“There are ups and downs – that’s part of being in a band, but whenever we’re up on stage we just forget about everything and enjoy ourselves “: Irshah of <<<30s
<<<30s‘ music is intense, frenetic and full of soul – each of the band’s roughly half a minute songs feels like it starts at its climax and just keeps ramping up.
The band hails from Singapore – an expensive place to live, and in recent times a melting pot for global business, with a large side of expatriates who’ve migrated from around the world to do big corpo things on a small island.
I recently had the chance to conduct an email interview with members Irshah (drums), Auji (vocalist) and Lee (guitar/vocals) to learn about the band’s history, recording with the legendary Singaporean engineer Ah Boy, and the what the heavy music underground is like on their part of the planet.
But first, take a listen to Manusial, taken from <<<30’s 2019 E.P.
Thank you all for doing this interview! Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and how the band started?
Irshah: my name is Irshah. I play the drums for <<<30s and i’ve been with the band for about 3 years approximately. I was a fan of Lee’s (guitarist and 2nd vocalist) other band called Abrasion and I wanted to play a similar style [of music] to the band but at that time I wasn’t familiar with anyone who wanted to play that style of music but some time after that, Lee called me out and asked if we wanted to start a band together. I agreed that’s how it started.
Auji: <<<30s was formed in 2017. Lee was the one who wanted to form a Blastcore band. He doesn’t mind having 1 or 2 vocalists in the band so I jumped on board to try on doing extreme vocals and challenge myself on writing lyrics for the band.
Lee: I’m the guitarist/2nd vocal for <<<30s, I played in Abrasion and Fluke too. We started in 2017 till now. I wanted something different from what i played in previous bands i had. Just want the passion for fast music that won’t die out for the next generation.
<<<30s packs some pretty radical music concepts under thirty seconds, and it seems it seems like you all draw from a wide range of influences.
Irshah: My influences are Water Torture, Disrupt, Sordo, Baptist and many other bands that influence the style of drumming that I put forth for <<<30s.
Auji: We all have different influences which aids us a lot in our songwriting. I don’t have specific favourites because all of the bands out there are all good. My main inspirations came from listening to classic/hard/grunge/alternative rock, hardcore, punk to thrash/death/black metal bands. I don’t think it’ll be possible for me to have that confidence in writing lyrics without drawing inspirations from the bands I listened to. I have my band mates to thank them for this as well.
Lee: Yeah, we came from different backgrounds of music. I’m more into grind/PV/fast/crust and a bit of sludge, doom and noise stuff. Bands that interested and inspired me a lot till today are Gauze, Dropdead, Nasum, Magnicide, Corrupted. The idea is to cap [the music] under 30 seconds or beyond when the feel is right.
In addition to your 2019 EP, the band has recorded at TNT studios with local hero, Ah Boy several times – what was the process like recording there?
Irshah: I have recorded a few EPs with Ah Boy with other projects. I am comfortable being around the studios with Ah Boy and it doesn’t feel tense or nervous. The flow of the studio activity is usually recording the instruments and then the vocals.
Auji: Being in <<<30s has given me the opportunity to experience recording in TNT because previously, I’ll only be there to watch recording/jam sessions of other bands instead. I always get nervous easily being around Ah Boy because he has that serious vibe all the time but despite all that, he’s a patient guy and is very detailed in the things he does. Overall, he has done a great job for our recordings and I’m thankful enough for that. We always do live recordings and this will usually start with guitar and drums first, then followed by vocals.
Lee: As for Ah Boy, he’s the legend to us. I started to record at TNT in my youth in 1998. Basically he knows our style till now because many DIY bands have [been recording] with him [since] back then. We always do a live recording with guitar and drums first, followed by the 2nd layer of guitar tracks and lastly the vocals.
And how did the songs on the 2019 EP come to be? Did you all sit down together to write the tunes specifically or…?
Irshah : Interestingly, no we don’t sit and write tunes — we gradually come up with tunes and we’ll help each other with adding more ideas to that given tune.
Auji: The songs in our 2019 EP are mostly about life, people, the everyday problems and our music scene. Lee and Irshah are always working together on the beats and guitar/bass riffing and these are done spontaneously during jam sessions. I’ll first check with the guys on what issues/topics to focus on where i’ll then brainstorm and lay out the lyrics and see which fits well into which songs. Only when I’ve run out of ideas, then I’d ask the guys for help.
Lee: Well to be honest, my style of doing songs is on the spot when we go practise and additional beats ideas by me and the drummer. For 2019 E.P, we managed to do it on time because our friend offered us to play in Japan last October, 2019. And this release was to support the whole tour. A good experience if you ask me.
Singapore seems to have a “hidden from view” grindcore/HC/PV scene. Do bands shy away from hosting shows at say, the Esplanade or the Substation?
Irshah: I agree with Lee that the trend of music changes from time to time. I’m just glad that I had the opportunity to play at Substation when they still hosted DIY shows and as for Esplanade I think they would want a band or an act that’s able to pull in a [huge crowd] so yeah it’s a bit tough when only a small number of people listen to such genre.
Auji: The shows at Esplanade usually cater for wider audiences and they usually promote various art forms in Singapore. There is never a single underground show held there at all.
The rental there is way more than Substation too. Most of the bands featured are mostly well-established [groups] that the organisers are familiar with. If it’s a music fest, the bands they invite are usually based on their final selection. It might probably be based on their musical tastes too or if those bands [are] crowd pullers. In the end, it’s still about whether they can rake in profits.
As for Substation, we have no problem playing shows there but it all depends on the organisers and which bands they want to invite too. All of us have played there before but in different bands. In this case, the grindcore/HC/PV still remains as an underground scene because not [everybody] is comfortable with heavy genres as mentioned.
Lee: Seems fast/grind/pv is not a threat again here in Singapore now. The trend of music here changes from time to time. As for shows, Esplanade is more to establish bands that have been followed by many fans, and as for substation many DIY bands love to play there and were hosted by many good friends. The atmosphere playing in these two places are totally different.
Sial, Demisor and Wormrot are also great bands from Singapore. What can you tell us about the music community of heavy music genres in Singapore?
Irshah: I would say that even with a small community, we are growing.You’ll be able to see new bands popping out constantly and we are very supportive of each other. Whenever a new band pops up, you’ll start to see friends sharing their bandcamp page which will be flooded on Instagram and Facebook pages. There’s a lot of good music coming out of a small community.
Auji: Sial, Demisor and Wormrot are Made in Singapore bands that we all are definitely proud to have. The music community of heavy music here is packed with so… SO MANY bands with diverse genres… You name it and you’ll be able to find them all here.
Lee: Singapore has many potentially good bands as for now. But [in terms of the] selection of music/genres, people here will follow best to what his/her ears are gonna hear and support.
Not too long ago, McDonald’s in Singapore gave away curry sauce for free, but now I’ve heard that you have to pay for a tub. Is this more bullshit to exploit consumers? considering that Singapore is one of the epicentres of curry production in the world.
Irshah: I’ve always been a spicy curry kinda guy, so whenever I want curry I’ll go to my mum haha the best curry you’ll ever find.
Auji: From what I’ve heard, they only provide two free curry sauce tubs but will charge customers on additional request of curry sauce at only a few cents each. My guess on why they did this only recently was probably to avoid wastage and nothing else because things like that have an expiry date, and why do people need so many curry sauce, right? SG is one of the epicentres of curry production, but one must never compare MacDonald’s curry with traditional curry because theirs isn’t an original curry at all in the first place!
Lee: Curry???!!! please support the Indian stalls!!! They’re the experts after all…
What plans do you all have in the future for <<<30s (music/tours/etc), is there something specific that you are working towards?
Irshah: We’re planning a few splits with local noise musicians here, so hopefully when the lockdown is done we’re able to go back to the studio and start recording. Also for me, I hope we’re able to go on tours again. I did my very first tour not long ago and I enjoyed myself.
Auji: We are looking into doing another release and hopefully a few splits/collabs with other bands/noise musicians. Can’t wait to see what is there for us once this Covid-19’s over.
Lee: As for now, we stop for a while due to Covid. When time are good, we gonna record some new stuff for [our] next release. Maybe a lathe cut or vinyl release next…
Do you still enjoy playing in a band together?
Irshah: There are ups and downs – that’s part of being in a band, but whenever we’re up on stage we just forget about everything and enjoy ourselves .
Auji: Yes. There will always be ups and downs. [This is] part and parcel of being in a band. We will always put differences aside and work together to make the band what it is today.
Lee: Yeah… we quarrel and shout at each other sometimes but it doesn’t mean we hate each other. Just want the best for the band, and making the friendship meaningful after each practice.
I have to ask, why don’t you guys have Facebook?
Irshah: Hmmm I’m always on Facebook to share funny memes and cute cat videos haha. So when it comes to the band, usually I use Bandcamp to check out new bands or new releases so maybe that’s why we prefer to be on Bandcamp.
Auji: We also don’t know why. Maybe it’s just us not wanting to create a band page and going through the hassle of having something extra for us to manage. We have a Bandcamp page! Does that count?
Lee: I like this question…mmmppphhh??? Find us at Bandcamp or best still, email us if you got questions for us.
“I’ll spit over your auntie, your grandmother as well, my phlegm is ready to send you to hell”
The Tiger Lillies, poets of the macabre and pioneers of dark cabaret, have released their latest LP – a byproduct of the times, COVID-19. The band have made one track from the record available to stream, take a listen to Sanitizer Survivor below.
COVID-19 is a 17-track reflection of the band’s experiences amid the ongoing pandemic – with Martyn Jacques, band leader and primary songwriter reporting that the last months have left him feeling like “a goldfish in a bowl”, his full statement accompanying the album’s release here:
COVID-19 came out of the blue and left me unable to do the thing which I’ve always done for the last 30 years – perform! The thing which has kept me alive materially, occupied my time and kept me sane.
For me the act of singing to an audience has been my emotional and artistic release. COVID-19 stopped all that and for the last 3 weeks I’ve felt like a goldfish in a bowl.
My only way of staying relatively sane has been to sing songs about the madness of this . Here’s the album we’ve recorded, me isolating in my studio in Berlin, my band member Adrian [Stout] isolating in his studio in Athens. COVID-19’.
Martyn Jacques, The Tiger Lillies Bandcamp page.
In support of the COVID-19’s release – and as live shows are an impossibility worldwide – Jacques and Adrian Stout gave a live streamed performance of the album in full, over Zoom. Watch that below.
This album also notably features The Tiger Lillies in a duo configuration – as percussionist Jonas Golland shows up in neither the album’s credits, nor the live streamed performance.
The world was first introduced to the grim world of The Tiger Lilies in 1989, following the release of their debut album, Bouquet Of Vegetables. According to an old version of the band’s website (via Wayback Machine) – Jacques developed his signature ‘operatic’ voice over seven years – six of which were spent living in solitude above a brothel in London’s Soho. Before devoting himself to studying the “castrati style of voice”, he was reported to have been a university dropout student from Lampeter’s Theology and Philosophy course (according to Wikipedia).
Watch The Tiger Lillies perform The Crack Of Doom below:
Consider supporting The Tiger Lillies by purchasing COVID-19 through Bandcamp – and help ensure that the band stay fed and able to soundtrack humanity’s next (or last) doomsday moment.
The absurdist buttcore warriors supply a new single.
LA Buttcore quartet Orphan Goggles have issued a buck-wild single entitled Dead Friends. Along with the 3-minute long track, the band have supplied a neat informative video of how people used to die in the 80s. Check it out below.
Dead Friends Forever is intense; and the band’s heavy use of repetition really carries its wonderfully dissonant ideas. The vocals yo-yo between spoken word passages and “Dead Friends Forever!” – which overall is paired nicely with its thought out guitar/guitar/bass parts.
There are only ever two variations to the constantly driving drum pattern; the first, an excellently timed middle section pause; and at the end, a driving ride groove. That bridge section towards the end is easily my favorite part of the tune – with thick chords punctuating dissonant oscillating guitar bends, while the vocalist says some cold shit about death.
Pulling as much information as I could from the band’s Facebook page, I’ve learned that Orphan Goggles formed in 2013 after being birthed from the very tears that the miserable parallel universe version of my immaculate mother’s salivating eyes.
Its members include Harry Cloud (Fannyland), Sterling Riley (Hepa.Titus), Arturo Shaman and Neil “The Real Deal” Crowley. The four are evangelists over at the Butt Core Coalition of Los Angeles. Though they’ve stuck with the name Orphan Goggles, the band has gone through several phases – most notably winning the 58th Grammy Award for Best Album, when they used to be called Taylor Swift. The band also identifies as a single female human, and are personally Butt Core.
If you dug Dead Friends Forever definitely go check out the group’s single, Hey Bud, How’s Your Blood? from their split 7″ with Japanese psych-rockers Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. That’s embedded below here.
“One two three four! One two three four! One two three four! One two three four!”
Cascadian partisans Thee Deception have issued its sophomore EP, the 3-track Reset (The Pandemic EP). Give it a listen below.
Like the band’s previous release, Capital, this EP is an over-in-a-flash flurry of punchy punk tunes. It’s unclear where the band recorded this, though I can hazard to guess: from a phone, and at their practice space in Ballard(?).
I personally love these kinds of recordings – where it’s just the band doing what they already do at rehearsals. No need to gussy up; as one of the members can be heard at the end of the 2nd song, Big Trees, saying “I fucked it up.”
The album opener is pretty neat too, entitled 1 2 3 4. It opens with a scam phone message from the IRS – before Samuel Bligh punctuates “One two three four!”, looped like a retarded Roland electronic drum kit.
The record closes with Tough Guy, my personal favorite off the record. It’s an instrumental banger; opening with yet another scam call (this one sounding like a Kevin James impressionist moonlighting at a call centre). Excellent punk drumming from Regan Hagar, who carried the 2/4 tune all the way to completion.
Thee Deception are oft seen in-and-around their hometown of Seattle, Cascadia. The band sadly had to cancel some shows these couple months (May), due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. I suppose this record got its name from that whole incident.
If you dug this EP, definitely check out the band’s first release, Capitol. It’s available on vinyl and digital formats on the band’s Bandcamp page. Thee Deception are a killer live band, so when the world is back and perhaps in post-apocalyptic form, definitely go see them if you live in Seattle – you can count that they’ll still be booking shows. For now, here’s the band performing two songs at Easy Street Records.
The first single to come off the Seattle three-piece’s forthcoming record.
Downward Spiral is the latest single to arrive from Seattle-based noise rock trio, Green River Thrillers. According to the band’s Bandcamp page, this banger is to be part of a forthcoming EP; untitled for now. Tracking and mixing duties were handled by engineers Steve Feasley and Scot Michael at Strange Earth Studios and Titan Recording Studio, respectively. Check out Downward Spiral below.
This track puts forth some pretty grimy and heavy sounding concepts, executed with the bands signature punchiness. Interestingly, the vocals only kick in past the halfway point of the track, and only lasts through a couple verses, but it really ties the arrangement together.
‘Downward Spiral’ is the first new music to arrive from the band since 2016’s split 7″ release with Stereo Creeps. That release is popping as well, with the Greenriver Thrillers supplying the dreamy and anthemic Body Parts; while the Stereo Creeps contributed the sentimental and dissonant tune Choose Yr Weapon (which I thought was gonna be a weird ass Hiatus Kaiyote cover). Check those tracks out below.
Greenriver Thrillers are made up of members Gary Hughes, Alan Alfano and Phil Smith. The trio have described their music as a blend of “many elements of rock n’ roll”, which influences spanning classic punk, metal, and even some shades of experimental music. While I was looking this information up on their Bandcamp page, I noticed that at the end, it wrote: “The trio are currently set to release a new record titled ‘Distorted Diva’ in June of 2016” – so perhaps it’s time for an update fellas!