Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tools of the Trade Interview

In the limited number of shows that I've been to since getting back to Malaysia, grindcore assassins Tools of the Trade have been a constant presence, gigging regularly and serving as local grind ambassadors to visiting foreign bands like the Arson Project.  Guitarist/vocalist Tiong, bassist/vocalist Emi, and drummer Ian Han alternate between jagged rhythms and bursts of pure napalm. The band recently finished their first European tour, as well as an appearance at the Czech Obscene Extreme Fest. I e-mailed some questions to the band, which Emi was kind enough to answer.

DoC: Please give a short history of the band for anyone who is not familiar with you.

Well this is Emi, the bass player. The band itself was founded in Kluang (a small town in Johor) by Tiong and friends back in 2004. After a few years, the band went on to have line-up changes and what's left now is me, Tiong on guitar duty and Ian taking care of the snare, pedals and whatever's necessary. As for myself I did two releases with them, the DEFY full length CD and a split CD with BUSUK (Indonesia). The latest split 7” with Kuala Lumpur’s COMPULSION TO KILL is almost ready to be unleashed (by the time you’re reading this), so you can probably expect some total grind. Well, destruction.

DoC: How would you describe your music... without using standard words like "grindcore" or "metal?"

Three handsome guys scream in anger as a response towards whatever they think about punks, politics and social shits.

DoC: Tools of the Trade recently finished their first European Tour.  What were the crowds like? Any crazy stories?

We returned to Kuala Lumpur after the "Defiling Europe Tour" safely in one piece, apparently to haters. What we’ve seen along the way is the crowd [in Europe] is more or less the same with whatever we’re having in Malaysia right now. They did mosh when we played, no big difference with shits that is happening in Malaysia as well. And we didn’t expect them to do ‘unusual’ or ‘out of mind’ stuff for us as well. We’re just ordinary fellas.

Talking about quantity or show capacity wise, I think one of the most insane experiences that we’ve been through is obviously the Obscene Extreme Fest 2012. A 3-day festival with no sound check provided, crowds like a gallon of water, crazy people and superfriends, etc everywhere! As per usual, we screwed up our sound but what matters most when you manage to play with your favourite bands? It is so inspirational that it's hard for you to even believe that you’ve scraped it, like totally.

DoC: Very few Malaysian bands have gotten a chance to play overseas, much less do full tours.  Are you feeling any pressure to represent the local scene?

Pressure? No, not really. Putting on us the whole responsibility to represent the Malaysian Scene was totally not right. There are tons of bands here, not just us, that I believe are worth checking out.

DoC: How important is the DIY ethic to your band?

If you have some corporate shits in alliance with you to get a show done, we’re not up for it. You know that.

DoC: What sort of themes does your latest album
Defy explore?  Who or what is it that Tools of the Trade "defies?"

Well, I think basically we don’t have any specific “theme.” That was just a plain exploration towards our point of view in whatever reflects on us at large. As being human itself comes with countless possibilities and capabilities, we’d like to defy whatever we no longer agree with.

DoC: How does Defy compare with your previous album Pulse?

Tone wise, Defy seems to be harsher and on-the-go kind of, while Pulse goes technical with a strong death metal vibe in it, I may say. Pulse was on the analogue format while Defy was digital, if that counts. Haha!

DoC: Tools of the Trade has a two-vocalist style.  What led you to having two vocalists?  How do you divide up the vocal parts?

Diversity, that’s it. One is doing the high pitch and the other one growls the clear notes. We make this up in the song construction process itself.

DoC: If you had to play a gig with only construction tools, what would you choose instead of guitar, bass, and drums?

I’ll be armed with equipment for DJ-ing purpose, Tiong will be messing around with synthesizers and Ian will be having fun with the kompang. You are going to have the new COMBICHRIST!

DoC: What’s next for Tools of the Trade?

As has been said, we’re going to have a split with Kuala Lumpur's COMPULSION TO KILL. One of the most prominent grindcore acts around. And we will still be around to play some RM10.00 shows, most regular in Rumah Api. If you’d like to check us out, come and say hi!

DoC: Any final comments?

Thanks to you, Adrian for this interview. Stay wrong, don’t believe your right, don’t fear your left, defy your fucking limits and we’re here at See you soon.

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Tools of the Trade's newest release, a split-CD with grIndonesians Busuk, is out now and available here and here.  DoC will be covering Tools of the Trade at the Singapore Deathfest 2012 on September 1st and at the What the Heck Festival in Kuala Lumpur on September 2nd.