It’s been over a week since the 14th instalment of Obscene Extreme Festival ended and while I’m not one to collect fest bracelets I’m still wearing mine, relishing in the every day reminder of the mind-blowing bands and severious bro downs. Not that the multiple stage diving bruises aren’t enough, but every time I look at my wrist I can’t help but smile to myself remembering one of a million mirthful moments. If you dig grind and death metal, even a little bit, it is truly the promised land, a descent into the dregs of depravity where you’re basically guaranteed to the greatest time of your life. Everyone I know who lost their OEF cherries this year have pledged to embark on the great grind pilgrimage annually like the rest of us. To give you an idea of the fun-loving madness, when we rocked up to the beer tent Wednesday evening, we were greeted by the moustache bar, a karaoke set-up where people are locked into a pillory and have their heads shaved while singing along to pop hits from the likes of ABBA and Britney Spears. It’s as hilarious to watch as it sounds and merely the tip of the insanity iceberg. Crusties, crazies, absinthe lemonade, and Jig-motherfuckin’-Ai, TWICE! Could it get any better? If you ask me, OEF is absolutely unparalleled and it looks like next year may bring the mayhem to Mexico, Asia and Australia. I have my fingers crossed for you brothers and sisters! I want to give a shout out to Čurby for his tireless dedication to organising the greatest event on earth, Earache Records for their hospitality and the release of Eskimo Callboy, the always kickass SelfMadeGod for throwing all of their new releases at me (the new Antigama EP is a hit, the new Catheter is soul-crushing and I’m hella stoked on Usurpress slingin’ death metal like it’s 1985 in Chicago) and especially all my buds new and old that made the weekend a resounding success. Keep an eye out in the print mag for a full review and ’til next year (and Blastonbury), in grind we trust, crust, and must!
So it seems appropriate that soon after the announcement of their hiatus, we’ve got an interview in the bag from just before OEF and while we’ll definitely miss these dudes we wish them the best of luck!
It’s the kind of story that would warm even the coldest, blackest of hearts, one most are undoubtedly familiar with at this juncture but for those that aren’t: Wormrot were born when Guitarist Rasyid and vocalist Arif got together after their mandatory service in the military. Though they’d been schoolmates, and while drummer Fitri was actually one of Arif’s men, they didn’t all properly connect until service was done and dusted. Truckin’ away on the Singapore music scene, they recorded ‘Abuse’ and were featured on an Invisible Oranges internet compilation that fell into the hands of Earache founder Digby Pearson who immediately plucked them out of obscurity and sent them around the globe several times over. It was a good call. Wormrot have become arguably one of the biggest bands to hit the scene in years, their trademark caustic brand of furious filth resonating with grinders the world over. Lucky for us, an exhausted Rasyid checked in at 5am several weeks into their last European trip to chat to Zero Tolerance about all things Wormrot.
ZT: Indonesia made music headlines after punks were arrested and then sent to ‘re-education’ camps, and you guys followed shortly thereafter being arrested after your New Years Eve gig in Kuala Lumpur for having four guys and three girls in the same room. Do you think extremist police are becoming an increasing threat to scenes around South East Asia? How have these incidents affected local grind/punk/metal? Is this a general trend or limited to the heavier genres of music?
R:I’m not sure. In Singapore things aren’t that serious, so I can’t, and shouldn’t, comment on the issues of neighbouring countries. So far, I’ve not seen or heard anything sprouting out from these incidents. Our new year’s incident seems passable, like a joke, and we’ll always laugh about it. We all know it’s not a good thing, it’s beyond our control, and it’s not going anywhere, but we all know better after these incidents and we’ll find a way to work around it. I’m sure there are people outside the punk/metal scene that are concerned and affected by these incidents, but like I said, it’s passable.
ZT: Do you see this starting a more political punk and metal scene?
ZT: To get all the way around the world it obviously takes a lot of planning and it only makes sense if you do it for an extended amount of time. How do you reconcile this with real life, meaning, how do you work long tours around your jobs, families, commitments? Or is Wormrot your life at this point?
R:Up to this current Europe tour, I have been the only one who held on to the same job for 2-3 years. Arif is a freelance artist, but Fitri has to job-hop, meaning, he has to quit the job before a tour and get a new one after. Although it’s easy for me to leave the job for a month or two, it’s also risky because I might not get the job back if they’ve found a replacement when I’m gone. My personal life’s kinda fucked because of these tours, starting a relationship when I have to leave a few months later isn’t that healthy, haha. My family’s alright with my passion, but even though they don’t say it, you can feel their concerns, like ‘how long is he gonna do this?’, you know?
ZT: With your international profile steadily growing, have you seen this reflected in a growth of the scene in Singapore and South East Asia?
R: Honestly, I don’t see much growth. I’ve seen and heard people starting grindcore bands because they think WR has brought it out from the black hole and it’s the ‘in’ thing right now, or some think that it’s an easy way to make music, just mash up some riffs here and there. I’ve yet to see a good local grindcore band formed post-WR, other than the re-awakened Demisor. If I do, you can bet that we’ll be pimping them in interviews! But an international profile also comes with a price, shit talkers, rumour mills and sorts. One of the ridiculous rumours is that ‘the only way WR got signed to Earache and made it big was they paid Earache to join them’. I don’t know how that came about. Nevertheless, we’ll try our best to promote the bands on our side of the world because we feel it’s also our responsibility to spread our scene, even though one or two might be the ones pointing targets at the back of our heads.
ZT: Obscene Extreme is an amazingly unique fest and in my humble opinion the greatest extreme music gathering in Europe. What has your experience been like at the fest and do you have any particularly fond memories you could share?
R: To us, OEF is where Wormrot was born. It was the moment that I decided that my life is Wormrot.
ZT: Who are you looking forward to seeing there this year?
R: I’m really, really looking forward to Tools of the Trade from Malaysia. You can call me biased because they’re our Asian brothers, but whatever. It’s their first ever big tour, and I’m looking forward to listening to their stories about being on the road and their performance on the big OEF stage. It reminds me of Wormrot a few years ago, when we were new and unknown. Maybe history will repeat itself, maybe we’ll see another epic moment where an Asian band is celebrated on the big stage on their first ever tour. Maybe we’ll see another another Asian grindcore band leaving their mark on the face of the world, because they have the utmost support from us and friends back home.
ZT: There are loads of amazing bands all over Asia but few make it to an international touring level. What advice would you give to other bands in Asia trying to make it out?
R: Do what you have to do for the band; the rewards might not show itself immediately, but with dedication and hardwork, anything is possible. Anything.
ZT: What are you plans once returning to Singapore? When can we expect new Wormrot and how do you think your music is changing/progressing?
R: I’m not sure when you can expect some new Wormrot stuff because we’re taking a break for around a year due to personal matters. But we’ll be writing continuously, we’ll be taking our time like we did on ‘Abuse’. We’re actually playing some new stuff during this tour, so if you pay enough attention, you might spot them! We’re still expanding our influences, trying to weave them into our grind. We listen to releases from other bands and we feel excited upon hearing things that we would never ever have thought of, going like ‘fuck I wish that was my riff!’ so it’s a never ending learning process which keeps us grounded and level headed at the same time, striving to write a better song. But maybe we’ll do something outside of Wormrot too. I’ve always wanted to start another band outside of grindcore, so this might be a good time.