Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Language. Sex. Violence… And a missing slipper?

May 4, 2010

Event: Stereophonics live in concert
Date: April 30, 2010 (Friday)
Venue: Fort Canning Park, Singapore

A local DJ was on stage that evening, blasting through the speakers throngs of Britain’s best music. From a couple of numbers by Tears For Fear, who will be stopping by Singapore themselves not soon after, and the now disbanded Oasis. Everyone sang along, “Because maybe / You’re gonna be the one that saves me / And after all / You’re my wonderwall”, reminiscing the last time these Brit lads stopped by the country before they went their separate ways, while prepping for the other decade-old band who will be taking the stage very soon.

It was a good thing the concert was at Fort Canning Park. The ground is slanted the way an indoor stadium is built, so no matter where you stand, you will still be able to see the stage. So, it is quite a good thing for me who has height incompetence. The only beef for me, was the PDA couple standing in front of me at the beginning of the show. The guy’s entire head was blocking my view, and not only that, I only got to see the full view of Kelly Jones in between their constant kisses.

Mind you, I don’t have problems with PDA couples. You want to show the world you are in love, kissing and touching and hugging each other every other second, by all means. I wish you a happy marriage with lots of kids. But just. Don’t do it right in front of my face when I’m trying to enjoy the one good thing in my life for being single.

Half of the 5,000 strong crowd that night was made up of foreigners. Some from Wales themselves, like the band; one of them even bore the Welsh flag. But things got somewhat hooligan-ish for me sometimes, what with the beers being served and all. A fight almost broke out right in front of us too. And something more – offensive – which will be mentioned later on this entry.

Stereophonics opened the last show on their tour with lukewarm numbers of Live ‘n’ Love and A Thousand Trees, before taking things up a notch with I Got Your Number, Superman and Doorman.

Hidden in the dark at the side of the stage were more than 10 guitars propped upright like those selling in guitar stores. Throughout the show, Jones, Richard Jones and Adam Zindani would change guitar for every new song, practically more often than a hygienic nut would switch underwears.

But I would like to believe Jones’ true rockstar soul lie in the well-worned strings of his cherry red Gibson SG he has been known to perform with throughout his years of showmanship. Every time he positions the well-polished and lustful guitar on his right hip, he would churn out hair raising guitar solos in Superman, Doorman and Trouble that would make the most uptight person in the crowd headbang to the addictive beats.

Seeing that it was their Keep Calm and Carry On tour, Stereophonics hit quite a number of tracks from the album, including the only slow number that’s becoming a quick favourite for many – Could You Be The One? Paired up with that were older darlings: Maybe Tomorrow, Mr Writer (I thought I heard someone doing a solo number on the piano, or was it just a recording), The Bartender and The Thief, Have a Nice Day… and gasp, when did Javier Meyler go all shirtless at the back? Yum.

It was a shame though, that they did not perform much from Language. Sex. Violence. Other? and Pull the Pin, two of which I favour more over the rest. Stereophonics’ older albums were more languid, and perhaps that is how they flow since 1992, and that is how the fans like them. But it would have been a loud and insane show with Deadhead, Devil and Soldiers Make Good Targets thrown into the playlist. And it would have been sweet to hear It Means Nothing, Lolita and Stone live as well. Alas.

But. When the familiar introductory chords of Bright Red Star chimed through the speakers, and the stage lights went down to a deep sensual red, my heart soared. The moment I have been waiting for since Kelly Jones told me they play the song every night has arrived. It’s my favourite song.

However, it saddens me that Vern was right. For every few seconds that I could break myself from the crowd to pay close attention to Jones’ raspy and breaking voice that sang the lyrics oh so carefully, and Zindani’s bright and clear closing solo, I was immediately snapped back to earth. There were two guys behind me who suddenly seemed to be talking all too loudly in their Singaporean twanged English, and in front of me, another couple moving their heads in and out of my sight to say something to each other. I looked around me, and everyone was just.not.listening. Perhaps I am the only one in the world who likes Bright Red Star, when everyone else craves for Dakota or Mr Writer or Have a Nice Day. Meh.

Things took a turn towards the end when the band broke into the famous Local Boy in a Photograph. Everything was fine and dandy, when suddenly, someone from the crowd threw a slipper onstage and hit Jones square in the face. As the rest of the band continued playing, the lead stopped and moved away from the microphone. He then put down his guitar; he was not at all pleased.

Perhaps he was angry – he flew all the way from the UK to play one last show for us, and this is how we repay him? Perhaps he was embarrassed and hurt – decade-old rockstars or not, to get a slipper thrown at you (and hit your face, may I add), it’s just plain saying, “You suck. Get off the stage.”

Jones picked up the slipper, held back his emotions (I would like to believe), said good night to the crowd, and walked off the stage. R Jones, Zindani and Weyler followed suit.

Everyone was stunned. Some booed, some cursed. Some wondered was that it, was the show over just like that. Some checked their cameras to see if that priceless moment was caught in their frames or not. Later, as the security guards escorted the slipper culprit out of the concert venue, everyone booed at him as he passed by.

I just stood there. I felt bad for Kelly Jones.

Fortunately, Stereophonics came back on. (It would totally suck – especially for me, mind you – if that was really it). But something in the air shifted. Although Jones tried to keep calm and carry on (sorry, can’t resist it), thanking the crowd for coming out before delving into the encore of The Bartender and the Thief, not even trying to make sarcastic or comedic remarks on what just happened earlier. I am sure everyone in Fort Canning Park that night, including the band, knew it was just not the same anymore.

The concert came to a quick end with Dakota. The band trying their best to steer things right again for their last show of the tour. The fans jumping and singing along to Jones’ repetitive lines of “So take a look at me now / So take a look at me now / So take a look at me now”. Yet, nobody could help bring things to the kind of perfect ending we all hoped for.

Despite Stereophonics paying lesser attention to my favourite albums, people around me not being as civilised as I hope they would be, and the whole slipper incident, not to mention the fact that I have to fly all the way to Singapore just to see them two days later, I am still glad I caught them live. I could not help but smile every time. Hearing Jones’ whisky voice that I have heard so often I’ve made it one of the most distinguishable vocals I favour. Seeing him crunch out all those splendid guitar solos on his beloved cherry red Gibson.

I have made Kelly Jones one of my favourite vocalists for a long time now. To get to see him live that night, and not to mention meeting him in person, it is definitely something I would tell my grandkids about someday.

When I grow up, I wanna be like David Corio.

April 27, 2010

Event: CONVERSE and Jam Division presents Youth/Decay: Iconic Rock & Roll Photography Exhibition
Date: April 24, 2010 (Saturday) – May 5, 2010 (Wednesday)
Venue: Zinc Art Space, Bangsar

I am hopeless when it comes to music instruments. I was naturally enrolled for piano lessons after my sister when I was 5, only to quit the moment I finally got myself to Grade 8. Better half of my high school days was spent on the school band, only to pay more attention with complicated formations, and to convince apathetic juniors to stay focus and not quit, instead of working on my flute. I also distinctively remember my flute solo being matter-of-factly given to another better player in an orchestra performance years ago. And I never learned to play the guitar, only air guitar – with my left hand.

What are we musically challenged bunch left but our abundant CD collection, a good ear to sift out the good from the bad, and a good eye, to perhaps someday capture moments like these captured by one of the best music photographers out there – David Corio.

After the hype from the exhibition launch the previous night had died down, what was left were the few photography fans, armed with their own DSLRs, with ears on attentively to hear Corio share his stories with famous musicians, while sauntering about the gallery, hoping to take good shots of Corio’s best shots without looking too much of a fool.

I know I felt that way. So, do forgive me if the photos in this entry look weird or amateur (if they aren’t already in general); I did feel intimidated just being in the same room with his photos, let alone being in the same room with him.

The better part of the crowd has left when I arrived later that day. Which was a good thing, since I do not really like crowds. The spacious art gallery left ample space for patrons to move around without obstructing the view of others checking out the photos on display.

To set the mood, drifting in and out from the background was the distinguishable voice of Kelly Jones, only all too appropriate for two reasons: that Stereophonics will be stopping by Malaysia themselves in a few days. And that it is an iconic rock & roll photo exhibition – someday, perhaps, in one of the photos Kelly Jones will sport his leather jacket and Ray Ban shades as he rocked out his solo in Superman. Click. Frozen in time.

With every photo displayed on the wall, Corio told a story behind it. How they were taken, when they were taken. A picture of Eric Clapton actually smiling and letting loose backstage before a gig. An overlapped expose of The Cure, done accidentally, purposely, in a concert setting much too inconvenient for any photographer. A closeup shot of Deborah Harry he took, while the other photographers moved further behind for theirs, and even got a cuffing in the head himself for not following suit.

One of Tom Waits by his piano, too grainy but too perfect to be thrown away. One of Michael Jackson, taken for that split second when he took off his sunglasses and looked back at the flashing cameras – almost scared. That one frozen frame of Bob Marley with his dreadlocks flung in the air like a spider’s legs.

All 36 photos on display during the exhibition are for sale. Some of them cost RM1,800, most of them RM2,000. The thought of looking at some 20 photos that costs as much as the camera I hold in my hands each. Wow.

I noted a few favourites while I was browsing. Two of which were the ones above of Bob Marley and Joe Strummer.

Another is this of AC/DC. I just love photos of musicians and their guitars.

And this of Nick Cave and his long-time collaborator Mick Harvey.

So. Birthday presents for me, anyone? I’d love you forever. Heh.

A plus for showing up that Saturday was that David Corio was there too. He hung back after having a one-hour talk on photography and his works, doing interviews, perhaps even autographs and taking pictures with people.

I even managed to get him to pose with the famous U2 photo he did, which also made the cover of their U218 Singles compilation album, before striking up the courage to shake his hand and introduce myself. Quite a well-mannered guy, with a notable gap between his bucked teeth and talking British with a sort of lisp. I have never been one to come up impromptu conversations. Only managed a lame: “It’s nice to meet you. Your photos are really great.” Meh.

If you are a fan of old rock & roll music, or love photography, or just like to purchase expensive photos out of spite, I would suggest you to stop by this photo exhibition. It is not everyday someone like Corio, who has rubbed shoulders with famous musicians we have only been listening to on the radio, stop by. If you don’t get to meet him in person, it’s still quite a nice trip to Zinc on a weekend.

Someday.

++
Zinc Art Space

Lot 61 Jalan Maarof (opposite Dataran Maybank)
59000 Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
T: +6 03 2282 5388
F: +6 03 2284 8044
W: http://www.zinc.com.my

Youth/Decay: An Iconic Rock & Roll Photography Exhibition
Exhibition date: Apr 24 – May 5, 2010
Business hour: 12PM-6PM; closed on Sunday
Admission: Free

PS: Also, if you are a fan of music photography, might I suggest checking out those by the late Jim Marshall. This is my favourite of Keith Richards. RIP.

Glory, glory, Kings of Convenience!

March 23, 2010

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: The story of two kings, conveniently.

—–

Event: Kings of Convenience live in concert
Date: March 21, 2010 (Sunday)
Venue: Bentley Music Auditorium, Wisma Bentley Music

Sunday afternoon’s torrents of rain slowly came to mere drizzles. All over the country, thousands of football fans flocked to their nearest mamak stalls to watch the live match, emanating bouts of cheers heard throughout the neighbourhood with every hit and miss.

Whereas, a minority of some 1,000 fans travelled from all over Klang Valley – perhaps even the country – to an unusual concert venue just to see two Kings who came all the way from Norway. People with bobbed haircuts and oversized horn-rimmed glasses and too short hems of jeans, speaking fluent Cantonese with their similarly styled friends, as they sauntered into the venue. Not to be stereotypical, but I did not realise Kings of Convenience would actually attract a sold out crowd, let alone those who would prefer not to converse in English.

Security was strict that night, especially when it comes to cameras. Later, we found out that it was the Kings’ special order to tone down on the photo-snapping, even though they were flash-less. Something to do with the tiny clicks the cameras make. Erlend Øye asked fans to not take pictures in the first 30 minutes, but thereafter, it was up to our fancies, with the double-edged undertone of “that is, if you don’t mind bothering the people next to you.”

But, being Malaysians, cameras were still sneaked into the venue right under the bulky security’s nose. Some were iffy at first, whether or not to lift up their cameras after Erlend’s request. But eventually, the snappers let loose, Blackberry units with red blinking lights recording song after song – like little assassins, as if waiting for the right moment to strike the Kings down.

As jesters of the evening to entertain the crowd before the Kings took the stage – Tenderfist, a local synth pop group, which I am quite happy to say, sounds pretty close to The Postal Service. Why the world said Owl City ripped The Postal Service off, was beyond me, especially seeing that it is doubtful Adam Young even know who they are. But after hearing Tenderfist for the night, I am glad that at least someone – not to mention, someone from Malaysia – is doing things the right way. Ben Gibbard would be proud.

They were unlike any Kings in the world. Humble and modest, so much so that they opened their show with My Ship Isn’t Pretty – nothing too upbeat, just something as simple as the plucking of the acoustics to ease us in.

Erlend Øye kept the crowd close to his heart, pleasing us quite easily whenever he struck a few dorky dance moves ala Napoleon Dynamite in Sing Softly to Me, or doing his amazing trumpet imitation in Second to Numb, or got us snapping our fingers away and singing in a choir in Little Kids.

Eirik Glambek Bøe was less mobile as he had his own words to pay attention to. But he kept the crowd on little laughing frenzies speaking in Bergensk (I think), then blaming the sound system for speaking in such a foreign language to us.

Small jokes aside, Eirik kept us close to his heart too, serenading us with songs mostly from Declaration of Dependence, such as Me in You, Mrs Cold, Rule My World, and Boat Behind – which got the crowd singing along: “Oh woah woah woah woah / I could never belong to you / Oh woah woah woah woah / I could never belong to you.”

Also, not forgetting beloved ones from their earlier albums – I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From, Homesick (which quickly became a favourite for me), Gold in the Air of Summer, and of course, I’d Rather Dance with You, which they had Tenderfist up on stage again during the encore to play with them.

And what is a song about dancing with someone without actually, well, dancing with someone? Handpicked by Erland himself, a lucky fan got to go on stage to struck some Napoleon moves with him, and share his microphone singing, “I’d rather dance, I’d rather dance than talk with you / I’d rather dance, I’d rather dance than talk with you.”

Here is a video of it:

Personally, I thought that other song Kings of Convenience did with Tenderfist was better. I loved it when they got the crowd clapping along to Tenderfist’s synth pop beats and Erland pulling it in with his trumpet imitation and the lights in a colourful array projecting off the ceiling.

I loved that moment.

We had close encounters with the Kings after their gig. While we were smoking outside, a security guard escorted a timid-looking Eirik past the awe-struck crowd towards the loo, and then after that, Erland.

They were merely a breath away from me.

I guess this is what it feels like to be with someone of ‘royalty’ status – you just get starstruck and stand frozen in place, not sure whether to quickly whip out your camera, or open your mouth to say something – anything – and risk sounding like an idiot. I suppose days of mobbing fans were over too; security had only to whisper a quiet ‘excuse me’ to get through the crowd. No holding people’s hands were necessary, either.

It was a pleasure to be in the same presence with such Kingly figures, especially in a venue like Bentley Music Auditorium – spacious enough to house a lot of fans, but not too much that it loses its intimacy of such fragile bands. Well done, Junk and Soundscape Records. And of course, Tenderfist and Kings of Convenience themselves.

* Thanks Reta for helping to smuggle in the camera and take photographs during the concert.

Florence hits the XX spot.

February 9, 2010

Event: Florence and the Machine + The XX live in concert
Date: February 7, 2010 (Sunday)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre, Singapore

It has been a while since my last concert stint, let alone one that goes on in Singapore. Not counting MTV World Stage and the humiliating pukefest at Hennessy Artistry, the last full fledge concert for me was Coldplay‘s back in March. That is almost a year ago. Even when I heard the throngs of bands making their way down to Singapore in January – ie. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Day and supposedly, The Killers – I could not even find it in me to make myself go to any of it. Like a guy who couldn’t get it up after being abstinence for a year.

It was on New Year’s Day, after spending another lonely New Year’s Eve the night before, when I woke up in the morning and decided I would like to go to a concert. And since I have made The XX’s self-titled album one of my top 5 favourite albums of 2009, I thought it was only right to go to their concert last weekend. Besides, SGD73 for two bands – that is a fucking steal for me who just wants to reawaken my concert bug.

I knew I should have bought the floor seatings, even though the seats left were the ones way at the back. Because when The XX came on stage and Jamie Smith fired up the MPC with Intro that opened the album oh so well, as if it was part of their gimmick, the crowd from the floor seatings flooded to the front of the stage almost simultaneously. It was quite a sight, actually. But me, being way up on the second level, could only watch and brood, and remind myself never to buy balcony seats. Ever.

Seeing The XX live, was like being transported into the twilight zone. What with Smith’s captivating beats, and Romy Madley Croft’s guitar riffs, which could probably be an entirely new band member on its own. And the switching strobe lights of yellow, blue, red and green on the simple set of double X’s. It is easy to just close your eyes, and feel the melodic strums of Crystalised, Islands and Night Time seep into your veins. I did just all of that, but I think I fell asleep during the last song, Infinity. I don’t care what you say; it was a long day for me, alright?

It is not to say I do not enjoy seeing them live, but I suppose there is nothing to shout about. I was not expecting much anyway. They were pretty much the same as they are in their album. Croft (who sometimes sounded like Lisa Hannigan with a perpetual sore throat) and Oliver Sim were not the best singers out there, but they pretty much made up for everything with their instruments, which we already knew upon listening to XX. They played almost everything off the album, except – of all songs to leave out – Heart Skipped a Beat, which was my favourite, and Stars.

And just like that, the first half was over, and the next thing I knew, I was standing in line to go to the washroom with a quivering bladder. Heh.

Things sort of perked up when it was time for Florence and the Machine. I, for one, definitely was refreshed when Florence Welch strolled out to the stage with her flowing skirt and legs that go on for fucking miles.

All you lucky ones by the stage, I hope at least one of you grazed her legs for me – either purposely or accidentally – instead of just reaching for her hand, and taking pictures with her. Throughout the night, I was just waiting for her to throw back her skirt one more time just to have another glimpse of her lovely legs. Heh.

I thought they would have picked a better song to open their set than My Boy Makes Coffin. But the crowd did not mind. Right after that was the debut single that put Florence and the Machine on the map to stardom – Kiss with a Fist. Upbeat and contagious, everyone was dancing and banging their heads along to the beat.

But I especially love what she had done to Blinding, my favourite off the album Lungs. With Christopher Llyod Hadden’s profuse and prim thumps of the drums and Tom Monger’s staccato riffs on the harp, to go with the ten yellow lights beaming at us at the upper levels, and Welch’s perfectly toned voice for the chorus of “No more dreaming like a girl so in love, so in love / No more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world”. I could feel every beat of the drum, and every pluck of the strings, and every syllable of her words. Like a tattoo etching a reminder on my skin – forever.

It could pretty much be the climax of the show.

Sexy legs aside, Welch is pretty much a chirpy character onstage. Although I found it rather amusing when she rambled on on how glad she was to be in Singapore and the fine city (no pun intended, or is there?), I thought it was cute of her when she started entertaining two fans at the front with their polaroids – snapping shots with them, and even took a couple of the crowd with the house lights on.

And it was a beautiful sight – but yet again, an envious one – when she got the entire crowd jumping in unison to her fun loving Dog Days Are Over. Ah, to be in the midst of the crowd then.

Florence and the Machine pretty much performed all the songs off Lungs – the screamus maximus Howl, Drumming Song that sounded too much like Beyonce’s Crazy in Love for comfort, a cover of Cold War Kids’ Hospital Beds, and for the finale, another beloved number – Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) with the fans hitting her back with echoes of “Raise it up, Raise it up!” along with Hadden’s catchy rhythms.

It was nice to be able to include Florence and the Machine and The XX on my ‘have seen live in concert’ list, especially since they are quite new a band to even consider swinging by Singapore. With the crappy seats I have (and for that, I apologise for the crappy concert pictures again), and the fact that they are less than 5 years old as a band, and also that I am new to them as well (I actually only checked out Florence and the Machine for the sake of the concert, really), I do not really have any expectations for them to blow me away.

It was a good experience, nonetheless. Florence and the Machine over The XX, though. Lesson learned, of course: if I were to see them live again, I will definitely make sure to get floor seating tickets, even if it is only to be able to graze Welch’s lovelies. Heh.

Horace the Holga : Set #2

December 29, 2009

Horace the Holga : A Lomography Collection
Set #2 : Ray Cheong Trio

December 5, 2009


Films
+ Fuji ACROS 100

+ More lomography sets HERE.

MTV World Stage : Interview with Pixie Lott

August 27, 2009
What is it like being Pixie Lott – 18-year-old pop star and already with a #1 hit, Mama Do, under her belt and a much anticipated studio album on the way?
It’s been an exciting and crazy experience so far. I get to travel the world a fair bit and meet my fans from all around. I do miss my friends back home though, and I cannot wait to go back and hang out with them!
Why Pixie Lott?
It’s a baby name my mom gave me when I was borned. I was such a tiny little thing! And the name just sort of stuck around.
How does it feel like being the one female and solo performer at the MTV World Stage?
Haha, it was quite a wonderful and fun experience altogether, especially to share the stage with such amazing bands. I’ve also gotten compliments from fans, so that’s always nice!
Did you enjoy any of the performers last night?
I thought All-American Rejects were good. And it was also nice to see Raygun perform, mainly because we’re from the same country.
Did you have a chance to hang out with the other bands?
No, not really. The schedule is pretty tight for me and there is barely time for me to take a breather. I had to skip the after party because I’ve already made plans to meet up with a friend of mine in Malaysia for sushi. After the show, my parents and I were already craving for food so we just skipped all the hoorah to have a little quiet time. But I’ve met Tyson Ritter of All-American Rejects before, so it was great to see him again here.
You started off your career as an actress in shows and plays like West End’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Celebrate the Sound of Music. How has that helped you with your music career now?
It has helped me a lot in the sense of performing to a massive audience. I’ve learned how to keep my nerves in check. It doesn’t get too stressed out about singing in front of a big audience because I’ve kind of done that before already. So, it’s all pretty much natural to me.
Any plans of going back to the theatrical roots?
Sure, why not? I’d like to perform in a play for Chicago.
At only 18, your music career has kicked off quite early in life. Do you ever worry that things will get jaded for you by the time you hit your 20s, like how it was for Britney Spears?
Nah, that doesn’t concern me, really. My label and parents keep a stern eye on me, and I’m confident they will not let me walk down that road. It’s really a matter of choice when it comes to these kinds of things. I grew up in a neighbourhood that breeds such bad influences and vices, but drugs do not really appeal to me.
So, when you’re not performing on stage, what are you doing during her free time?
Sleep. I need lots of sleep! And also hang out with my friends – go watch a movie, shopping or clubbing.
You mentioned hanging out with your friends a lot. Do they treat you any differently now that you’re famous?
Not really. I have been friends with them way before I became famous, and I don’t think they treat me any differently now. But they’re supportive of my career. They go to all of my shows in the UK.
Being only 18 and underage, do you ever have any problems getting into clubs despite your fame?
Sometimes. A lot of times I tag along with my elder sister, and she could bring me in. That’s the good thing about having an older sister. There were a few times when my friends and I would dress up and all, but they’d get turned away. So, it’s one of those moments when I get to laugh at their faces because I get to go in, but they can’t!
But I’ve also gotten into trouble a few times. I was pulled out of the club, and once, I even had my sister’s passport confiscated! She was so angry and didn’t speak to me for weeks. But that’s how our relationship goes. I have a love/hate relationship with her, like all siblings do. But she’s still one of my best friends.
After your performance at MTV World Stage, I’m sure there are a few fans out there developing a celebrity crush on you. Do you have any celebrity crushes yourself?
I kind of have a crush on Robert Pattinson and Zac Efron. I don’t know them in person but Pattinson as Edward Cullen (in Twilight) seems like a kind and strong character, and Efron as Troy Bolton (in High School Musical) is a very nice and kind person.
Since we’re on the topic of guys, how can a guy grab your attention?
The guy would have to have the same interest as me, and he has to be funny too. To me, it’s important to be in the same wavelength with each other to make the relationship work.
Do you have a special someone waiting for you back home?
Haha, no. But I do have a few options.
Who are your music influences?
Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. When I was young, I would put their music on full blast and sing along to them in the living room!
What’s playing on your iPod right now?
Currently, I’m listening to Kings of Leon and MGMT.
You look great in your music videos, Mama Do and Boys and Girls. Do you have a workout plan you stick to?
Haha, thanks. But unfortunately, no. There hasn’t been enough time for me to hit the gym because my schedule has been so tight. I just make sure I consume a lot of healthy food in my diet. I take Vitamin Cs, and fruits – probably a little too much of that, but I just love fruits. Also, plenty of water and peppermint tea. And also to warm up my vocals before hitting the stage every night.
Your debut album, Turn it Up, is dropping into stores on September 14, which is less than a month away. What would you be doing the night before your album is released?
I’m not sure how’s the schedule going to be for me that night, but I’m sure it’s going to be a riot. But if there’s nothing work-related going on, I’d do something as normal as hanging out with my friends. Maybe dress up and head out for a party just to get it out of the system.
Tell us a bit about the album.
It’s up tempo and fun while showing a more serious side of me. It’s an album that portrays the different sides and personalities I have. I try to have as much diversity as I can in the album, and not have one song sounding exactly like the other. It’s my debut album, so I’d definitely want it to be one that will grab people’s attention.
What will you be turning up exactly?
The vibe. The feel. I’d definitely be turning it up loud because loud music is always the best!
You did a cover of OneRepublic’s Apologize and Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody. Are there any songs out there that you wished you’ve penned down first instead?
I’d have to say Love Come Down by Evelyn King. How I wish I’ve written that first!
Finally, in three words, how would you describe your music style?
I’d have to say: fresh, soulful and contemporary.

I will let you in on a secret. Before Pixie Lott arrived for her interview with us, we at the table shared a little info one of us overheard that she is a little bit of an airhead. Did she prove us wrong on that? Well.

Granted the interview was in the afternoon the next day after MTV World Stage, and we were all still tired from the stalkarazzi and the quarter day standaround we did during the concert, she was pretty – nice. Most of the time.

Very much like Raygun, being kind in answering the questions we bombarded her. But it was not rocket science that she was pooped and would like to hop on a plane and head back to the UK to see her friends, which she mentioned more often than not throughout the interview.

Why Pixie Lott?
It’s a baby name my mom gave me when I was born. I was such a tiny little thing! And the name just sort of stuck around.

How does it feel like being the one female and solo performer at the MTV World Stage?
Haha, it was quite a wonderful and fun experience altogether, especially to share the stage with such amazing bands. I’ve also gotten compliments from fans, so that’s always nice!

Did you enjoy any of the performers last night?
Erm, to be honest, I thought they were pretty much the same thing, what with the rock music and tight jeans and all. Heh. But I thought All-American Rejects were good. And it was also nice to see Raygun perform, mainly because we’re from the same country.

Did you have a chance to hang out with the other bands?
No, not really. The schedule is pretty tight for me and there is barely time for me to take a breather. I had to skip the after party because I’ve already made plans to meet up with a friend of mine in Malaysia for sushi. But I’ve met Tyson Ritter of All-American Rejects before, so it was great to see him again here.

At only 18, your music career has kicked off quite early in life. Do you ever worry that things will get jaded for you by the time you hit your 20s, like how it was for Britney Spears?
Nah, that doesn’t concern me, really. My label and parents keep a stern eye on me, and I’m confident they will not let me walk down that road. It’s really a matter of choice when it comes to these kinds of things. I grew up in a neighbourhood that breeds such bad influences and vices, but drugs do not really appeal to me.

So, when you’re not performing on stage, what are you doing during her free time?
Sleep. I need lots of sleep! And also hang out with my friends – go watch a movie, shopping or clubbing.

Being only 18 and underage, do you ever have any problems getting into clubs despite your fame?
Sometimes. A lot of times I tag along with my elder sister, and she could bring me in. That’s the good thing about having an older sister. There were a few times when my friends and I would dress up and all, but they’d get turned away. So, it’s one of those moments when I get to laugh at their faces because I get to go in, but they can’t!

After your performance at MTV World Stage, I’m sure there are a few fans out there developing a celebrity crush on you. Do you have any celebrity crushes yourself?
I kind of have a crush on Robert Pattinson and Zac Efron. I don’t know them in person but Pattinson as Edward Cullen seems like a kind and strong character, and Efron as Troy Bolton is a very nice and kind person.

Since we’re on the topic of guys, how can a guy grab your attention?
The guy would have to have the same interest as me, and he has to be funny too. To me, it’s important to be in the same wavelength with each other to make the relationship work.

Do you have a special someone waiting for you back home?
Haha, no. But I do have a few options.

Your debut album, Turn it Up, is dropping into stores on September 14, which is less than a month away. What would you be doing the night before your album is released?
I’m not sure how’s the schedule going to be for me that night, but I’m sure it’s going to be a riot. But if there’s nothing work-related going on, I’d do something as normal as hanging out with my friends. Maybe dress up and head out for a party just to get it out of the system.

Tell us a bit about the album.
It’s up tempo and fun while showing a more serious side of me. It’s an album that portrays the different sides and personalities I have. I try to have as much diversity as I can in the album, and not have one song sounding exactly like the other. It’s my debut album, so I’d definitely want it to be one that will grab people’s attention.

What will you be turning up exactly?
The vibe. The feel. I’d definitely be turning it up loud because loud music is always the best!

You did a cover of OneRepublic’s Apologize and Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody. Are there any songs out there that you wished you’ve penned down first instead?
I’d have to say Love Come Down by Evelyn King. How I wish I’ve written that first!

Here is Mama Do, featured on her upcoming album, Turn It Up.

Final instalment of MTV World Stage. Hope you all enjoyed. I shall crawl back to my hole now.

++
Also check out:
MTV World Stage : Interview with Raygun
MTV World Stage : Interview with Stank
MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
MTV World Stage : Backstage

MTV World Stage : Interview with Raygun

August 25, 2009
Tell us a bit about your band, Raygun.
Raygun is made up of me, Ray, the lead, along with guitarist The Adj, bassist Ben and drummer Sam. Adj and I have been a band of sorts for six years now since we were studying in London College of Music. Ben and Sam joined in later and the chemistry was right. Then, as everyone says, the rest is history.
What kind of music of you guys play?
We play a lot of 70s rock. Our influences are those such as David Bowie, T-Rex, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop, so our music will mostly be inspired by those legends that were big in the mid-70s.
Would you guys consider your music Glam Rock then?
Yes, of course. We definitely would like to bring back all the glamour that was back in the 70s with our eccentric outfits and energetic music.
What separates your from the other bands emerging as of lately?
Well, we are a band who likes to have a laugh. We try not to take things too seriously. There are quite a few bands out there that are quite self-conscious when they go on stage, and we try not to submit to the same path as theirs. We strive to be entertaining and alive when it comes to performing live.
How’s Malaysia treating you guys so far?
Very good! The people have been pretty nice so far. We have never been to Malaysia before and we are liking what we see so far. And of course, the food is just gastronomic!
What was your initial reaction when MTV approached you to perform for MTV World Stage?
We were quite shocked, to be honest. I mean, we have toured with Pink before this, but that was it. We were surprised anyone would even take notice of us beyond that, let alone in Malaysia. But obviously, we jumped at the chance the second we were asked to perform at MTV World Stage.
What can the fans expect from you at the MTV World Stage concert?
Fans can definitely expect Raygun’s set to be an energetic one. There will be a lot of sweating going on, so I hope the fans brought spare change of clothes. Haha.
What do you expect from the fans in return?
Honestly, we are a little nervous performing tonight. This is our first time performing in Asia, and also Malaysia, so we’re not sure how the fans are going to react to our music. We do hope the crowd will not be too reserved, and will let loose and have fun with the music.
Tell us more about your hit single Just Because.
Just Because is a song about indulgence. Like how the chorus goes: “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should” – it is all about thinking first of your actions before you do them. A lot of people complain that it’s a song about drugs, but I beg to differ; it’s more of an anti-drug song, if you ask me. Just because you have the means to do all the wrong things in life, it does not mean you should.
Are you guys working on a new album in the meantime?
Yeah, we are in the works on putting a debut album together. Hopefully, it will be ready by the end of the year. It is going to be up tempo, like all the songs you can hear from our MySpace page. Like what The Adj here would say: it’s going to be the next Nevermind and Sergeant Pepper. Haha.

When I read Raygun’s bio release for MTV World Stage, my first thought was, “Sure or not?” It sounded like a very exaggerating piece with heightened flowery and too big promises for a band that has just started off.

They were described as “lead vox and sonic experimentation”, “war guitar and audio discovery” and “pace maker and heartbreaker”. And apparently they “summon up the razzle of New Wave and the dazzle of the Scissor Sisters’ disco, the filthiness of INXS, as well as the rock nous of a band long ready to start a revolution”, as they vow to “set a new blueprint for pop rock”, because they think other bands “don’t try hard enough to pump our blood, or move our feet”.

It was a pretty release set to impress, but it was very hard to buy it for me. I mean, words are just words, right?

In person, Ray Gun, The Adj, Sam Embery and Ben Lyonsmyth were generally nice fellows. Ray was pretty much the lead everyone expected, doing most of the talking and all. The Adj answered too, but eventually, you would catch on that they did not really apply unless for a laugh. Ben and Sam were pretty much just sitting there being pretty. Heh.

Overall, they were a nice band to interview, though it may probably be dued to the fact that they are new and in a foreign country, so they did not want to offend.

Tell us a bit about your band, Raygun.
Raygun is made up of me, Ray, the lead, along with guitarist The Adj, bassist Ben and drummer Sam. Adj and I have been a band of sorts for six years now since we were studying in London College of Music. Ben and Sam joined in later and the chemistry was right. Then, as everyone says, the rest is history.

What kind of music of you guys play?
We play a lot of 70s rock. Our influences are those such as David Bowie, T-Rex, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop, so our music will mostly be inspired by those legends that were big in the mid-70s.

Would you guys consider your music Glam Rock then?
Yes, of course. We definitely would like to bring back all the glamour that was back in the 70s with our eccentric outfits and energetic music.

What separates your from the other bands emerging as of lately?
Well, we are a band who likes to have a laugh. We try not to take things too seriously. There are quite a few bands out there that are quite self-conscious when they go on stage, and we try not to submit to the same path as theirs. We strive to be entertaining and alive when it comes to performing live.

How’s Malaysia treating you guys so far?
Very good! The people have been pretty nice so far. We have never been to Malaysia before and we are liking what we see so far. And of course, the food is just gastronomic!

What was your initial reaction when MTV approached you to perform for MTV World Stage?
We were quite shocked, to be honest. I mean, we have toured with Pink before this, but that was it. We were surprised anyone would even take notice of us beyond that, let alone in Malaysia. But obviously, we jumped at the chance the second we were asked to perform at MTV World Stage.

What can the fans expect from you at the MTV World Stage concert?
Fans can definitely expect Raygun’s set to be an energetic one. There will be a lot of sweating going on, so I hope the fans brought spare change of clothes. Haha.

What do you expect from the fans in return?
Honestly, we are a little nervous performing tonight. This is our first time performing in Asia, and also Malaysia, so we’re not sure how the fans are going to react to our music. We do hope the crowd will not be too reserved, and will let loose and have fun with the music.

Tell us more about your hit single Just Because.
Just Because is a song about indulgence. Like how the chorus goes: “Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should” – it is all about thinking first of your actions before you do them. A lot of people complain that it’s a song about drugs, but I beg to differ; it’s more of an anti-drug song, if you ask me. Just because you have the means to do all the wrong things in life, it does not mean you should.

Are you guys working on a new album in the meantime?
Yeah, we are in the works on putting a debut album together. Hopefully, it will be ready by the end of the year. It is going to be up tempo, like all the songs you can hear from our MySpace page. Like what The Adj here would say: it’s going to be the next Nevermind and Sergeant Pepper. Haha.

Here is Just Because.

The new blueprint of pop rock? You be the judge.

++
Also check out:
MTV World Stage : Interview with Stank
MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
MTV World Stage : Backstage

MTV World Stage : Interview with Stank

August 20, 2009
Hoobastank has been around for about 15 years now. How do you think your music has changed over the years?
Dan: You know how you hang out with the same bunch of friends, and you cannot really tell what has changed because you see them every day. It is the same for us as a band; we see each other every day, and we cannot really tell the difference. I can say our music has progressed throughout the years, but to get a better opinion, you would need to ask the fans who watch us from the outside.
Throughout your career, was there ever a time when things got too hard and you want to just give up?
Chris: Not really. We enjoy what we are doing, so we are really excited about it to even think we should quit. The only time we thought if we should give up was before we were signed to a label. We were a band for about five years before that, and things got grim as the days passed by. We were beginning to contemplate if we should call it quits, and that was when our record company picked us up.
What do you think keeps a band together?
Chris: To me, being in a band is like being in a relationship. We have to want the same things out of life. Also, giving each other ample space to grow. And of course, most importantly, be humble.
Hoobastank’s music is all about self-motivations and lessons in life. What would you say is the most important life’s lesson you have learned?
Dan: The older I get, the more I learn that not everyone feels the same and go through the same emotions as you. Looking back now, I wish that I have done some things and faced a few problems differently.
Chris: As I grow older, I realised that less things matter. The more important things in life are things like family, health and music. We don’t need to fuss over smaller and more detailed things other than that.
In light of your recent album, For(n)ever, what would you do forever, and what would you never do?
Chris: I would forever do rock songs, and will never do country songs.
Dan: Actually, I wouldn’t mind doing country music. I mean, obviously not with these guys here, but someday, I do wish to write some country songs just for kicks.
The Reason has gotten tremendous approvals from fans worldwide. Why do you think it is so?
Dan: Our lead, Doug (Robb), writes a lot of his songs based on the relationships he has gone through, and The Reason is one of them. I guess, why it got so famous is because everyone, at one point or the other of their lives, can relate to it. Whether if it is with your boyfriend or girlfriend, your mom or dad, or your friends, it is one of those songs that generally click for everyone. Besides, it has a catchy beat!
OK, tell us something true: are you guys sick of The Reason yet?
Dan: Haha, no, I don’t think so. The Reason is one of the few more chill out songs for Hoobastank. It is probably the only time when we can stand still and perform instead of jumping around on stage like we would for the other songs. It’s also a nice feeling to listen to an entire arena of fans sing along to The Reason.
Chris: I mean, why wouldn’t we want it? It’s always good for a band to have such an influential song to our name.
Dan: It’s always a good thing to get airplay for the song on the radio. We didn’t expect it to get so big. It’s gotten bigger than the band, even.
Do you guys find it hard to live up to The Reason after that?
Chris: Well, we don’t really sit around and think of how we can keep producing songs as famous as The Reason. The song did wonderfully for Hoobastank, and it has brought us to renewed heights as a rock band. But it would be silly to mull on the fame of it; the only way is to look towards the future and do our best in producing subsequent albums.
Karaoke is a popular past time here in Asia. Which songs would you sing at a karaoke session?
Dan: I would definitely sing along to Sir Mix-a-lot’s Baby Got Back! Also, maybe a few hip hop and rap numbers like Dr Dre.
Do you guys have any guilty pleasure songs stored in your iPods?
Chris: I wouldn’t call them guilty pleasures because I think they are quite talented in their own leagues. I enjoy listening to Justin Timberlake, and I think Christina Aguilera has an awesome voice too.
What about songs out there that make you cringe?
Chris: Hmm, I would have to say songs that sound British but are sung by non-Brits. Yeah, that makes me cringe every time. It just shows that they’re trying too hard.
Dan: There are a few bands out there who dress up all flashy like those people back in the 60s and 70s. I mean, I’m alright with that; I have nothing against their fashion sense. But I guess, your music has to measure up as well. A lot of bands out there recently don’t seem to be real anymore in their music, and they seem to spend more time prepping their image with fancy clothes instead of focusing on getting their music right. I’m just not convinced when it comes to bands like that.
What made Hoobastank say yes to performing at MTV World Stage?
Dan: Well, it is a good opportunity to leave home and play with some other awesome bands in the line up! Why say no when you can say yes?
Compared to your last performance in Malaysia in 2004 and the MTV World Stage tonight, how differently would you guys say the performances would be to each other?
Dan: Hmm, the only difference would probably be me dropping 20 pounds since our last performance here, haha. What with all the jumping around onstage.
Chris: MTV World Stage is almost not like a real show, because we’ll only be doing about four songs out there. I don’t see it as raising the bar since the last performance, but we’ll still do as good as we do in full blown sets, and try to keep it as enjoyable as we can for the fans, of course.
No matter how long we have been on the road, and how tired we get till we just want to go back and laze around on the couch, when we get onstage it is a completely different thing. We just go on autopilot, and we’ll channel this live energy we have from within us and just rock it out.
Hoobastank consists of lead Doug Robb, guitarist Dan Estin, bassist Jesse Charland and drummer Chris Hesse.
Their latest album For(n)ever was released in January 2009 with notable songs like My Turn, The Letter and So Close, So Far.

It feels like another lifetime ago, when I would listen to albums after albums of rock music, shack up at a place of a friend I barely knew just so I can attend Hoobastank’s concert in 2004 (also finding ways to get rid of the cans of complimentary Coke upon entrance), jump till I sweat along to Crawling in the Dark and scream at the top of my lungs to Running Away and The Reason. Uh huh.

Fast forward five years later, and I got a call that I will be interviewing Dan Estrin, the guitarist, and Chris Hesse, the drummer. I spent the night downloading all their albums because I left the first two back in my hometown and the other two I did not bother to even check out, and spent the entire day before the interview blasting the music in the car and on the headphones.

And I noticed how cheesy Doug Robb’s lyrics were for the first time that day. But at least it was a nice blast to the past, when everything was just loud basses, screeching solos, cymbalic ratatats and all too obvious lyrics with no metaphors whatsoever.

Hoobastank has been around for about 15 years now. How do you think your music has changed over the years?
Dan:
You know how you hang out with the same bunch of friends, and you cannot really tell what has changed because you see them every day. It is the same for us as a band; we see each other every day, and we cannot really tell the difference. I can say our music has progressed throughout the years, but to get a better opinion, you would need to ask the fans who watch us from the outside.

Throughout your career, was there ever a time when things got too hard and you want to just give up?
Chris:
Not really. We enjoy what we are doing, so we are really excited about it to even think we should quit. The only time we thought if we should give up was before we were signed to a label. We were a band for about five years before that, and things got grim as the days passed by. We were beginning to contemplate if we should call it quits, and that was when our record company picked us up.

What do you think keeps a band together?
Chris:
To me, being in a band is like being in a relationship. We have to want the same things out of life. Also, giving each other ample space to grow. And of course, most importantly, be humble.

Hoobastank’s music is all about self-motivations and lessons in life. What would you say is the most important life’s lesson you have learned?
Dan:
The older I get, the more I learn that not everyone feels the same and go through the same emotions as you. Looking back now, I wish that I have done some things and faced a few problems differently.
Chris: As I grow older, I realised that less things matter. The more important things in life are things like family, health and music. We don’t need to fuss over smaller and more detailed things other than that.

In light of your recent album, For(n)ever, what would you do forever, and what would you never do?
Chris:
I would forever do rock songs, and will never do country songs.
Dan: Actually, I wouldn’t mind doing country music. I mean, obviously not with these guys here, but someday, I do wish to write some country songs just for kicks.

The Reason has gotten tremendous approvals from fans worldwide. Why do you think it is so?
Dan:
Doug writes a lot of his songs based on the relationships he has gone through, and The Reason is one of them. I guess, why it got so famous is because everyone, at one point or the other of their lives, can relate to it. Whether if it is with your boyfriend or girlfriend, your mom or dad, or your friends, it is one of those songs that generally click for everyone. Besides, it has a catchy beat!

OK, tell us something true: are you guys sick of The Reason yet?
Dan:
Haha, no, I don’t think so. The Reason is one of the few more chill out songs for Hoobastank. It is probably the only time when we can stand still and perform instead of jumping around on stage like we would for the other songs. It’s also a nice feeling to listen to an entire arena of fans sing along to The Reason.
Chris: I mean, why wouldn’t we want it? It’s always good for a band to have such an influential song to our name.
Dan: It’s always a good thing to get airplay for the song on the radio. We didn’t expect it to get so big. It’s gotten bigger than the band, even.

Do you guys find it hard to live up to The Reason after that?
Chris:
Well, we don’t really sit around and think of how we can keep producing songs as famous as The Reason. The song did wonderfully for Hoobastank, and it has brought us to renewed heights as a rock band. But it would be silly to mull on the fame of it; the only way is to look towards the future and do our best in producing subsequent albums.

Are there any songs out there that make you cringe?
Chris:
Hmm, I would have to say songs that sound British but are sung by non-Brits. Yeah, that makes me cringe every time. It just shows that they’re trying too hard.
Dan: There are a few bands out there who dress up all flashy like those people back in the 60s and 70s. I mean, I’m alright with that; I have nothing against their fashion sense. But I guess, your music has to measure up as well. A lot of bands out there recently don’t seem to be real anymore in their music, and they seem to spend more time prepping their image with fancy clothes instead of focusing on getting their music right. I’m just not convinced when it comes to bands like that.

What made Hoobastank say yes to performing at MTV World Stage?
Dan:
Well, it is a good opportunity to leave home and play with some other awesome bands in the line up! Why say no when you can say yes?

Compared to your last performance in Malaysia in 2004 and the MTV World Stage tonight, how differently would you guys say the performances would be to each other?
Dan:
Hmm, the only difference would probably be me dropping 20 pounds since our last performance here, haha. What with all the jumping around onstage.
Chris: MTV World Stage is almost not like a real show, because we’ll only be doing about four songs out there. I don’t see it as raising the bar since the last performance, but we’ll still do as good as we do in full blown sets, and try to keep it as enjoyable as we can for the fans, of course.
No matter how long we have been on the road, and how tired we get till we just want to go back and laze around on the couch, when we get onstage it is a completely different thing. We just go on autopilot, and we’ll channel this live energy we have from within us and just rock it out.

Here is The Letter, featuring Vanessa Amorosi, taken off their latest album, For(n)ever.

++
Also check out:
MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
MTV World Stage : Backstage

MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”

August 18, 2009

Event: MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
Date: August 15, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach

I was late for the concert because I was under the impression that there were smaller supporting acts opening for the seven headliners. I remembered hearing One Buck Short and Seven Collar T-shirts on the list. So, I took my own sweet time having dinner in Sunway Pyramid, and then accompanying a friend outside while waiting for another friend, who was this close to forgoing the concert.

So, I missed out on Estranged and Boys Like Girls performances. Meh. Apparently, it was raining before the concert began and it started up again during Boys Like Girls’ set, and coincidentally while they were playing Thunder. Heh. Maybe the rain gods like emo rock. Don’t know.

Reports also showed that they performed Love Drunk, The Great Escape and Hero/Heroine, while Estranged, Slave in Us, Ketika Ini and Yang Pernah.

I assumed the Gold ticket for media would be up front where the Moshpit was, but apparently, it was way at the back.

Further back behind from the Red Zone, and next to the Platinum Zone.

So, we decided to fuck it and hang out at the Moshpit instead, where most of the media members were. The security was being a little anal about letting us in because they said it was “already packed” and they could not admit any more people for “safety reasons”, when there was clearly ample space inside.  But after some coaxing and ‘promising’ that we will behave, they let us through. Heh.

Next up was Raygun. I have heard some of their songs on their MySpace and I thought they were quite impressive for a new band. Constantly overshadowed by the more popular bands, their names could have easily fallen off the MTV World Stage banners and nobody would have cared. But they managed to salvage their reputation when they grabbed the attentions of many with hits like Just Because, Waiting in Line and See You Later. They had the whole 70s vibe going on, and the only thing missing was their flashy outfits that they raved about in their releases. But overall, they did well, and I am sure they have gotten themselves some new fans that night.

During MTV World Stage, in between sets there were ass-long intervals, which made the night-long all the more unappealing. VJs and sponsors would come out and throw freebies to the people at the Moshpit, and always those at the left and centre, never the right. Don’t know why. And later in the night, they even had this DJ Rouge come out to spin some mainstream tracks. Nobody cared though; most of the moshpitters took this opportunity to just collapse onto one another after their – uh – moshing.

Pixie Lott came up next and did only three songs: Turn it Up, Boys and Girls and Mama Do. I thought she was a little out of place for MTV World Stage. Not only because she was the only female and solo performer, her music is pop. So. Yeah. She did alright, just think nobody was really impressed.

With all the newbies and local bands out of the way, things were expected to get interesting from here onwards. Fans were entertaining themselves during intervals, tweeting one another and seeing their messages on the big screens. Heh. I saw one from someone, who apparently broke his/her H1N1 quarantine just to be at MTV World Stage. Fanatic or just stupidly irresponsible, you be the judge.

There was also a twitter/SMS constipation throughout the concert; nothing went through. So yeah.

As the night grew deeper and the crowd was more than hyped up, it was apparent that we had won the battle between man and nature as the rain decided to come again another day. With that, the 15,000 plus strong gave a hearty rejoice for Hoobastank’s third return to Malaysia.

I caught them back in 2004, and it was nice to see them perform again. They kept the rock spirit going with an opening of My Turn and The Letter, when Doug whipped out an acostic guitar for the latter.

Then, they went back in time to the song that kicked start their career, Crawling In the Dark, and the fans in the moshpit went insane!

Some kids were getting ahead of themselves and started to mindlessly crash against people, when the security came in, pulled them aside, whispered something in their ears before releasing them back to the bunch. And this happened for quite a few times too, heh. So, if you were wondering why things were a tad bit too quiet up front – now you know why.

Half of the time I felt bad for them because they seemed to be having real fun until the security became all mommy says on them. But another half of the time, I was kind of glad people did not randomly knock up against me.

Hoobastank also managed to humour the crowd with a short sing-a-long to the theme of Ghostbusters, which I thought was adorable, before closing with the song that everyone was anticipating forl. No surprises here – The Reason. And yes, you guessed it. Everyone was singing the loudest along to this song.

The rock baton was passed on next to the world’s favourite rejects, the All-American Rejects. The glitter-covered Tyson Ritter (Tyson Glitter – haha), along with his band mates kicked off their set list with Dirty Little SecretSwing Swing and I Wanna.

They were probably the only band who did the most songs, which I thought was redundant, because while they dragged on with Real World, The Wind Blows and It Ends Tonight (that came with a wonderful piano perlude), I could literally feel the fans behind me in the Red Zone getting bored and falling silent. Heh.

It was also my second time catching them live. First time when I was in Brisbane and could barely see them in between taller people’s shoulders. It was none the better for this. And I thought Tyson was scary looking with his neon bright singlet and glitters and – big eyes.

But anyway, they reclaimed everyone’s love when they closed with Gives You Hell that came with another 15,000 karaoke session.

A lot of people left after that, and if you were one of them, you are going to feel gravely sorry right about now because what finalised MTV World Stage was better than All-American Rejects.

We moved from the right wing of the Moshpit to the centre for Kasabian‘s set, and I was kicking myself why I did not stand there for the entire concert.

It was mind blowing in the centre and I loved it.

No one was more grateful that night than the lead Tom Meighan, as he was alleged to have gotten the H1N1 flu only a few days before MTV World Stage, and had to be quarantined in Australia.
“I’m alive!” he screamed to the 15,000 as he launched Kasabian’s set with songs from their latest album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum like Where Did All the Love Go, Vlad the Impaler and Fire, as well as the much loved Club Foot and more. They even got girls from the moshpit on their boyfriends’ shoulders and some of them attempting to crowd surf. And, they were probably the only band that managed to set off the manmade volcano at the back of the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach.

No one was more grateful to be there that night than Tom Meighan, as he was alleged to have gotten the H1N1 flu only a few days before MTV World Stage, and had to be quarantined in Australia.

“I’m still alive! I’m still alive!” he screamed to the 15,000 as he launched Kasabian’s set with songs from their latest album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum like Where Did All the Love Go, Vlad the Impaler and Fire, as well as other songs like Stop and the much loved Club Foot and more.

OK, maybe Kasabian got more songs than All-American Rejects but fuck, it was all necessary for them. Granted I only know Kasabian by name and Club Foot (but at least I know they exist way before you all did – har har), but I liked their set the most.

They even got girls from the Moshpit on their boyfriends’ shoulders and someone even attempted to crowd surf. And, they were probably the only band that managed to set off the manmade volcano at the back of the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach. Heh.

Overall, the concert was a good attempt. I was not expecting much from them because seeing that they were short for time and would most certainly perform only radio overplayed hits. And also, a lot of people were not pleased in the Red Zone, what with the uncontrolled moshing and crowdedness, not to mention the fact that no freebies because you guys are just too far away. Glad I was not there. Meh.

But I thought it was good enough. It was a nice opportunity to just get away from life altogether and just be emerged in some deaf defying music. It was good. I desperately wished I could do this all the time, and that weekend could have gone on forever and ever and ever and ever. Alas.

** Yea, I know, bad pictures and videos, what can you do.

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Also check out:
MTV World Stage : Backstage

MTV World Stage : Backstage

August 17, 2009

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Remember to say the magic word.

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Event: MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
Date: August 15, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach

I guess I needed this. Weeks that passed have been a little hard to swallow, and it is always a good thing when something like MTV World Stage comes along. It just gave you something good to look forward to, and distract yourself with.

Days that led up to last weekend got jittery for me as the many itineraries started streaming in. All the schedules we have to remember so not to miss this good opportunity, and all the rules we have to take in just because it is MTV. I could do nothing else at work but to come up with questions, go through them to see if they were good enough, and if there were enough time to ask most of them. But it was all good for me – not like coming up with quirky questions is a chore to me, heh. Anything is probably better than what I have been facing day in and night out.

So, I am just going to lift this hiatus I have been in, to give you a series of MTV World Stage posts, before going back to my hole.

Things started bright and early for us media folks as we headed towards the crime scene at 11ish in the morning to pick up our kits. We were granted a golden ticket for the concert, which seemed a pretty good deal until we realised where was the section at night. And also, a media pass – which, apparently, does not get us anywhere – and a pass for the post party later that night at MOS Euphoria.

It was a little surreal for me as we sat by the steps at the foyer, waiting for the press conference. Once in a while, someone from the bands performing would rush past with a PR personnel and a few security guards by their side. The number of security guards surrounding them depends on their popularity; Ray Gun from Raygun may just have a PR personnel, while Tyson Ritter from All-American Rejects may have six security guards. Heh. Just kidding. Maybe.

At one point, I think I saw Doug Robb of Hoobastank at the lobby by the “MTV Talents” booth, unguarded, sporting a pair of white-rimmed shades and chewing an apple. Heh.

There were scheduled roundtable interviews with all the performers, which we had to request for prior to the day itself. 15-minute interviews were going on back-to-back, whereby up to five media would be in one room just drilling the subjects to the core.

Being MTV, they were very strict with their security and time. I even had to have “someone” to escort me into the interview rooms, heh. And time was gold, and questions were fired like bullets nonstop, not wasting even a single second for the interviewees to breathe.

I got to interview Raygun, Pixie Lott and the Stank. (I am going to call them that because the band was spilt into two halves, and Hooba goes wherever Doug goes because he is the lead, so yeah). And I realised that with three performers all from different ‘eras’ of their music career, does result in how they answer the interviewers’ questions.

This is probably prejudice for my part, but when I read up on articles about Raygun, they came off as quite a cocky band, what with their whole “setting a new blueprint for pop rock” and all. But I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt because I know how exaggerating some press releases ca get. (I have written some, bless my heart).

In person, the boys were quite down to earth, and they were generally nice with the questions we had for them. They seemed genuinely glad to be able to play at MTV World Stage. They seemed easygoing as they teased one another and as Adj gave confident answers that sometimes made us laugh too. Not to mention, Ray, the lead, has the bluest eyes ever.

Pixie Lott, on the other hand, was a young soul who still likes to have all the fun she could have in her life with her friends. She talked a lot about missing her friends back home, and how if she could, she would like to hang out with her friends – watch a movie or go shopping. Things like that. But of course, having fun in her music career as well.

She was nice. She had the usual big grin girls like her would have when answering questions. She kept on reminding me of Ashlee Simpson. But I kind of have the impression that she does not want to be there, and cannot wait to head home and be with her friends.

For Stank, who has been in the scene for about 15 years already, it was like talking to a matured young adult who has been through a lot in his life. There were a lot of questions to ask them, and they had a lot to tell us too. But for some reason, my group was especially crowded and other people were just stealing time from everyone, and before you knew it, our 15 minutes was up. I did not even get the chance to dare them not to sing The Reason. Heh. Also, was a little bummed I did not get to interview Doug. Boo.

There was also a press conference to kick things off with all the formalities. I was a tad bit late for mine because the roundtable interviews happened simultaneously. By the time I got there, photographers big and small were already crowding the front, and me, being short and all, could not see at all what was going on at the front. I could only hear VJ Denise and VJ Utt talking, and I had to get a much much taller friend to take the pictures for me. Heh.

Everyone was present at the press conference.

There was Boys Like Girls.

There was Kasabian.

There was the All-American Rejects and their English breakfast tea.

There was Hooba and Stank.

And of course, Pixie Lott, Estranged, Raygun, and this Korean quartet that is supposed to be the kimchi Boyz II Men, performing at the MTV World Stage after party. Meh.

It was a pretty darn good experience for me. Not everyday you get to see international acts come to Malaysia by the bunch, let alone actually be backstage with them and sit only a breath away from them while interviewing them. This time around seemed more personal than the MTV Asia Awards last year, because we actually get to spend time with the acts, though only for a mere 15 minutes.

It would have been awesome to interview all of the acts, but alas, I do not work in a world renowned company so I just have to make do with what was given to me. Not that they were bad, mind you. I like it when people tell me their stories, especially musicians. It just feels like they are giving you permission into a part of their lives that they do not usually give out.