Aggression is their art. Vinyl records and cassettes form their language. Black is their favourite colour. Welcome to Singapore's punk scene.
Since the 1990s, punk bands in Singapore have surfaced. The names Plainsunset, Generation 69, The Caufield Cult, Daily Ritual and Rancour are no stranger to local punk lovers, as many have been inspired by these legends to start their own bands. Aside from playing local gigs regularly, some of these bands have toured Europe, America and other parts of Asia and released music with international labels. That's some impressive stuff right there.
Beneath their dark facade, Singapore's punk scene presents a kaleidoscope of colours to punk lovers, especially during their gigs which brim with energy. Now as The Substation sees a prolonged period of radio silence as gigs continue to be called off, digital continues to be the avenue for access to local punk music. Hence, Bob DeLonge, the vocalist/guitarist of local punk band Take-Off, took it upon himself to curate a Spotify playlist of homegrown punk bands, which will give you a taste of OG punk music in Singapore.
Bob also shared with Hear65 about the process of creating the playlist:
What made you start this playlist for punk rock in SG?
A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking to a good friend of mine, Shahreil Aziz (of Rancour and Hardihood fame) about the lack of distribution channels for local punk rock in Singapore today. Although a lot of local punk rock bands are on Spotify and other streaming services, most people do not know about them, either because punk rock isn’t as popular as it was back in the early 2000s, or because the bands are limited in only being able to market via their own social media channels to their specific group of fans/followers. I started this playlist to bring together all the punk rock bands that I know into one playlist, and shared it widely so that people could check out the different musical offerings of the local punk rock scene in a streamlined way. Spotify makes it easy to create playlists and share them, and a lot of people listen to music via Spotify these days, so I figured it’d be a good way to ignite or perhaps re-ignite interest in a genre of local music that is oft-overlooked but is no less an important part of the artistic fabric of Singapore.
What was your thought process behind picking these songs?
I picked a mix of bands old and new because the punk scene doesn’t exist in a vacuum - but owes a debt to the bands that have come before us and laid the foundations. Punk Rock as a genre is pretty diverse - it doesn’t just comprise one style or one sound. Within it, it includes an array of sub-genres including Oi! (Skinhead Roots and Hardcore), Ska (Jamaican upbeat Reggae) and Hardcore-Punk, alongside melodic-punk, skate-punk, pop-punk, emo-punk, and everything in between. The good thing is that our local scene reflects this diversity as well, and I did my best to pick punk rock bands who all play similar-ish sounding music and that relate to one another, yet reflected enough variety to keep it interesting for people who are listening. I did also have to consider things like “flow” when curating it, to make sure that the songs kinda melded with one another in a seamless sort of way. I reckon that makes it a more pleasurable listening experience, and was something I considered when picking the songs and deciding the order.
With your experience playing in a band, is there something you feel is unique about SG's punk rock music?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Not because I don’t think there’s anything unique but because it’s hard to express and articulate in words. I guess the diversity of musical stylings within punk rock in Singapore is something quite unique. And the diversity present within the scene speaks a lot about who we are as people. We’re really rojak (mixed) in that sense but that’s who we are. Within the diversity, you might not find one coherent style, one coherent sound, or one coherent idea - but the diversity itself produces something unique - that is still somehow possible to be different from one another but yet to co-exist and share in the same experience of music.
Keep a lookout for future volumes of Punkadelia to come. Perhaps in your listening process, you may find yourself falling in love with Singapore's punk music too.