Oi! Oi! Oi! from the Far East! (Interview with Malay Oi! band Strong Supporter)

Although Indokult is dedicated to the Indonesian culture (with the focus on the music and occasionally, movies), today we will visit their neighbours – the great country of Malaysia! Why?

Well, if you’ve watched my first episode of the Indokult Reviews on the Youtube, you might remember that I’ve mentioned Strong Suporter as being featured on the compilation tape United Existence volume 1. And because it never hurts to learn more about the bands we’re talking about, I am using this opportunity to talk to these Malaysian skinheads to learn more about their music and way of life. Are you gonna join me?

Hello, guys, and thanks for your time answering my questions! How is the life in Malaysia these days? I have to admit, I have no idea how much affected you were or you are with the COVID pandemic…how is the situation with it over there?

Hello! First of all, I would like to thank you for having an interview with us. Our situation here is ok, but in this COVID time, the band’s activities stopped for a while with the virus that hit quite dangerous. Band’s activities are quite limited, group members communicate through the virtual world through WhatsApp …. maybe there will be a ray [of light] in 2022 and the band will be active again like the year before.

So, let’s start traditionally, from the very beginning. How did you, guys, meet? What has made you to start the band? Any interesting influences or idols? And, of course…when did you start the band?

We met and formed a band in the movement and jamming session of the skinheads. Basically, everyone has listened to the songs of the skinhead bands and knew a little bit about the skinhead [movement].

I want to tell you a little biography about my band …. Strong Supporter was founded in 2003, in the area of sg siput, perak … That time was in the heyday of snailriverOi scenes! Boys … At that time it was led by five young people named Pley, Mat, Bo, Nizam and Pley’s brother … at that time it was just jamming for fun …. Each of them understood SHARP skins … and at the time of 2005, there was a band split, with me coming in to represent the vocalist and some of the lineup changed … So in 2005 and 2006 a demo was recorded entitled “Proud With Our State”. This demo has sold in 1000 copies. In 2007, there was another split between the members, and there was a solo movement where I brought Strong Supporter band to all gigs in Malaysia …

During the solo movement, Strong Supporter has participated in various compilations in the country … one of the compilations that is included is the Youth Culture record compilation and Rebelling Troop Tomorrow …

In 2016, Strong Supporter accepted new members, namely Tam, Jep and Man and I, Nasir, remain as vocalist and bass player … And in 2019, our band has recorded an ep titled HEROES OF THE DAYS … The line-up remains the same since.

You play Oi!, or, to be more precise (I am using the designation from the gig poster) – eastern Oi! music. I am pleasantly surprised to see Oi! is quite popular in Asia (not only Indonesia and Malaysia). Coming originally from the United Kingdom, what do you think is the main attraction of the genre to you, guys? What makes Oi! so interesting to you?

Many were also surprised because we, from Malaysia, were able to accept the presence of Oi! inside us. For us, Oi! music is a sincere music in conveying the message to the public. With music that only sounds two or three chords, you can make it into a song. While the lyrics are so simple to convey, not like pop music, where the message is poetic, but you don’t understand what they want to tell you.

In addition, we are interested in the life of skinheads, which features the life of the lower working class. Working class heroes, haha!

In 2019 you’ve released your demo “Heroes of the Day”. What can you tell me about it? Looking at it from the distance of 2 years, how do you view it today? Would you change anything on it?

The album “Heroes Of The Days” is the 2nd EP of Strong Supporter. And the EP is more on street rock with catchy music. The EP tells more about the struggle of our strong supporters in skinheads, patriotic with our pride in our beloved country and remembering the unsung warriors who have fallen in defending the sovereignty of our homeland, Malaysia. The EP is also done ad hoc and for the next coming back we will still be playing street rock and InshaAllah will do better for the fans out there.

In your Instagram I see also another release from Strong Supporter, unfortunately, the picture is not very clear. What is it? Is it a regular album? When was it released?

Actually, we don’t have an official Instagram yet. Therefore the content in it is quite scattered. Maybe next year, there will be a more official Instagram of our band. You know, we are not skilled in the field of internet, hahaha.

The album displayed on Instagram, it is the second album and is currently on the market, it was released in 2019.

To listen to Oi! is great, but to listen to Oi! Live, at the gig, it’s something entirely different. I know you are playing live, can you describe for us, who have no idea about gigs in Malaysia, you typical local Oi! concert?

Ok .. gigs in Malaysia are a bit similar to gigs in Indonesia. [The only difference is,] gigs in Malaysia, most of them are played in closed areas, and they are played in halls, pubs and studios … unlike gigs in Indonesia, which are played loudly in open areas.

Back in the early 90s, most gigs in Malaysia were mixed genres, because at that time the acceptance of underground music was still not widespread .. punk and skinhead shared the stage with grunge, hardcore, metal and grunge bands.

Because there are already too many people participating in gigs with various beliefs, there have been often fights, that are not wanted ….

So it happened in the year 2000, the parting of the gigs so that it would not happen, there were no more fights … In Malaysia, there are many skinheads who understand SHARP [ideology], because this understanding is easier to accept and Malaysia is a multiracial and multiethnic country.

I was thinking about this question… Malaysia is a strict Muslim country, which means drinking alcohol (like beer) is haram (forbidden). Here in the UK, obviously, Oi! culture is about music, drinking beer and generally having a good time. How’s the situation in the Malaysian scene? No beer?

It is true that Malaysia is an Islamic country and he who wants to drink alcohol, will answer for himself before God. For us to make our own way, there is no need to follow western culture very much. Oi is music it is not a prejudice.

Not all skinheads in Malaysia drink beer during music … only a few drink and the rest do not drink beer during concerts.

For us, while performing, we don’t drink alcohol because we have to focus on the music we’re playing.

Boots, braces, Fred Perry, Lonsdale…how important is the skinhead image for you as the band, and out of curiosity – how expensive is this type of clothing in Malaysia?

In fact, in the past, these clothes in Malaysia were not very expensive … because we always got them in bundles and not in boutiques … We bought them at affordable prices …. Most of us, skinheads, here are not very supportive of boutiques that press the high price on this dress …

The main reason for existence of the Indokult page is to promote the music to the readers here in the West, and I always ask the following question – for those interested in getting to know Malaysian (or Indonesian) Oi! scene, what bands would you recommend for our readers to check?

For readers on the Indokult page, we recommend listening listeners like band A.C.A.B., The Official, The Suspect, The Mister, Steeltoe Solution, Nationhead, Unexpected, Skinrovers, 2ndguess. These bands are the pioneers of Oi! in Malaysia.

The year of 2021 is almost over, and I hope the next one will be much better. What do you plan for 2022? Any interesting gigs ahead?

Pplanning for 2022, we’ve decided to record and then release the 3rd EP. To see our activities, you can browse our Facebook page (Strong Supporter), Instagram and also Youtube … Our band Whatsapp number is 0129787096

And finishing this short interview – any final message for your fans? Where can they find your music?

At the end of this interview, for those who are still wondering what our band’s stance is, our band is an anti-racist themed band. And we adhere to the SHARP skinhead ideology.

Because the sharp skinhead ideology is quite synonymous with the multi -racial Malaysian nation.

In our band, the line-up also consists of various races. Malays, Iban and Bumiputera.

With a slogan: Together we are strong, divided we fall.

Cheers!

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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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