THEY'RE usually seen decked out in snazzy matching suits and dark shades when performing their interestingly fresh brand of 1960s pop yeh yeh-infused music.
Sporting youthful vigour and matched with a hip retro swagger, the four young men who make up the rock and roll band Kugiran Masdo (or just Masdo) have been gaining wide attention since its formation five years ago. Snappy beats and snaky basslines are intertwined with edgy riffing and catchy melodies, as lead singer and guitarist Ali Sariah enchantingly sings his way into the hearts of fans around Malaysia.
Having released a debut album Selamat Tinggal Pujaan in 2015, Masdo has so far entertained music lovers with hits such as Bercanda Di Malam Indah, Berduka Lara, Malam Pesta, Teruna & Dara, Miss Flower Learn To Twist and Bunga.
Aside from Ali (whose real name is Aliff Fahmi Bahtiar), the quartet is made up of drummer Ambobzeela (Azham Ahmad), bassist and vocalist Putu Ceri (Ahmad Azanol Khushairie), as well as guitarist and vocalist Asmawi (Muhammad Aizat Asymawi Mohd).
Ages ranging from 25 to 39, the members have always done things their way, channelling an independent spirit in music making, in DIY fashion. Currently unsigned to any music label, the talented foursome have recently achieved a significant milestone for their music outfit.
JOURNEY TO ABBEY ROAD
Last June saw the four musicians travelling to the UK to record some songs at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.
Founded in 1931 the hallowed venue has seen the recording of classic albums by the likes of Pink Floyd, Rush, Duran Duran, Radiohead, Oasis, Depeche Mode and many more.
“The Beatles recorded their albums there including their 11th release called Abbey Road. It was essentially a dream come true, to be using the same space as The Beatles, ...it was mind-blowing.”
“Even the late Sudirman had recorded there. So we were very lucky to be able to have experienced the magic that’s been created there,” says Ali, during our meetup in Bangsar, along with the rest of the band.
Putu Ceri adds: “We worked with well-trained professionals and had access to a wealth of experience there. Our expectations were high but the outcome that we got was of a level and quality that we didn’t realise. We are totally satisfied.”
The four spent eight days in London and took two full days to record their material.
Ali explains that the whole idea to record at Abbey Road Studios began last year when Masdo opened for tribute band, The Bootleg Beatles, when they performed in Malaysia.
“Adam (Hastings), who takes on the role of John Lennon in the tribute band, was so taken by our music that he actually gave us two tunes to try out. It was a very Beatles-like tune and since Adam is from London as well, we thought up this crazy idea of going to the famous place to record. It all seemed to fit,” he says.
Ali adds that they recorded five new songs over there, four in Malay and the one English tune from Adam, called Nearly Near You.
Putu Ceri says: “We’re keeping the other song from him for later. As for the new album, we’ll most likely release it sometime later this year. The mastering and all have been completed already, so we are just waiting for the artwork and packaging to be finalised.”
He adds: We’ll release about 300 vinyls first with the five songs and CDs, which will include a hidden track of our 2019 release, Dinda.”
Fans can look forward to boxed sets and a video documentary as well later.
MORE TO LOVE
The songs of Masdo have been known to traverse love and relationships. “The lyrics were previously about love and heartbreak, so this one has love as well but more like in an advisory kind of way. We also touch on the creator and spirituality but with a groovy 1960s vibe. We won’t focus on one thing alone, we also touch on justice, war and the social issues that are happening in the world today,” says Ali.
He says that they were challenges by listeners who asked if the next album was again just about love. “So we thought about getting out of our comfort zone and to look at what’s happening around us.”
As for the music, Putu Ceri says the playing is more mature this time around. “Mawi’s guitar lines have more flowery parts and melodies and the flourishes are also evident in the bass and drums too. Since it was Abbey Road each of us wanted to showcase our talents and style. The studio had a big impact and inspired us as we wanted to impress listeners. We were able to add sound from other instruments as well like the organ and an accordion,” he says.
The songs were all produced by AG Coco who followed them on the trip to London.
Although there were cynical voices when they first decided to go big, Putu Ceri says it wasn’t an obstacle. “It’s normal to have haters but it fired us up even more to chase our dreams just to prove to ourselves.”
“We did this not to show off but it was for our own satisfaction and for our many friends who believed in us and supported us. Really, without them we would never have been able to do this.”
“We also wanted to share the experience and what we gained from this with others so that’s why we documented the journey from KL to London by filming everything,” says Putu Ceri.
Ali adds: “We even organised our own shows to collect funds. If anything, we just hope that others like the young and upcoming bands can look at this as an example and get inspired to do things themselves.”
He says that they spent about RM150,000 for the whole affair with only the flight sponsored by Malaysian Airlines.
The four believe that it was the right choice — to go at it by themselves and take the independent route. They are all now full-time musicians after quitting their day jobs.
Putu Ceri says: “We have no regrets so far, there’s a future here with the band, and if we want to be serious about it we have to give it 100 per cent.” He adds that the group does have a steady schedule of performances and sells lots of Masdo merchandise, which helps.
After the new album release, the boys hope to go on a tour around Malaysia and in Indonesia too to promote it. Ali says: “We’re slowly trying to break into the scene there. We’ve played a few small shows before in cafes as introduction showcases. It’s tough to play there but we’re giving it our best shot.”
Last October, Masdo, at the invitation of the Ocean Institute of Audio Technology, got to play at the Fishing Castle International Music Festival in Chongqing, China where they met with roaring applause from audiences.
The group entertained music lovers in Hechuan and performed at universities in both cities as well.
GETTING UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
The four members are also excited to perform for some 2,000 fans in the upcoming Semarak Merdeka Night Run concert happening on Sunday.
Organised by Sports Events Asia, the boys will be taking part in a fun run around the grounds of University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur before culminating in an hour-long stage concert at UM’s Dataran Dewan Tunku Canselor (DTC) at night.
“Those who have registered to take part in the fun run will receive special edition Masdo medals and signed Masdo T-shirts, as well as be able to join in a meet-and-greet session with us. It’s a free concert though, so everyone can just drop by and have a good time too,” says Ali.
The boys add that it’s always a joy to get close to the fans and perform for them. Ali says: “For us, we started from the bottom getting involved in various events so we had lots of interaction with people and fans. That’s where our ‘rezeki’ was, from then on, people started to notice us.”
“We were fans of other artistes before as well. We wanted to see them in person at events so now that we can be kind of considered as influencers, when people want to come see us, we layanlah,” he says with a laugh.
Putu Ceri explains that, “we have the concept where if you want to buy merchandise come and see us in person at the shows or concerts so all can have a memorable experience as well.”
Masdo merchandise will be available for sale at the upcoming concert.
As for the performance on that night Putu Ceri says that they will be playing more than 10 songs. “It’ll be a spontaneous thing, we’ll see how things go. If everything is right then we really rock and roll on and play additional songs or even a few new tracks!”
For details, visit www.sportsevents.asia/event/semarakmerdekanightrun.
Source: NST https://bit.ly/2kendmb