If Malaysia had their own indie and edgy version of 5 Seconds of Summer, Alien Lipstick Fire would be the first in our minds.
Comprising of members, James, Malcolm, Hazim and Benji, Alien Lipstick Fire are an up-and-coming indie rock band consisting of 4 ordinary boys trying to enthral people with their tunes inspired by the likes of Tame Impala and Bombay Bicycle Club, and Sevenpie has had the privilege to score an interview with them.
Read on as they dish on the realities of the music industry, light jokes and just engross yourself in their down-to-earth charm!
1. Hey Alien Lipstick Fire! Firstly, can you please give us an insight to how your band’s eclectic name came to be? It sounds so random yet, it’s catchy!
Thank you! We’ve received many comments about our band name. Some bad, some good, but mostly about how ridiculous it is! One night, James (Founder) was watching a comedic game show on Comedy Central (@midnight with Chris Hardwick), during a challenge where comedians had to give context to a random choice of emojis as quickly as they could, for points. The emojis “👽💄🔥” were brought up.
Doug Benson, comedian, and one of the contestants, jokingly mentioned it was the logo of a new and upcoming “indie” band called Alien Lipstick Fire. So basically we wanted to BE that band. There’s a video of it online on our Facebook and Instagram (Story Highlights). Check it out!
2. James, Malcolm and Benji, we know that you guys are Sabahan, born-and-bred. But as Hazim is from KL, did you guys move out of the comforts of your home to form the band? What’s the story behind the band’s union?
Well, 3/4(James, Malcolm and Benji) of the band each came to KL separately, to pursue different things (Further studies, etc). Malcolm and James are first cousins so they would hang out and jam quite often. In 2015, James auditioned and joined a band and that was how he met Hazim. James would often ask Hazim out to jam-sessions with Malcolm and later on the band started signing up for open-mic nights.
And Benji used to play in a band back in high school with James and Malcolm so we were close friends. The band knew they needed a bassist if they were going to play full-time gigs, so that was how Benji came into the picture!
Fun fact: We used to play Post-Hardcore music back then, and were hugely inspired by bands like A Day to Remember!
3. We know how imperative it is for a band to find their own “sound”, how did you guys settle with a general genre like “indie”, instead of deviating to the generic pop-acoustic genre that a lot of people tend to do?
We considering our genre at the moment a “Work in progress”. Generally, we’re known as indie, but there are so many spectrums of the indie genre: Pop, Rock, Alternative, etc. Usually when someone asks us what genre we play, we tend to mention the bands that we like and take inspiration from. We believe that if we play what we like, what we think sounds good, the whole “sound” thing will come naturally.
There is so much new music and art coming out everyday, so we’re always finding new sources of inspiration. As individuals and as a band, we’re still learning and growing!
4. Your new single “Torchlight” is out, and it’s got a quirky little story to how it came to be. Would you mind telling the fans and our readers on the origins on “Torchlight”?
Yes, admittedly, the song was inspired by a bad haircut that James had back in around 2014. He used to be really sensitive about growing-out his hair, long and was pretty upset when the barber/hairstylist misunderstood it, and cut it short.
But let it be known that James CLAIMS he isn’t as concerned about how his hair looks as he used to be! In fact, recently the same thing actually kind of happened again but he wasn’t really bothered by it. Keyword, claim.
5. It’s a gift that you guys can turn something as normal as a bad haircut, to something poetic. Can you guys give us an insight to how to refine and romanticize your lyrics?
To be frank, our methods/process on how we write our lyrics are not fixed in any way. We just try to take an experience or a situation and try to paraphrase and re-word it to make it more sophisticated (depending on the situation), and general so that hopefully others can relate and have their own interpretations of it. Also we add a little bit of cheesy-ness in the song but not too much as some people might be lactose intolerant. (Get it?!)
6. Creative process doesn’t happen instantaneously, and when required to crank an album or EP out, do you guys wait for inspiration to strike? Or are you guys always on the constant look-out/hunt for inspiration?
A bit of both, actually. Inspiration usually strikes when we hear, see, or experience something, and we’re constantly on the lookout for new ways to enhance our music!
We’re big fans of ‘Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ playlists and YouTube recommendations too! Boy do those algorithms and Artificial Intelligence-bots really know which music to put in our ‘Discover Weekly’.In a more practical way, we also just jam and doodle around ‘till we hear something we like, and use whatever inspiration we have to build on it.
7. How do each of you handle song-writer’s block?
This is a tough one, as we don’t even know the real cure to that. But I guess a sure-fire way to get you back on the grind, is to listen to other artists. Listening and reading other artists lyrics are really helpful, as you can interpret new perspectives and turn it into a song! Another way we combat song-writer’s block, would be to learn new songs on our instruments. It helps fill-in some spaces when you interpret a similar structure/riff to your dead-end melody.
8. As friends, how do you guys manage to find a fine-line between being professional to a group of normal guys who want to just have fun?
We try to take all our practice, recording sessions and other band-related meetings very seriously (Work hard play harder, right?! There’s a time and place for everything), but we always play music that we like and what we think sounds good, so it really doesn’t feel like work to us.
But we’re only human, and we’ve definitely had our fair-share of slacking and getting distracted with our other activities.
9. What are the realities of being a local artist/band, in Malaysia that you guys can tell us?
Unless you have like a really big following, it is hard for local artists to make enough money from music to actually sustain themselves. So for us, its important to find other sources of income.
Juggling between work and what you love can be really demanding and time-consuming but that’s where proper time-management for rest and leisure comes in! Although easier said than done, the pay-off is immense and you’ll feel like you can conquer anything!
- Every Network Counts!
It’s relatively hard for a band with no connections to be heard or listened to. Hence, it’s always a good thing to be active going to live shows, and by active we mean socialising and mingling with just about anyone (You never know who’s who).
- Do Not Be Discouraged
It’s really easy to be overlooked if you are new, and have a small following as a local artist in Malaysia, this is why it is important to stay positive and don’t get discouraged in sharing your music to others.If you keep popping up, in gigs or social media feeds, and people keep seeing you around, people are bound to get curious and might stay if they like what they hear or see!
10. We know that you guys will be having a Dual-Single release this June, as well as another Single release this October. Is there any way you guys can describe the upcoming songs you’re about to release?
Actually, we ARE recording two songs at the moment, but we plan on releasing one of them by June/July. After that, we plan to finish up the other song and compile it along with all our other released singles into an EP! To answer the question though, the next song will definitely be more upbeat! It’s kind of like our own rendition of a (hopefully) catchy and slightly cheesy Pop-tune. The other one will be more experimental and an example of elements we’re working on for our debut album in the future, which we are already working-on by the way!
Thank you, Sevenpie! For the acknowledgement, we really appreciate it!