Electrico Easing Off The Pedal

Coming back from a 3-year hiatus is never easy for a band even for established veterans such as Electrico. This being a long time in music, as far as trends and people’s tastes in music changing go, but the 3 piece band made their comeback at Music Matters Live look almost seamless.

Time is a major factor during the hectic schedules of the 3 day Baybeats, with almost all the acts playing only one short set. Electrico, returning to Baybeats for the first time since 2008, on the other hand is slated to play two sets, one at the Outdoor Theatre and another smaller set at the Observation Deck in library@esplanade.

Having caught their  performance on the main stage during the first day of the 3- night live shows during Music Matters Live that began on 22 May held at Clarke Quay, UrbanWire caught up with the band on the last day of the music conference and festival. Frontman and guitarist David Tan said, “We are very excited, but very nervous also. It’s about time any way (to come back).”

Added the thirty seven year old, known for Singapore’s 2009 National Day song, “We all needed to do the Singaporean thing lah. We needed to get back to our lives since we had been neglecting a lot of things. I mean Desmond got married, William got a baby and I bought a flat. We needed it because the band was consuming us too much so it was a good break.”

While the original Electrico, called Electric Company in 1996, consisted of the current 3 members – David Tan, bassist Desmond Goh and drummer William Lim Jr -, the group we grew to love, with multiple singles charting the top spot on Singapore radio, also featured guitarist Daniel Sassoon and keyboardist Amanda Ling. But they’ve both left the band in 2008 and 2009 respectively, to focus on other aspects of their lives.

Bassist Desmond Goh commented on the impact of the 2 members leaving, “We changed in terms of the way we play live and in terms of ideas, of course Amanda and Daniel pitched in. But right now, David is the sole songwriter.” David added, “Now that we are back to the so-called original three, the music represents it. We’ve gone back to more straight-up punk, more rock-y music that is more true to the Electrico spirit, as Daniel and Amanda were different musicians.”

“I think after Daniel and Amanda left, we grew tighter as a brotherhood cause it’s a lot simpler lah and more comfortable. We considered getting a sessionist, but he has to really fit into our chemistry.” David continued. Desmond pitched in his thoughts with a laugh, “to find a sessionist to fit our tightness is a bit difficult… I mean ‘cause we have known each other since ’96!”

For a veteran band like Electrico, the question of when the next album’s coming out will always be asked. “We are going to head into the studio in June! It’s quite exciting ‘cause we are getting Stuart Zender from Jamiroquai to produce, and it’s going to be interesting because he is known (mainly) for his funk,” David tells UrbanWire, “but interestingly for his side projects, it’s actually rock and indie so we are hoping to channel that side of him.”

Unlike their relatively low-key sets at Music Matters Live where they played to a modest but enthusiastic crowd at both Main Stage and Fern & Kiwi Bar, their upcoming shows at Baybeats is highly anticipated. Being one of the biggest bands to have come out of Singapore, they are excited for the homecoming feeling that they’re expecting at this year’s edition of annual local music festival, where they will be playing new songs just like those debuted at Music Matters Live during a 45 minutes set.

“We are going to be playing at the (Esplanade) Outdoor Theatre, which coincidentally we played 10 years ago when we played Baybeats for the first time,” said Desmond as he zones out a little, trying to recall their experience.

“You know, it’s kind of like meant to be that we play at the Outdoor Theatre. We haven’t played there since our first time and now that we’re coming back after a break, we are back there again. And they have also upgraded the sound system since!” joked David excitedly.

Music Matters, on the other hand, is more than a festival with acts, it has conferences involving both artistes and people in the music industry. It provides Singaporean musicians a rare chance to interact with these industry people, and also for them to make a connection that might just push them into superstardom. After having reached that status in the homegrown music scene by playing electrifying live shows, the members from Electrico certainly know that.

“Music conferences are not very common, and for it to involve both musicians and industry people is even rarer, so for it to be held in Singapore is a great opportunity for our bands,” added David. Desmond continued, “Every year, there are more and more Singaporean bands playing, so there’s actually a demand for our bands.”

And for Electrico, all they wanted from this year’s Music Matters Live was just a platform to showcase their music again, which they did with all new songs at both their sets. In fact, some of these haven’t even been named or completed with lyrics.

“Our purpose is just to really oil the motor (Singapore colloquialism for start things up again),” said Desmond, to which David then added, “Our priorities have changed since the break, I mean William (who hasn’t spoken a word, even after being queried) has got a kid!  Before that, the band was number one, so I guess the break helped us keep the band in perspective.”

The suave frontman concluded that the band’s no longer as obsessed with making music as they were before the break. “The break reminded us to make sure we always have fun with the band as opposed to constantly pushing our music out and making it our lives. I think this way, at least for us, we are enjoying it more.”

“We are planning a concert, but it’s still in the talks and like what Dave said, we are really just taking it one step at a time. After recording, we will be just taking things as they come, there’s no need to steamroll,” said Desmond.

Ever since the break, Electrico hasn’t only matured as a band, they’ve developed a certain maturity that can only come from a few significant life experiences. Be it getting hitched, or having a new member joining the family, these have changed Electrico from front page touring rock stars to veterans of the local scene just looking to have fun playing music.

That’s not to say that the indie rock band can’t make the headlines again. Their collaboration with British acid jazz band Jamiroquai’s former bassist, Stuart Zender is certainly one to look out for in the coming months. If the songs at their 2 sets during Music Matters Live were anything to go by, their set during Baybeats is set to be an emotional return to the biggest stage of Singaporean alternative music.

About qiguang

Despite being an avid lover of music, Qi Guang can more commonly be found sitting on his lazy boy, with a box of pizza in his hands, catching reruns of Friends on the television. When out of his chair, he's often attending either small local gigs or big international concerts, usually with his camera in tow as he has a passion for capturing musicians at work. While his plans to take over the world with his own brand of guitar music has stalled, he still hopes to one day attend the holy grail of punk music, the Warped Tour. He also intends go on a round-the-world backpacking trip that lasts so long, his parents forget about him and use up so much film taking photos that it will bankrupt him just to process them all. He foresee his subjects going "Why is this weird foreigner still using a camera that can't instantly review the photos?" to which he will reply, "Shut up, I make you look good!" He wants to try all kinds of food but is happiest enjoying a piping hot bowl of Bak Kut Teh [Pork Bone Soup] paired with homemade Ice Milo (there's just too much condensed milk in ones served up by our kopi tiams these days). Before he gets estranged from the internet, follow him at @sonofahan for his weekly weekend football tweets and his not-so-random musings.
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