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.
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.
“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.