Superman is Dead : Punk Rock with An Attitude


Superman Is Dead

After nearly 20 years on the road, for them, punk rock is still about saying no and being true to themselves.

Have you ever dug the life of Indonesia’s biggest punk rock outfit? What is it like on a daily basis? Are they still true to what they believe in? Do they really have a good understanding about what punk rock is?

Ask whatever you want, at the end of the day you will still get a positive image of Superman is Dead.

This 100 percent Bali-resident band have been around since the 1990s with their debut album Case 15, a milestone in our local punk rock scene’s history, recorded back in 1997. The members are still the same old dudes who swung around the happy-go-lucky life back in the day — charismatic drummer JRX, flamboyant bassist EkaRock and super good frontman Bobby Kool.

Let us take you back to 2001, 11 years ago. Sometime that year, all of a sudden, Sony Music Indonesia announced they were going to release their first punk rock album produced by a local act.

Jan D. Djuhana — the legendary Sony Music Indonesia icon who discovered Dewa 19, Padi, Glenn Fredly and many other top-notch artists here in Indonesia — thought that this band had the X factor that would shake up the industry.

It was controversial — industry insiders rolled their eyes, thinking that Sony Music Indonesia was making a big mistake by investing money in a punk rock band, while the punk rock scene criticized Superman is Dead for selling out, signing a deal with the capitalist music industry for six albums. But both parties went ahead.

Over the years, this collaboration has managed to silence their critics and provided positive evidence to those who believe that change could be made possible through punk rock.

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Look at them now — five albums, hundreds of gigs, thousands of good times along the road and, this is the most important thing, millions of fans from cities all across Indonesia and a significant amount of international acclaim that has kept their connection with the world’s punk rock scene alive.

“The relationship level is still at the green stage,” chuckles EkaRock. “If we meet, Pak Jan still takes us out for a meal. He knows us well, we still need his love,” adds JRX, also in the same humorous tone.

Well, don’t believe it all until you see how big they are on the Internet. Google anything about them and you will be overwhelmed by the facts you will find.

“We’re still the old Superman is Dead, still playing punk rock. Only our ages have moved forward,” says Bobby Kool. “And we now have a bigger responsibility,” continues EkaRock. The band carries a heavy mission to make the world a better place.

 “We want to spread positivity and bring changes, well, big or small we all need to do that. That’s always the motivation behind Superman is Dead,” tells EkaRock.

 “In every smart band’s dream there is always a smart gang of fans. We want to have that and we want them to realize they’re smart. That’s what we want to deliver through our music,” JRX adds.

So far, Superman is Dead has been a massive agent of change where they have made small-but-beautiful gestures on a daily basis. For example, in almost every city they visit, they encourage people to have an afternoon stroll with them to clean the environment by picking up any trash they see.

Their contribution to the community can be considered real. What they stand for is a true representation of how people are willing to opt for a better life under the big roof called punk rock.

Of course, they have been supported by their legions of fanatic fans that have fallen in love with the free spirit the band have been expressing for years. They are a good example of how warm the relationship between a punk rock act and their followers can be.

“We’re trying hard not to project ourselves as a perfect idol figure for those kids; we just show them what we are. You can have so many followers if you’re natural and honest with people,” says full-of-wisdom-punk rocker JRX.

At the moment, their flags are flying high, literally.

“My point of view now has changed. I used to have a short term point of view, two or three years only. Now I have a bigger picture, not focusing on minor details. Clarity,” JRX says.

Looking back, they admit that what they have now on their hands was not even in their minds in day one.

“I never thought of this. I was so busy thinking about the good things in life; how to have wild nights out and a never ending alcohol adventure,” jokes JRX.

PunkRock Under Water
As would be expected of happy-go-lucky young punk rockers, life in the early stages of their career was always about having some fun and going wild 24/7. The old saying “everything big starts small” is really appropriate in their case. Don’t think big at the very start.

Small gigs were the best while big stadium or arena gigs were not even on their horizon back then. Well, nowadays, small gigs are still on their agenda but it needs to be discreetly done.

“Police will monitor your behavior while you’re doing big stadium gigs, while a sweet girl will wait for you in the corner in a small gig,” again, jokes JRX. “Raw and devilish energy plus the audience’s sweat are the basic ingredients of chaos.”

“We love the wild energy which actually is the fuel that drives our engine. We want to explode it all without a single fake emotion. That’s how a small gig feels to us,” adds EkaRock.

From any of the anecdotes you read, it’s easy to sense how they have kept their feet on the ground, living their enjoyable life to the fullest. The band still call Bali home despite the major effort to go on tour or promote their work.

“We want to say go on forever by writing as many songs as we can, we want to see places we’ve never been to before and do many things in the future,” says Bobby Kool.

The band is now promoting their newly released vinyl record consisting of eight of their best tracks. The vinyl is the first product from Sony Music Indonesia in this old fashioned but sexy format. The band managed to push yet another boundary by getting their label to fulfill their dream of having a release in vinyl format.

“You cannot call yourself a musician if you don’t have vinyl in your catalogue. We’re fortunate that at this time our label is on crazy mode,” says JRX. This, of course, is a joke, maybe.

Keep watching, because Superman is Dead will probably make another big break while surfing the mainstream industry with their bold punk rock attitude. (by: Felix Dass)

*) More info about Superman is Dead can be found at supermanisdead.net.

— Photos Courtesy of Superman is Dead
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