Penang Underground Scene Report by Azim Network Fanzine, circa 97/98
*found and “rescued” from this link, an ancient angelfire website account, owned and ran by one named Azim who used to edit a fanzine called Network while he was studying at the USM there. There were no pictures accompanying the article, so if you see pixs on this one, that’s me adding a bit of colour to the paragraphs.
Penang Underground Scene
by Azim Network
Okay, okay. I know that I am from Kuala Lumpur, so I should write up a report of the KL scene instead of the Penang scene, right? Well, actually, I am not writing up the KL scene in here for a few reasons.
Firstly, I think the KL scene is fucked up. The kids in KL are no longer united, and I don’t like the place anymore. Secondly, I’ve been living here in Penang for the past three years, and probably I’ll be staying here for another three years. The underground kids here are far more friendlier and united. They have been good hosts to me throughout my stay here, and I am very much in support of the scene here. This is why I feel obliged to focus on the Penang scene than the KL scene.
Anyway, KL is much too big for me to focus on. Too many bands and zines and far too many activities. The only way to get a good KL scene report done is doing a report based on area (in my KL area, Bukit Damansara, it is too pathethic for me to even call there is a scene!). And so, here I am giving you a Penang scene report. Sorry if I missed a few infos here and there, or I make mistakes, or not updated etc, but for now, this is a good guide on what is happening in Penang nowadays.
Penang, a small island located at the Malacca Straits, has always been a major tourist guide. There are many attractions in Penang, from it’s legendary nasi Kandar to the historical buildings to it’s never-ending shopping parades, visitors for far and near come and enjoy themselves on this small island. And here too, the underground scene has slowly but surely paved it’s way into the hearts and minds of the Penangites.
Even though it may not be as big or as active as the scenes in other big cities like KL or Johor Bahru, but the state of the scene is here qualifies (in my book) as “cool”. Everyday, more and more people from the underground community is taking an active part in the scene, and getting involved, and the number of the underground supporters have risen tremendously since it’s early days. The kids here are far more united than most other u/g kids in other places, and this is what makes the scene here so cool. Most Penang punks, HC, metalheads hang out together and work with one another. Every Sunday, around 5 to 7 pm, the Penang punks, HC kids, skinheads, even metal fans gather at Komtar, in front of McDonalds.
Sometimes, you can catch them at other places like the Komtar walking area (where Penang skaters skate), or at Mutiara Food Court, or at Bukit Jambul Shopping Complex, or Chowrasta, or even Gurney Drive. Even though there are some ill-feelings among some groups here, but on the whole, the atmosphere here is still “friendly” and “united”. In most other scenes in Malaysia, you can’t even get the punks and skinheads in the same AREA, much less in a whole fucking building!
INCUBATED FACTORY plays techno grind death with Napalm Death, Carcass, Sepultura etc as their influence. Have been quiet for some time now. NO ONE’S PERFECT (NOP) is an emocore band here containing members of Incubated Factory (Fahmy – guitars), ARM IN ARM (Emri – drums) and SLAP JAW (Ian – bass). Played two shows so far (one in Klang, one in KL). Address:
Wan, 2016 Sg. Dua, 13800 Butterworth, Penang.
As for ARM IN ARM (emo-fuelled, progressive HC), the band has 2 vocals, Chen and Lee with influences from Snapcase, Minor Threat, Abhinanda and Shelter. Contact Emri to ask whether the band is still active at:
Emri, 324 Jalan Heah Seng Whatt, 12000 Butterworth Penang.
SLAP JAW was an old school band, and known as the first Penang HC band to perform in KL (Picaddily, June ’96, if I’m not mistaken). I used the word “was” because the band is no longer active.
SHOCKED is a mincecore + crust + grindcore + noise + punk band with influences from Agathocles, Disrupt, Hiatus and Napalm Death. They are probably “one of the best bands in Malaysia” (no kidding!). In No Solution Zine #1 recently, Agathocles was interviewed and confirmed, without a doubt, that Shocked is a “killer band!”. They have a demo out called “War Against War”, while Ari is also involved in an atmospheric band called SILENCE ENSHROUD which have released a “promo rehearsal 97” demo entitled “And The Silence Begins”. Add:
Ari, No. 2-16 Blk 2, Lorong Damai 6, Taman Permata, 14000 Bukit Mertajam or Jan, 829 MK 19, Mengkuang, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang.
VERTICAL SPEED is quite well-known as Vinh (vox/ guitar) is an old-timer punk here and have been in previous bands like DISH, THE SCEPTICS and SUNBURN. His latest band has just released their debut album “Motions Of Sound”, and describes their music as “psychadelic stones” (sounds like indie-noise to me).
Anyway, get in touch with them at 36A 12 12A Taman Teguh, Gerbang Erskin, 10470 Penang, or email: email@example.com.
The biggest punk band here, ACID RAIN (hardcore punk) has gone through many problems, but they have managed to stay alive, albeit gone through some line-up changes. 2 demos to their credit, “Atmostfear” and “Chaos May 13th”, they also sell some t-shirts.
Add: Nordin, 914 Block H, MK 12, Sg. Tiram, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
DNA plays oi/ ska in the style of NOFX, Blitz, Last Resort, Sham 69 etc, and they have a demo out. In actuality, the band comes from Sarawak, but the band members are currently in Penang.
Add: G-G 11, Kelisa Apartment, Lorong Kikik 1, Taman Inderawasih, 13600 Perai, Penang.
The band KINDERGARDEN is a hardcore punk band (Misfits, Exploited, GBH as influences) and have a demo called “Simple As 123” to their credit.
Address: Amie, D3-2 Medan Mayang Pasir, Bayan Baru, 11950 Penang.
GAS, another punk band has plans to record an EP soon, so be warned.
MY PET ALIEN (indie/alternative/ grunge) have a demo called “Open Your Ears And Dive In” released some time ago. WASH is also a band here, playing punk rock. Get in touch with
Azrai, 27 Changkat Minden, Jalan 5, Gelugor, 11700 Penang.
We have an all-female band here called MARY JANE but they are pretty quite for some time now.
Black metal band, MISTIK is influenced by Dark Funeral and their lyrics touch upon subjects like occultism and mysticism. They’ll be in Johor at the end of March this year, playing alongside SILENT DEATH and THE BOLLOCKS.
Add: B5-7 Flat Kampung Melayu, 11500 Ayer Hitam, Penang.
NOVATHOR plays atmospheric doom/ darkness metal and have a demo, “Seven Steps To Infernal” out.
Get in touch with them at: Jeff, 25 Kg. Manis, 13600 Prai, Penang.
Meanwhile, occult dark/ grind band DARK PARADISE states their influences are from bands like Rotting Christ, Morbid Angel and Langsuir while their lyrics are NOT about satanism, ritualism etc. Got a promo rehearsal last time I heard,
so for more info, get in touch with: Fuad, 349-A MK-13, 11700 Sg. Gelugor, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Penang.
Another band with a demo out is SUSPICIOUS that plays kinda hip hop + techno + electronic stuffs.. Their demo is called “In The Tradition Of Myth And Legend”, and to get in touch with them, I guess you can use DNA’s address.
There are other bands here worth mentioning like STENCH (hardcore), GEORGETOWN CLICA (hip hop + rapcore), URANIUM (hardcore), CULT HERO (grunge), MINDLESS (death thrash), MANDATORY (metal-HC crossover), ZANY PROBLEMS(psychotronic- cyberpunk-sado-noise-nursery rhymes-whatever), CONCLUSION-X (oi!) and THE RAVAGE (punk/ hardcore).
Here in USM, there has been an upsurge in terms of underground involvement. Some new bands have come up, and have released some recordings. First of all, USM grunge band FUEL INJECTION have released an experimental demo recently. They have plans to have a jamming session at a Penang show at the end of April this year (Sol Penang) alongside The Bollocks and The Pilgrims, but no confirmation yet.
Their address: 36 Pintasan Bahagia 3, 11950 Bayan Baru, Penang.
Other than them, 2 other USM bands, FLUSH (grunge) and SHIFTER (rapcore/ evilcore) have got out a split rehearsal tape earlier this year (1998).
For now, use this address to get in touch with them before I can update any new addresses – Adi, Lot 7157, Jalan Expo Dalam, 34600 Kamunting, Taiping Perak.
In the fanzines sector, there has been quite a few improvements in this area. Lots of new zines have sprung up, and I must say, they are all quite cool! I’ll start off with CURSED ZINE, kinda like an all-rounder zine that supports all genres. The first issue was really thick, with everyone here jokingly referring to the first issue as a “phone book”. It is said that Munawar (the ed) has already finished the long-awaited second issue, but no confirmations as of yet when he will actually fucking release it.
But do get in touch with him and tell him to get off his and release the zine! Address: Munawar, 14 Solok Kg. Jawa 8, Bayan Baru, 11950 Penang or Syamsul, 25 Lintang Bkt. Kecil 2, Taman Sri Nibong, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
BRUTAL NOISE is more to metal, but last I heard, this one is already RIP. Ari (of Shocked) is now doing a new zine called KILL YOUR IDOL which is in it’s first issue. Mainly caters to metal crust, grind etc Ari is also doing a distro, so get in touch with him using the Shocked address. Black metal zine GRAIN SEPARATOR has been really quiet since releasing their first issue (back in 96), and I don’t know when the second issue is coming out,
but do get in touch with them at: Wan Black, 52 Lebuh Mayang Pasir, Bandar Bayan Baru, 11950 Penang or Vladd, 20 Lebuh Nibung, Bandar Bayan Baru, 11950 Penang.
CHAOTIC MESS zine is also in it’s first issue, with the zine concept being open to all musical genres.
Contact Muhammad Syukur, 3851 Mukim 12, Sg. Ara, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang or second editor Hazrizan Hamat, 6A-1-5 Persiaran Mayang, Pasir 5, 11950 Bandar Bayan Baru, Penang.
A cool new punk zine here, ARRGH! has got their first issue out recently, and the editor also has some stuff on sale.
Get in touch with Ahmad Rohaizi (Alang Rixie) at: C-10-4 Taman Bukit Jambul, Jalan Tun Dr. Awang, Off Jalan Sg. Nibong Kechil, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
STRANGE zine has also got their first issue out, which is a more opinion-oriented zine than others. The second issue will not be out by long.
Add: Ahmad Izhar, 52 Lengkok Siakap 3, Seberang Jaya, 13700 Penang.
Currently, both the editors of Strange and Arrgh! is working closely together for a new zine called REVOLUSI, so do get in touch with them. Also, both of them still sell their respective experimental issues. A veteran Georgetown skater called Pa’din is now involved in a cool skatezine called SANDWICH, but he is now mostly based in Selangor (where the other zine editor lives). The zine is now gonna release it’s third issue soon.
Add: Pa’din, No. 135 Jalan SS14/1A Subang Jaya, 47500 Petaling Jaya, Selangor or (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now, to the USM scene.. Basically, other than my own zine NETWORK, a new zine has released it’s first issue, called SOUL EDGE. Even though the editors call it a newsletter, but don’t believe that. it’s format is basically into zine format, kinda like my first issue. Unfortunately, after the first issue, the 2 editors have split up into 2, with first editor Zofrain (Bruce) now doing a new zine called LOPSAO zine while the second editor Edaffi (Ji Fat) continuing with Soul Edge.
So, for now, to get in touch with the editors, the addresses are (for Lopsao zine): Zofrain, 1572 Lorong Mawar Merah, Taman Sultan Badlishah, 05050 Alor Setar, Kedah and (for Soul Edge zine): 655-2, Km. 10, Jalan Daing Tawi, telok Mas, 75460 Malacca.
Even though the USM scene has seen a growth these past few years, but unfortunately, not many USM kids are getting in touch with the Penang undergrounders. But recently, things have improved in terms of communication between the Penangites and the USM undergrounders where more kids are getting in touch with one another. Hand in hand, I’m sure they can all grow more positively in the future by working together.
Well, I guess this pretty much covers the Penang scene. Still, I don’t doubt that I may have missed a few bits and pieces about the scene here or some of the info is not updated, but for a general guide to what is currently happening in the Penang scene, I guess this report would be sufficient enough. All in all, I guess you can say that things are really taking off in Penang. Gigs are still not as much as I’d like it to be, but one problems of organizing gigs here is the fact that the venue ownerrs here (and the cops) are all bloodsucking motherfuckers who want too much profits and money, thus causing a majority of the gigs held here in Penang are very high-priced. If I were to compare, I would say that the door-prices to Penang gigs (on average) are more expensive than all other gigs in Malaysia. But hopefully, we’ll see more cheaper gigs in the future. Keep yer fingers crossed..
Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to get in touch with me to criticize, add, correct, ask, and so on if you have any concerns about the Penang scene. Until then, I hope you will give out your support to the undergrounders here.. Remember, we’re all in this together.. PEACE..