“The boys are very humble, they are very Indonesian. Roy is one of the best drummers in the world” – Jason Hutagalung of XENOPHOBIC RECORDS about DEATH VOMIT, 11 January 2011
By Dr Kieran James
Personal Interview at: Avila studio, Yogyakarta, 12 October 2011
Extra comments by: Corna Irawan (DEATH VOMIT manager)
Kieran James: Thanks very much for agreeing to do interview with me for my coming book on Indonesia death-metal. It was very much an honour to see your excellent show in Brisbane in September 2010. I shook Sofyan’s hand after the set but I’m sure you don’t remember me. First of all can you please take us through the history of the band?
Sofyan Hadi: I joined the band in 1998; I’m not in the original line-up but second generation.
Corna Irawan: The band began in 1995.
Sofyan: DEATH VOMIT changed players many times; they had four members – Roy (original), Ari, Sofyan, and Agung. After this formation we had the first album Eternally Deprecated, 1999, it is brutal death-metal.
Corna: Sofyan only plays guitar [on Eternally Deprecated].
Oki Haribowo: Man [JASAD] and Agung are the closest friends [KJ: see our earlier interview on this site “Oki and Man remember Agung”]. Agung died in year 2002 [KJ: The Prophecy album package lists Agung passing away in 2000]. Sofyan took over the vocals, to do guitar and vocals. Eternally Deprecated was already released by EXTREME SOULS PRODUCTION, Man’s brother.
Sofyan: And then [in] 2004 Oki joined the band to replace Ari...
Corna: And with Sofyan as vocals.
Oki: He [Sofyan] did vocals in another band before [called] OBSCURE OF DISFIGURED.
Sofyan: Then we released the second album [in] 2006, The Prophecy. We did it with [the] Jakarta label ROTTREVORE RECORDS.
KJ: When did the band become bigger?
Oki: It’s like the water flowing [laughs]. We can’t feel the situation like that...
Sofyan: Let the water flow, we just play the music and enjoy it.
KJ: When did the band introduce the shriek vocals by Oki?
Oki: I introduced shriek vocals for The Prophecy, 2006, with the SLAYER song “Criminally Insane”.
KJ: Why did you choose to cover that SLAYER song? Of course the Aussie metalheads love the SLAYER cover...
Oki: It’s our old plan ... because the music has the aggressivity. We try to combine the aggressivity of thrash-metal with the heavy side of death-metal.
Sofyan: It’s done in our style.
Sofyan: Then in 2008 we released Flames of Hate DVD [KJ: actually FOH DVD was released in 2009]. This is the first full DVD for the Indo band.
KJ: What is the biggest crowd you guys have played to?
Oki: ROCK IN SOLO with PSYCROTIC [AUSTRALIA] and in Makassar, Sulawesi. In ROCK IN SOLO [there were] around 5,000 people.
KJ: OK, tell us now about the Australian tour...
Sofyan: This is our first experience there [Australia], the crowd is not very big like Indo but they have a good crowd, they really appreciate our music. We had to do all our gear equipment by ourselves.
Oki: In Indo we bring our crew but there we had to do it all by ourselves.
Sofyan: It’s a totally different state. In Australia [it is] not a big crowd but they really appreciate our music, they really enjoy when we play.
Oki: In Indo the crowd do the headbangs but in Australia after each song they give applause for us, different culture, they just watch and hold the beer in their hands. The young ones will do the headbang but they all have fun.
[KJ: See my review of the DEATH VOMIT Brisbane show in “Reviews” section of this site.]
KJ: Did the Australian tour make a profit?
Oki: We got a profit but not much, we can’t expect much from playing death-metal music. We did not go to Australia expecting to bring [back] much money. We go to get new experience and open the way for us to other countries. I can say we are so fucking lucky [laughs].You know how much money I bring to go to Australia? One million rupiahs [around USD100]. This is spent on buying to fill our phone balances!
Sofyan: For communication with Indonesia.
KJ: What did your wives and girlfriends think of you going to tour Australia [Sofyan is married and Oki has a girlfriend]?
Sofyan: It’s really hard to explain to my wife why I must go to Australia [for] one month [laughs].
Oki: When we tour Australia it’s worse as this was Muslim holiday Ramadan.
Corna: In Indo we gather with our family...
Sofyan: But we had to finish our tour. It’s [a] really hard situation [laughs].
Oki: We had to face two conditions at the same time.
KJ: How is the progress towards the new album?
Oki: We are trying to finish our third album by the end of this year, we have eight songs.
Sofyan: It’s been a long time since our second album.
KJ: Have there been any musical changes?
Corna: More aggressive...
Oki: More intense, you can listen [to] one song; it’s already on the studio recording.
[KJ: Later this evening, after all the band interviews, Oki played me one recorded song at the Avila studio. What can I say? It sounds like DEATH VOMIT; the guys have not turned metalcore or hip-hop.]
KJ: Do you still do the shriek vocal?
Oki: I still do the shriek vocal. Maybe some people like it; maybe some people like the old DEATH VOMIT, maybe.
Sofyan: It’s hard to keep the aggression, the real brutality.
KJ: How about the lyrics this time?
Sofyan: Most of our lyrics in the new album [are] inspired by Stephen King; I saw a lot of his films.
KJ: Do you want to sing about the culture like JASAD sings about Sundanese?
Corna: JASAD do first and we would just follow [i.e. be followers] [laughs].
Oki: It’s not our music concept.
KJ: What do you think about JASAD singing about the Sundanese culture and empowerment?
Oki: My opinion is I prefer the old JASAD.
Corna: They played like old NAPALM DEATH.
|Drummer Roy Agus and baby son Jordy, October 2011|
KJ: Ah, here is my hard question: Why do you think death-metal is so popular now in Indonesia?
Oki: You ask us hard question [laughs]. Maybe I think death-metal is not really popular but almost popular – it’s because of the fans and the young kids, they need a role model, they think death-metal guy looks like the tough guy.
KJ: Do you have a gentle side offstage and aggressive side onstage perhaps like my friend Bobby of BLEEDING CORPSE, you know I have just spent time in Bandung this week with Bobby and Popo...
Oki: Our attitude every day is the same [as] on the stage. We don’t want to be someone else on the stage. We don’t want to look like a monster on the stage [laughs].
Sofyan: It’s just like every day we do.
KJ: I will make the earlier question more personal: why do you like to play death-metal?
Sofyan: In my youth I just liked to listen to rock music and heavy-metal music and now we like death-metal too and try to play death-metal too.
KJ: Tell me more about the Yogya scene...
Oki: I can say it’s a good scene, not a big community but a strong community. We always hang around on Saturday nights [KJ: at the front of the plaza, get on down there]. We talk about anything, not just drinking, all the info we need to know about death-metal and thrash-metal in Indo, America, Europe, [and] Australia too, we can share it.
Corna: For every band there is a different style.
KJ: OK, I’m teasing you now but you do ever want to move to Bandung like CANNIBAL CORPSE moved from Buffalo to Florida to join the great Florida scene of death-metal?
Corna: We are proud to be Yogyakarta people.
Oki: That’s our duty, this is our city.
|Oki talks to Rizky Venomed (Venomed interview)|
KJ: Do you want to be an influence on new bands?
Oki: No, the regeneration bands influence us. It’s up to them if they want to be influenced by us. Of course it makes us proud. But must bands here have a different style of death-metal. VENOMED plays slamming brutal death like TURBIDITY. There is a band playing music like MORBID ANGEL [KJ: this is GENITAL CAVITY, see our earlier interview with GENITAL CAVITY on this site].
Corna: There is a band playing mathematic [KJ: this is CRANIAL INCISORED, see our interview with CRANIAL INCISORED on this site].
KJ: Like MESHUGGAH...
Corna: And others [are] playing doom...
KJ: What problems do people face playing and living here in the scene?
Oki: I didn’t find any big problem but only small, small problems like it is hard to practice in the studio. Some bands that play death-metal or punk they don’t allow them to rehearse in the studio.
KJ: What do your parents think of you playing death-metal?
Sofyan: No problem. I try to explain to my family my music, my hobbies but they still don’t understand anything; they just hear my story. They don’t care when we release our album.
Corna: Although they may just know we play in a band but they don’t know what kind of music.
Oki: My parents at the first time they can’t accept it because they think of the general problem of money. “Can your music bring in money?”
[KJ: An old song enters my head now: “There’s just one thing I want to say to you: I WANNA ROCK!!”]
|Rizky (left) and Oki hear demos of Forging a Legacy|
KJ: What do the strictly religious Muslim people here think about this music?
Oki: They don’t really care about this music at the moment. They don’t want to know. That’s why we never get a problem with them. Maybe if they know our lyrics we will get a problem from them [laughs].
KJ: Sofyan, do your children hear your growl vocal and get scared?
Sofyan: Yeah [laughs], my son looks and says “My God, that’s my father!” - They say that.
Oki: Kieran, I think the other guys are ready for their interviews now, first up is my friend Rizky from VENOMED.
KJ: OK, thanks very much Sofyan, Oki, and Corna for sharing so much with me and with the DEATH VOMIT fans. This has been a really good interview.