Meltgsnow has come a long way since their formation in 1999. With a 7 year gap before finally releasing their new album, Black Penance on Pulverised Records, the crew from Heavy Metal Tribune managed to catch them at one of their jamming sessions. In the first of this 2 part interview, we talk to them about their history, their experience touring in USA and *gasp*! Lap dances?!
Lord Insanity (Vocals): I’m new in this game so I’m trying to balance stuff here and there. But I’m thankful to the band, hopefully we can stabilize the kid then I can spend more time with the band. The boys are very understanding and that is the most important thing.
So are the band members all godfathers of your child?
LI: Of course! [Laughs]
Adrian (Drums): This is his second child, his first child is the band.
LI: The first child has already matured so can be running around on its own la –
A: Born in 1999!
Would you like to give a history of the band to readers who are not familiar with Meltgsnow?
LI: A summarized version: Adrian, myself and Zach, we are the original members. The two of us (Zac and LI) actually held the band until today because Adrian actually left the band for a while to be in Australia. During that period of 3 years, we had a couple of session drummers. When we toured in the States in 2002, we had to bring a session drummer with us as well. Those were tough times for me and Zach. For the bassist, this is our new guy, Bexxx. He’s our fourth bassist. David is someone that we always wanted but we couldn’t find the right person for the role. Our original plan was to bring in a keyboardist but we couldn’t find any hot, sexy lady to play the keyboards so we found a hot, sexy dude for the ladies out there.
Bexxx (Bass): He’s of boyband material! [Laughs]
LI: And the youngest in the band. We are all matured but sex appeal is still there. [Laughs]
A: Appeal for sex or sex appeal…[Laughs]
How did the band members meet back then, and how did you meet the new members?
LI: Zach, Adrian and I were all introduced by one mutual guy. But the fact of the matter was that that guy was actually part of the band but didn’t make it through all the way with us. The 3 of us also shared the same vision, which was to play originals instead of just playing covers.
How about the new members?
Zac (Guitars): We met David at Boon Studios.
What was he doing previously? He looks like he used to play in Mayday (popular Chinese pop band)…
LI: Which Mayday? [Laughs]
David (Guitars): I used to work in Boon Studio and I always happened to see Meltgsnow rehearsing, so I would stand outside and watch them jam. I never thought that I would end up playing with them today. The chemistry brought us all together.
Z: So we have known each other for almost 6 to 8 years?
LI: We actually kind of watched the Superbands (Singapore’s band competition) and we said, “This is the bassist and guitarist that we want”.
Are you serious?
A: But the only person we knew was him, so we got him in first.
B: David and I were from the same band during the competition.
Superband, the TV competition?
A: They actually made it to the finals.
Which band was it?
B: 三月. We were in the final four.
How does the band feel to have been around for 11 years?
Z: We feel like a new band.
LI: Along the way it has been a very tough journey. In fact, it was very difficult for us because we had a lot of changes in members. When the new guys come in, they bring in their influences and have different styles of playing and thinking. We actually wrote this album way back in 2003, but when we had a new bassist, we had to re-write everything again, back to square one. When the writing was done and we were completed the recording of Black Penance, the bassist left the band and we had to hang on to things, and that’s when he (Bexxx) came in and things start to get more stable. We can’t just launch the album when we are not stable yet. 11 years and that is why we still feel new. On top of that, we kind of performed elsewhere instead of Singapore. I think you understand what the scene in Singapore is like. There was a point in time when there was an exodus of metal shows, which made things more difficult for us.
Through all the difficult times, have you ever thought of giving up the band?
LI: During that period of time actually we gave up…
A: Gave up on the scene…
LI: We actually went overseas to perform. From the overseas trip it was a whole new experience. That was how we gained exposure and learnt from them.
A: To see other bands and have a benchmark to see how good or bad we were. More like how bad, we, as in Singapore.
LI: Basically the areas of opportunity we actually learnt from the bands. Especially when we went to States right, Zach? It brought us up to another level of experience and we learnt a lot of things, such as how important and crucial the image of a band was. The musicians there could be not be as good, but with their image, they manage to get people to feel them better. I used to paint my face but I got sick and tired of painting every time there is a show. I rather do my warm up because as I am aging…[laughs]and I still want to be as insane as ever on stage, I have to warm up a lot more than I used to.
A: Maybe 10 years down the road he’ll start to paint his face to cover the lines…
When touring the States the band had session musicians right? How did the band find the musicians to play?
Z: The first drummer was Ray from Opposition Party, he’s actually Adrian’s guru. When Adrian left the band, we passed him the band’s demo and he scrutinized our music and he decided to play with us.
LI: He actually brought us up to another level because at that point in time we were just jamming and we didn’t know anything about consistency and timing, so he brought us to that level and we learned even more.
Z: The next drummer was Saifrul from Beast Petrify. He added the black metal feel into Meltgsnow’s music, causing the way we played and sounded then.
These session musicians actually brought a new dimension to the band’s music.
LI: I think every musician that comes into a group will probably have their own dynamics. So we try to adapt to each other instead of trying to make them adapt to us. We are not rock stars, we are not like Metallica where they are big so a new member has to adapt to them.
A: The last one was Brandon. Brandon Khoo.
LI: Of course, along the way there are a few other drummers but it’s best not to mention due to some conflict of interest. But they are all really good and prominent drummers.
A: So when I came back into the band, all the ideas were pushed aside and it’s back to my own style! [Laughs]
So the experience in the States was a good lesson for the band.
LI: Yes, besides getting drunk every night and getting lap dances.
Z: That’s in the morning.
LI: Zach and the previous bassist actually went down to States earlier to check the place out and make sure that everything was in order. I came in with the drummer a day after that.
Z: When they arrived after the 40-hour flight, we just told them to throw their bags in the hotel and head to the bar. 11 A.M. in the morning and we were heading for the strip bar.
LI: We were so tired but he was there shouting at us, “EHH, LET’S GO OUT, LET’S GO OUT!” Then we went down and we got our first taste of the mighty Jägermeister and we got pissed drunk every night on our tour there.
Z: Shots of Jägermeister.
LI: And the lap dances.
Then it’s best to keep the band all males.
You said you wanted a sexy babe in the band, but it’s best to have all males to have these fun.
|Meltgsnow in action|
A: It’s ok, now we are poorer so we don’t go to US anymore and we need to have one lap dancer in the band.
LI: Yes. David, let’s go, David! [Laughs]
Z: The person who joins us, if she is single, will bound to be with someone in the band.
Jokes aside, how was the fan reception like in the US?
LI: They are more curious.
Z: They ask more questions like why we play in a certain way, etc.
LI: And look at our skin, when we went there everyone were white, but we have yellow skin. They were wondering, “What is this wanton (Chinese dumpling) dudes doing down here?”
LI: They didn’t actually say that, but they were curious about us. They were wondering, “where are they from? Are they as good as they probably think they are?” But I think we kicked-ass. We met some producers and they shared their point of views about things like if we really wanted to break into the American market, there are some political things that we had to do, which I think is best not to mention here.
A: Lap dance?
|Meltgsnow with the HMT crew|
What about the fans? Did they actually like what you all played? Because we are after all from an Asian country and they probably wouldn’t expect good metal bands to come out from here.
LI: They were pretty surprised, from where we came from…
Z: They didn’t even know where Singapore is.
LI: They thought we were from China right?
Z: They were asking us if Singapore was a country. They didn’t even know what was Singapore, not to mention us (the band).
LI: They didn’t expect that there are metal bands in this part of the world. But they were definitely supportive in America.
So they actually do buy the band’s stuff if they like the show? Because from what I have seen and heard, in Singapore when people go to shows and they like what the bands play, they will tell the band how good they were but will not bear to part with the money to buy the band’s CD.
LI: I think there are 2 kinds of option. One is the fan that really buys our stuff when they tell us that they like our music. Of course, on the spot they will get us to sign their stuff as if we were rock stars but of course, we are not.
Z: I think it works both way. If a foreign band performs in Singapore we would love to buy their CDs. So similarly when we go there we become the foreign band so they would have liked to check us out.
LI: And another option is that people who are the producers or distributors they will come to you and give us 20 CDs, and grab 50 of our CDs and top up with the difference. But at that time we didn’t have a manager so we were quite blur about how things go, but this time, it will be better with our mighty Bret (Mourning Sound, Meltgsnow’s manager).
The previous release was in 2003, Insanity. The next album will only be released this year. What was it that caused the 7 year gap?
LI: Like again, we rewrote the songs for the second album because we just had too many changes in band members. When I say rewrote I mean we have 10 songs, and we rewrote 5 songs twice and the others we rewrote about once. Rewriting takes a long time because we were not feeling it as much. To be honest, Zach is a perfectionist and that is good because he knows and he feels how the music is and how it identifies with Meltgsnow, so that’s very important.
Z: And we are exhausted after the first album. Financially.
LI: Yeah man, we financed the first album by ourselves and spent a lot of money on that.
You mentioned that there were songs that were rewritten, so any chances of rerecording and remaking those original songs and perhaps releasing it as a compilation?
Z: Actually I can’t remember the notes of the songs already. Like the old version of Black Penance, I can’t remember that one already. Some songs from the old album, I have to take back the old demo to playback and try to recall how to play again.
LI: But we had an idea of actually rerecording some of the songs from the first album.
Z: Take some of the parts and solidify it.
A: In the past 7 years, we didn’t write the songs in 2 years then play for 5 years and suddenly decide to launch the album. Some songs were even written as late as a few months before we started recording.
LI: We had a couple of songs and we decided that we had to write something else to make it sound like what we are currently.
A: Even Bexxx and David when they joined us they could tell which song was written in which era, you could actually tell. But no regrets that we dragged the release, at least we are now very happy with the new material.
Want to read more? Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview this Friday, 25th June!
Meltgsnow on MySpace.
Interview with Calvin (Pulverised Records, Singapore)