They Will Be Heard: An interview with Ogoshi Rebels

Born from their love of 80s hardcore, Kuala Lumpur hardcore act Ogoshi Rebels have been flying the flag for international DIY punk for a few years now. Taking the sonic pummelling and chaotic energy of Bad Brains and dosing it with the fuel and fire of Hatebreed’s metal-tinged fury, they’ve rarely left a venue unturned. Having just released their new 5-song EP, we spoke to guitarist Paul Stewart about their formation, sound, and what it’s like being a hardcore band in Malaysia’s capital.  

Tell us a little bit about the Ogoshi Rebels, where you guys are from and how you all met.

Paul: Well, I started the band late 2017, September or October I think. I’ve been pretty busy playing with another punk band called, The Hiroshima Lovers (still currently playing). During this period of time, we had a pretty long break and I still wanted to go out there and play live music. But this time I just wanted to play aggressive music. I guess I could’ve started a metal band but I suck balls on the guitar and decided to write music which is kinda catchy and fast. Lucky enough, we’re all from, Kuala Lumpur and basically most of us met at gigs. I’ve met, Ran (guitar) Sara (vocals) and Shreq (Drums) around 10, 11 years ago. That time of course we were all playing in different bands. I’ve met, Mukhriz (Bass) when I started playing with, The Hiroshima Lovers two years back. My mate, Bax takes over the bass once in a while. I met him many beer drinking years ago…around 15 years I think.

How did you get into punk and hardcore? 

Paul: I started getting into punk and hardcore when I was living in, Indonesia, Jakarta. Around 1992-ish… Yes I’m old but young at heart. I actually got into Metal first which was introduced by my old, Polish friend, Michael Drzewiecki. Me and my brother were blown away when Michael was playing Slayer, Kreator and Metallica on his stereo. Later the whole grunge thing came in. Everyone was listening to, Nirvana and that pretty much started me getting into, punk. I think the first punk album I bought, would be, Punk in Drublic by NOFX. I think the first time I heard some hardcore music would be from watching MTV when they had Headbangers Ball. I believe it would have been one of Bio-Hazard’s music vids. But the first hardcore album I got was Sick Of It All’s Scratch the Surface. This basically started me off into the whole punk/hardcore thinghy.

How is the scene in Malaysia?

Paul: The scene in, Malaysia is actually pretty fuckin good! We’ve actually got bands that cover just about every rock to metal genre out there. I’m surprised myself. There are so many bands over here. I keep seeing different band names on flyers all the time. In just about every state, there would be a known live venue where most gigs would be held. You could bet that there is always something going on every weekend. Just in Kuala Lumpur, you’re probably looking at 3 to 5 shows a week. But of course, I can’t compare to the scenes in America, Europe or even Australia. It’s heaven for us over there. Things would be even better if we were able to bring in bands from overseas…Well, we are, but only if the organizer has cash to splash. Permits are very expensive here which limits our chance to bring in touring bands. There are other ways but, I’ll just keep that to myself (*laughs*).

You guys do things DIY- how is it in Malaysia- playing shows, recording, touring?

Paul: When I first got back home, the scene in, KL was kickin’ off pretty hard. But at the end of the day like most places, if ya got cash, then you could just rent the space, or any other live venue with the backline. And with whatever connections you have within the music scene, just start inviting bands. These days it’s pretty much knowing people in the scene. Gig organizers, guys who own the live venues, bands and people who are basically active in the scene. Sometimes to get the ball rolling, you would probably have organized your own gig’s to get your name out there. The longer you are in the scene, the more connections you know. Eventually, you get to know enough people to organize or play gigs around, Malaysia.

For recording, there are those who would record by themselves or if ya have the budget, record in a proper studio. With one of my old bands, we actually recorded the whole album in my band member’s spare room. It was quite a fun experience. But these days, recording studios give out pretty good and affordable deals for bands. For packaging, again, there are guys in the scene who can hook you up with good deals for the CD printing/packaging and merchandise. Just need to save some cash in the band fund and your set.

Is it easy at all though, for say a kid looking for different music to find punk in Malaysia?

Paul: Most definitely. The music scene is huge! So many different types of bands across the country. And to find punk music? Not a problem. If ya in, KL, check out a live venue called, Rumah Api. Punk bands from around the globe play at this venue.

Listen to “Slither” from their new EP:

Tell us a little bit about the new EP- how did the songwriting go for this release?

Paul: Before I started the band, I wrote three songs already. I just wanted to make the songs easy to play and as catchy as possible. During jam sessions, I’ll show the guys the riffs and they would put some ideas in for the songs.

And the recording?

Paul: We were on a very tight budget and to be honest, I didn’t want to spend so much time in the recording studio. I just wanted things to be straight forward. The perfect guy and studio for this was a guy named, Mokhtar. He runs a recording studio called, I Seek Music Studio. The recording session was very basic. What we did was we recorded the main part of the song live. One guitar, bass and drums. We did this over and over again until we decided which recording was the best. Then later on top of that, we layered the second guitar and vocals. The rest, Mokhtar worked his magic. We didn’t even do any mixing for the final tracks. I wanted the sound of each track to be a bit raw.

Listening to the record, I get a sense you guys have a love for some of that brutal 80s hardcore- were there some bands you guys drew inspiration from for this record?

Paul: Yea for sure! Bands like, Black Flag and Bad Brains. We just love that aggressive energy these guys give. We try to be as active as possible when we perform too. We’re all inspired by different types of punk and metal music. We just play what we feel sounds good to us but at the same time, try to keep it as punk/ hardcore as possible.  

What’s next for 2019 now that the EP is out there?

Paul: Well, we just want to play as many shows as possible. Pimp out the EP and sell as much merchandise as we can. We just want to play most of, Malaysia first before we start planning out to go to other neighboring countries.

Ogoshi Rebels’ self-titled EP is available now. Get in touch with the band to see how you can pick up a copy.

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