year was your bands 14th anniversary, any celebrations?
We celebrate everyday what, actually. (Laughs) Every
week, every day... Oh! You mean special significance... that kind
of celebrations? No. Not really. Just started to put out CDs and all
that, because we took a break since 1995. So 1996, '97, '98, '99 we
were not very active, you didnt hear anything from us right.
Only last year we started again.
And this year is going to be the 15th year so we have released
speaking how politically-minded is the name opposition party?
You see, back in the 80s, when there werent any punk
a name like Opposition Party in Singapore, where it is such a ****ing
strict place right, we wanted to really wake people up. And it did.
Thats how our name got shortened to OP. There was this period
when nobody would put Opposition Party on the flyers, because they
were afraid that the Ministry of Home Affairs would come and grab
them or something. The name is really to shock people.
But nowadays, it doesnt shock people anymore.
over the world punks have been accused of hating society for the
sake of it, what is your take on that?
I am part of society. I am. I mean, I pay taxes, I have a
that pays like $4K; he (pointing to Lee) has a job that pays
$5K. (Chuckles) A long time back I didnt consider myself
a part of Singapore society, thats why I started OP. Now,
its like even if you do not want to blend in, the normal people
blend in with you. There are so many people who dress like so-called
punks. You have to take a second look before you know what music
they are into.
is interesting to note that you guys are one of the first punk bands
in Singapore. As such you have always, somehow or another, had a
certain relationship with BigO and the indie music of the early
days. That is unlike these days where the punk scene is very much
segregated from BigO or even indie music. Does that make you guys
any less punk?
Its just a label.
You dont have to be part of this organisation to be part
scene or something. You can be cut off from the scene, cut off from
BigO, dont play at gigs and I can still be as punk as anybody
else. It depends on which way you want it. People think that they
can go on somewhere like Audioload and then consider themselves
a proper punk band, then so be it. But I admit, back then there
was only BigO. If you did not approach BigO, you dont get
gigs and you dont get exposure anywhere. Nowadays it is very
much different; you can pretty much do whatever you want.
EP you guys have just launched, it is a collection of old and new
Party have certainly become tighter as a band, but as the band progressed,
correct me if I am wrong, but I sense less angst, how true is that?
Our music has never been about angst or pain. Maybe last
when Francis and OP wanted to make a statement, there was more angst.
Our music now has nothing to do with angst, nothing to do with politics;
we are just singing what we feel like. Its basically songs
about our own feelings, what we feel about the world.
Last time OP was angry lah.
I guess now we are tired of being angry. I mean how long
want to be angry for? Now everybody got handphone, everybody got
roof over their head, whats there to be angst-y about? Quoting
from June Koh, Sugarflies. Basically, yes, we are still playing
aggressive music. We are still playing hard music. But if you read
our lyrics, it has nothing to do with politics or anything. Its
just feelings coming out.
The only anger we have is against people...
With ignorant people, people who judge us by the way we play,
or the way we look, but they dont judge us by the lyrics that
we write. Maybe because, I dont blame them, they cannot hear
what we say.
And we dont attach lyric sheets. I guess I am still younger
you guys, and I am still angry. My lyrics are about angst. It is
more to people who are hypocrites.
Yah, more against people than against society.
Like those who know only one view, and do not try to look
from a different perspective. In Singapore, what we do is a stupid
thing to do. "Why dont you concentrate on your work and
get a Mercedes and a BMW?" But, to them, what we are doing
is stupid. What we think, or what I think, I shouldnt talk
for you guys, is that they are stupid. Cos we are doing something
that I love. So it is like, I want them to know that there is something
else to do...
I guess what Kazz is trying to say is that, right now in
because, I dont want to get political or what, but we are
in a society right now where we are almost like robots, theres
no more passion in life anymore. Everybody is working for money,
its like everybody is in the rat race. Everybody is working
for a Mercedes, everybody is working for big houses, and everybody
is working for the 5Cs. For us we are normal people. We are not
saying that, I dont know about you guys (referring to the
band), money is still important in life. But its not the
only thing in life. We have our own careers. As human beings in
Singapore, we need to survive as well. We are not into music full
time. But at the same time we do music on the side as a serious
passion. Which gives an outlet for us. Whereas people are out there
working overtime and all that, Im sure they are not happy
with their jobs, Im sure some of us here are also not happy
with our jobs. But then bo pian (Hokkien: no choice), we
need to survive.
But then again, overseas, you cut away those bands that are
signed to major labels like pop-punk Offspring or Green Day, that
actually live as a band, the rest of the underground, say in the
United States or England where the punk scene is damn big, a lot
of them are working. There is no such thing as a professional punk
band, unless you sign to a major label. Some of them got all kinds
of funny jobs. Some of them are cooks; some of them dont know
what kind of job they have, even in the States.
That term is rather contradictory, "professional punks,"
make sense, there is no such thing.
But that is what they are, Offspring, Rancid and all that
you guys played the first two songs off the new album at Stasis
3 at The Substation in December, Francis you made a statement about
returning to your roots, which is punk. Was there any guilt in that
No guilt. None at all.
Every band goes through different phases. There is nothing
And actually one of the main reasons is that we wanted to
go back to our roots a long time back. But our ex-guitarist is a
very metal kind of person.
He is Danny lah, from Silent Sorrow.
He is a very metal guy. It was
very cool last time, cos we mixed our punk influence with
his metal technical stuff. But after a while, we felt we were not
going anywhere, and we decided to go back to punk. So when he left,
we simply got our ex-guitarist back. But we just cannot suddenly
switch back, so we had to tell everybody about the change.
guys seem to be very much influenced by the Japanese punk scene
the Japanese songs that you have been playing and the Japanese
EP cover, why is that? Why does the Japanese scene appeal to you
more than, say, the American or the British punk scenes?
The main thing is that we have
a Japanese member, who can
speak Japanese, so we cover a couple of Japanese bands for the ****
of it. No one does it in Singapore.
have a Hokkien song. Notably, Objection Overule also have a Hokkien
song. What is so interesting about these sort of songs? Does it
have anything to do with a sort of Singapore punk sound?
I think precisely, Objection Overule do it not to create a
identity, but because they are Singaporean.
I tell you, we admit we are not the first band to sing in
Basically a lot of bands do too. But I guess we are at a stage where
we want to try new stuff and different languages. We are already
writing Japanese songs, so why not Hokkien songs?
We are smack right here in Singapore, ****ing Japanese member,
and we are Chinese, but we are influenced by the Western stuff,
so it is only natural to write in Hokkien, or his mother tongue
Japanese (referring to Kazz). We dont have a precise
plan. I mean **** lah, we will just do it. Maybe end up with
a repertoire of, say, 10 Japanese songs and two English songs. Or
maybe 10 Hokkien and one Japanese song. Just see how it goes. Ah,
but sometimes we dont like it!
The popularity of J-pop has spilt over to J-rock, any intentions
on cashing in on it?
No lah! They are **** kids lah, those that listen
to J-pop. They
****ing listen to...
Ah, Luna Sea, they are a J-pop band dressed as a heavy metal
band. When I first caught onto Japanese stuff, I thought, "Wah!
Damn cool ah!" Big hair, everything, so aggressive,
right? But after a while I moved away from that and found a more
underground scene in Japanese, which was better. There is another
side of Japan that nobody knows. He (Kazz) knows well.
No, it has nothing to do
with the scene. It is that you express yourself differently when
you speak a different language. You see, if you think in a different
language, you will think in a different way. It has nothing to do
with the culture. When you experiment with different languages you
tend to think differently. 'Cos the words are different.
we are always adopting another culture, how about one of our own?
Are we adopting another
culture? It is his (pointing to Kazz) not mine. He is part
of our band.
We are a democratic band,
that is why we have a mix. Hokkien and Japanese. We have to balance
You see, you mention
punk, right, as much as I would hope and would like to think, punk
is a global thing. It has nothing to do with the culture, but it
is how you think, where you come from and from what you experience
and go through in life that matters.
And it is only me I guess, but a lot of nationalism leads to
Im okay with being Japanese, but not too proud of it. Most
of the discrimination against the countries and racists stems from
loving the country too much. So OP is, no matter what, based on
Western music. I dont really "hail Ang Moh"
(Westerners), so it is natural to add an Asian feel into
It is a recent development only (this Asian influence).
thing that intrigues me most about this lineup, is that it is not
Francis nor Lee, that does some of the vocal duties, who are the
actual frontmen, but Kazz, who is the centre of attraction. Isnt
it awkward to have such a scenario?
One thing is that we do not like the usual thing. Look at AC/DC,
their front man is the guitarist, the one with the shorts.
It is actually quite okay, cos when we play in a gig, we
get a proper lineup, vocalist in front and it's either Lee or me
on the right or left and Kazz will be in the centre. He is like
a sideshow kind of thing.
We use him for visual effects only.
So, you get a full show lah. You get a person to look at,
you get two people shouting their guts at you.
And they are playing guitars and singing, they cant do
So I have to do the head banging.
We are not really showmen lah. We are musicians. You do
see us dancing round the stage.
Neither are we musicians.
We are punk. (Laughs)
titles of your songs, Hack N Slash or Impending Death, are rather
brutal. Have the lyrics changed over the years?
Impending Death is about nuclear stuff, that some day you
will die from it. That was in the 80s when everyday you read
the papers and there is something about it. Hack N Slash is about
a serial killer going around chopping people.
Hack N Slash is more of a fiction kind of thing. But it is
personal. Last time was more on societys problems.
Impending Death wasnt political or what, but just about
one day from the bomb. You know with all the ****-kids running the
government. Because of that it was likely.
much do you guys play for passion? Some people have said that Singaporean
musicians should stop faking it and live up to the fact that you
all want to be rock stars? How much of that is true?
It will be 15 ****ing years, do you think I am still working
a rock star? (Laughs)
the Moderates are going to Australia...
Let me tell you something. Those ****ing hardcore American
bands coming to Asia, we think that they are rock stars? **** no,
man. There is this band, I forgot the name, and they played the
whole ****ing Asian network. They came up with US$10,000, they only
made back $8,000. But when they came to Asia, everybody thought
they were ****ing rock stars. They were like, "**** all you
people man! We ****ing work and we came up with the money to play
there." They lost $2,000 and they went back to the US to be
chefs or taxi drivers or whatever. So you ask them, are they rock
stars? They will say **** no, man! Because we play punk, the whole
idea of being a rock star does not occur. Of course, if you want
to play overseas, it is great.
When we went to Bangkok, we felt very small actually. There
a lot of huge bands there. I just hope other local bands know where
they stand. Like we, we know where we stand. We dont go around
telling people, when we play gigs we must have 10 packets of blue
M&Ms in our dressing room, or mineral water. That is rock star
lah. Of course we must admit, if OP can make it big, dont
say make it big, but play music as a living; travelling overseas
to play gigs is every musicians wet dream. But the thing is
that right now we are not thinking about it. We are just doing the
thing we love, and if it takes us somewhere along the way, then
that will be good. There is no target. Maybe another 15 years lah.
But I never really wanted to be a rock star.
But if it falls right on your lap, then what the ****? But if
then never mind. We are not going to give ourselves pain every night
thinking about it. A lot of bands say, we have a CD now, so we are
rock stars. **** off lah. Ten years ago we put out a seven-inch
vinyl in France. That one nobody knows, cos I dont ****ing
give a **** about me doing it. I actually had a lot of so-called
fans in the huge underground radio network, where our songs were
played. Another four to five years, the seven-inch was sold out,
so we are back down here again. But if I was to tell it to everyone,
everyone would say, "Wah, OP damn ****ing big in France man."
you wrote in to BigO and spoke of how people have changed, what
point were you trying to make?
It is so different from the last time. When
I came out people stared at me. Well, I stare at people now. Last
time I wore the same fashion as now, spikey hair, boots and everything.
People look at, "Wah, what the **** is this guy, crazy ah?"
Now people dress more xiao (crazy) than me. But I do get
angry lah, once in a while. See the mainstream punk fashion,
even though they are not punk. Like today, I saw on television some
Taiwanese guy, spiky hair, dog collar and chain. I said, "Ten
years ago people would scold, "You kao ah?" ("You
dog?") Nowadays, when this Chinese singer wore it, everybody
shouts, "Oh! Hen hao, hen hao." ("Very
good.") I do get angry at stuff like that. That is why
I made that point.
from musical styles you guys have created a certain style of your
own. How important is that for local bands here? How important is
an image in Singapore?
Basically, very generally, there are two types of bands.
that copies everything, and one that strikes out on its own. But
I guess both will have to exist together. Like when those rap-metal
bands that sound like Limp Bizkit, there will be those who will
cheer and those who will jeer. We just happen to be on the side
that doesnt copy. It is part and parcel of the whole thing.
The other local bands can do what they want.
there anything in these 15 years in the music scene that you wish
you achieved but you did not?
Wah... a lot of things. You sure you got time or not? (Chuckles)
I have not been with OP for 15 years, maybe 10 years or so.
just proud of the fact that Francis has been around for 15 years...
It doesnt matter if OP isnt among the top local bands,
it doesnt matter. The thing is that we have survived for 15
years. You tell me which local band can boast that kind of record?
That is the bottom line to me. Fourteen or 15 years, it says a lot
about the character of the band no matter the line up changes and
this guy, Francis, has been keeping the band for 15 years. I have
never told him this, but I am very proud of the fact that I can
be part of OP. I am just proud of the fact that we have been around
for 15 years. I dont think Stompin Ground can even boast
Wah... Emmy award. (Grins) To tell you the truth, I wish
then, when we were active internationally, in France and all that,
I wish we could have gone overseas. Not to become rock stars, but
at least to create some impact. But the problem was we didnt
have the money. We were working but it paid very little. I wish
we could have gone earlier. Now, we can fly to any goddamn place
at our own expenses.
you are Japanese, do you get the special "foreign import treatment?"
Now that Singapore has this foreign talent idea?
**** lah, they see him they du lan (hate themselves).
much do you call Singapore your home and, if so, why is it more
than Japan? If not then why not Singapore?
I feel neither. I always have this identity crisis; I dont
I belong to. My family and OP is where I belong. It doesnt
have to be Singapore or Japan.
you played in a few other bands. But each time you do, you state
that you are from Opposition Party. How much should Singaporean
musicians play with other bands? (Ray plays in Sugarflies and Popland,
I want to make this clear, that I am not a professional
I help underground bands and I help club bands as well. But the
thing is, Im doing this because I want to help the scene.
I mean if a band has no drummer but wants to record album or play
gigs, I dont mind playing for them. Second thing, is that
I love to play music a lot. I love to play drums. That is why I
do a lot of session work. Not only do I help the scene, I also help
myself improve my skills and try different styles.
you find you have less passion?
Whenever I sit down behind the drums I always give 100 per
Last year I played a gig with Wendy Koh (Singapore 80s
club icon). I was playing Careless Whisper and all those 80s
retro s***. Whether it is a club gig, or a studio gig, I give 100
per cent. And I feel that any musician capable of helping out should
help out. Because I feel it is helping the scene to grow. There
is no such thing as I am playing for OP, **** you, I dont
want to help you.
daresay the local scene is moving into the third wave. What has
gone wrong and what is going right? Especially after what you saw
at Stasis 3, how does that compare to those earlier gigs?
To tell you the truth I prefer the second wave gigs. Last time,
Substation gigs in the second wave, you can be guaranteed that everybody
would stay from start to finish. There is no such thing as I come
to listen to this particular band, after you play I **** off. No
such thing. Punks, skinheads, hardcore or metal... everybody would
stay to the end. The whole family would come down. Like the No Surrender
gig, those gigs from 1991 to 1993 maybe, you look at those gigs
back then at The Substation you will feel damn proud to be an underground
local music supporter.
Serious you know. That time we did a countdown for dont
know what ****ing year. ****ing hell, the skins, the Mohawks, they
were all moshing, slamming. Then Stasis, eh, okay lah, we
cock-up lah, but even without the cock-up, right, people
were just stoning. I was thinking, "Eh what the **** is this?"
That is the only thing we dont like about this wave.
They are like too proud to enjoy themselves. I really want|
I feel that those gigs at the Youth Park, same thing. They
for the band they like then they **** off. If you really love the
local underground scene, if you really love local music, then stay
from beginning till the end. Even if it is a ****ed-up band, just
give them the support.
The first wave was very different. The first wave was when
like nobody knows what was happening. You go to a gig and then you
get a good response, but not like "Wah!" a lot. They will
still cheer for you, even though OP was a punk band and they were
not into punk. Second wave people are more into specific kind of
music. They will still cheer for everyone. Come to the third wave
where people are specifically into a certain kind of music. So even
at a gig, they see OP... "Wah! Even with 15 years they will
still tell you to **** off."
That is why I also think that maybe organisers should stop
so many bands in a gig, from different genres. Last time can! Now
cannot. You want to have a punk gig, then have all punk bands.
You see, these **** kids, they are into rap-metal, you come
up with "dum-ta-dum-ta" British punk, they will say "****
off man!" Their musical tastes already developed, they will
say, "I want to support this band, and all the rest can ****
say, you had a gig and then you were told it is No Art Day, would
you cancel your gig?
Hey! Im not part of the art scene man! **** it!
Anyway, music has never been an art. Art is like painting
sculpture and all this. Music is always entertainment.
Maybe in the first wave we would have been affected, because
there were those Art Festival gigs. But right now, I dont
Music is an art form lah. But a different form of art. If
talking about No Art Day, then it is probably referring to plays
and mimes and stuff.
Anyway, we are punks right, we hate to be told to do something.
We play when we want to play. (Laughs)
No Art Day was actually a reply to censorship that has been happening
in Singapore. What is your take on censorship in Singapore? Do you
feel freer now than 10 years ago?
I think other than last time, which prevented the long-haired
from coming in, there is not much change.
things like slamdancing are still banned today. If it happens, your
deposit would be revoked.
To tell you the truth, right, I dont think they will take
money unless something bad happens. If nothing goes out of hand,
I dont think the government will do anything.
When people get too pampered, they get spoilt.
I think this ban on slamdancing is really hurting the scene. I
how can you go to a hardcore or punk gig and not slamdance? You
see people sitting down clapping, how can!?! I think it is ridiculous.
It is just a different culture.
But right now with the internet, this censorship thing is a
grey. I mean, the police are unlikely to come to your house and
arrest you because you surf porn sites.
you know, right, No Art Day is a very passive form of protest. How
much do you think radicalism is necessary today?
Anyway, playing on No Art Day is also rebellious what.
in society today, say, like in Seattle, the anarchists go out there
and smash things. Being a punk how good is it to bring awareness
to the world of societys problems?
I dont think so. Seattle and Singapore, not the same. If
want to do it, then let them, we will just sit there and watch.
But we are way past that already.
It is like The Boredphucks, you know, with all that vulgarities.
That is their style. But you must know that you are in Singapore
and you must be responsible for your actions. Right now, the very
fact that The Boredphucks are banned says a lot about radicalism
in Singapore. We are not ready lah.
1.0, when will we get Version 2.0?
This year. It is going to be version 0.1. Because we are
to play some 90s songs. Our old songs lah. It is part
of the process of going back to the roots.