Malaysian alternative rock band OAG returns to the music scene with brand new members and is set to release their upcoming new album as well.
Currently made up of members Radhi (vocals), Nizam (guitars), Azam (drums), Nazrin (bass guitar), and Izmer (keyboard) – the band has finally released their latest single “BawahTanahAir” which has been written since 2006.
At the launch of their latest album’s lead single at Warner Music Malaysia recently, lead singer of the band, Radhi, talked about the inspiration and journey behind “BawahTanahAir” song which was kept in the shadows for quite some time.
The lyrics of your new song seem a bit political, what are you trying to convey?
What I’m trying to say is that regardless of our race, we should compromise with each other. It doesn’t matter if we come from different political parties because we are all servants of Allah. So, even if we fight and argue among each other, it is pointless because we will all have to leave this world sooner or later.
The political issues of late are straining everyone. As a patriotic person, I hope the opposition and the government would stop their brawls and unite. Our country is too small; we have no room for fighting. When I look at my country right now, it seems so chaotic and messy.
So, the bottom line is we are all the same, so there’s no point in fighting. I know it’s hard to make them understand, but all we can do now is pray – pray for a better country and a better future.
I admit that the message I’m trying to deliver is a bit John Lennon-ish, but that is what I’m trying to convey. We need to change.
The song was written quite a few years ago. So when you first wrote it, what was exactly on your mind?
I was first inspired to write the song when I saw the cover page of Mahathir’s book “The Malay Dilemma”. I didn’t read the book, I only read the synopsis at the back of the book and got an idea. That was back in 2005 and it actually had nothing to do with what is happening right now but surprisingly, it became relevant. The lyrics had gone through many changes. If I released the song with the original lyrics though, I might end up in jail. [laughs]
So, I changed the lyrics and made it sound more diplomatic. I wish that the government and opposition would reunite and make Malaysia a peaceful and prosperous country.
How much of changes did the lyrics needed to go through?
A lot! Probably around 60 to 70 per cent. I will soon upload the original version of the song on YouTube sometime later.
Did you decide to change the lyrics yourself or were they requests from others?
It was actually my own choice. Humans are fickle so that’s why. [laughs] The first time I wrote it, the title of the song was “Puitis Bawah Tanah Air”, and then in 2007 I changed it again to “British D’Bawah Tanah Ayer”. In 2010, I changed it again to “Di Bawah 1 Tanah Air”, and at last the title becomes what it is today.
The truth is the lyrics changes every time I change band members! [laughs]
So, I decided to release the song now because I have kept it for too long and I think now is the appropriate time. But it wasn’t my intention for the song to be related to the political situation right now, it is just coincidentally related. Because in the song I mentioned about drugs, so I was actually talking about myself. I was writing about what is happening around me. So, this is not a political song, it is a patriotic song.
Why did you decide to return to the music scene after being gone for so long?
After I was released from the Pengasih rehab centre in 2012, I started to perform small shows with my new band members. I started back from zero by performing gigs at local bars and clubs, because I feel that I need to give more exposure to the new band members.
Thankfully, all the new members are very disciplined and well-behaved. All of them are students from ASWARA. So far, I think they are the best and I also learned a few things from them, as you all know – discipline-wise – I am quite the troublemaker.
Sadly, I have to admit it and I am currently trying to fix this attitude of mine. So, it’s a good thing that my band members are all very strict, despite being so young.
After 10 years apart from your previous album, how do you think you have change musically over the years?
Actually, I am still experimenting because 10 years is a long gap and I can’t continue doing what I used to do previously. So, I have to cater to what the fans of today’s generation want from my music. That is why I said that I learned a lot from my new band members as they are all still in their 20s, and their influences are different from mine, so they provided me with a few references.
What I can say is that – it is a little bit different if you compare to my old songs, but for the singing style and lyrical-wise they are all still the same.
How far long is the production of your new album right now?
We already have 10 songs which are still in demo. This October, we will start recording in the studio. Some of the songs were written before and after I entered Pengasih. Also, most of the songs in this album are about hopes and dreams.
I am unable to confirm the release date of my album because I am not the type who records it once and then straight away releases it. I am quite a perfectionist – I will make sure that the 10 songs are meeting all the quality standards before releasing them. Well, it’s been 10 years, so of course people will be expecting the best from our newest album.