Singapore’s grindcore champs, Wormrot, are creating a groundswell of notoriety due to the band’s relentless work ethic that has seen them tour the world-around and establish a solid relationship with the legendary Earache Records. We were first introduced to Wormrot on their recent US tour as they were stranded in Philadelphia for several days due to the Philadelphia Parking Authority jacking their van, causing the band to scramble to find some local shows to help fill the void. To our surprise, we were able to catch Wormrot as a last minute addition with Nails and All Pigs Must Die as we were already shooting a gallery at The Barbary on April 2nd. Wormrot had no trouble winning over new fans this day, and we are very pleased to have caught up with band for an in-depth interview featuring insight on the formation of Wormrot, touching on their writing and recording processes, tour life, and much, much, more. This interview features insight from guitarist Rasyid, vocalist Arif, and from Wormrot‘s faithful and uber-rad band manager, Azean. Without further ado, let’s get the inside skinny!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you kindly for taking time with Blow The Scene readers from around the world today. Let’s kick things off by having you introduce yourselves and declare your onstage weapons of choice with Singapore’s awesomely brutal grind practitioners Wormrot.
Rasyid (Wormrot): Hi my name is Rasyid and I play the guitars.
Arif (Wormrot): Sup.. Arif here and I’m on vocals.
Joshua BTS: We recently caught up with Wormrot as we were covering the Nails/All Pigs Must Die show in Philadelphia on April 2nd. Great show! Wormrot definitely made some new fans this day. This show was not actually scheduled as part of your US tour, as Wormrot was essentially stranded in Philly due to the PPA (Philadelphia Parking Authority) towing and impounding your van. Share with us a little bit about how this happened. How many nights and shows were added in Philly due to this circumstance? And how did you finally get your van back?
Azean (Wormrot Manager): Hi there, I’m Wormrot’s band manager. Well, when our driver, German, went to get the van at 8.20am, he found out that the van was towed at 7.29am by the PPA. It was ridiculous b/c the parking signs were fucking confusing and we thought we had parked legally. So German and I went to the PPA to get back our van. When we reached there, we were not allowed to take back the van. The officer told us that their system showed that the van was not registered under him [German] despite us showing all the relevant documents. We were told to call a tow company to have our van towed back to where it was parked. When the tow truck arrived, we got our van out but the PPA took away our license plates even though the van is from California. One problem after another, we can’t drive out of Philadelphia without any license plates!!!! So cold and hungry, we stayed in the van and Mike (tour manager) made a few phone calls to some friends and our booking agent, Ron. We managed to get a show that day and 2 more shows the next day all thanks to Jamie Getz. We owed him big time. After spending 3 days in Philadelphia, we had to get to New York. So Mike used paper for our license plate. On the paper, he wrote the license number and that our plate got stolen and paste it at the back of the van. It’s a risk but we had a few dates left for the tour so it’s all worth it. We were really very sorry with the promoters in Worcester and Brockton that we are unable to make it for the shows there.
Joshua BTS: Was this past tour your first time in the US? How was the tour overall and how would you compare the experience to touring abroad?
Rasyid (Wormrot): That was actually our second time touring the US, the first being last year in September/October. It’s getting better and better, we did a month and a half long tour, a few shows together with Tombs (Relapse). Mike (guitarist/vocalist of Tombs) was driving us around during the first tour, so somehow we worked out a few dates to play together during this tour. Things are way more organized on this tour; guarantees are met as promised (minus one or two instances), less after-parties which is a good thing, at least to this band, fewer last minute changes of plans. It turned out pretty well, we enjoyed it. And of course making new friends and meeting old ones we met during the first tour.
Rasyid (Wormrot): Our driver left his wallet, which contains his driving license, in the place where we stayed over the night prior. He only got it back like 4 or 5 days after. During one of those days, we were stopped by the traffic police, somewhere I can’t remember anymore, and he was suspended. We got ourselves a new driver by the name of Zach who plays in Creaturezoid, who has an uncanny resemblance to Ryan of Municipal Waste, so he drove us all the way to the end of the tour. Actually I can’t remember much now, I remember this one because we earned a new friend.
Joshua BTS: Let’s zip back to the early days of Wormrot. I understand that the band formed in 2007 after the founding members served two mandatory years of National Service. What does Nation Service entail? What did your day-to-day look like?
Rasyid (Wormrot): Well, in the army we had to undergo 3 months of basic military training, get our posting and serve all the way until the end of our service. My story’s a little fucked up because I was posted here and there but I left the army as a 3rd Sergeant transport supervisor. Basically I was a driver with men under me. It wasn’t that bad because I was able to drive out of camp, so I wasn’t rotting inside. Arif and Fitri were in Regimental Police. But right now, all of us are still under reservist, Arif and I had done two out of ten cycles, Fit has yet to do one.
Joshua BTS: Did you all meet during your time with National Service?
Rasyid (Wormrot): Fitri was actually one of Arif’s men. We didn’t really get together at all before we finished our army period. Although Arif and I are old schoolmates, we kinda lost contact of each other. Only after we finished our service did we meet and all of a sudden, formed the band.
Rasyid (Wormrot): We were actually trying to do some death grind thing, but I couldn’t meet that expectation, my guitar skills were kinda shit. So I played some punk riffs, Arif liked it, we tried some Phobia/Insect Warfare/Magrudergrind mish mash, and subsequently I added some Agents of Abhorrence, Pig Destroyer, Extortion, etc., too many influences. But yea, these are the main core bands we ripped from haha! As far a grind scene in Singapore, I think we are lucky enough to have a scene in the first place. Its different here in Asia, you can’t really earn, let alone make a living, out of playing shows. Mindset of the masses towards these kinda music is that these kids are just a nuisance, instead bars and pubs picks up musicians that can play Cranberries and Eagles because these are the kind of music that attracts money spenders, and are most familiar with expatriates. So we only have punk or arts spaces. It is purely passion and inspiration that drives the kids here, because they know that the chances of them making it big are close to none, so fuck it, just play for the fun of it. If Singapore music scene is this bad, and we’ve not even touched on our neighbors like Indonesia, you’ll sometimes get 19 bands, even more, playing in one show just to fund the rent of the venue. There’ll be one or two bands that’ll be lucky to get spotted, Wormrot being one of them. We were, and still are, those kids, amidst all the label signing. We come back to Singapore being complete zeros haha! That’s not to say we have shit bands. We lack in numbers, but we have quality bands like Pazahora, This Is Atlantis, I Am David Sparkle, Absence of the Sacred, Analdicktion, and so on. Personally, there is no punk scene in Singapore; there is just the scene.
Joshua BTS: You signed to the mighty Earache records in 2009. Rad! How did this come about? And how does it feel to join the label that helped pioneer the grind genre with the release of Napalm Death’s Scum in 87?
Arif (Wormrot): Yeah I’m personally still in shock that we are actually under Earache Records. Haha. We were looking for a label to release the new album as our ex label was rather busy with releasing tons of great bands at that moment so we decided to get help from another. We approached a few labels but never thought of asking Earache as it’s rather impossible in our point of view to be in such major label. I guess few weeks later Digby, the man himself, hit us up over on Myspace with THE deal. I kept refreshing the goddamn page to see if it’s actually real. I’ve been following Earache during that era of grind so you can basically imagine how stoked I was. Calling the rest and deliver the great news like a high school girl.
Joshua BTS: Your latest release Dirge, has created quite buzz throughout the grind world. Share with us a little history into the making of this album is you would. When, where, and whom did you record with?
Arif (Wormrot): We started working on Dirge right after we’re back from the US tour last year. So yeah it was hectic, hectic, hectic. We jammed out like three times a week in the rehearsal studio. We do not have our own basement/studio to practice. We have to book a room in a jamming studio and get everybody to meet there and grind the fuck out. Some of us are busy with their jobs which did not make things a lot easier for sure. Dirge was recorded by the same engineer as the Abuse record. Ahboy from TNT studios. We are comfortable working with him as he knows what exactly we need from the record and he delivers just that.
Joshua BTS: One for the gear-nerds! Any special pieces of equipment that you find especially important when capturing the sound of Wormrot?
Rasyid (Wormrot): Nothing particularly fancy actually. We’re all poor fuckers, we can’t even afford our own stacks or kit. So whatever’s available, we try and make it work. So far I only have a Digitech Hardwire Metal Distortion pedal, and an A/B/Y selector footswitch for live performances… yep, that’s it. Sorry to disappoint the gearheads!
Joshua BTS: Do you implement any odd tunings as you feature just one guitar with no bass? I must say, you guys pull this off really well. For only having a sole guitarist, drummer, and vocalist, you guys have no trouble creating an avalanche of sound.
Rasyid (Wormrot): Just a drop tuning for my guitar. Usually I just use 2 heads during a show, and crank it up. Like I said, nothing fancy. As long as you can hear what we’re playing, we’re fine. We’re not so picky like ‘distortion’s too much’ or ‘toms sound funny’, fuck that, just plug and play. Make the best out of the situation, always.
Joshua BTS: Can you touch on some of the lyrical themes within Dirge? What would you say is your basis for your lyrics? Real life issues? Gore? Personal? Or a combination?
Arif (Wormrot): Our lyrical theme has always been the same. Personal issues. Not much coming from the rest but through my personal experiences in life. It’s a great way to release your anger through albums. Not much on gore. You can say it’s a combination of hatred and violence. Ideas and inspirations never end as it happens quite frequently especially when you are living in a small island with almost 99% of the populations are pure assholes. We’re not a very serious, saving the world band. I love dark lyrical humor too.
Joshua BTS: You have some Malaysian Tour Dates Scheduled for June and July. Very awesome. What can fans expect from this upcoming tour and who are some of the bands you will be sharing the stage with?
Arif (Wormrot): We’re back from the US tour in April and a few weeks later we have the need to grind the stage once again. Malaysia is awesome. We played a couple of shows over the years and never once it was dull. Massive support from our neighboring countries and it’s getting better and better years after years. This is the first time we’re having this “mini Malaysia tour” and in my point of view, it’s going to be sick. Most of the bands we are sharing the stage with are pure underground bands over in Malaysia. They have great bands and seriously, they need to be known.
Joshua BTS: What does the rest of 2011 look like for the band? I know your fans in US are itching for another tour!
Arif (Wormrot): Well we just got home from the amazing tour in the US last March. Upcoming Malaysia tour in June and July, Singapore death Fest in July and UK/Europe tour in September. We’re pretty much packed for this year. We certainly hope to be back in the states to promote the new album. Or maybe wait for a while before they get sick and tired with us. Haha.
Joshua BTS: Let’s switch gears into some lighthearted Q & As before we say goodbye.
Favorite spot to grab a bite to eat when on tour?
Rasyid (Wormrot): Recently it’s Church’s Chicken, Wendy’s, White Castle or fucking Golden Corral (sp?). Or some Chinese buffet.
Arif (Wormrot): CHURCH CHICKEN AND GOLDEN CORRAL.
Joshua BTS: Worst country, city, or state to travel in?
Rasyid (Wormrot): We take every place we go as an experience. Or sight seeing.
Arif (Wormrot): I don’t recall any worst countries. Although the highway in Texas was kinda suck with the never-ending desert throughout. Other than that, it’s cool.
Joshua BTS: Favorite Video Game from the 90s?
Rasyid (Wormrot): Mortal Kombat 9. I have a feeling it’s unanimous in the band.
Joshua BTS: When you guys are in the tour van driving to the next show, what are some top music selections? Who gets to be DJ in the van? Or do you split it up?
Arif (Wormrot): Our tour manager (Big Mike) was the “DJ” on our last tour in the states. It depends on whoever is driving us around. We sometimes get Fastcore, Death Metal, Powerviolence, Rap playlists. Or maybe local radio stations sometimes. But most of the time we will be on our mp3 players.
Joshua BTS:What websites would you suggest for those that would like to keep up with Wormrot?
Arif (Wormrot): We use Facebook all the time. So you can contact us at www.facebook.com/wormrot.
Joshua BTS: Thank you guys very much for taking the time with this Blow The Scene Interview. Final thoughts or comments?
Rasyid (Wormrot): Thanks for taking some time to have us on this interview!
Arif (Wormrot): No. Thank you for the interview dude. Appreciate the interest in us. Just a shout out that the new album Dirge is already out through Earache Records and other labels web stores. To those we’re about to meet on upcoming tours, see you real soon grinders!
For more info go to The Official Wormrot Facebook Page
Earache Records is also offering Wormrot‘s new LP, Dirge, for Free Download!