The pop as­sault

Malaysian mu­si­cian Michael Chan read­ies up a busy ca­reer ahead with his Amer­i­can band South Jor­dan signed to Is­land Def Jam.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FASHION - By N. RAMA LO­HAN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

Malaysian mu­si­cian Michael Chan read­ies up a busy ca­reer ahead with his Amer­i­can band South Jor­dan signed to Is­land Def Jam.

IT all starts with a dream. And that’s ex­actly what Malaysian mu­si­cian Michael Chan did as a young boy. He knew he was never go­ing to scorch the foot­ball pitches to be­come the next Michael Owen, but his pas­sion for mu­sic served as his guid­ing light.

Now, the 22-year-old’s band, Amer­i­can pop rock act South Jor­dan, is part of record la­bel Is­land Def Jam’s ros­ter of artistes, the same la­bel that’s home to the likes of Ri­hanna, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and The Killers.

What’s more press­ingly sig­nif­i­cant though is a stream of the band’s acous­tic con­cert to­mor­row morn­ing at 9am, via web­site Stickam, the largest live com­mu­nity on the In­ter­net. The band will be per­form­ing at record­ing fa­cil­ity Farm Fresh Stu­dios, Bloom­ing­ton, In­di­ana, the United States, and view­ers from around the world can watch the band’s show on Stickam. com.

“It’s a very in­ter­ac­tive stream where both band and au­di­ence mem­bers can com­mu­ni­cate with each other ... we can even see our au­di­ence with we­b­cams,” ex­plained Kuala Lumpur-born Chan, the synth and gui­tar player in the band.

Apart from pre­par­ing for its show, South Jor­dan is cur­rently in the pre-pro­duc­tion stages of its 11song ma­jor la­bel de­but al­bum. “About a year ago, we signed on to the man­age­ment com­pany Union En­ter­tain­ment Group (the same or­gan­i­sa­tion that man­ages rock bands Nick­el­back, Hin­der, Aero­smith’s Steven Tyler, Richard Marx, etc) be­cause they were look­ing for a young pop act.”

This past May, the band hit pay dirt ... of sorts. “Our man­age­ment com­pany or­gan­ised show­case per­for­mances for us with a few ma­jor la­bels and Is­land Def Jam was the one who were most en­thu­si­as­tic. They came back to us in 24 hours and of­fered us a deal ... which we signed a month later,” Chan re­vealed over the phone from his new base in Nashville, Ten­nessee.

The band – com­pris­ing Michael David Hall (lead vo­cals), Bobby Camp­bell (pi­ano/gui­tar), David Wi­tucki (bass/vo­cals), Jesse Feis­ter (drums), Eric Bren­gle (lead gui­tar/ vo­cals) and Chan – (whose av­er­age age is 21) has been work­ing with song­writ­ers re­spon­si­ble for some of to­day’s chart-busters like Mi­ley Cyrus and Brit­ney Spears.

“Is­land Def Jam sees us as fit­ting a sim­i­lar pop mould like its other artistes,” con­fessed Chan, whose mother is a mu­sic teacher.

South Jor­dan’s mu­sic is de­cid­edly pop and the band makes no ex­cuses for it, es­pe­cially tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion what its mem­bers were weaned on.

“We all grew up lis­ten­ing to ra­dio. We all like our pop mu­sic. I know some bands think it’s cool to name drop bands like Ra­dio­head, but we lis­tened to Back­street Boys, Cold­play ... a lot of stuff on Hitz.fm.”

The three tunes avail­able on the band’s Face­book page, For­ever, Fire­fly and All Of Us, clearly ex­hibit the band’s mu­si­cal in­cli­na­tions.

It’s this love for pop mu­sic that binds the band. Nat­u­rally, with this brand of mu­sic, the com­par­isons have been fly­ing all over the place.

“The Fray and OneRepub­lic are some of the bands that we’ve been com­pared to.

“I guess we’re just a younger take on the pop rock genre with em­pha­sis on our lead vo­cal­ist. Our goal is to make catchy mu­sic. The al­bum should be out in April or May next year,” Chan in­formed, re­veal­ing that while the band hasn’t picked a pro­ducer yet, four or five in­dus­try play­ers are in the reck­on­ing.

South Jor­dan is the com­ing to­gether of uni­ver­sity friends (In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity) and like-minded mu­si­cians in Bloom­ing­ton, In­di­ana. The sound of the land has had lit­tle in­flu­ence on the band’s mu­sic but Chan says the town was most in­stru­men­tal in what the band does.

“It’s a col­lege town of 48,000 peo­ple. Ev­ery­thing there caters to the uni­ver­sity cul­ture so it pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for us to play to our de­mo­graphic (14-25 year olds). It’s a great breed­ing ground for a band in the sense that it af­fords the op­por­tu­nity to be ex­per­i­men­tal and work at it,” shared Chan, who grad­u­ated in Record­ings Arts in May.

Like many Asian chil­dren, Chan wasn’t spared the ridicule for want­ing to pur­sue mu­sic as a ca­reer, though he has sup­port­ive par­ents. “I’ve al­ways felt that if I loved what I did, I could make it work, so the record deal for the band is a slight vin­di­ca­tion for me.”

But not all things have worked well in life for him, es­pe­cially his undy­ing love for his beloved foot­ball team, Liver­pool FC. “It’s rough ... and it doesn’t look like it’s go­ing to get bet­ter any­time soon.”

It’s still a long way yet but if Is­land Def Jam’s fo­cus on Asian mar­kets con­tin­ues, South Jor­dan could be head­ing this way some­time soon for a show in Malaysia. “We’ve def­i­nitely talked about it. Hope­fully the record does well and some­one in Asia will want to bring us over.” Catch South Jor­dan’s acous­tic per­for­mance on stickam.com at 9am to­mor­row or visit the band’s Face­book page. Down­load South Jor­dan’s song AllO­fUs at http:// down­loads.southjor­dan­mu­sic.com.

Tuned up: South Jor­dan, fea­tur­ing Malaysian gui­tarist/synth player Michael Chan (right), is signed to Is­land Def Jam/Mer­cury.

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