With on-stage personas and a wardrobe straight out of the '60s, it is not hard to take to Singapore band The Pinholes. They are an easygoing group of young men who play rock ‘n’ roll and pop with a distinctly Singapura flavour.
Famie Suliman and Didi Hanafiah from The Pinholes
Dressed in floral shirts (“we picked them up at Sungei Road…$1 only”), flared trousers and sporting quirky retro eyewear, the band members certainly look the part from head to toe.
“I breathe this. I'm not just faking it. Take MRT, also, like that,” band leader Famie Suliman said while pointing to his outfit.
inSing spoke to Famie and guitarist Didi Hanafiah before their show, ‘Break From Normalcy’, which is happening at The Esplanade on 28 February. At the Friday show, they will launch their latest album, ‘Bring Back the Vibe’.
The band are a breath of fresh air (albeit with a whiff of Salvation Army-sourced clothes) in a music scene filled with singer-songwriter types, post-rock bands and electronica warriors stationed behind MacBooks and samplers.
The four-piece band are made up of two guitarists (one lead and one rhythm, with the latter on vocals), a bassist (typically an electric bass) and a drummer.
They attribute their sound to Singapore rock music bands from the 1950s and 1960s such as The Quest, Straydogs and The Swallows.
Famie, the chattier of the two guitarists, said that “these are names that I think not too many younger people in Singapore are aware of, but they’re all legends”.
The band were formed in 2002 for a school competition and have been through multiple line-up changes over the years, with Famie being the only original member. New additions to the band will debut at their show at The Esplanade.
NEW COMPILATION ALBUM
‘Bring Back the Vibe’ is their first LP, having released five EPs. “It’s our debut album with all the songs combined”, Famie said.
There are cheery, psychedelic numbers a la The Beach Boys, such as ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’, with Famie on songwriting duty. He writes and plays alone first. “Then I’ll take it to the jamming session and tell the boys what I want to hear,” he said.
‘Bring Back the Vibe’ will feature songs from the first days the band were formed.
The song ‘Sunshine’ from The Pinholes' EP, ‘Youth of Gold’
For their show at The Esplanade, they will have some special guests on stage, but will only hint that there may be a string and horn section. Famie quipped: “I was hoping we could have Dick Lee, but he’s not available on the day.”
Though the band have played shows overseas as far off as SXSW (South by Southwest, a music conference in Austin, Texas, US), and closer to home in Malaysia, this show will be their first ticketed performance since forming in 2002.
Didi recalled: “The first time we went to Malaysia, it was a bit awkward. The response was, like, ‘What kind of band is this? Where are they from? Space?’ Then you could see, they slowly started dancing and thinking, 'This is pretty good, man!'”
‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was filmed in Vietnam. The Pinholes were due to play CAMA Festival 2013, but the gig was cancelled at the last minute.
Ultimately, they are most comfortable playing for the Singapore crowd. Famie said: “The crowd has to learn to chill out and take it easy. It’s just rock ‘n’ roll, it’s not mathematics.”
Check out our video interview with the band, along with an exclusive performance of ‘Shake & Bake’
'Late Nite @ Esplanade: Break From Normalcy with The Pinholes | Date: 28 February 2014 | Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio | Time: 9.30pm | Tickets: $25 via www.sistic.com.sg