An Exclusive Interview With A Rock Band ‘The Occupiers’
13 August, 2008 – London, UK [CG Note: The Occupiers, a rock band based in the UK, wowed and rocked the crowd at Chin National Day celebration in London and recently at a fund-raising concert for victims of the Nargis cyclone in Burma.
The band’s frontman Thang Kim talks to Van Biak Thang of Chinland Guardian about the band, how it was formed, their music and plans for the future and more.]
Chinland Guardian: When was the band formed and how did it start?
The Occupiers: It started a few years back when I met Thar Oo (Vocalist/Composer) in London. We were looking for a drummer and a bassist to form a full band. Finally, we formed a band and it was called ‘Ivy’. We played for 2006 Water Festival (Thingyan) Gig but unfortunately things didn’t work out so we broke up. I then looked for more reliable band members to form the present band in Feb 2008. Luckily, I’ve found some talented musicians.
Chinland Guardian: Who are the band’s members and what are they playing?
The Occupiers: The band is comprised of four members:
Thar Oo – Vocalist/Composer: He is a very talented singer/songwriter and currently working on his composition which is dedicated to the Nargis Cyclone Victims. All the musicians from UK have involved in this occasion. He will start his Music Production course at the ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music) in September 2008.
Lian Pu – Bassist: He will speak to you through his instrument. He is a very energetic player and able to play all kinds of genre. Sadly, he will move to Manchester to do a Pharmacy course, but he will still be with the band and carry on doing what he loves: MUSIC.
Jerry Lynn Htun – Drummer: He is mainly influenced by rock, and has done a lot of music works in Sit Tway, Burma many years ago. He got involved in Burmese Water Festival (Thingyan) celebration with the ‘Nox’ band in 2007 and 2008.
Kim – Vocalist/Guitarist/Composer: He is currently doing a degree in Contemporary Music Performance that he will become the first person ever to achieve Contemporary Music Performance Degree from Burma. He is now working on his solo album and Burmese Christian Gospel music album.
Chinland Guardian: Nowadays, more music bands seem to have a female member in their bands. What’s your opinion about it and any plan to have a female singer in the band?
The Occupiers: Oh yah, that’s true. Evanescence’s Amy Lee has proved that a female singer can rock as a guy rocker. However, it’s very hard to find a female rocker and we have no plan to have one at the moment.
Chinland Guardian: How did you come up with the name ‘The Occupiers’ and what does it stand for?
The Occupiers: Well, it reflects our current situation as we live in the UK. We’re not from here but only occupying in this country.
Chinland Guardian: In February, 2008, the band played well for Chin National Day celebration in London. As a music band, how was it like?
The Occupiers: Thank you! It went OK I would say. The band wasn’t really happy with the venue as it wasn’t good and big enough for live concert especially when you’re playing loud music. I was very proud to be part of it as a player and as being ‘Chin’. That probably was one of the best celebrations we have seen in London. We offered the best foods, music and most of all we have shown what our culture is all about.
Chinland Guardian: We have heard that the band recently played for a fund-raising concert for victims of the Nargis Cyclone. Did it go well and how was it different from other concerts?
The Occupiers: It went quite OK despite the fact that we didn’t do any sound check whatsoever. Nobody should be that brave to perform without sound check (laughing). It could have been a lot better. We, the band, were fully prepared but our precious time was stolen by the equipment hire company as they sent us the wrong equipment. It was painful, but we got through in the end.
Despite those, we sent the most important message to the cyclone victims: “You’re not alone; we’re trying to help you”. Once again, we are very proud to be part of this incredible event and very pleased with the band involvement.
Chinland Guardian: Who were your musical influences?
The Occupiers: Oh, we were inspired by most post-grunge bands like Creed (American), Breaking Benjamin (American), Nickelback (Canadian), Seether (South African) and so on. But we all are a big fan of Iron Cross (Burmese).
Chinland Guardian: Er … what kind of music is that?
The Occupiers: ‘Nirvana’ introduced subgenre of Alternative Rock called ‘Grunge’ in the early 90’s. At that time, ‘Speed Metal’, ‘Trash Metal’ and Long-guitar solo songs were the most popular ones. Nirvana’s frontman Kurt Cobain has basically thrown them in the bin by simply playing a hand-full of chords with a catchy melody and his distinctive voice. After ‘Nirvana’, there are lots of bands sounded like them coming out and they were labelled as ‘Post-Grunge’ bands.
Chinland Guardian: Burma’s famous band Iron Cross was reportedly said to have turned down to play in some gigs but have their own choice of stand in which to perform. Will you have the same opinion on that and why?
The Occupiers: It depends really, but we will try to gig as much as possible and very happy to accept any offer. But it will be loud as we mainly play rock.
Chinland Guardian: What are you currently up to and what activities have you got to do in the near future?
The Occupiers: We are very proud to say that ‘The Occupiers’ is the only Burmese band in the UK doing original materials. We all are currently working on our first album. I’m also doing my own Christian Music Album. All originals, No covers! My band and I have a plan to gig with some other Burmese bands in the UK such as ‘Creed Society’ and ‘The Nox’ which has never been done before. Hopefully, we can do that in December this year. It will be so much fun to see all three bands playing together on the same stage.
Chinland Guardian: So, are you guys against what is known in Burma as ‘copied version’ of songs and music? How important it is to you to have ‘own tunes’ rather than ‘copied ones’ and could you tell us more about the style of music you play?
The Occupiers: Oh C’mon! Where can you find your real talent if you’re copying someone else’s stuff? Our music may sound like Creed, Nickelback or whatever but you know what – we are doing our own materials. We would strongly encourage youngsters to do originals to improve our Burmese music industry standard as we believe only original materials can show the real ability of the artist.
Chinland Guardian: What was the most difficult time the band has came cross so far and how did you guys deal with it?
The Occupiers: Of course, like other bands, we do have issues within the band such as lack of personal practice. Someone may turn up to the band practice and say: “I haven’t really learned the songs yet”. We believe ‘communication’ is the key and always try to solve the problems out.
Chinland Guardian: Where do you see yourselves in five years time? What do you hope for and for your music?
The Occupiers: We do hope that our music will make a good impact on current Burmese music industry. I personally will be working in UK music industry as an artist and music teacher before I go back to Burma. But only God knows where we’re going.
Chinland Guardian: Have you got any websites or blogs where fans can get to you and try some of your music and songs?
The Occupiers: We have our own official website on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/occupiers. To become an officially recognised band, we still got to join Musician Union and do some registrations.
Chinland Guardian: Message to the fans out there…
The Occupiers: Thank you for your support. We are putting every single effort to release our first album which will come out next year. Please feel free to suggest, comment and email to us at [email protected] Thank you all so much.
Chinland Guardian: Thank you so much for your time and answers.
The Occupiers: Thank you, Chinland Guardian, for this opportunity to convey our musical thoughts and ambition to the people.