TLTN Keeps It Hardcore
When Metallica played in Jakarta in 1993, a riot broke out between security and fans without tickets. It was clear that heavy metal had gained steam in Indonesia and that fans identified with the drama and rage metal bands exuded on stage.
The genre dwindled in the late 1990s, but heavy metal made a comeback in the early 2000s, with bands like As I Lay Dying from the United States and UK group Bullet For My Valentine. These groups retained the instrumental heaviness of the Metallica era, but ornamented it with more melodic vocal lines, making the music more accessible to a wider audience.
The result was a large mainstream audience made up of younger and more female fans.
Jakarta-based band TooLateToNotice, often called TLTN, is influenced by metalcore — heavy metal and hardcore punk — but does not follow it blindly.
Formed in 2003, the group is made up of Faisal Arachman Aladin on vocals, Andhika Pradana Hardie on bass, Pedro Alogo Pane on drums, Dion Panlima Reza on guitar and Rahdyan Adhie Pralanpito on second guitar.
From the start, the band avoided playing covers while they developed their own sound. Their early songs were usually structured with a screamed verse, a melodic chorus and a guitar-solo interlude in a minor key, more akin to late-’80s metal bands than the modern sound of metalcore groups.
The group avoided dressing like metalcore bands, which typically fused the dark style of metal with boyish haircuts and other preppy elements. TLTN preferred the rough look of older metal bands.
“We weren’t fashionable kids,” Dion said. “We preferred to focus on the music, rather than becoming a heavy-metal boy band.”
In 2005, TLTN recorded a number of demos, which they sent out to radio stations. Singles such as “Sempit” (“Narrow”) brought them recognition among the independent music crowd. “Sempit” managed to reach No. 1 on teen radio station Prambors, and the band soon found itself busy with gigs.
The group tried to record an album in 2006, but they faced some technical problems. Dion said they recorded and financed the album themselves, but after three months of work, the result “sounded horrible.”
The audio engineer turned out to be an amateur. Andhika said, “We scrapped the whole thing and decided to find a producer or sponsor instead.”
In late 2007, the group met with Abdillah Hasbie, a fan who was introduced to the band by the members of metal group Fall. He approached them about releasing a record and offered a budget of Rp 15 million ($1,455), which would take care of the recording and production.
They jumped at the chance and reworked their old material, some of which sounded “a little too close to trendy metalcore,” according to Edo.
Andhika said, “We wanted to focus more on the old-school sound of bands like Pantera.”
The result was “Beyond God’s Boundaries,” an album full of speedy riffs and hardcore instrumentation.
The album was lyrically poetic, focusing on topics such as heartbreak, shame and uncertainty. Faisal said he tried not to stick to one topic. “A lot of it is about friends, our surroundings and romance.”
“Beyond God’s Boundaries” has sold more than 2,000 copies this month so far and the band is already planning to record new songs. “We’re going to incorporate a few nonmetal references, such as Husker Du and Dead Can Dance,” Edo said.
Asked if they would ever consider going mainstream, Faisal said: “Maybe we’ll play pop songs in a few years — who knows? But right now, we’re just enjoying the freedom and idealism that comes with being young.” (Marcel Thee)
Originally Published in The Jakarta Globe May 27, 2009