Wednesday 2 November 2016

FORGOTTEN INTERVIEW: "I saw Ujung Berung change from agriculture to manufacturing, music is catharsis"

Left to Right: Kieran James (Busuk Chronicles), Popo Demons Damn, and Addy Gembel (FORGOTTEN vocalist) @ Bandung, 30 November 2012.
Our interview with Addy Gembel (FORGOTTEN vocalist)
At: Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
29 November 2012
Interview oleh: Kieran James and Popo (BUSUK WEBZINE)
Interpretation & extra comments oleh: Popo (DEMONS DAMN & BUSUK WEBZINE)
FORGOTTEN is: Addy Gembel (vocals), Toteng (guitar), Gan-Gan (guitar), Diki (bass), and Rifki (drums).

Kieran James1 (Busuk Chronicles): First of all can you take us through the band history right from the start? This will be for the history book as well as for BUSUK WEBZINE.

Addy Gembel (FORGOTTEN vokalis)1: First of all we started FORGOTTEN in 1994 in Ujung Berung [East Bandung, West Java, Indonesia]. We had influences from Florida death-metal, SOLSTICE, MALEVOLENT CREATION, TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX, and bands like that. We made our first album in 1997. It’s called Future Syndrome. Our first album’s music is like old-style death-metal influenced by OBITUARY, GORGUTS, MALEVOLENT, SOLSTICE, more like crossover DM. It was released by Palapa Records. At that time we grew together with JASAD, BURGERKILL, and DISINFECTED – that was the first era of Ujung Berung DM.

Then the second album was in 1998. It’s called Obsesi Mati and released by ESP [Extreme Souls Production, Bandung]. This means Willing of Death.

Popo Demons Damn: How was the sound different for the second album?

Addy2: The music is more aggressive and faster because at that time we had a lot of influences from old British grindcore and bands like TERRORIZER. We found the base for the lyrics of FORGOTTEN in this album – sarcastic, cynical, and very critical of the situation around us. This was still in Suharto’s time. It’s more like punk lyrics. Until now we have had five albums. The line-up was different for the second album. We changed the drummer to Andris; he played on the second album.

After that in 2000 we released our third album, it’s called Tuhan Telah Mati, meaning God is Dead, the most controversial album. After we released this album we got many problems from the radical Muslim groups. We got a lot of oppression from radical groups such as FPI [Islamic Defenders’ Front]. They terrorized us, it got banned, and the radio stations would not play this album.

In 2003 we released our fourth album called Tiga Angka Edam meaning Triple Six. Toteng and I are the only originals in the band since the inception and we are the oldest [laughs]. Ferly only played on the first album then he quit to join JASAD.

In 2007 we re-released our fourth album on CD because originally it was only released only on cassette. This was with Rottrevore Records. We had to wait seven years until we released our last album in 2011 called Laras Perlaya.

KJ3: Why did it take so long to release the last album?

Addy3: You know because of life changes - people get married and focus on the family and the job. We thought we should take a break for a while and get on with our lives. We still played onstage. In 2008 we started jamming again for the next album and it was released in 2011.

We lived in three decades of recording technology. For the first album we did live recording as it’s hard to find a studio for recording. The second album was the digital era. The third album was on analog system and also the fourth. For the last one we used digital recording. Of course it’s important for our sound. We analyze over the years and find a better sound using new technology…you know, globalization…

Popo4: Have there been many changes over time in the lyrical ideas?

Addy4: We try to respond to situations in our daily life. For the first album we were just 17-year-olds, we graduated from high school with much anger. We talked about environmental and social issues in our daily life. The third album is more about personal issues and personal expression. It’s very much a heresy in here, we don’t give a f*** about that, it’s for real. The second album was about social issues. The record label provided us money to rent a good studio; we tried our best to record. The lyrics are more sarcastic, cynical, and aggressive. We had many problems with that album. For the last album it’s more fun, we had no target, the band is not a job for us [laughs], it is something you have to do for fun. We still talk about the same ideas but it’s more metaphor in our lyrics. The music is more progressive, we didn’t sell out or anything…

KJ5: What is the meaning for you of the third album title God is Dead?

Addy5: I read [Friedrich] Nietzsche, I quote this, I had discussions with friends who had the same interest in philosophy.

KJ6: Are your lyrics mostly in English, Bahasa Indonesian or Bahasa Sundanese [the traditional language of the Bandung region]?

Addy6: The lyrics are in Bahasa Indonesian. On the second album I used Sunda lyrics in one song. In the new album we collaborated with traditional musicians TARAWANGSA and BELUK.

Popo7: Why did you choose to collaborate?

Addy7: At the start I did research on traditional Sunda music. We tried to do mapping. Much traditional Sunda music is rare because of the situation [i.e. rapid westernization and modernization]. They don’t have a new generation to continue the music and the tradition. I’m quite interested in that music. At a band meeting I proposed this project with them. They were interested and agreed. It’s hard at first to match the two styles. They are very extreme to me. We play differently and it’s hard to find a formula to mix it. It took almost one year to do it with them. We try to understand each other’s music. We did it. We agreed not to label this music as “traditional”. We agree that this music is simply music. We came to do something out of the box.

KJ8: Were you influenced by what JASAD has been doing in terms of the new Sundanese DM genre?

Addy8: No, the inspiration just came.

Popo: Not only JASAD makes the traditional music.

KJ9: Where have you had distribution arrangements?

Addy9: We were distributed in Europe, in Germany, collaboration with a local label in Germany, Morbid Records. That was for the first album.

Popo10: If people asked why do you play a western style of music when you are Indonesian people how would you respond?

Addy10: I don’t label DM as a genre. It’s a global music. Music is a global language. It can happen everywhere. Of course the root came from Europe but in every city and every country they do mutations. We have different issues from America and Europe, we are not copycats. We try to respond to our local situation. We do not sing about Iraq and Palestine. We sing about issues in our daily life.

Popo11: When did you first know about DM and what was your first album?

Addy11: OBITUARY, Cause of Death, 13-years-old, when I was in junior high-school, 1992.

KJ12: OK, changing the topic, why do you think the DM scene in Ujung Berung became so strong?

Addy12: Ujung Berung [UB] is like an isolated city. For the first time UB had ugly cultures. World Bank came with big money and changed the agricultural culture into manufacturing culture. I saw everything change so fast as a teenager. I saw it all change from fishing on the lake to the factories. Our catharsis is the music, we run to the music. We needed more aggressive music, we found DM at that time. We thought this is for us. The population of UB is middle-class and lower-class. We lacked information and education at that time. We were very isolated. We became closer to each other. We had the same problems and the same interest in the music. Brotherhood is so important, we value and support each other – that is the base value of how UB metal became so strong.

KJ13: Who were the most important bands or people?

Addy13: In 1950, the revolution, we got liberated from colonialism. There were so many traditional [artistic] things in Bandung. After Soekarno’s fall then came Suharto. We got oppressed so much, we had long trauma, artists and musicians were suppressed, how to express ourselves in music? After Suharto fell came the explosion, traditional arts became reborn and inspired. We started to dig again our basic culture and we tried to mix it with DM.

FORGOTTEN 1997, Future Syndrome era. Ferly Jasad first right.
KJ14: What is your comment on the UB scene today and can you suggest any good young bands?

Addy14: This era is different. Now it is easier to get information and find anything you want, just click Google. It impacts on the younger generation. They learn so fast about music and technology. We have the base values.

KJ15: Can the young bands maintain the values of UB DM which the older bands have built up?

Addy15: The young bands can keep the basic values. UB is a very small town, everyone knows each other.

Popo16: Is it fair to say 90% of the biggest and oldest Indonesian DM bands are from Bandung?

Addy16: Not the biggest, I just feel old [laughs]. We were an influence to the other cities about how to build the scene and how to make good music.

Popo: And how to build networks between the towns?

Addy: Yes, many friends came from other towns to learn how to build a community, how to have social engineering in a community. From Malang, Bali, and Yogya [Yogyakarta] they came to visit us and learnt how to build a community.

Popo17: What are the best aspects of the UB community?

Addy17: Best are that we are proud of ourselves, we do interesting things, we impact on each other, and we have conflict resolution.

Popo18: The worst aspects of the UB community?

Addy18: We don’t have the facilities or the supporting infrastructure. The government still does not know how much potential we have, we give a lot to people here, and we help the jobless problem. Many people find jobs in our community such as crew, merch shops, and in recording studios. We give a lot to the society, to the people. The government closes their eyes to what we are doing now.

Popo19: You pushed Adyth to get new spirit to get back to DISINFECTED when he was working in Jakarta. Why did you want to inspire Adyth?

Addy19: He is my guitar hero, I love DISINFECTED. I was sad DISINFECTED couldn’t exist. I told him “come back, we still need you, do it for fun”.

KJ20: What are some good young bands in UB now?


KJ: They are still young?

Addy: Yes.


Addy: Yes, they are good too. DEPRAVITY SAVAGE, I love that band, they are different.

KJ: Busuk Webzine will sponsor the new album by DEPRAVITY SAVAGE.  

Addy: Cool!

Popo21: Do you have plan for tour?

Addy21: For next year we just focus on our next album. After the next album is finished we will start to tour again.

Popo22: What is your most memorable gig?

Addy22: It’s kind of a hard question [laughs]. The most interesting were when we started the band, 1997-2003. We did not have so many pressures. We just had fun, played with the band, and met new friends. That was the most interesting experience in our careers.

Popo23: Many people think FORGOTTEN is satanic. What do you think?

Addy23: I think the people who hate us are still human. I try to still communicate. I don’t believe violence can fix everything. They don’t want to talk with us.

KJ24: What do you think of One God movement [Islamist metal] in Jakarta?

Addy24: As long as they are not fascist it’s OK. It’s good to be different. It’s their right to be different and believe. As long as they don’t push beliefs it’s OK for us. What they are doing is very good for their business. They are selling their God, like SLAYER is selling the satanic.

Popo25: Do you write all the lyrics?

Addy25: Yes.

KJ26: Can you give us your comment on each of the following UB bands: BLEEDING CORPSE?

Addy26: Still the fastest and most brutal band in Bandung!


Addy: Unique.


Addy: Oldest, with the fresh blood.

KJ: Abaz [new drummer for JASAD]?

Addy: Yes.


Addy: They have a good fortune.

KJ: Very brutal!

Addy: Very brutal!

KJ: What do you think of women in the metal scene such as Popo?

Addy: It’s good. It’s not forbidden in the metal scene.

KJ: Neither forbidden nor forgotten!

KJ27: What is your comment on the relationship between death-metal and black-metal in Bandung?

Addy27: We grew up with them, we are close with them. BM does not have the guts in Bandung. They just don’t have the guts. In 1999 a major magazine tried to make a report about the BM scene and it concluded that BM was satanic. They [the BM bands] are shy to show up. They got afraid. They are not too productive in here.

Popo28: How do your wives and girlfriends respond to you playing DM?

Addy28: So far we don’t have a problem and even our parents. On national TV we scream “God is dead” but they [parents] don’t have a problem with that. We give full information to them. They don’t have any misperceptions.

Popo29: Best memories of a show?

Addy29: I got drunk onstage and forgot what I was doing [laughs]. That’s the best memory.

Popo30: What are you expecting from the new generation of metalheads?

Addy30: More tolerance, more respect, that’s the basic when you want to grow your community to make it bigger and more open-minded. Be proud of what you have. Tolerance here is still a big problem.

KJ31: How do you feel when you see so many high-school boys wearing your tee-shirts?

Addy31: It’s kind of weird you know, like watching yourself on TV [laughs]. Why do they buy our shirt? As long as they like it it’s OK.

KJ32: Tell me about the FORGOTTEN book.

Addy32: For the last album I liked to write about everything which I saw. I tried to write a mega story and I gave it to my players. They tried to make music from our story. That’s the first creative step as to how we make music. We had an idea of why not make a book. I gathered everything in my journal and put it in a book. I got inspiration from the Bible for the style of pictures and sketches, the old Bible.

KJ33: Have you got a religion?

Addy33: My religion is humanity. I believe religion is a social construction. It did not come from somewhere, it came from here.

KJ34: What other Indonesian city metal scene do you like?

Addy34: Malang. They had a situation like in Bandung. The architect who built Malang is the same as in Bandung in the colonial era. We have the same culture although Malang is not Sundanese.

KJ35: I know John Yoedi often likes to ask this question: What are your favorite Indonesian bands not from Java?

Addy35: I like DJIN from Medan. I like BARSIMBAH-DARAH, grindcore from Bali, and DEAD VERTICAL from Jakarta.

KJ: From outside Java! It’s hard to think like that?

[All laugh.]

Addy: ENGORGING from Samarinda.

KJ: We had our first BUSUK EXTREME METAL FEST in Balikpapan last week.

Addy: I know DEVASTATION (SAMARINDA). They need to find the right studio for their music.

KJ: That’s the problem in East Borneo.

Addy: Ya.

KJ36: What are your comments on BUSUK WEBZINE?

Addy36: I read it, it’s cool. You should make a print copy. Internet here is still expensive for some people. You need to make a physical copy, it’s good for collectors.

KJ: But physical copy has deadlines!

Addy: Yeah, and everyone hates that [laughs].

Popo37: When people say you are a big band in Indo and you influenced many bands in Indo, what is your response?

Addy37: OK, first…

Popo: Are you happy?

Addy: We are not a big band…

Debut demo cassette Future Syndrome, 1997
Popo: Like PETERPAN?

Addy: We are not PANTERA man; we are not trying to be famous. We try to share our perception to the people. We used English in our first album but never after that because people do not understand the lyrics. It’s good to share our opinion with the people. People can agree or disagree – that’s good to build opinion in people so they can think.

Popo38: Did the radio ban affect your lyric writing at all?

Addy38: We don’t give a f*** about that. We started this band for fun; it’s not a job or a career.  We have nothing to lose from any ban.

Popo39: You could still play shows?

Addy39: Sure, we have connections with the other cities; we can still distribute our album. We are not trying to make money from the band, we have nothing to lose.

Popo: Yes, yes, yes.

Addy: FUNERAL INCEPTION (JAKARTA) had the same problem as us.

KJ: And UMBRA MORTIS (JAKARTA) so they changed from black-metal to power-metal.

Addy: I can show you the SMS from the radical Muslim group, too bad my cell phone has no batteries.

Popo40: We have two languages on BUSUK WEBZINE, what do you think of that?

Addy40: It’s good. Indonesian people do not have a literate culture, we have oral histories. It’s good for people to read to get information on the metal scene and it’s good for documentation. My criticism is you should still make physical copy. Internet is still expensive and a problem outside Java. We have a lack of technology outside Java.

Popo41: When people in USA and Europe read this interview what do you want them to know?

Addy41: The relation will be more dynamic. People can learn about the dynamism of the [UB] community, how big we are, it’s good for them to know. We try to make more international relations with US and Europe.

Popo: What would you want to say to them?

KJ: Any message for them?

Addy: Basically we play the same music, we have the same [metal] culture but the problems are different. Here the problems are more real. Here metal is only for fun. We can’t feed our wives and children from our band. We try to make metal as basic as we can in economic terms. We do what we can, given our economic circumstances. JASAD or DISINFECTED could be rich in the USA or Europe.

KJ42: Any message for the fans in Indonesia?

Addy42: Support for what we do, that’s it. Thank you for the support for so many years, 19 years now.

Popo43: Do you have any further suggestion for BUSUK WEBZINE?

Addy: Make physical copy.

KJ: It costs money but maybe…

Addy: It’s very chaotic in my experience to look or information on the internet. It’s chaotic to try to open up many pages. You need more stamina to read of the LCD screen. Maybe I’m just too old [laughs]. That’s why I don’t like eBooks, it’s very tiring.

Popo44: Do you have a plan to translate your book to English?

Addy44: Of course I really want that. So many friends from Europe want to read the book.

KJ: Any last comment?

Addy: That’s enough! It’s a very nice interview.

[After this we were getting tired, it had been a long night. We bought some merchandise, took some pictures, and then Bobby Rock came to pick us up.]
FORGOTTEN band, 1997, Future Syndrome era. Left to Right: Addy Gembel (vocals), Dadang "Kudung" (drums), Zoteng Kampret (guitar), Dadan Kardun (bass), and Ferly (guitar) (now Jasad & Kaluman).
FORGOTTEN band 1997, Future Syndrome era.

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