Interviews

Jive Talkin’ – Stayin’ alive in their new home

By Kevin HoEvents - 22 July 2013 3:11 PM | Updated 2:21 PM

Jive Talkin’ – Stayin’ alive in their new home

Some might say that good things don’t last forever. But then again, they’ve probably never been to a Jive Talkin’ party.

For 23 long years, this retro seven-piece, top-40s covers band have been making a name for themselves in Singapore and regionally within the entertainment circuit.

It may even be no exaggeration to call Jive Talkin’ one of Singapore's music scene’s national treasures. And you don’t have to dig deep to discover this treasure.

Come 24 July, the seasoned band will get the party started at their new place of residence, Fern & Kiwi bar and eatery at Clarke Quay, and they’ll be ready to take your requests Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10.30pm till late.

“There is something here which creates a good feeling with the audience. You’re closer to the crowd and you can make it a personal thing,” said band leader Raffy Aspier on moving into their new "home".

Fern & Kiwi bar and eatery, a comfortable fit for Jive Talkin'

The band used to play at The Pump Room, also in Clarke Quay, where they were almost a permanent fixture. They had been entertaining crowds there six nights a week for a lengthy six years.

“I guess it was just time to move,” explained fellow founding member Jeffry Brown, who sings and plays the saxophone, “The whole experience became quite routine,” he added.

The band took up a short-lived residency at Aquanova in Clarke Quay, and exhausted frontman Raffy made a tough decision to take a break for six months to go on a spiritual journey around Yemen and Dubai.

Raffy said: “I’m a Muslim and I wanted to know more. I felt like God woke me up a bit, I can’t really explain why or how. The lifestyle that comes with this business… it came to a point where I needed to take a break”.

Evidently, it worked wonders for him. “I can control (my temptations) a lot better now”, he declared with a smile. And as it turned out, Raffy’s journey has also given him and the band a revitalising boost of inspiration and energy and they cannot wait to start their new residency at Fern & Kiwi.

Despite several setbacks in their long career, Jive Talkin' has remarkably stuck together

“But in the end it’s really the people who keep the band going,” Raffy said.

He recalled their very first residency at Hard Rock Cafe back in the early 1990s: “We were supposed to be a ‘three-month band’ according to our contract, but as soon as the crowd began coming in, three months became six months, and six months became a year.

“We would see a variety of crowds, many NS (national service) guys and University students, and they would all be forming really long queues outside."

Raffy recalled how some of those who watched them would move on to succeed in life as executives and CEOs, and still returned decades later to party with the band. It’s touching gestures from old-timer fans like these that help to keep Jive Talkin’ going and put their name in Singapore's music history.

There are new faces and younger fans, and Jeffry said: “You’ll be surprised at how young customers would ask for all the old classic songs."

Just your average night with Jive Talkin'

Despite being a retro-themed band (their Bee Gees-inspired band name gives it away), the members still make sure they stay up-to-date with the latest Top 40s hits. “I’ll inform the band what to rehearse and we’ll all learn at home,” Raffy said. “Then we’ll normally rehearse in the club from about 3am to 5am after our performance.”

Asked why they don't rehearse before their shows instead, Jeffry said: “We’re already all warmed up from the performance anyway."

This late-night lifestyle does come at a price. Jeffry confessed: “Sometimes I don’t get to sleep until the afternoon, because by the time you get home from work, it’s hard to unwind. I get insomnia sometimes."

And the band members aren’t getting any younger either, with Raffy being the oldest at 56, having four children and being a grandfather to three. Yet night after night, they manage to put on a quality show.

While Raffy and Jeffry said they do what it takes to please the audience, they sometimes wish they could play some of their own favourite tracks like 'Get Here' by Oleta Adams or 'Reasons' by Earth, Wind & Fire, instead of the frequently requested 'Dancing Queen' by Abba or 'I Will Survive' by Gloria Gaynor.

“We’ll rehearse the most requested songs, even if we ourselves don’t like it. Back at The Pump Room, we even had to do that 'Gangnam Style' song. I didn’t really like that one,” Raffy said with a sigh.

Still, the band is grateful every day for their long and steady career. “I can’t say I don’t like anything that has happened to me,” Raffy said. “God has planned everything for me and I’ve been truly blessed. I’m happy with my life. From 23 years ago until this day, I’ve got nothing much to complain about. I’m happy.”

Jive Talkin’ is made up of Raffy Aspier (vocals), Jeffry Brown (vocals and saxophone), Zoul Zaq Iruall (vocals and guitar), Addy Rasidi (vocals and guitar), Eduardo Romoso (keyboard), Fairoz Samil (drums) and Din Safari (bass).

Jive Talkin’ | Date: From 24 July 2013 | Time: Tues-Sat 10.30pm till late | Venue: Fern & Kiwi, 3C River Valley Road, Clarke Quay | Admission: Free