born to be wild

It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n’ roll. For­tu­nately, blues rock out­fit Rollin’ Six­ers knows how to get there.

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

Blues rock out­fit Rollin’ Six­ers knows how to get to the top.

Y OU can’t al­ways get what you want. You can’t al­ways get what you want. But if you try some­times, you just might find, you get what you need.” Has Rollin’ Six­ers stum­bled upon the per­fect for­mula in­spired by the ... err, Rolling Stones, then?

Well, not ex­actly, but by not tread­ing the path of the trendy and stick­ing to its guns in­stead, the out­fit (the Rollin’ Six­ers, that is) has cer­tainly found a way to meld its rock sen­si­bil­i­ties with a healthy dose of the blues. And what a time to do it, too. Es­pe­cially since lo­cal rock mu­sic has be­come a tri­fle too pre­dictable.

The band has plod­ded along for al­most five years with­out an al­bum, but judg­ing from the first sin­gle, Hard Love, which rep­re­sents an im­mi­nent (self-ti­tled) al­bum, the prover­bial “wait has been worth it”.

The quin­tet – com­pris­ing Eddy Lim on vo­cals, Henry Tan and Khai Ba­har on gui­tars, Jay Kughan on bass and Ian Ste­wart on drums – nat­u­rally, is more re­lieved than over­joyed that there’s fi­nally a light at the end of the tun­nel.

Amid a hearty round of laugh­ter, Khai, who recorded and mixed the eight-song al­bum said: “I’m re­lieved that I don’t have to mix it any­more.” Eddy echoed his sen­ti­ment: “I’m just glad it’s fi­nally out. I’ve been telling peo­ple it would be out in six months’ time ... over the past five years.”

The old-school phi­los­o­phy of cut­ting an al­bum and re­leas­ing it as a phys­i­cal prod­uct isn’t the smartest way to do things any­more. Rollin’ Six­ers is only too aware of this and will opt for the sin­gles route ... ini­tially, at least.

“I have friends in bands who’ve printed 500 or 1,000 copies of their al­bums and they’ve strug­gled to push them. So we want to get on with the times and maybe re­lease a few sin­gles be­fore the phys­i­cal prod­uct,” rea­soned Eddy.

“I just can’t imag­ine pass­ing peo­ple our al­bum on a thumb drive, so while the sin­gles will get the ball rolling, we will have an ac­tual CD of the al­bum,” Khai chipped in with his two cents worth over a round of drinks at a wa­ter­ing hole in Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor.

Ac­cord­ing to the guys, the al­bum will be more than just a CD – it’ll be a me­mento of sorts of their mu­si­cal jour­ney. “We’re hop­ing to throw in some ex­tras in the pack­ag­ing,” Henry said.

Record­ing at home

Not ones who fancy watch­ing the clock run down on them at some swanky record­ing stu­dio, the band opted to record at Khai’s house in Ta­man Tun Dr Is­mail in KL. Lofty am­bi­tions of mik­ing the drum kit in a stair­well (cue Led Zep­pelin’s When The Levee Breaks) and what-not were re­alised ... to a cer­tain de­gree.

“We tried that but while the re­sults weren’t like Led Zep’s, it be­came a sound all our own. Led Zep and the (Rolling) Stones recorded some clas­sic al­bums in houses. It’s not re­ally strange, it’s ac­tu­ally quite con­ve­nient,” Khai ex­plained. The fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings of Khai’s house be­came in­dis­pens­able and the guys were able to cre­ate the kind of mu­sic that comes nat­u­rally to them.

“What we unan­i­mously had in mind was to make sure the record sounded raw,” Henry elab­o­rated.

Just like record­ing the al­bum, the DIY ethos gets an­other nod with the pro­mo­tion of the al­bum. “We’re gonna sell the al­bums at our gigs ... it’s more fun that way, and I guess it’s also very hon­est, isn’t it?” Khai rea­soned.

Rollin’ Six­ers is aware that go­ing against the mu­si­cal grain could be an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard, but the band is pre­pared for the bumpy ride be­cause feed­back on its mu­sic has been ex­cep­tion­ally en­cour­ag­ing.

“We have friends in bands who re­ally like our stuff and think that it’s cool that a bunch of young (that’s rel­a­tive these days, though) guys are play­ing the blues. Even the older guys like Tok Ghani and Ito of the Blues Gang have given us their bless­ings and shared some words of wis­dom with us,” Eddy crowed.

Self-sat­is­fac­tion

“Ac­tu­ally, ev­ery­one knows the blues. They just may not play it or ac­tively lis­ten to it. Be­sides, we’ve made this al­bum to please our­selves first and fore­most, re­ally,” added Henry.

“Rock has be­come too safe ... it’s ceased to be dan­ger­ous. When I go out to see a rock band, I end up watch­ing just an­other band. Rock has al­ways been about anti-es­tab­lish­ment. No one does it like this any­more and for those that do, it all seems very scripted,” opined Eddy on the state of rock here.

Tra­di­tion­ally though, rock has al­ways been a fine bal­ance of sub­stance and style. Rollin’ Six­ers sub­scribes to that point of view but in­sists that the mar­riage has to be a happy one.

Ian, ever the jester, quan­ti­fied it per­fectly: “It’s 50% b***s, 40% heart and 10% skill.” And the quin­tet wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rollin’ Six­ers ap­proaches its mu­sic with a sin­cer­ity not of­ten seen in the in­die scene here – the poser crowd is in abun­dance. “Kids to­day com­plain that they can’t play mu­sic be­cause there’s no govern­ment sup­port. What are they talk­ing about? Rock never re­lied on that. What do they ex­pect? The govern­ment to set up a Rakan Muda Rock?” Eddy half-joked. “There are bands who feel they have to put on a per­sona. The mu­sic doesn’t de­fine you, though,” added Khai.

Some like it raw

Ad­mit­tedly, it is risky for the band to be ped­dling its brand of mu­sic in the in­die scene that em­braces the cool and trendy, but the boys al­ways knew this was go­ing to be rocky ter­rain.

“We never made any de­ci­sions to sound a par­tic­u­lar way. We do what we do the way we do,” Henry rhymed.

That’s ex­actly why the band is pre­pared to walk the talk. Rollin’ Six­ers will play the Power Down gig at Univer­siti Malaya this Satur­day at 8.30pm in con­junc­tion with the Eco Film Fes­ti­val 2010.

The group takes the en­vi­ron­ment se­ri­ously. Eddy goes the mile by re­fus­ing straws when he or­ders a drink, even. Thank­fully, they don’t serve beer with straws.

“We’ve played for the Eco Film Fest be­fore and we fully sup­port the cause. Last time around, it was re­ally fun, and it’s al­ways good to be able to jam some blues at an event, keep it raw and all. We’re think­ing of do­ing a stripped-down acous­tic blues set,” Khai re­vealed of the band’s set.

The Power Down fest this Satur­day night will fea­ture acts like Aizat Am­dan, Ami­rah Ali and Monoloque while the Eco Film Fest live stage (day time) this week­end in­cludes the likes of Ky­oto Pro­to­col, Ferns, Has­san & Mark­iza, Ra­man The Nose Flutist and many more.

Shaken, not stirred

Rollin’ Six­ers is made up of a bunch of guys who are se­ri­ous and hon­est about their craft. In­di­vid­u­ally, they all bring their var­ied char­ac­ters to the mix. Eddy is the forth­right front­man; Khai the opin­ion­ated diplo­mat; Henry ... well, is just Henry; Jay’s the silent ob­server; and Ian de­cid­edly the class clown. It’s this po­tent mix of per­son­al­i­ties and mu­si­cal in­flu­ences (The Black Crowes, The Rolling Stones, Led Zep­pelin, Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival, Muddy Wa­ters, etc) that make these Klang Val­ley­based guys the movers of this niche scene.

If all it was about was ap­ing their he­roes (ap­par­ently, the band sounded like Weezer at the start), then Rollin’ Six­ers would’ve been an­other bland act, but the boys have taken point­ers from the clas­sics and cun­ningly al­lied them­selves to iron­clad songcraft to cre­ate tunes of real res­o­nance and rich­ness. The re­sults, to their credit, sparkle with in­ven­tion and con­fi­dence. For those about to rock ... Rollin’ Six­ers will play an acous­tic blues set at the Power Down fes­ti­val, part of the Eco Film Fest 2010 at Univer­siti Malaya, this Satur­day. Other acts on the bill in­clude Ami­rah Ali, Aizat Am­dan, Eco Drum Cir­cle, Wakaka, Tree Group, Ra­man and Monoloque. Show­time: 7.30pm. Free ad­mis­sion. Browse ecofilm­fest.my/ pow­er­down. The Power Down fes­ti­val is pre­sented by TheS­tar.

Mojo work­ing: Rollin’ Six­ers – com­pris­ing (from left) Jay Kughan, Khai Ba­har, Eddy Lim, Ian Ste­wart and Henry Tan – is just what the doc­tor or­dered to fill the void for good time blues and whole­some rock­ing. Catch the band at the Eco Film Fes­ti­val 2010 at Univer­siti Malaya, KL, on Satur­day.

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