They Will Kill Us All: Putting the Past Behind Them

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It was a little chilly that night when were supposed to meet They Will Kill Us All at Wonder Milk (hey, we wanted to do our bit to support local). So we decided to keep ourselves warm by sitting in the car and lighting up a roll of good old natural while we waited for the boys.

The first to arrive was frontman Edwin Raj, and when we ushered him into the store with our hungry stomachs and figured, hey… we’re gonna bill this one on JUICE.

“Sorry I’m late, man. I was squeezing in another vocals lesson,” he tells us. It has been playing a big part in helping him gain his confidence as the band’s vocalist.

We spent a good half an hour discussing the They Will Kill Us All’s dramatic past. There was discussion of addictions (which had us feeling guilty for our own vices) and the impact it has on people and how it can mess up your life, but for the band, they really just want to move on with what they deem to be the definitive line-up of They Will Kill Us All.

“I was very upset to the point that I didn’t want to play music anymore. But I did some soul searching. I went off to Europe by myself. I didn’t even buy tickets online. I went to KL Sentral and brought cash, lined up for some tickets and left for Europe the next day not knowing when I was coming back,” Edwin reminisces. “It was in a train station in Belgium that I realised I want to get the band back together and I got straight to writing lyrics, and coming up with plans to reboot the entire band’s concept.”

Being the principal songwriter of the band even way back from when they first started, it was only natural that Edwin eventually became the vocalist. Though it’s a role that he himself didn’t want at first. But out of desperation after a try-out vocalist bailed right before a concert, the rest of the band forced him to take on the responsibility of being the frontman, “Someone came up to tell me that I wasn’t a good singer, but apparently I make a believable frontman for the band.” And from then on Edwin has been attending the aforementioned vocal classes.

To the band, the English rock music scene has been somewhat waning the past half decade or so and they hope to play the role of catalyst with the release of their album Vulture (ed’s note: Edwin has since revealed that the album is actually untitled but fans have come to call it Vultures).

“I just want to bring back the glory of Malaysian music. The time of OAG, and Positive Tone. Back to releasing good quality music. We want to bring it back. I’m not saying we want to lead with the torch, but I want people to know that it’s possible. We have no prejudice towards the Malay Rock scene. But it’s already a strong scene, so why not build everything else up to have a wider spectrum of music to listen to?”

(By this point in time, we were joined by keyboardist Wandi Saat and bassist Amir Shazlan who were both coming off from work, looking really hungry)

As Malaysians, we always like to compare local bands to a similar sounding international act. Most of the time it’s due to the amount of copycat bands out there. They Will Kill Us All seems to have escaped that particular problem in all ways but one. Apparently people have been comparing Edwin’s voice to Kele of Bloc Party.

“Honestly, I think it might just be because I’m one of the only Indian guys in the indie scene,’ laughs Edwin. “I guess it’s only normal for Malaysians to see an Indian guy playing a Telecaster and automatically compare him to Kele. But I definitely respect Bloc Party. They changed the scene and I actually like their stuff, but they’re not a direct influence on our music.”

The band had actually written most of their songs a while back. According to them, the reason for the delay on the album’s release is the fact that they wanted it to sound perfect.

“Over a period of time, you’re definitely going to over think songs. After working on something for three  months, you’re going to think it’s perfect. Then you listen to it again it sounds horrible,” says Amir. “It’s a natural process, but at some point you have to settle down.”

“Yeah, but what was constantly on our minds was that if we let this album out, there’s no taking it back. So we had to make sure it’s something we could be proud of and boast to our friends.” Edwin says calmly, though you can tell that he’s been asked this a lot. “We’re not exactly people with a lot of money. Especially when we first started, the only way we could discover new sounds is to borrow gear from other people or wait a long time to buy new gear.”

The process has definitely paid off though. ‘Sirens’, the first single off the album, has been passed around online quite a fair bit, with opening lines “No synthesizers / no satisfaction…” being a popular quote among fans. Edwin explains that it was filler lyrics that they used early on in the song writing process before they wrote the proper lyrics, “It started off as a joke. As you know, the band never had any synths until Wandi joined recently, and it we felt he was the missing piece to complete the band. It ended up sticking.

“If you noticed, the songs on the album are really talking about the band. We’ve gone through a lot together, and this our journey. We wanted the album to really represent that.”

They Will Kill Us All is scheduled to perform Future Music Festival Asia 2013. Their album Vulture is now available for purchase, and you can get it online by visiting the band’s official webpage

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