INTERVIEW: A Different Way Round

Well, the year may be coming to an end, but the Underground’s got one last show to nicely cap off the annum. Underground Detour is coming up this Saturday, and we’re trying a different format of show, in a completely different setting than we normally have (it’ll begin during daytime hours, just for a start). There’s four acts just waiting to grab your attention and take possession of your mind, and it promises to be a mighty interesting event.

Well, all of this exploring of the the unbeaten path got us wondering about the musical experience of the performers, and whether they’d been through something that was out of the ordinary at a show, or heard a song that was totally from another planet. Or even if they wrote or played some stuff that was decidedly peculiar. We quizzed three of them on this subject, and came up with…well, some stuff, that definitely doesn’t happen to people everyday. Odd or not – you decide. But you’ll have to know what they said, responses to reach this verdict – so, read on…

Brothers of Roadkill (BOR) Corey Tam (CT) Quasar (Q)

Song-related strangeness

BOR: 4’33” by John Cage. The performer does nothing for that duration and the whole point to this composition is to allow audiences to hear what surrounds them. Creation of brilliance? Or a tragic case of artistic indulgence? You decide.

CT: I would probably have to go with the Milkteeth dudes on this one. They definitely have something weird and unique going on for them musically. I think freak-folk is a great way of describing them (haha).

Q: I wrote this song For My Brothers, Friends and Sisters, in a memory of our campus chief who was shot dead by Maoist rebels during the decade-long so-called “civil war” (that’s what they labelled it to gain public support – which never happened).Thousands of other innocent lives were taken for no reason but for opposing their ideology.

Last summer, I went back to Nepal and was listening to this song in a local radio station, and telling the host how this song came up. The host seem thrilled and was moved. Then I asked him “Are you gonna share this story on air?” ,and he went “Hell no! It’s a very sensitive issue,” and suggested me not to mention this on air, as it might outrage these groups. It was sort of chilling conversation. But, well, above all, it’s a song calling for peace to prevail and against violence and civil war, which I do not regret writing at all. [Sanjeev Gurung]

Lyrical lunacy

BOR: Without a doubt, this has to go to Song for the Dumped by Ben Folds Five. The chorus is legendary: “Give me my money back, you bitch…and don’t forget to bring me back my black T-shirt”.

CT: I’m not one for listening too closely to lyrics all the time so I’m not sure what to say on this one. Mondegreens that come to mind:”Hold me close, young Tony Danza!” (for Elton John’s Tiny Dancer)”Excuse me, as I kiss this guy!” (for Hendrix’s Purple Haze)

Irregular Instruments

BOR: Tambourine. Not an odd instrument by a long shot, but why a keyboard player was assigned to keep the beat…I will never understand why.

CT: Last year when I went to Boracay, I found this little percussion instrument that was made by the locals there. They used a bunch of (what I assumed to be) dried up walnut shells, which was then hollowed out and tied to the end of a larger wooden rod. There were probably around 15 – 20 of these large shells and when you shook the thing, it made this lovely, tropical, beachy sound, almost reminiscent of seashells that had been tied together; not as sharp corey_web.jpgof a sound though as the hollow dried-up walnut shells had a more wood-like quality to them.

As soon as I played it I knew I had to have it. I initially thought it would sound great with the song ‘Mistress of the Sea’ which I was still working on at the time, because that song definitely has a very dreamy, tropical feel to it. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound quite as good as I had hoped with the other instruments that had already been recorded. Still, I will definitely use it prominently in a song in the future.

Preternatural Performances

BOR: I have only seen the DVD version of this, but I would’ve loved to have seen Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” tour. The construction of a fake brick wall during the first half of the show is brilliant, over-indulgent, symbolic, prophetic…all at the same time. Magical.

CT: Most recently, definitely the one that sticks out is the Flaming Lips show in HK. I mean these bunch of fearless freaks just have a knack for creating an awesome atmosphere at their shows. Who else can think of putting on giant hands that shoot out green lasers that reflect everywhere in the auditorium?? Or simulate the birth of a human in a plastic placenta that then gets blown up to a huge ball rolling around on top of everyone in the audience?? (for the record, I have seen Wayne do that TWICE now. This time was probably even more enjoyable because the master of mayhem was actually rolling on top of me for a while!)

Q: We were playing the Spring Scream music festival in southern Taiwan last year. The night of the show, we loaded up our huge black van and stopped at a convenience store to ask for directions (our first mistake!). We then drove almost 30 minutes to the venue, which was close to the ocean so everything was covered in sand. As we tried to back into our parking spot (our second mistake!), the wheels just started spinning and throwing sand everywhere. We told the attendants that we were playing in 45 minutes so they let us just leave the van where it was.Quasar @ Music Matters 2010.jpg

We ran all the way to the entrance and tried to enter but the people at the gate kept asking for our tickets. We explained that we were playing but nobody seemed to understand until finally one person explained “This is Spring Wave, you want Spring Scream”, which as it turns out was 5 miles from our hotel … in the other direction! We now had less than 45 minutes before we went on, we were more than 30 minutes away and our van was stuck in the sand.

When we got back to the parking lot, the attendants were extremely helpful and tied a rope to our bumper to help us pull the van out (although I managed to scrape up the van’s brand new paint job on a nearby tree). We then drove like a bat out of hell until we got to a dead stop traffic jam where a police officer was waving us away from the main road. After a few unsuccessful attempts to explain why we needed to get through, I said something unrepeatable to the officer and then waited to get myself beaten to a pulp! He ignored me and still made us drive around. We finally got to Spring Scream 25 minutes into our show time and the sound guy told us we could only play for 20 minutes…. We found the organizer and begged for mercy, which worked because we got our whole 45 minutes back. We plugged in our instruments, did a quick tune and launched into the gig. To top everything off, my bass strap broke after the second song and I played half the gig trying to hold the bass and play at the same time…but we still had a blast! [Ben Bair]

Underground Detour takes place this Saturday, from 6-9 pm.

It’ll be held at the Central Police Station – come on down and check it out!

Interview questions and editing by Shashwati Kala

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