Catch These Men is a culmination of the band’s seven-year journey.
SOMETIMES it feels as though local indie band Kyoto Protocol has been around forever. Formed in 2008, Kyoto Protocol – comprising frontman Fuad Alhabshi, 29, keyboardist Gael Oliveres, 30, guitarist Hairi Haneefa, 28, bassist Shakeil Bashir, 28, and drummer Shanjeev Reddy, 26 – has been one of the constants of the local indie rock scene for some time now.
Surprisingly though, it has taken seven long years for them to finally release a full-length album. Their first release was the five-song EP An Album in 2011, and followed by the Pahlawan EP in 2013, and a couple of singles in between.
However, with nine songs compared to An Album’s five, the recently launched Catch These Men is technically the band’s first REAL album, and is essentially the culmination of what the five of them have been through in the past six years.
“It has the first song I ever wrote, right up to the latest song we wrote. So this is more of an overview of Kyoto Protocol’s career so far. Some of these songs were written in 2007, even before Kyoto Protocol was formed!” explained Fuad during a recent interview.
Comparing the band six years ago and now, Fuad reckons they are a much tighter unit with a better understanding of each other.
“It’s never perfect, but we’ve come to a point where we can do so much more because of the foundation we have, and can communicate better easier,” he said.
“Versus (TV9’s reality music competition which Kyoto Protocol participated in 2013) was great training for us – we literally had only less than a week to come up with new arrangements for our songs. It was a daunting challenge but I’m glad we rose up to it. And that was great training for us as a band and as musicians – we work better as a team now.
“Our music has definitely evolved a bit (since we started out). The songs on An Album were literally picked from the best five from the first nine songs we had at the time. Since then, as a songwriter, I’ve learned from the past, and built on what I’ve done before. Hopefully people think it’s an improvement!”
According to him, even though the some of the songs in Catch These Men had already been released as singles (such as KL I Love You and Dispensable), it just made sense to release those nine songs together in one full-length album.
“It’s great to be able to say that we have a full-length album, and hopefully it will give us something to build upon,” Fuad said, adding that Catch These Men will showcase a different side of Kyoto Protocol as well.
“People always think we only do energetic hard rock kind of stuff, because what we did previously was more congruent, and only had one feel to it. On Catch This Men, you will get to hear a different side of us. Basically, we have slower songs, which we never had before!”
Fuad hopes that the album would be able to give listeners a sense of variety and a range of emotions, much like, say, Smashing Pumpkins’ classic double album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness did for him.
“Imagine a band taking on that kind of ambition and actually making it work. That versatility of Mellon Collie ... it’s with you for all the highs and lows and when you’re happy and sad or anger, and it becomes the go to for all those emotions.
“Bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam always had a gamut of emotions in their albums. That’s what I hope Catch These Men will be as well, to a certain degree.”
According to Fuad, they finished recording Catch These Men last April and got the first CDs a few months later. “I already had the CDs in boxes at home for almost six months! We wanted to release the album last year, but we were too busy, so we had to push it to early this year,” he said.
Part of the reason it took so long to launch the album was because they wanted to get it done properly, though they eventually ended up making it a much bigger launch event than anticipated, throwing in a quick nationwide tour into the mix.
“We always wanted to do a tour. We’ve also always wanted to increase our presence outside of Klang Valley. We were just never able to do so in the past. Our fanbase is bigger now, and we can give potential partners better value as well,” he said.
They also have a bigger nationwide fanbase outside these days, thanks to the band’s involvement in Versus, as well as high profile stints opening for the likes of MGMT and The Killers, to sharing the stage with Smashing Pumpkins in 2013’s Good Vibes Festival.
“The TV show really helped to expand our fanbase outside of the city. We got a bit of an overlap with mainstream music, even though we’re still a long way from being mainstream!” he said.
Having stayed together for six years now, Fuad is certainly thankful that they’ve managed to continue on after so long.
“Honestly, I’m not sure why we lasted this long either! I like to think that there is an honesty in our music that people identify with – we try to keep it as genuine and as organic as possible,” he said. “What’s scary is that after six years, the other bands that used to be our peers are not around anymore. It’s scary, but also encourages us to keep on going.”
Catch These Men is available for download on iTunes, and can be streamed via Deezer and Spotify. Physical copies of the album are also available for purchase at all Pestle & Mortar outlets.