The Boys are Back in Town
The Boys are Back in Town
by Intan Abu Daniel
Hardcore punk band, I Mean The Snakes (IMTS), first made its debut in Brunei in 2006, back when they were an indie pop group influenced by bands like The Killers, Bloc Party, The Knife and Franz Ferdinand. Looking at the evolution of indie bands from that era, it seems that many went through creative struggles, and only in the past few years resurfaced with notable changes in their writing and line-ups. So, how would a small band from Brunei, who once released a super catchy, indie pop album with a vocalist who has many years of experience performing in the UK, fare in comparison?
The band took a long hiatus, mostly because frontman and songwriter Nol left for the UK, but there has never been any question of retirement. In the months before Nol came back to Brunei he was already writing songs for the new IMTS, getting the boys back together, recruiting new ones, so that the moment he stepped back onto Brunei shores, they could go straight to practising and recording their new album. But like the indie bands they took inspiration from back in 2006, they needed a reinvention. So instead of returning to their indie pop roots, they took a 180-degree shift to hardcore punk.
IMTS performing at the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2016 (Images courtesy of the band)
“Well, we tried to go back to the old style, but it didn’t feel right,” Nol explained. “We thought maybe we should look into the roots of punk. I went back to mid-70’s and 80’s Washington DC in my head and listened to punk music from that era. You may not see it right now but hardcore is making a comeback, and we’re confident it’s going to be the next big thing.”
Hardcore punk is what they promise and hardcore punk is what they deliver. The day after this interview they released ‘Tiny Waist’ online and on air in Malaysia – the first single off their upcoming album. At under two minutes, the song is a short burst of frenetic energy; a head-banging and exceedingly catchy joyride through nostalgic 80’s punk.
The band’s hiatus has also resulted in a noticeable maturity in their lyrical content – so while IMTS wants their listeners to fully enjoy the music, they also want them to pay close attention to the lyrics. Nol summed it up: “We’re much more socially aware now. This first single is anti…“
“Anti-Kardashian,” Fadzil chimed in.
“Correct!” Nol continued. “It’s anti-bullying, anti-anorexia. We cover themes about anxiety, depression, mental health. There’s a silver lining in all our songs. This Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) is a perfect conduit for hardcore because hardcore’s in your face all the time, and I’m singing all these lyrics that can become quite chant-y, like a rally, almost.”
As for musical influences, each member has a few:
Spawai: “Misfits and Ramones.”
Tarmizi: “We listen to a lot of Death Grips.”
Nol: “Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bad Brains, even Gorilla Biscuits.”
Tarmizi: “Show Me The Body.”
Spawai: “Texas is the reason, NWA, Wu Tang Clan, Hall and Oates, Weezer.”
Nol: “Title Fight. Some Joy Division.”
Tarmizi: “Taylor Swift.” (Laughter from the band.) “Rihanna!”
Nol: “Black Flag.”
Tarmizi: “Lots of 90’s hip hop, CAN, Fancy. And Radiohead every day.”
Aya: “So true. We’re stuck in the 90’s.”
Tarmizi: “Radiohead just released an album this year. It was so good. I was so happy.”
PMA and choice of music genre notwithstanding, this is a band that sticks to its roots. The original band members Nol (vocals), Aya (lead) and Spawai (rhythm) pulled in Tarmizi to play bass and Fadzil on drums, but the five have known each other and have jammed together long before IMTS was born. They have a chemistry that can’t be faked. That, along with their ability to make great music regardless of genre, is what will make IMTS bigger, and better, than before.
IMTS will be performing live at some local events happening soon! Look out for updates from the band here:
Or check out their music here: https://www.soundcloud.com/imeanthesnakes
Images by Novri Rinaldi