Interview answered by J.Sin of Citizen Useless.
So how’s the hardcore scene in Indonesia?
The hardcore/punk/underground scene in Indonesia is easily the biggest we’ve ever seen. It’s so big because of the economic conditions, the huge gap between the rich and poor and the persistent corruption in the government. The scene is like early 1980’s America here, the young people are pissed off and exploited daily by fat cat bureaucrats, the law and corporations and the scene and the music is where they get to voice their rage. As a result, that draws the crowds and they go nuts. We actually read somewhere that Indonesia may have the largest, most active scene in the world.
What is it that pulled you towards hardcore?
Nothing really pulled us towards hardcore, it’s more that hardcore was a perfect jumping point for us to create our own sound. Since them we have mixed it with punk, rockabilly, surf and more – to get hard edge drunk core. Octo loves hardcore because it can lead to a change in people’s way of thinking and he loves getting the crowd singing along. Dan says that his grandmother forced him to listen to punk records as a child and it grew on him. Furkan says he is punk at heart and the scene has always inspired him because it’s about respect, brotherhood, equality and a do-it-yourself attitude. For me, hardcore’s energy, simplicity, rage and the fact that it can be politically serious as well as insanely fun has always made hardcore my personal magnet… plus I love the challenge of getting my point across in a one minute thirty second song.
You’ve been around a few years and manage to put out material pretty consistently. Is that something you try to do or do you just happen to have a lot of song for releases?
The first album took some time to put together as we were looking for the “CITIZEN sound”. In the end we pretty much had our basic hardcore formula but were still unsatisfied. After a couple of lineup changes we put together the guys we have now and they are a creative force like no other. Dan, Octo and Furkan come to every practice with at least two new song ideas… sometimes even three to five and we make a point of focusing half the practice on developing these songs. Then we head to the studio, lay down demos and see where it goes. That makes for a huge catalog of songs that we then release. So yeah, to answer your question, we discipline ourselves to write new songs every week and that gives us a shitload of songs to release. In fact, our second album is being released on P.I.G. Records soon and we already have about 35 new songs written for split albums and a third album this year as well.
You’ve worked with a few labels; do you try to spread things out instead of being nailed down to one all the time?
Actually, we have only really worked with Uzeless Rekordz, which is a self-made label that I put together because I had hopes that I could release some of my friend’s bands in the future. Then we got lucky and were asked by P.I.G. Records to do a cover of a Dehumanizers song – a seriously AWESOME band by the way – and that paved the way for discussions, some casual emailing between the band and David Portnow and we found that we each liked the others professionalism so we decided to get some more exposure when they asked to help release our second album in the USA. David at P.I.G. has helped us out so much with promotion and has guided us in many other aspects that we will work with him anytime. As for being nailed down to just one, we have no problem with that, but the label needs to be into the music and the scene (like P.I.G.)… we’re not looking to be just another number in a ledger.
Do you find it hard to get out on tour these days?
It’s really hard to get out on tour in Indonesia. Event Organizers for punk can’t pay bands here, which means that if you get a gig, most often YOU have to be the one to pay. Some EOs are cool and they will give you food or some local “anggur merah” (red wine) but most times you pay them so they can afford to pay the rental space and equipment. We really want to get out, into a van and touring The US, Europe or Canada, but it is currently difficult due to not having a name big enough to get other countries to book us or to even get a booking agent to work for us. In the end, it’s usually lots of time spend browsing Facebook and Myspace for anyone advertising a gig… then sending them an email asking if we can get in the lineup. We play because we love the music, but eating and paying rent would be nice someday.
Is there any band you’d really like to play with that you haven’t?
Octo wants to play with NoFX, Social Distortion, Rancid and Green Day.
Furkan wants to play with Los Crudos, The Unseen, Necromantix and Sick of it All.
Dan wants to play with The Dwarves so he can see He Who Cannot Be Named naked in the flesh.
For me, I just want to play with Henry Rollins because his discipline and commitment has always been an inspiration, and playing with Hank Williams III would be cool too. I also agree with Octo… Social Distortion!
It looks like Citizen Useless has been through a few lineup changes. Does the band’s high work rate make it hard on members?
For the past members there were many reasons that they left the band and they were all good reasons for them personally; insane practice schedule that they couldn’t match, One got married and had kids, some just moved on to different styles of music. In the end, they all made their choices and we respected it, every one of them are still good friends and amazing musicians and will always be a part of the band.
You’ve got the song ‘Day of the Dead’, which is really a great song, are you a big horror movie fan?
Hahaha. Many people ask that because of the title but the song’s not about the Romero film. The song is about racism, murder in an unjust war, and a trigger happy Government. But yeah, we love horror films, how can anyone not?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yeah, we just want to say thanks to P.I.G. Records for helping us with “Don’t Die For Lies” and the upcoming second album “The Presidents of the United Mistakes”. Plus, we’d like to let all the punk/hardcore/rockabilly bands out there who are still D.I.Y, that Indonesia is the best place to come if you want to build your fan base. You probably won’t make any money here, but if you’re in it for the music and the experience, come to Jakarta. CITIZEN USELESS and all the bands in the WEST SIDE UNIT Family will be here waiting to open the show for ya and get you drunk. Cheers bros and hos!