Unlimited by Boundaries
Many would say that the Malaysian Music industry is not an easy one –as compared to others. You get the usual hardcore critiques, those scrutinizing eyes and condescending minds –it’s not just hard to make it big in Malaysia, it’s really, impossibly hard. And then we have Estranged -the band that defied the odds. If you are a Malaysian, you would have at least have heard of this band.
Personally, I couldn’t call myself a true blue Malaysian music lover. I’m not exactly a big fan of Malaysian music. My thoughts were ‘The Americans can do it better’ –I couldn’t begin to tell you now, how wrong I was. While looking up on information about this local band, I was more and more intrigued by this particular band.
Not only they were rather well established as the Malaysian band, they seemed to really know their music. Their songs are not only limited to those cheesy love songs and ballets to ‘the one true love’, not even heart break songs are their limit. They really give the term ‘Music knows no boundaries’ a whole new definition. They write about other issues, current issues and things that really matter. Something of which, I felt that the Western musicians should realize. Music is universal, and not only tied to romance.
So I managed to steal a bit of the band’s time for a short interview before their show at the Sony Music Showcase on the 7th of August 2010 at the Grand Maya Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. I was apprehensive and a little bit –well a whole lot- nervous before meeting them. Rock bands are notoriously known to be a bit hard and scary –as their image would tell. I was relieved to find that Estranged are not only friendly, but they did not let the fame get to their heads and were one of the most down-to-earth bunch of guys I’ve ever met.
So the current band members are: the big brother of the group –Rich Gimbang, front man and vocalist; the laid back and funny one –Din Hormatov, guitarist and backing vocalist; the quiet, understated but passionate one –Nor “Enha” Hanafi, lead guitarist; and the good looking and charming one –Azwin Andy, drummer. We talked about their music, their personal life and their view on fashion.
How does it feel to be one of the best bands in Malaysia? And how did your life change?
Rich: Well it’s definitely an honour to be considered as such. It was a lot of hard work and we are just a bunch of college kids who got a chance to just you know, play music. And thankfully we are here, and we are hoping to continue and focus, and go on. Andy?
Andy: Nothing really changed much, but it’s been fun, playing music and you know, doing what we do.
So who are your biggest music inspirations?
Din: We’ll say, it’s a mixture really. But the thing is, the basic sound for the band since last time was Guns and Roses, this guy here (Rich).
Rich: Basically it’s a mix because a lot of us have different taste in music. For me is more 80’s; for Din is more like 90’s –hardcore stuff; and Hanafi is more grunge; and Andy is more Pahang! *Everyone laughs*
Rich: Yeah, Andy is more to Foo Fighters and stuff like that, so it’s a mixture but the most important thing is that we all listen to rock songs. That’s why I think we really connect and there is chemistry there. That’s why I think it’s good for us to be together.
Did you guys go to Slash’s concert recently?
Rich: I wanted to go, because I’m a huge fan as well, but I was doing something so I couldn’t go. But I heard it was really good.
How did you guys come together as a band?
Din: Back in 2001, Rich and I were in college –he was my classmate. And we hang out a lot, and we jam a lot together, and from there, since we met Hanafi – he is our senior in ICOM, and we bumped into Andy, he came for our jamming session and that’s how the band started. It all started solid as a band back in 2005.
Hanafi is the new comer of the band. Am I right?
Rich: Yeah, we used to have a lot of members in our band, but Hanafi has been in the band for five years now.
So Hanafi, how does it feel like being the new comer of the band?
Hanafi: Well first, I was with the band since 2001. I was with them at their gigs. They invited me to be a part of their band. So far working with them, it’s good because each of them have different personalities and different taste in music. That’s what I like; the thing is I like to experiment on stuff, so I think the chemistry is there.
So you guys have worked with lots of international bands, how was it like working with them?
Rich: Yeah I think it’s really fortunate for us to be able to work with artist from America, and most recently artist from Taiwan, and from Asia and stuff like that. I think it really gives us a different perception on things –knowing things from other people’s point of view; knowing how they went about with music; and what kind of person they are. It gives you an intimate relationship with them, telling you as a Malaysian band –even though the industry is so small – we are not so different from them. Musicians are musicians, and the fact is if you love music, the only thing you have to do is play music. So yeah, that’s what I’ve learnt.
You guys have played at lots of concerts, which would be your most memorable one?
Din: We’ll say the one in Taiwan. The thing is, performing in front of a crowd that is totally foreign, and the barrier of the language, because they don’t understand English and they can’t speak Malay and we can’t speak their language; and the exposure to their culture, and the entertainment scene –that is superb. And it was the biggest stage as well.
How do you find the atmosphere there?
Andy: They are really cool. They are very open. They are very fun people. You can get them to jump and they will just jump. They would just do anything. It was in a beach, so it was a huge ass crowd.
Din: The best thing is we get to get them to sing along to ‘Itu Kamu’. That is something. *laughs*
So have you guys ever considered going on a bus tour around Malaysia?
Rich: We actually finished a tour on a bus –the Digi tour. So we managed to go to Sabah and Sarawak, and we went to Penang, Ipoh, Kuantan. We actually had more places to go, but we stopped. It was really fun for us, to be able to see every state. And the crowd was good as well.
Some bands find it hard to live with each other, how do you find each other?
Rich: Well we don’t live with each other, still. Because I have my family, all of them have their own family. But I mean, it takes years for us to, I mean we fight and we have problems internally, but I think that is important for a band to grow, for a band to reach that level of intensity. And if you don’t reach that, which means you just don’t connect, and progress. So I think it’s actually important for us to fight. *laughs*
Estrange's First Album - In Hating Memory
Ever since your success, has it affected your personal life?
Rich: For me I think, what bothered me is just seeing people, and be under pressured. With people expecting more from you, and things like that, I think that bothered me for a while. But I think it goes with the job, I think if I want to be who I am today, and that’s what you have to go through. You know the pressure from the people, the pressure from the media. But I think I just got to be strong and move forward.
Din: Well, I managed to make a lot of friends. *laughs* Other than that, the band managed to make me feel much more mature –in a way that I think, doing things in daily life. Because the thing is, we used to play around so much, and at the same time, we noticed that it involves work as well. So I think the band has matured me in the way that I think is good.
Andy: Like Din says, we meet a lot of people. It’s a lot of fun. It could be the music industry people or it could be just who like your music. In that way it’s fun, I like it.
Hanafi: For me, as a musician, you get to meet people in the industry. You learn more about how the industry works, and it gives me opportunities to contribute it–to write more songs. So far it’s been good.
How’s your love life?
Rich: Well, for me I’m married. It’s all good. I don’t know about these guys.
Andy: For me I’m married to my drums. What about you Din?
Din: I’m married to my guitar too!
Rich: Yeah boring right?
Would you guys ever date a fan?
Din: I don’t think that’s a good idea, because it’s just that, it’s different. They know you because of the band, and with the band, we have a different picture when we are together as a band and how we are in public. We are not really ourselves like how we are in the bedroom you see.
Din: So it’s different, I think that it’s not a good idea. Maybe this guy, Andy thinks it’s a good idea, I don’t know. Personally I don’t think it is.
Andy: Wow, how did we get to the bedroom?
Din: Would you date your fan?
Andy: I mean you never know, you never know.
Rich: It’s a really subjective question I think. I mean if you are friendly to your fans, and what happens if they are so connected to you and you start hanging out. I mean there is nothing wrong to hang out with fans, so maybe there is a connection involved, and it takes time and you know, you probably like the person. Yeah.
Andy: *to Din* Wait what was your answer?
Rich: He is a player, that’s why he is so confused! *laughs* Going to the bedroom you know. *everyone laughs*
Do you guys go clubbing, and enjoy the night life, considering you guys are so busy?
Andy: I do.
Din: Err.. I am busy. *laughs*
Hanafi: I don’t like to go clubbing, but I prefer live music shows.
How do you feel when you hear your music on the radio?
Rich: Honoured and proud.
Do you still like go, ‘Hey mom! I’m on TV!’ and stuff like that?
Din: I think it’s the other way round!
Rich: Yeah it’s the other way round, they tell us!
Andy: They go, ‘Hey son! I saw you on TV!’
Rich: Yeah, you know my dad still does that. I’m like, ‘Dad, you’ve been saying that for like a hundred times already.’
Andy: Yeah my mum too.
Would you guys consider yourselves vain in anyway?
Rich: Err no, we are not vain people. *smiles* Not really. We like to dress street wear and stuff like that. Street wear, sports wear.
Din: Sometimes when we want to be stylo’, we wear a jacket that’s all. *laughs*
Rich: Din is going towards skate fashion, but he doesn’t skate. He is a poser. *laughs*
How much do you guys spend averagely on clothes?
Andy: Well we get some free stuff, so that’s cool. But Hanafi, Hanafi is the one that spends a lot on clothes.
Rich: He is into shoes now, right?
Hanafi: Yeah I like stuff like Kurt Cobain inspired wear; like big shirts, scruffy, checkered shirts.
What do you think about Lady Gaga’s fashion?
Din: Oh I love Lady Gaga, seriously, she is like an art.
Well to wrap it up, what makes you guys click as a band and what do you hope to achieve long term?
Rich: I think it’s the passion that keeps us together as a band. We hope that in the future, and people look back and are able to remember our music; to make that impact in the industry.
Thank you so much for your time!
There you have it. Amidst of all the laughter and deep insight to their opinions and thoughts, we can really see that these people are in the industry solely for the music. And in my opinion, that has made all the difference in their music. It has definitely opened my eyes to a whole new choices and range of music.
I do recommend their music and their music videos. They are unique and definitely worth the watch! You can purchase their album just by sending your name, telephone number, email and house address to email@example.com.
Estranged during our interview
Interested to know more? Here are a couple of their links to their official website, blog, other interviews and twitter! Trust me; they are definitely a band to watch! ;)
Official Website: http://www.estranged.info/