Friday 12 October 2018

NEW BESIDE INTERVIEW: Agrog talks about Wacken Festival 2017 (Bandung Metalcore), 18 May 2018.

Our first interview with Beside (Bandung Metalcore).
Date: Friday 18 May 2018.
At: Lembang, 12.40am.
Interview with: Agrog (vocalist).
Translation by: Teguh Prasetyo (bassist, Interfectorment / Digging Up) and Popo Puji (vocalist, Demons Damn).
Beside line-up (Eleven Heroes (2015) album): Agrog (vox), Roy (guitar1), Q.Q. Bokir (guitar2), Izal (bass), and Beby (drums).
Beside line-up (18 May 2018): Agrog (vox), Roy (guitar), Izal (bass), Beby (drums).

Kieran James: What were the events leading up to you becoming vocalist for Beside?

Agrog (Beside vocalist): I joined with Beside in 2014. Before that, in 2013, Beby (drummer for Beside) called me. Beby invited me to join the band by phone first. He wanted me to be an additional vocal for Beside for three gigs. In 2012 the vocalist signed off from the band. After the vocalist resigned, they used additional vocalists. There were two additional vocalists before me. And then, after three gigs, Beside opened up auditions for a new vocalist.
Many people sent their demos in singing one Beside song called “Exterminator”. Everyone could download the song without the vocals. Everyone who was interested could record their own vocals over the song and send it back by CD. The audition was open to the public.
Then I recorded the song at M.J.’s studio in Lembang. I sent the demo CD to the band. They compared all of the vocalists. Beside announced the five finalists. They announced two final candidates to do live auditions in the studio. The other candidate was Agil from Soreang. The live audition was one by one in the studio.

Teguh Prasetyo (Interfectorment / Digging Up bassist): How many songs did you do?

Agrog: Three songs, Beside songs. Beside chose me to be the vocalist. After that they had an Asia tour and some regular gigs. I had much homework to do to learn all of the lyrics.

Popo (Demons Damn vocalist): How long after you joined was it your first gig?

Agrog: Two months.

KJ: You were not sure whether to choose your old band Luminous Hunter or your new band?

Agrog: I left Luminous Hunter in 2015 because I could not handle the workloads of two bands. The Beside schedule was very busy. I had to choose.

Popo: That was a big decision…

Teguh: I think at that time Luminous Hunter was not active?

Agrog: My friends did not have the same vision or spirit as me. In 2015 I had a job with Beside to create a new album called Eleven Heroes (taken from the tragedy of the Beside concert). It was dedicated to the eleven victims. Before I went to the studio my drummer Beby told me that I must meet Popo and Bobby to practice and make new vocal character.

Popo: I was his mentor before he did recording for the album. I helped him.

Agrog: I studied with Popo on vocals for one or two months.

Popo: After I finished the vocal technique with him, he came to see me for help with the lyrics for translation. I helped him with correction of the English lyrics. They already wrote the lyrics. I just did some corrections. After that I had to help him again at the studio.

Agrog: In the middle of the recording sessions, Beside had a schedule to perform at Hammersonic Festival. The gig was disturbing the recording schedule. The gig came after we booked the recording studio, in the middle of the vocal recording.
After finishing recording Eleven Heroes album, we did an album launching on 14 June 2015 at Masterplan Studio (the owner is Sarkuz) near to Ujung Berung. Then we had to tour the album.
In 2016, the album Eleven Heroes was voted the best album by Metal Hammer (U.K.) magazine and by Rolling Stone Indonesia magazine.
In 2017, Beside joined Wacken Battle Indonesia. Beside at first did not want to join in the auditions but some friends insisted that we must join. Because we did not feel any burden or pressure we could play all out at the stage. This is why we could win the audition. I talked to the audience in English from the stage and this might be one reason for our success. In August [2017] we went to Germany to play at the Wacken Festival at the Headbangers’ Stage.
I did not believe I could go to Wacken to play in Europe. It was amazing and very exciting, unbelievable. People said [that] maybe I could use batak or other traditional Indonesian clothes to promote Indonesia. But I thought I am not Man Jasad to do that.

KJ: How many people in the crowd to watch you?

Agrog: We played at 4.20pm and the crowd was around 10,000 people.

KJ: How was the crowd different to Indonesian crowd?

Agrog: Wacken is the biggest metal festival in the world. I saw that the festival area was very clean. For the bands at Wacken Headbangers’ Stage, you are forbidden to encourage people to make circle-pit. I brought greetings from Indonesia. I instructed the people how to answer my Indonesian greeting. I made contact with the audience using Sundanese language greeting: Sampurasun then Rampes (the answer).

Popo: The Indonesian ambassador was in the crowd crying when this happened. He is from Bandung; so many people answered the greeting.

Agrog: After this I was walking around the festival and everyone was greeting me. Some people were giving me free beers. We had a place to stay at the apartment. Maybe if we had stayed at the camping area we might have got some groupies.

KJ: Did you get to talk to people from other bands?

Agrog: We met Brujeria and Napalm Death at the VIP area; we hang out together and drank some beers together, it was very enjoyable. We also met the band Nale from Sweden.

KJ: Any other response?

Agrog: Someone said to me that they are surprised that Indonesian bands can play at Wacken. People need something new. They get bored that it is always the same bands. I was at Wacken for four days, but I still think it is not enough. I wanted to watch more bands but I did not have the opportunity. I hope next year I can go to the festival just for watching. Before we went to Wacken we did a tour called Aggression Tour in Indonesia. We had too much of a schedule until one day before we left for Wacken at Surabaya. We flew from Surabaya to KL to Dubai (transit) then to Hamburg. After Beside went back to Indo we made a concert in Bandung.

KJ: What did your parents say about you going to play in Wacken?

Agrog: The first time I wanted to play with a band my parents forbid it. I could prove to my parents that being in a band is not such a negative thing. I proved to them that my music could take me this far. My parents support me in music until now so I feel and enjoy the freedom.

Popo: What was your feeling after joining Beside?

Agrog: I felt it was important to me. Beside is one of the big bands from Indonesia. It was a big challenge to join Beside. They have the same spirit and vision as me. I proved that I can succeed with the band. I am happy that I can be with a band where I feel free to write songs and express myself. I can tour around the world.

KJ: Any new album coming?

Agrog: This year, my friends and I are still working on the new album. It may be released by the end of the year [2018]. The album will talk about what the condition of the band is after the tragedy. The police will cancel the gigs if the line-up included Beside. This is not the case anymore but it did happen over the time-period 2008 to 2011. During this time it was difficult for Beside to play in its own home-town of Bandung although it could still play at other towns in Indonesia. Nowadays police will come and give full-security if Beside is playing. The police did not know what happened at the concert; they just view Beside as a “dangerous band”.

KJ: Beside is a part of Ujung Berung Rebel and Bandung Death Metal Syndicate (BDMS)?

Popo: Yes.

Bobby Rock (Turbidity vocalist): Last year Beside is at Wacken. Can you guess which band is the winner this year?

Agrog: Trojan from Bali or maybe Forgotten.

Teguh: Message for the fans?

Agrog: Wait for the Beside new album. Without Exterminator Beside is nothing. [Exterminator = the hardcore fans of Beside.]

Teguh: Influences for the album?

Agrog: In Flames, Lamb of God, Brujeria, Textures, Gojira, Meshuggah.

Note: At the anniversary every year, the band prays with the families of the eleven victims. The families were angry at first but the band could explain that it was not their fault. The venue capacity was 500 but there were 1,500 people in attendance. Many venues in Indonesia, says Teguh Prasetyo, have only one entrance / exit.

BESIDE live in Surabaya, September 2018.
BESIDE live in Surabaya, September 2018.

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