Home > Lifestyle > Entertainment > Music
Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 9:01:54 AM
by adly syairi ramly
Da Vagabonds, which features (clockwise) guitarist Herri Hamid, drummer Irfan Iskandar, frontman Noh Salleh and bassist Aleasutan, aim to light the fuse with true blue rock ‘n’ roll.
Da Vagabonds, featuring a line-up of local indie rock stars, look the part to gatecrash the music scene.
THE idea of getting back to basics is always a career refreshing one. For Noh Salleh, whom many of us would know as the lead singer of indie rock band Hujan, there’s more to music and being in a band than balancing the bank accounts or entertaining the record labels and media requests.
“It has reached the point where being in Hujan has gotten a bit too serious. I miss the spontaneity. I miss getting the music out the moment the recording is completed. I miss being in the studio. Most of all, I miss the fun that made me pick up the guitar in the first place. I needed a way out,” revealed Noh, 28, in a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur.
The way out came in the form of Da Vagabonds, a band built on rock ‘n’ roll that is immediate, intuitive and most importantly, fun.
Combine those elements with Noh’s songcraft wizardry and a deft bunch of bandmates – guitarist Herri Hamid and his mastery of the twangy British psychedelia tones, drummer Irfan Iskandar and his groovy beats, and bassist Aleasutan with her bopping basslines – and you have a band that would conveniently fit into the indie rock bracket. Almost.
Da Vagabonds’ music, under the microscope, is a hybrid of British Invasion, punk rock and 1960s pop yeh yeh.
The story behind the formation of Da Vagabonds sounds like a rock critic’s wet dream.
Fronting the band is Noh Salleh, who also fronts Hujan, one of the most prominent bands in the Malaysian indie music scene. Guitarist Herri Hamid, 31, fronts Bittersweet, one of the few, if not the only, flag bearers of neo-psychedelic music in the country. Drummer Irfan, 33, is a well-travelled skinbasher, whose resume includes playing for ACAB, The Times and Relay. Bassist Alia, 22, despite her newly-minted credentials, weighs up with her never-say-never attitude.
To sum it up, Da Vagabonds is, essentially, a supergroup.
It wasn’t planned that way. The band started out as Noh’s solo project, a project he described as “something that is heavily influenced by the sound of British Invasion and Indonesian classic pop revivalist, Sore.”
“The original plan was for me to release a solo album. After Hujan released Sang Enemy (in 2012), I was a bit disoriented with how things were going with the band. So, I decided to work on my solo album.”
Mondo, Sore’s keyboardist, was engaged as a producer in March, and the deadline to complete the five songs from his solo project was in May.
The five songs never met their deadline. Noh felt that rather than sit back and wait, he may as well move forward on his own. The result was In Love With You, a Beatlesque pop tune that he recorded together with Aizat Amdan, which was released on June 6. At that point, it was still a Noh Salleh solo project, but then the stars suddenly aligned.
Needing a band that not only could back him up for live shows, but also share his musical vision, Noh roped in Herri and Irfan, two musicians with a keen appreciation for Britpop.
After a few email exchanges and regular Whatsapp group discussions, the band’s first rehearsal took place in June. By the end of the first session, Noh’s solo project had taken a backseat.
“The first thing that occurred to me after our first rehearsal was – I’m not the solo artiste type. That’s not me. I’m a band type of person. I operate best under a band’s name and not as Noh Salleh,” said the Sarawak-born singer.
The first rehearsal session beamed Noh back to 2006, when he first started making music with Hujan, when everything was easy street.
“The (Da Vagabonds) session got me all excited again about being in a band.”
The band made its live debut, as a quintet, together with Aizat Amdan at Fiesta Arena Bola Mania on June 29.
Later that night, five songs, In Love With You, Disudut Bibirmu, Cinta Gagak Hitam, Galaksi and Disko were uploaded to the band’s Soundcloud page. Da Vagabonds was finally official.
“Looking at how things are going, and how inspired and excited I am, playing and performing with the boys (and girl), my focus will be on Da Vagabonds first. My solo album is more personal, it can wait, sort of,” added Noh.
The band’s name, according to Noh, was taken from an ongoing manga about a fictional character called Miyamoto Musashi by Takehiko Inoue.
It was also the name of Noh’s project band that never took off.
“Da Vagabonds was the name of my project band with Alim (ex-Nerd, ex-OAG, ex-The Times and Relay) and Enol of the band Statik. We did rehearse a couple of times but due to a lot of factors, the project never took off,” explained Noh.
Despite Da Vagabonds’ potential and growing number of fans (over 7,500 on its Facebook page), Noh’s plans are rather grounded.
“I just want to travel and share Da Vagabonds’ brand of rock ‘n’ roll. It will be great to take the music on the road.”
At present, Da Vagabonds has a couple of gigs lined up, including an eye-catching slot at the Urbanscapes 2013 festival in late November.
The band also has its tunes available as downloads. A launch party and release date for a CD is being planned for mid-November.
“I’m really not keen with the idea of rush releasing our music officially. For that, the songs need to be re-recorded, which means everything needs to be done properly in the studio and stuff. That is not something I think I would enjoy doing,” said Noh.
Having fronted Hujan for more than eight years, Noh is fully aware that there are bound to be comparisons and he already has a response.
“Da Vagabonds is more rock ‘n’ roll, while Hujan’s music is already at a level where everything needs to be done as perfect as possible.”
Does this mean the end for Hujan?
“Hujan will always be there. It’s too close to my heart. It was the band that made me who I am. As a matter of fact, I’ve told Herri, Irfan and Alea that Da Vagabonds is a band where I want all four of us to have fun playing in. It’s that simple.”
More info on Da Vagabonds at www.facebook.com/davagabondsmy and www.reverbnation.com/davagabonds.
Tags / Keywords:
Entertainment, Entertainment, Da Vagabonds, indie rock music
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)