu - Hush
Sam Isaac - Bears
Crazy Arm - Born To Ruin
Handsome Furs - Face Control
Enter Shikari - Common Dreads
Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
Loney, Dear - Dear John

Signing out

Over and out

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Newsnight And The New Snide

Did you guys hear? The nominations for VIMA 2010 has been announced. The full list can be seen here. Just to make things easier, here are the Bruneian artists who got nominated:

Adi Rani [Best Pop Category] [Best Pop Vocalist]
Juju [Best Pop Category] [Smoothest R&B Act]
Feez Madea [Best Pop Category]
L.one [Best Pop Group]
Magabu & The White Shoes [Best Pop Group]
Sam Siren (Karacoma) [Best Female Vocalist Overall] [Best Rock Vocalist]
Karacoma [Best Rock Category] [Best Rock Group] [Best Guitar “Goreng” Riff]
I Mean The Snakes [Best Rock Group]
MicBandits [Best Hip-Hop Song] [Best Hip-Hop Group] [Most Mind-Blowing Music Video]
MNC [Best Hip-Hop Group]
NJ [Smoothest R&B Act]
D'Hask [Most Electrifying-Exciting-Exhilarating LIVE Act]

VIMA 2010 will be on 17th January 2010 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Unfortunately I won't be there, since, yeah, I have this university thing still going on.

Blakfish posted a video a few hours ago with a simple description, "Blakfish christmas single." I have no idea yet if they will indeed release it for Christmas. It's ace though. Check it out.

Blakfish - Missing You (The True Meaning Of Christmas)

Which reminds me, I managed to catch them live this Monday night at The Cluny 2, Newcastle. It was pretty awesome even though they had the tamest crowd I've ever been in in a Blakfish show. Blakfish is currently at the end of a Triple-Threat Tour with Outcry Collective and Brooklyn queercore nutheads Gay For Johnny Depp, and when I say nutheads, I mean they are fucking mental. When the frontman for Outcry Collective warned us about them, even ominously saying "may God help you," it might've been wise to heed his warning. But hey, the energy just completely caught us off guard.

I also went to another show two days before that, and it was a lot more civilised. So civilised in fact, that the main band, Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles had a 'backing' of a 60-piece orchestra provided by The University of York. Needless to say it was absolutely magnificient.

Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles with The University of York Orchestra

The Mariner's Children played in the first half, and the acoustics of the concert hall built for orchestra simply just made their music more hauntingly beautiful than it already is. Songs like 'Back I Beat The Waves,' 'Start Again' and 'My Dear' become almost redefined in this new surrounding.

And some short bites:

Diplo will be producing Rolo Tomassi's new album. Lost From Atlas finally got their album, but hasn't launched it, yet. Vampire Weekend's new single, Cousins, deemed to be the closest thing to punk they've come up with. Two Door Cinema Club announces Irish tour dates. Pulled Apart By Horses are hosting a Christmas party in Leeds this weekend with bands like Dead Confederate and Chickenhawk. Hassle Records (Tubelord, Blakfish, Rolo Tomassi, Alexisonfire) are having a 'class of 2009' sale on their website.

Signing out

Over and out