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Punk Friend Interview: Anugrah Esa

Dear punks and hardcore fellows, perhaps I should have written more on our lovely SWNK but I am stuck with daily routines and I have problem remembering stuffs. Alright, so here is what happened recently in Jakarta: First off, a well-known crust-punk band called TRAGEDY stopped by to our boring city last month. It is good that more and more foreign bands are starting to consider South East Asian countries including Indonesia as their tour destination so I say keep ‘em coming! If you are in a band and you are reading this right now, please write INDONESIA in your tour agenda. Secondly, not long before TRAGEDY, SICK OF IT ALL were also doing show here and it was a blast for most of us here, well except for those who want to get in for free. Then if you are familiar with an extreme underground festival called OBSCENE EXTREME (which originally held in the great Czech Republic), it so happened that this festival took place in Jakarta. Tons of great foreign Grindcore bands were chosen to participate in this huge event. Bands like AGATHOCLES (Belgia), UNHOLY GRAVE (Japan), ROTTEN SOUND (Finland), BIRDFLESH (Sweden), TOUCHED BY NAUSEA (South Africa), WUU (Vietnam), SARJAN HASSAN (Malaysia), and NAHU (South Korea) are some of the bands who played. Unfortunately though, my ears could not swallow this kind of music so instead of going to the two day Grindcore event, I chose to be somewhere else (my friend’s wedding party). Again, I lose many punk points from dressing up like an important goof and attending a wedding party. Hell, they do not even have an open bar so I could not even get drunk… What a bummer. Anyway, I am happy to say that this year might be the best one yet for us Jakartans because I heard rumors that WARCRY and YOUTH OF TODAY are coming! Wooohooo!

Yesterday, my little cousin asked me if I have “friend interview” on facebook… Friend interview, huh? I have no intention for having it and I have no idea what that is so for those of you who are in the same boat with me, “friend interview” is basically an application that lets you answer questions about your friend randomly from your friend’s list and apparently it sends you spams regularly as well (at least that is what I read from Google). This application inspires me to do a REAL Friend interview because we do not need some commercialized, spam-oriented application to let us find out more about our friend, do we? That being said, let me introduce you to a prominent punk figure from Jakarta, the one and only: Mr. Anugrah Esa [insert an ugly handclap meme here]. Now, I do realize that Esa is no Keith Morris, Dick Lucas, or Marko Korac but he is my Friend and this is going to be a “Friend Interview” so until I become friend with famous band members, you guys and girls will have to deal with it. [Extra note: speaking about Marko Korac, Vitamin X went to Indonesia several years back and it was legendary for us. Couple of years since then, Hardcore Punk was suddenly became a “thing” again in Indonesia.]

Esa is a fine looking 30 years old dude hailing from Indonesia. He spent more than half of his life learning, contributing, and living punk with no sign of stopping. At the age of 21, he started listening to bands like Mob47, Marjinal [read: Marginal], and Bunga Hitam [read: black flower]. Actually, he started listening to punk like waaaay before that but he told me not to write about it [*gigglebarf ]. Well…  of course I am going to write it! Hah! When he was drunk, he admitted that before he knew about Mob47 and all the recognized oldschool hardcore punk bands, he was collecting records from Green Day, Nirvana, Aqua (Barbie girl, anyone?) and Milli Vanilli; Ok the last two bands I was only guessing but somehow my instinct tells me I could be right. Now here is the big surprise, the most important band that changed his life is neither Green Day nor Mob47, nope…. The most important band for the Great Esa is [drum rolling] Guns N Rosses [rimshot]. Yeeeeuuup… Guns N Rosses played a big role in his life for introducing him to the world of loud music, romantic love and the joy of having long hair, foreign culture, and English language. In the early days, young Esa will grab an English-Indonesian dictionary and study their lyrics for hours so he can understand what they are singing about and that is how he learned English. College life was tough for him so he made an interesting decision: he became Straight Edge. Not because of Youth of Today’s or Banes’ lyrics but because of, well… cigarettes, booze, and drugs are addictive and cost lots of money. He became a “clean” punk for two years but he managed to stop smoking cigarettes for eleven years. What made him smoke again nowadays is his personal secret. In 2008, he moved from Lampung to Jakarta. Since then, he began to be fully committed to the scene. He is currently involved with three bands: Judas Krust, Discolony, and Pecah Kepala [read: exploding head]. He also runs a label called Doombringer Records and continuously making shows for touring bands, domestic and international. Nevertheless, his great contribution to the scene is crucial to the punk development in Jakarta. Here is the dialogue between me and him in a Sunny afternoon:

*I was raising my eyebrows when I watched Esa sipping wine and listening to Katy Perry*

Gary (G): So, Esa, you like Katy Perry? *gigglebarfing*

Esa (E): Oh shut up you lousy schmuck, now that you know my secret, I might have to kill you hahahaha

G: well that escalated quickly hahaha. Seriously though, you like pop music?

E: Yes, because I need some balance you know, I can’t listen to punk all the time *pouring wine*

G: Fair enough. Now tell me more about when you were still at college, is it true that you were Straight Edge for a while?

E: Yes, I was Straight for two years and then I started to drink again, I forgot why hahahaha

G: What bands did you listen to back then? Youth of Today? Bold? Gorilla Biscuit?

E: I listened to Punk and lots of Grindcore stuff back then, like MOB 47, Nasum… ummm what else… I guess I listened to Minor Threat also but not that much.

G: Any locals?

E: Yes, I listened to Bunga Hitam and Marjinal a lot because they have strong messages in their lyric. I was politically active back then.

G: So you were an Anarchist then?

E: No I wouldn’t say that but I joined lots of demonstration which are in favor of Worker and Farmer.

G: Were you into Blac Bloc?

E: Actually I did try but it didn’t suit me….

G: Of course not! You’re more into “Black Label” aren’t you hahahaha

E: hahahaha if only I could afford it… Black Wine is enough for now hahaha

G: Tell me about your label…Doombringer records. What is your favorite release so far?

E: *munching chips* hmmm….. maybe… TEARGAS?

G: Why?

E: Because they are diligent… they played CHAOS IN TEJAS and they tour a lot.

G: Diligent? You mean they study homework, always tidy, and never come late that sort of stuff?

E: You schmuck, it’s the drink maaan… what’s the word I’m looking for here, help me out will ya.. hahaha

G: Hahahaha I think you meant active?

E: Yes. They go on tour often and they are quite productive when it comes to making new albums. Plus, I really like their sound… it’s like they got married with Burning Spirit.. ya know…  Japanese Hardcore stuff

G: Married? Wedding? Gay Marriage then?

E: Jeeeez, you know what I mean, stop with the mind screwing already man, the bunghole hits my head it goes choo choo boom.. *I don’t know what that means but he then became grumpy*

G: hahahaha alright alright, so are you married? Hahahaha

E: Not yet. Why?

G: Nothing, just curious. Do you think being Punk has something to do with you being single?

E: hahahaha yes and no.  Yes because being an active Punk, I’d rather spend my time doing works for my label, bands, and gigs… and that could be a problem as I won’t have enough time for building the relationship, plus I’m pretty liberals and not many girls can dig that. No because nowadays, physical attraction and wealth are what matter the most. Yooo Punk girls, let’s drink Black Wiiiineee hahahaha *sipping and pouring more wine*

G:  Ok I think the topic is too personal, let’s change it. Will you let pop bands enter your label?

E: Like Noah[Noah is a big Indonesian Pop band]? I like Noah.. hahahaha enough about the interview, I need to focus on getting drunk, help me out *pouring wine into Gary’s mug*

G: Any last word?


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