The Star Malaysia - Star2

All in the fam­ily

Slowly, but surely, Lab The Rat made its de­but al­bum a re­al­ity.

- By AN­GELIN YEOH en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

Uncaged:

THEY say, good things come to those who wait. Formed in 2004, in­die rock out­fit Lab The Rat be­gan when vo­cal­ist Syarul Reza met his then-fi­ance Shahi­rah Aishah (now his wife and also vo­cal­ist in the band) at a record­ing stu­dio in Shah Alam, Se­lan­gor.

At that time, Syarul, who also fronts hard­core band Love Me Butch, needed an out­let to show­case his mel­low side. Even­tu­ally, his broth­ers Syaril Zizi (gui­tar and vo­cals), Syai­ful Nazri (drums) and friends multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Nik Azwaa (key­board and gui­tar) and Kech (bass) joined in to com­plete the band.

“We started out as a fam­ily band then we added some of our friends to it. Then, it be­came a week­end thing for our band to get to­gether and cover songs. Even­tu­ally, we got too ex­cited about singing our own songs,” said Syarul.

“We saw the po­ten­tial in our band and de­cided to per­form for a big­ger crowd. It was very cool,” he re­mem­bered.

In 2008, Lab The Rat was RM50,000 richer when it won the Global Bat­tle of the Bands com­pe­ti­tion at Planet Hol­ly­wood in Kuala Lumpur. Since then, fans have been ea­gerly an­tipat­ing the band’s next ca­reer step, with orig­i­nal ma­te­rial and demos crop­ping up.

In 2011, the band signed on to in­de­pen­dent mu­sic label La­guna Records. An al­bum re­lease seemed em­i­nent.

How­ever, the plan had to take a back­seat due to the band’s other com­mit­ments like full-time jobs, mar­riages and even chil­dren. As we found out, the mem­bers in the band work in var­i­ous in­dus­tries like trans­port, events, travel and even a cof­fee chain. While Shahi­rah sheep­lessly raised her hand and said “home­maker”.

Syarul added the band also took its time in craft­ing songs to make up the al­bum.

“When we signed to La­guna two years ago, we knew we had to start work­ing on our songs. We didn’t have enough songs to re­lease an al­bum then. In the mean­time, we were also play­ing shows to build our rap­port and get some ex­po­sure for our band,” he said.

Even with the long in­ter­vals it took to re­lease the al­bum, the band still found the time to per­form. Last year, it opened for Amer­i­can mu­si­cian Wil­liam Beck­ett (vo­cal­ist of the now-de­funct The Acad­emy Is ...) and pop-rock band Boys Like Girl dur­ing their show­cases in Kuala Lumpur.

Fans just had to wait – but thank­fully, the band never lost sight in de­liv­er­ing an al­bum.

The band re­cently launched its de­but al­bum Love The Mis­sion at the Venue in Pav­il­ion, Kuala Lumpur. The eight-track al­bum fea­tures some of the band’s sig­na­ture tunes like the catchy I Know, Un­stop­pable, and Send Us To Ukraine. Along­side tracks like the bluesy Airinna, it’s ev­i­dent that the band also found the time to re­de­fine its sound.

“We used to say that we’re a pop folk-ish band. Over time, we be­came more of a feel good 1990s kind of band. Like Gin Blos­soms! We’re your friendly al­ter­na­tive band,” said Syarul. Then, Kech quipped, “Fun rock!”

Nik Azwaa said each mem­ber also had the op­por­tu­nity to let their in­di­vid­ual in­ter­est play a big part in form­ing the band’s mu­sic shape.

“Ev­ery­one is a song­writer with their in­flu­ences,” said Nik Azwaa.

The bal­lad Airinna, for ex­am­ple, was writ­ten by gui­tarist Syaril for his young daugh­ter. Syahi­rah said a fam­ily mem­ber, who is not part of the band, con­trib­uted to the song’s in­clu­sion. “It was Papa’s (Syarul, Syaril and Syai­ful’s fa­ther) strong re­quest to in­clude a Malay song,” she said.

Ul­ti­mately, Syarul hopes lis­ten­ers will find their own con­nec­tion with the songs in Love The Mis­sion.

“The mis­sion is about shar­ing our mu­sic. We want to show­case that you can be a fam­ily per­son, have a nine-to-five job and still make mu­sic!” said Syarul.

The band mem­bers also said re­leas­ing Love The Mis­sion means they can fi­nally plan ahead with more gigs.

“We’re re­lieved! Fi­nally, we can also start work­ing on new songs!” said Shahi­rah.

Lab The Rat’s de­but al­bum is avail­able on­line at store.la­gu­na­mu­sic.my.

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 ??  ?? In­die rock out­fit Lab The Rat per­form­ing at the launch of its de­but al­bum LoveTheMis­sion re­cently in Kuala Lumpur.
In­die rock out­fit Lab The Rat per­form­ing at the launch of its de­but al­bum LoveTheMis­sion re­cently in Kuala Lumpur.
 ??  ?? Lab The Rat vo­cal­ist Syarul Reza wanted the band to be an out­let to show­case his mel­low side. Syarul is also the front­man of post-hard­core band Love Me Butch.
Lab The Rat vo­cal­ist Syarul Reza wanted the band to be an out­let to show­case his mel­low side. Syarul is also the front­man of post-hard­core band Love Me Butch.

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