Interview with Burhan Skullbanger

Burhan Skullbanger, better known as the mastermind behind Chugga Ritual, Bualgitar Metal Matinee and Brader Bo of Vicious Volume. Heavy Metal Tribune recently got the opportunity to conduct an email interview with him, allowing him to share his experiences and his views on radio and metal.

HMT: Thank you, Burhan for granting us this email interview with you. Without further ado, let’s go on with the interview. First and foremost, give us a basic introduction to Chugga Ritual.

Chugga Ritual is the continuation of my metal music journey. It’s a project in which I’m the mastermind and I have total freedom to write and record my ideas and also the freedom to choose who to collaborate with for recording and live shows.

You mentioned on your MySpace page that “CHUGGA RITUAL is NOT a band” and that “CHUGGA RITUAL songs are tributes to “the metal gods” that have perfected the dark arts of heavy metal guitar playing techniques”. How did that idea come about?

The blame goes to ROADRUNNER UNITED ALL STARS. That’s how the idea came about but at that time in 2005, I was still with Urbankarma, which disbanded in 2006. In the same year, I reformed Manifest but I quit in 2008 to realize my poor man’s ROADRUNNER UNITED, CHUGGA RITUAL.

Since you mentioned that Chugga Ritual is not a band, wouldn’t it be difficult to find members to play whenever Chugga Ritual is invited to perform live?

Not at all coz I more or less know who are the reliable ones. Live, I don’t go for that every song different musicians thing. Well, maybe not at the moment.

Burhan, you are known to most in the local metal scene as Brader Bo, host of local rock and extreme metal radio show, Vicious Volume. Give us a brief history of how you managed to become the host of Vicious Volume.

Ria has this show called Rock Ria Rock which started in 1999.In 2000, I took over as the show’s host. In 2006, the show was renamed Vicious Volume, making it more heavy and brutal.

I once heard Behemoth’s Ov Fire and the Void being played on Vicious Volume. With metal being such a controversial genre, and Singapore’s stand on religious and racial harmony, were there any difficulties in getting Ria to allow for such music to be played over the airwaves?

I stay away from songs that are inflammatory or politically subversive. Of course you know the ones with the cuss words can’t go on air. I exercise self-censorship and responsible broadcasting. It’s either that or no metal show at all. Which one do the metalheads or fans of other forms of extreme music want?

With the internet making even the most underground music easily available to listeners, do you think that radio is still relevant at this time and age?

Radio in SG for metal purposes is still relevant coz it reaches the over-40 crowd, the blue collar hard rock /heavy metal fans which may not be very IT-savvy.

Vicious Volume is hosted on Ria, a Malay radio station. When the show debuted, were there any considerations on whether people who are non-Malay listeners would tune into the station?

Of course from the day Rock Ria Rock became Vicious Volume, there was some intent on my part to target the non-Malay listeners coz I know the non-Malay fans of extreme music in SG is growing.

How does it feel that even though your show is hosted on a Malay radio station, there are members of all races and walks of life tuning in every Sunday nights to listen to your show, and even know who you are?

It feels good. It shows that extreme music can be a common ground, a unifying force. It shows that language is not a barrier to people who want extreme music on local airwaves.

You are also the host of the string Bualgitar Metal Matinee “workshops”, where bands play gigs with a twist. How did the idea of having such a gig cum workshop come about? How have reactions towards Bualgitar Metal Matinee workshops been?

I have always wanted to do such a workshop type show since way back during my Urbankarma days. Maybe, it is a result of me seeing very ‘well-behaved and non-moving’ crowds in most metal gigs in the past. Well, if people are gonna sit still and not go apeshit, might as well turn it into edutainment/infotainment. So far attendance-wise is very encouraging. There were some bands that I approached which were rather apprehensive about playing a BMM show but I don’t blame them. BMM is still in its infancy and a very new concept.

What are your views on the current local metal scene?

I honestly don’t know each and every metal band there is in Singapore but the ones that are in Chugga’s myspace list have very good production and musicianship, Oshiego, Nafrat, Arbitrary Element, Xanadoo. I don’t have the opportunity to check out every gig that is held coz I’m married with two kids and don’t quite have the time, so I can’t comment on the live qualities of the bands or the qualities of the gigs. I hope that there will be more bands to follow the footsteps of Impiety, Rudra and Wormrot.

Finally, any parting words for aspiring musicians?

Know your talent, passion, abilities and surrounding realities/context. Then know what you want to achieve and from there formulate the processes to achieve your targets. Worry about what you can control, not what’s beyond your control.

Once again, thank you for taking the time off for this interview.

Catch Burhan on Vicious Volume on Ria 89.7FM every Sunday nights, 10-11pm.
Check out Chugga Ritual on MySpace.

Click here to read the pdf version on!

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

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