*Originally published in The Malay Mail. Not sure when.
THOSE who remembered, there were a lot of hearsays going on in the local fringe music scene prior the release of Butterfinger’s magnum opus, the greatly under-appreciated Selamat Tinggal Dunia in 2004.
Some claimed the album will be released under the name Majapahit, a moniker adopted by Butterfingers in conjunction to its supposedly one-off Malay album project. Some even said that Majapahit is actually guitarist Loque new band.
What many didn’t know then was, Loque’s supposedly “new” band is actually Just Antidote, a band made of seasoned players from the heydays of the local independent music scene.
A band, whom its four-song demo, Lully… in 2000 prompted Loque’s to get them under his wings couple of years earlier.
Not really a surprise. Those who’ve heard songs on the demo like; How I Wish, Lully, Star and Scar and Terbang will testify Just Antidote music is brimmed with hooks and potentials.
That was then. Apart from being mistaken as Majapahit, nothing much was heard about the band since.
Today, five years later, to no one’s expectation, the band resurfaces as Kapal Selam and is all set to release its debut album, Same Liar via Loque’s recently established imprint, Syarikat Rakaman Bilik Bedah.
Do they still have it?
Curious, we spent the first 30 minutes of our interview with guitarist Tom, frontman Zak and Loque listening to the album.
Right from the first track, the garage-y noise-pop Disconnected to the last song, the dreamy and haunting Bulan & Bintang, it’s obvious that they still have the knack for beautiful melodies, as a matter of fact; they are way better at it now.
Which lead to the first question of our interview – where have they been all these years?
“Slowly working on our debut album,” Tom said smilingly.
“At the same time, the band went through string of line-up changes throughout the years. There was a point when it was only me and Zaky who is in the band,” he added.
“Yes, there were times where we felt it’s pointless for us to go on, however at the same time, there’s “something” in us that persuaded us to finish what we’ve started,” Zak chipped in.
And that “something” is their passion for making music.
“That’s the sole reason why we play in a band. The thought of going to record labels and hoping to be signed was never at the back of our minds. It just by chance that we bumped into Loque,” Zak explained.
“Whether it sells or not, it was never an issue. As long as we a creatively satisfied, we are happy. We are not racing against any deadlines. That’s why we recorded it bit by bit. We don’t want to rush it.” Tom added.
However, one thing that we noticed upon our first listen, despite its catchiness and great melodies, there are possibilities that the bi-lingual 10-track album may not go down well among music listeners who emphasise on the quality of recording.
It’s not really lo-fi, but the recording was a bit too raw for the intricate ears.
At a flash, it feels like the album is going to be a great effort that will be put to waste especially when Malaysians being Malaysians, anything that’s not pristine is a definite no-no. The band and its producer, Loque, however have their reasons for Same Liar’s rawness.
“It’s part of the concept of the album. We wanted it to sound raw, loose, dirty and almost lo-fi,” explained Loque.
“Even the recording technique was guerrilla-like. The instrumentations and recording techniques were not done in the typical way. Bulk of it was recorded at home, and places where we feel like recording.
“On a personal note, it’s also a platform for me to experiment. I don’t want to be confined in a sterile recording environment,” he said.
Still, aren’t they are worried to the fact that the recording quality may be the thing that will stop it from getting airplays? Loque was quick to respond.
“Many people have got it wrong, it’s not really the sound, it’s the song. If the songs are good, it will definitely creeps into your heart.
“Take the recordings from the 50s’ and 60s’ as examples. The songs were recorded only on a four-track recording machine, but they still managed to capture its soul. That’s what I wanted to achieve on Same Liar,” he explained.
“The way I see it, there a lot of great songs out there that was not recorded using high-technology recording.” Zak added.
“After all, we are not hoping for anything. We don’t really expect people to like our music. However, if they came across our songs, like what they heard and can feel the songs the way we feel about it, that’s beyond great.”
When asked about whether they are happy with the outcome of the album, both nodded in agreement.
“It has been a long wait and to be able to come out with this album is already a goal achieved,” Zak shared.
The band however said that despite being pleased about Same Liar, songs on the album is something that they won’t yet call as the Kapal Selam’s sound. While this article is going to print, the band has already been working on their new materials.
“What you’ll hear on Same Liar is the band at its current best form,” Tom said.
“There are things from the album that we want to further developed and further refine.As a matter of fact, we’ve already written bunch of new songs.
“However, we want to take one thing at a time. First, we want to do the necessary for Same Liar. It’s our first step and we want to do it right,” Zak added.
With the band all set to set foot in music industry with Same Liar, we asked them whether they have prepared themselves for the better or worse.
“We’ve always asked ourselves whether are we ready for this or not. In the end, we decided to just go with it and learn how to cope with along the way. Life after all is a learning process,” Zak said.
He then added: “Of course we are scared (laughs). Then again, we’ve reached this point and I don’t think we want to go back. Good or bad, we still have to accept it…”
“…and whatever the outcome is, the band will still go on,” Tom concluded.
*Al-Fatihah to Azrafe Zaky atau Zach / Zak