Meet TBK, one of the warmest and friendliest death metal bands on the local scene. Let Azri help you get to know them…
So this interview begins with a round of beers, typical death metal fashion perhaps. With Subash, John and Gene of the well known Truth Be Known gulping down mouthfuls of golden brew and I on a happy buzz, the interview with Singapore’s very own death metal soldiers began. There was no bible burning rituals or satanic mantra chanting in this interview…
GASHAUS: So tell me about Truth Be Known.
Subash: John, Gene and Arul used to play in a band called Narashima, Damien from Bhelliom and I from Kaliyuga but we were all drinking buddies. So one day in drunken blabber, we decided to form a band together. We started off jamming and somehow there was this perfect chemistry together. Soon after one thing led to another and we started writing originals. We got our flow right and soon we started on our first album and playing gigs, and here we are now.
GASHAUS: How did the name Truth Be Known come about?
Subash: The name came from one of our favourite bands , Napalm Death. It’s a song titled off their Harmonic Corruption album. It was actually Joshua from Blackisle Studios who came up with the idea. Initially we were known as Act Of Denial and Serpent’s Sons of which I’m rather thankful for the change.
GASHAUS: Is there any strong hatred or band direction that Truth Be Known drives on by?
John: No hatred, no hatred.
Subash: Let’s just say there’s a lot of love in this band only when it comes to organised religion and politics.
GASHAUS: Quoting a line from No Religion, ‘Wars that have killed millions are endorsed by religion’, can I forcefully claim that you have an atheist foundation?
Subash: I usually do a lot of research before writing my lyrics. I arrange a lot religion bashing, politics here and there and also philosophy in my lyrics as well. All my lyrics are very personal to me. There’s one song which is actually a huge tribute to nature in our album.
GASHAUS: In the music department, what kind of influences do you have?
John: When I first started playing guitars, it was Nirvana then I moved on to Slayer. There are also modern bands like Arch Enemy, At The Gates and The Haunted. When you listen to Truth Be Known, the Nirvana punk beats and Slayer influence is very evident. However, we have never tried to copy a certain band or anything. Every song is written in our own style and they are all different in their own way. There are too many influences, none too specific to be named.
GASHAUS: What are some of your favourite tracks from your upcoming album; Defy, Deny.
John: ‘Thus Is Your Fate’, it’s a song that I wrote nearly 10 years ago when I was starting out guitars. It’s a very personal touch that I share with the song.
Subash: ‘Just Another Lamb’, which was written at the spur of the moment. For the recording, vocals were done by many legendary vocalists. Francis from Opposition Party, Adrian from Sink, Babar of Dusk from Pakistani, and Joshua from Blackisle Studios. It’s a really angry song that just reaches out to you.
GASHAUS: What’s your philosophy in life?
Subash: Just screw the rest of the world, drink, get high and live one day at a time.
GASHAUS: Having performed at the Bang Your Head festival in Indonesia, can you compare the experience with performing locally.
Gene: The overseas scene is awesome. Beats Singapore’s scene hands down…
John: Thousands of people going crazy, everybody enjoying your music. Headbanging and moshing. As a musician, it is an awesome feeling. There were even some who broke the gates, rushed down on stage and then got kicked down by security and some girls even wanted Damien and I to take off our shirts. Even while walking back to the car, people came to us asking for merchandise and all despite not even having heard of us before. It was a very emotional moment for me, never having experienced something like that before.
GASHAUS: What’s causing the lack of enthusiasm in the local scene?
John: I believe the local scene is too opinionated. It’s not that we hate each other or whatsoever but everybody just doesn’t want support.
Gene: Singapore’s crowd has too high a standard and sadly the local bands suffer horribly.
GASHAUS: So has TBK reached their highest point in it’s career?
Subash: TBK has not peaked yet. That is your answer right there. There is a lot more that we can offer. We’re not a one off thing. Having finished NS and all that and being in our late 20’s and early 30’s, we still have a lot more angst left.
John: We don’t intend to end just after this release because every release is different in a personal context and besides the music will just keep getting better.
GASHAUS: I’m now reminded that the band members are quite old compared to the newer bands these days. Any objections from the wife or parents?
John: I’m currently married. My wife is supportive but then again, she has her own opinions to metal, whereas my parents still object to it just as they always have. However, the band still meets up to jam every Thursday despite our current obligations unless someone cannot make it. Only then would we cancel the session.
GASHAUS: If TBK wasn’t a death metal band, where & what would you guys be now?
Gene: We’d be just another lamb.
GASHAUS: What are you views on the future of the local metal scene?
Subash: There will definitely be a scene, 10 years ago or from now. There’d always be a death metal scene. We’re basically the minorities in the mainstream genres. Having been in the scene since ’95, it has changed a lot. The unity wasn’t as strong as it was in the day but now I keep seeing new kids at every gig. In the past, there was always the same bunch of guys but now there are always new faces around.
GASHAUS: Were you satisfied with the recording of your album over at Blackisle Studios?
John: These guys know about metal. They know what metal should sound like and I personally think that for the amount they do their job damn well.
GASHAUS: What’s coming up for TBK in 2008?
Subash: This year, concentrate on promoting the debut album; Defy, Deny. We’re also going to try and get more gigs and promote ourselves more. While in the later part of the year, writing the material for 2008.
John: Overseas gigs. So people outside of Singapore will know about Truth Be Known. Playing in a different country’s metal scene is definitely top on my list. Having played in the local scene for awhile, it’s gotten really repetitive and pretty much a bore.
GASHAUS: Any advice for young and aspiring musicians?
Subash: Don’t jump the bandwagon man. Learn your instruments first. Don’t simply record an album just to get chicks, it’s a stupid thing to do. Learn you instruments, save up cash for your recording. Emphasise on getting a good recording. Don’t do the whole void deck, garage, D.I.Y recording. Even as your audience being fans of the underground scene, every consumer would rather listen to a better recording.
This article originally appeared in Think Magazine