Night sounds (an interview with Bangkar)

Don’t you wish for the good old times of the 80s? You know, Aquanet powered hair, all the girls going crazy, the pyro shooting in the air…you know, the glam/hair metal era? I will admit, I do.
Well, those times are gone, however…the music stays! And I am happy to find bands who carry the banner of this music genre high, even in Indonesia! Therefore, let me bring you one and only…BANGKAR!!!

Greetings to Jakarta, guys, how are you doing??? I hope you are all well and had a great start into 2022!
Hello! We’re doing fine and first of all we want to say thank you for all your support to us, we really appreciate it and we hope you doing fine too!

Obviously, how could we start without introducing the band! So, who are the guys responsible for the music of Bangkar?
Ok, let’s get started. The guy who was fully responsible for our music was Dix (our bassist), most of our songs were written by Dix and the rest of the guys were responsible to make it great.

If I am not mistaken, you are together for 3 years now…tell me, how did the story of Bangkar start?
Bangkar was formed by bassist Dix and drummer Julian on September 8, 2018. So, we are looking for the guitarist and the vocals to make this happen. We ask Arya Pradana first to join the band as a guitarist, Arya was our guitarist from our previous band called Blixem but the band was breakup before it started ha-ha! Back to Arya, He refused to join our new band. So, we’re looking for another position, a singer! Dix asks Abdillah Fadhil to fill a position as a singer of this band and “taa-daa” Bangkar is officially formed at that time! Because Arya refused the offers, we decided to make an audition for a guitar player. There are 5 guitarists we called but no one makes us proud with their skills. So, Dix asks Win Luqman Azis to join the band. After Win joins the band, we record 2 songs “Ganas” and “Jakarta Pukul Tiga”. When we record our 2 songs, we still need another guitar player who can play the lead guitar. So, we renegotiate Arya to join the band and finally Arya wants to fill the position. “Ganas” was released on May 9, 2019 and “Jakarta Pukul Tiga” was released on August 19, 2019.
In September 2019, Win decided to quit the band because He was busy with his job. After that, Abdillah Fadhil also quit the band in late 2019.
When coronavirus was confirmed to have spread in Indonesia on March 2, 2020. We decided to take a break and search for a singer. Dix contacted Ananta Mahatyanto to join the audition and He passed the audition and we started our new journey at that time.

To be honest, Indonesia doesn’t struck me as a country where hard rock and glam/hair metal has a firm foundation. Of course, there are some bands here and there, but overall…you know…so, what has brought you together to play this kind of music and not, say, something more extreme?
Honestly, we can’t explain it. But in our opinion, we make this thing together because we’ve got the same taste in music. We think our music has a unique side in the Indonesian music scene because we don’t want to make the same music as others. Also if we see on the “showbiz” side, Bangkar has a unique style of music so we got the attention more easily than the others.

By the way, congratulations to your debut album, “Suara Malam”, released in January! How do you feel about all the work on it, after it’s finally out?
It feels great absolutely! As you know that album was finished 2 years ago. Because the pandemic was high at the time, we decided to postpone it until we released them last month. We feel stoke right now!

OK, “Suara Malam”, the night sound… what kind of a sound is it? What is the night sound of Jakarta?
If you go out at late night, you can feel the emptiness ha-ha! Of course, that song described emptiness and loneliness, we want the listeners to feel the vibes on it. Maybe if you had a complicated problem and you can’t tell anybody, the only solution is to go out at late night!

So far, I can see it’s only available on digital platforms (I am listening to it on Spotify, for example). Any plans for a proper, physical release for those of us, who appreciate a silver disc in our player?
Yes, we have a plan to release it soon. Right now, we are still searching for a label to release it.  But if we haven’t got a label, we going to release it individually. Maybe in mid-year, we can release it physically.

Previously, you’ve released a debut single in 2020 titled “Jeruji”. How was the reaction of the public to it, and can you tell us more about that song? I see you also included it to the debut album, is it the same version or have you done any changes to the original 2020 song?
It’s our debut single with our new singer Nanta and the reaction was hype at the time because we made it differently than before. We improve the production as well and we’re doing it to make our listeners feel stoked with the production and that was our introduction to the album!

There’s one thing we haven’t been talking about yet…the lyrics!!! So, to rectify that – what are your lyrics about?
Mostly our lyrics are about social criticism, love, and attitude. If you listen to “Jeruji” and “Ganas” you can feel the anger wrapped in the lyrics about social criticism.
“Jeruji” was aimed at the big media that continuously preach about the coronavirus in early 2020 which makes people more suffer from psychosomatic than the virus itself.
“Ganas” was aimed at the government that make regulations about music laws that were very detrimental to music artists back in 2019, but if you look at the current situation, this song was aimed at the capitalists who subtly “enslave” workers with very minimal wages. It is commonly seen in Indonesia.
If you listen to “Jakarta Pukul Tiga” and “Pesta” you can feel about love, as human beings we will not forget about love even though your taste in music is “full of distortion” ha-ha!
From the perspective of attitude, we made “Distorsi” and “Meliar dan Menggila”. “Distorsi” was a song about a rock n’ roll attitude wrapped with the punk music arrangement. If you listen to “Meliar dan Menggila” it was about our journey in music scenes.

Bangkar and playing live… I am not even asking if you play live, because, let’s be honest, bands like yours have to play live and loud!!!! So, how often do you play live? Any interesting gigs planned in the near future? Also… can you describe an usual rock gig in, say, Jakarta, for us? You know, for us, Western folks, that’s still an exotic atmosphere…
Because of the pandemic, we rarely did play live currently. Of course, we want to do gigs soon. if we can describe it to you about our local gigs in here, there are few gigs in the Jakarta area that still make a gig in a pandemic. We want to say gratitude to the guys who still make a gig currently. Because we really miss the crowded who air-surfing in front of us! Ha-ha!

Let’s hear about other bands from your area! I only knew about Gribs …are there any other bands from the same genre you might want to recommend to our readers?
If you want to hear bands from our area which is the Jakarta side, there are no other bands from the same genre as us. But We would recommend to you “Tiger Paw” they’re playing like a beast, with full of makeup, spandex, their music was so good! “Tiger Paw” was a band from Jogjakarta, Central Java.

Now, the album is out… what’s the next step in the life of Bangkar? Any new songs already written? And as for plans…any goals you would like to achieve?
In our next step, we’re going to make another music video for another promotion on this album.
If you ask about new songs already written, we’re in progress about new songs for our next album. We’ve just finished 5 demos and it sounds “heavier” than “Suara Malam” album. Our plan for the next album is we’re gonna make a heavy metal album, we try to reach more people to listen to us!

Coming to the end of this nice interview…thanks a lot for your time, guys!!! Any final message to our readers?
Thank you so much for all of this. For all readers, you can listen “Suara Malam” on your favorite digital music platform. We hope you enjoy it!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bangkar.official/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4gifkBD7sP8q13FCznM9B1

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I am the founder/owner and editor-in-chief of the Rubber Axe webzine, the underground/overground cultural publication, publishing also this website dedicated to all things Indonesian. I'm a happily married guy with 2 kids and a fantastic wife, and I'm a relentless discoverer of all things cultural and culinary. An everlasting dreamer and idealist.

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