Global Battle of the Bands means great music

A hefty payout awaits the winner of the Global Battle of the Bands (GBOB) Challenge Malaysia 2008, as well as an opportunity to perform in London.

It doesn’t really matter if the Global Battle of the Bands (GBOB) Challenge Malaysia 2008 competition is for rockers, ravers, lovers or ..., well you get the drift. At the heart of the matter, it stands for one thing and one thing only – great music.

The GBOB wagon – driven by Jack Daniels, Tennessee’s finest whisky – rolled across the country over the last few months, roaming everywhere from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to Penang and Johor in its search for quality bands performing original music. After trawling through a sea of upstarts, posers and genuine contenders, the contestants have now been whittled down to 15 lucky bands, all of which will compete at the national finals tomorrow, 9pm at Planet Hollywood, Kuala Lumpur.

Giving his all:Vijay David, ofFive & Dime,is poised forintense actionat the NationalFinals tomorrow.

Cutting the mustard are Lab Rat (modern alternative rock), Rollin’ Sixers (blues / rock ‘n’ roll), SingleTrackMind (alternative rock), Houdinix (alternative), The Federated (funky punk / rock ‘n’ roll), Wynken Delirium (rock / metal / grunge), Five & Dime (retro / funk / R&B / soul / classic rock), Poseidon (experimental progressive / alternative rock), Day Seven (rock), Vessel of Worship (Christian funk), Niskala (modern rock), Pledging New Foundation (fusion / progressive rock), Rock N’ Roll John (rock ‘n’ roll), Cynosure (modern / alternative / hard core) and Pink Acid (glam rock).

The winning band will go home with RM50,000 in cash and gets the chance to compete against 38 bands from the equal number of countries in a two-night extravaganza at the London Scala, London’s alternative live music club and arts venue at King’s Cross. That stage has previously hosted the likes of Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Moby, Super Furry Animals, Chemical Brothers, Dido, Outkast, Suede, Gomez, Elbow, Robbie Williams, The Scissors Sisters and Joss Stone, among others. Ultimately, the World Final winner will walk away with US$100,000 (RM330,000) and global positioning of its music.

According to GBOB Malaysia National Director Issa Rodriguez Medina, this year displayed a marked improvement in the quality of bands. “There isn’t a single band that doesn’t deserve to be there. Not only was the level of talent displayed during the qualifying heats very high, we were also very happy to see a wide array of musical styles performed by this year’s finalists. I also believe this year’s competition was a lot tougher than last year. In fact, some of last year’s finalists who competed again this year didn’t even make it to the finals,” she said.

While all the bands have shown great potential, some have clearly stood out above the rest. “While it all comes down to the judges, I believe that four out of the 15 finalists have a very strong chance of making it to the World Finals,” she added.

Unlike in the qualifying heats where 50% of the results were determined by live audience voting and 50% by a panel of judges, the National Final will have the panel of judges calling the shots, avoiding unfair advantages potentially given to Klang Valley-based bands. The same rule applies at the World Finals.

You betcha:The Rollin’Sixers will bemaxxing out thethrottle to wina chance toperform at theWorld Finals.

Rock music generally predominates GBOB but this year’s event has offered a bit more of an eclectic mix with other styles like alternative folk, blues, funk, jazz, hip hop and even gospel making their presence felt.

The finalists are all buzzing from the excitement of the competition, too. Rollin’ Sixers frontman Eddy Lim can’t wait for the day of the finals to roll around. “To play in London would be a fabulous experience in its own right. That’s a story for the grandkids right there,” he enthused.

“If we win in London, I’d use the prize money to record an album properly, and that’s my stamp in the music industry that no one can ever take away – to have a Rollin’ Sixers recording out. It’ll probably be worth something 30 years from now as a rarity,” joked the singer.

Club circuit stalwart Vijay David, performing with his band Five & Dime, was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of music on display. “It was good to see so much good original music being played out there. I was really taken in by the awesome talent, especially from the younger musicians. And there was so much variety where genres were concerned,” revealed the veteran.

Pink Acid feels that GBOB has not only provided a platform for its band but even a stepping stone for things to come. Lead guitarist Alex “Wild Youth” says that while winning is simply that, there’s more to the GBOB experience.

Spikes and spunk: Pink Acid glamorously geared up to smash-and-grab the top prize.

“Succeeding in this competition means the world to me. But the big plan is to produce an album from the money that comes our way should we win,” he offered.

The contest at this year’s event is clearly stiff but bands have the control to win the judges over. Medina has this piece of advice for all the bands: “My advice to the finalist bands is to choose their two original songs very carefully. All the bands are very talented. But based on what we saw at the World Finals in London last year, if they are to be plucked out of obscurity and positioned for worldwide success, it will all boil down to those two songs standing out from the rest.”

The Global Battle of the Bands (GBOB) Challenge Malaysia 2008 national final will kick off tomorrow at 9pm at Planet Hollywood, Ground Floor, KL Plaza, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Tickets, priced at RM25, are available at the door.