Def Gab C: Rock isn’t what it used to be

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GRAFFITI decorated the walls as Merah Studio in Ampang, four floors above a mamak restaurant, hosted one of the biggest rock bands in the country – Def Gab C.

Guitarist Mohd Shukry Abd Aziz, 43, better known as Jemboo, rushed into the studio, apologising as he joined original bandmates, singer Mohd Ashid Ahmad (Asheed), 45, and drummer Nasyanto Nasip (Ah Tonk), 40, at the studio. Bassist Ariffin Amir (Epyn), 43, is the newest member of the four-piece band.

“Sorry, sorry, I got caught up in something earlier,” Jemboo said as he adjusted his glasses before taking his seat for an exclusive interview with Twentytwo13.

Asheed at Merah Studio.

The band was widely celebrated when they hit the scene 21 years ago with songs like Ibukota CintaCinta SaktiMarilah Maria and Merah.

They went on a three-year hiatus and regrouped early this year after they were assigned to produce and sing the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism (MAHA) 2018 theme song Segalanya Wanita.

“But times have changed and we have to evolve,” said Asheed.

“We cannot fight the trends and must tweak our music to what listeners want.”

“Sometimes if we get too futuristic, the fans won’t get it. But sometimes it works. We have to think not just of today but what listeners would still want to hear five or 10 years down the road. Look at what we did with Merah … we made it public 16 years ago and our fans still remember it till today.”

Jemboo has played for Singapore rock band Rusty Blade in the past.

Asheed added: “Age is catching up and the long hours can take a toll. But it’s something we have to work around.”

Four years ago, KISS bassist Gene Simmons told Esquire: “Rock is finally dead … The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.”

But Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic had last month said the scene was still alive and “people are still doing it, too”.

So is the Malaysian rock scene dead?

“It’s not like what it used to be,” Ah Tonk said.

“In the past, labels used to promote rock bands. We don’t see that happening now. The internet dominates and as what Asheed said, we must evolve and be part of the online craze.”

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Ah Tonk says Def Gab C has to evolve quickly and not harp on its past glory.

Epyn said the band, now without a label, has an Instagram account (def.gab.c) to connect with younger fans.

Epyn says the band’s branding game has changed with more emphasis on social media.

“We post stuff regularly on our personal social media accounts as well. That’s how branding is done these days.”

What’s next for Def Gab C?

“We plan to release a single perhaps after Hari Raya. We’re in the midst of sourcing for material and fine-tuning some stuff,” Jemboo said.

“We’re still discussing our merchandising plans and hope to set up a Def Gab C club soon.”