Interview by Jocelle Koh with CURB for Indiego Recess
Transcript by Grant Zeng

CURB is one of Singapore’s most promising underground rock units. Made up of some young veterans on the local indie scene with major credits under their names (Nick drums for Subsonic Eye, both Sam and Nick session for fauxe, Farizi produces for Mary Sue) Sam, Farizi and Nick who make up the band are here to recklessly make the kind of music that they enjoy, and that they don’t see anyone else doing.

In their words, “we just write the shit that we want to hear”.

Drawing frequently from emo-rock influences but borrowing from all genres such as punk, math rock and more the band pay a unique homage to the city they’ve centred their lives around on their coming-of-age album ‘Hope You’re Doing Well, Michaela’, and shared with us some bizarre stories that inspired the concept as well as their takes on what’s been happening on the local scene lately.

-start of transcript-

Jocelle: Hi guys, I’m Jocelle, I am the founder of Asian Pop Weekly and I’m also the host of Everywhere and Nowhere on Indiego. I’m here today with some very fun guys, these are CURB, and I’ll let them introduce themselves, maybe starting with Sam?

Sam: Hi, I’m Sam, I play bass, and I sing in CURB.

Lucas: Hi I’m Lucas, I play guitar, and I also do vocals…in CURB [laughs]

Jocelle: [laughs] Why are you laughing?

Farizi: Hi I’m Farizi [laughs], hi I’m Farizi, I play drums, and I also sing..for CURB

Jocelle: Nice. You guys are doing some really great stuff for the Singapore scene, and actually I heard you all studied at Lasalle? At one point in time together? Is that how, can you tell me a bit about how CURB started to begin with?

Sam: Um, so we all studied at Lasalle, but we didn’t meet that way. Basically, I mean Farizi and Lucas have been friends for a long time, because they’re classmates in SOTA, and I was classmates with Lucas in Lasalle [laughs]

Jocelle: Why are you shaking your head? [laughs]

Lucas: Art school

Jocelle: [Laughs] Art school vibes

Sam: And yeah, Farizi I met through Lucas

Jocelle: Ah I see. Then what was it that made you guys want to start CURB? Cause I know you guys have known each other for a while and were working on some ideas, but you only really started to work on music during lockdown, right?

Lucas: Initially we started this thing, like, prior to lockdown, but like the confusion was different, and we didn’t really have any plans to make music for real. We just wanted to write songs and see what happens. Just as we decided we wanted to do it for real, and lockdown happened, so most of the stuff on the record now is from that period. I was going back and forth sending Telegram voice notes, that was the main mode of communication.

Jocelle: That’s crazy to me, and actually it’s such a unique way, method of songwriting. I feel, like, how does that work, how did you guys create songs together over Telegram voice messages? Like do you send each other riffs, and then someone else adds on, or how does it work?

Lucas: Yeah basically, cause all of us play guitar, so, and, we also play drums and stuff like that. So a lot of times I guess an idea for a song can come in any form, whether it’s like, some chorus, some melody, or maybe a groove. So since we’re all able to execute it to whatever extent, we can communicate that through the voice notes. Just like shitty quality, just like playing wrong notes, the idea is there though.

Jocelle: It’s a safe Telegram space [laughs]

Lucas: Yeah, exactly, yeah

The members of CURB
From left to right: Farizi, Sam, Lucas
From CURB’s Bandcamp

Jocelle: Awesome. I know you guys are also like, I mean you guys all play in different bands, you have a lot of experience in the Singaporean music scene already, but what would you classify CURB’s sound as? Or how would you describe it?

[Everyone laughs]

Farizi: I think we definitely draw a lot of influences from emo music. Like hardcore adjacent bands, because that’s what we listen to. I think we always have a little difficulty trying to define what exactly it is we play, because we’re not setting out to make emo music actually. We kind of draw influences from the emo genre and we try to just make our own brand of music.

Jocelle: Right, but I mean if you were to, you don’t have to use genres to describe your music, but like adjectives, or feelings, like what are you guys going for with CURB?

Lucas: I feel like our ethos is mainly writing the shit we want to hear.

Jocelle: That’s very broad.

Lucas: Yeah but I feel like the energy of the songs or whatever isn’t set in stone, or isn’t premeditated. It’s like, we write, blah blah blah, and at the end of the day, this is what we’ve created, and then this is the energy or the feeling we are putting out. And then it’s up to people’s interpretation, and they can see if they like it or not.

Jocelle: Cool. That’s a very carefree way of [saying it]

Lucas: I know that’s not saying anything at all, sorry

Jocelle: Yeah, you said it, not me [laughs]. But anyway, I still think you guys are definitely doing something very different with your music, and you’ve mentioned before I think, that that’s something very important to you guys, to try and not follow what’s already there in the blueprint, but to make something different. Would you say that’s one of the core values within your music? Or your creative process?

Sam: I would say so, but I mean it’s not, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily just for the sake of being different, but I think, all of us collectively, I think I can say this, we wanna hear something else. We don’t wanna just write a title fight song that sounds exactly like that and call it a day, like, “Oh that sounds pretty good, that’s not bad”. You know, I think collectively we wanna push for more, to hear things we wanna hear.

Jocelle: Nice, and I think it’s really interesting how you guys, I think it was Farizi, you mentioned in a previous interview that it’s not enough to be just a band and make music in Singapore, right? Can you unpack a little bit more about that?

Farizi: [Laughs] No, you’re right. I guess what I was trying to say was that, I guess as a band, and then becoming recognised as music makers, then there’s a sort of, I mean I don’t think it’s necessarily an obligation, there’s nothing wrong with just making music and putting it out there. But I think it also takes another step to make music and be intentional about what you’re trying to do with your music. I think that’s what we all believe in at CURB. Like, defining what the intentions are, and what are we really doing with the music that we’re making and putting out.

I think COVID gave us an opportunity, and I think there are a lot of eyes on Singaporean music now more than ever.


Jocelle: Right so it’s not just about making music without intention in Singapore, it has to always have an intention to move it forward. I know that you guys also, I mean you’re all born and raised in Singapore I’m guessing? No? Yes? No? [laughs]

Sam: Yeah, I’m Singaporean but I stayed in the US until I was 14, and then I moved back.

Jocelle: Okay okay, cool, but I feel that your music has some very Singaporean themes that run through it. Why do you think it’s important to have that kind of local context in your music?

Lucas: I think it’s sort of stems from, at least from me, the way I perceive it, like you hear in a lot of music from the West, or basically American media, a lot of them are very sort of vocal about where they come from, or very proud of it you know? Of where they’re from, and I think there’s kind of not enough of that here?

Jocelle: It’s more imitation of the West? Or what do you feel?

Lucas: Maybe it is, maybe it’s genuine, I can’t say for sure, but at least for CURB, it comes from a very real awareness of where we are in space, right? And our own attachment to the space, so in this case it’s Singapore, and I genuinely love Singapore. I mean, I dunno, I love Singaporean music, so why not? Maybe make that a theme if that’s something we care about, right?

Jocelle: Definitely. Speaking of Singaporean music, are there any, I know you guys play in different bands and stuff, feel free to name them, but what are some Singaporean local acts that you guys really love?

Lucas: Carpet Golf. We love Carpet Golf and we’re good friends with them.

Sam: Top Band for me, they’re not around anymore but it was like T-Rex

[Everyone laughs]

Jocelle: Farizi?

Lucas: Sue!

Farizi: Oh yeah, the producer Mary Sue, that I frequently collaborate with.

Jocelle: I mean you guys have been really into that underground scene in Singapore, so I also wanted to pick your brain about what you see, as the kind of state of the Singapore scene, and maybe where it’s going to move, moving forward.

[Everyone laughs]

Jocelle: Yeah I know it’s a big one

Lucas: That’s a very big question. Like where it’s going to go?

Jocelle: Or maybe you can start with where it is right now, what do you see?

Lucas: I think COVID gave us an opportunity, and I think there are a lot of eyes on Singaporean music now more than ever. Like Pitchfork just reviewed the Sobs album, and it got a 7.5, that’s fucking huge. I dunno, that’s a big big thing, that’s a big step, and I think you also see a lot more international support for Singaporean music in the zeitgeist. I think..I think like we’re at a stage now where there’s potential full of growth, I think it’s just on all of us, collectively, to keep pushing I guess.

Jocelle: And when you talk about pushing, what do you think is the right direction, in terms of growing the Singapore music scene?

Sam: Okay I mean, maybe one of the ways is to keep, I mean at least for CURB, is to keep doing what we’re doing, just to make music like that. And just try stuff that hasn’t been done. I mean that’s really vague, but in the sense that you know, in our own way, push the boundaries from what other bands haven’t tried? You know it shouldn’t just be, this is what has been laid out, this is what we can do.

Jocelle: Kind of like, diversifying the scene in some way, or like, doing it sustainably. I also wanted to talk a bit about your album of course, what is it called, oh my gosh, my brain just blanked

Lucas: It’s fine

Jocelle: “Hope You’re Doing Well, Michaela”, can you tell me a bit about the concept of the album, and also what are some of your favourite songs off the album.

Farizi: Well the concept, I guess, would you call it a coming-of-age album? No, right? Yes? No?

Lucas: I think circumstantially it is.

Farizi: Yeah circumstantially it is. I think because … the coherent themes seem to be to define the album as anecdotal, so there’s a lot of personal narratives fleshed [out] throughout. Even the title itself is a personal anecdote that we all collectively experienced, and so, I thought that was a way to, I mean I guess that kind of summarizes the concept of the album or at least the intention was for it to be a quite personal album for us to me.

Jocelle: Can you talk a bit about that personal anecdote of “Hope You’re Doing Well, Michaela”?

[Lucas and Farizi laugh]

Lucas: Oh shit

Jocelle: Is Michaela a person or is it like?

Farizi: Michaela may or may not be a real person, but we experienced or we encountered a…

Lucas: Experienced is not the word [laughs]

Farizi: No, not experienced, sorry, encountered, had an interaction with, yeah. It was one night that we basically hung out with this person who was a stranger before, and we were kinda hanging out and talking about CURB, and then we kind of got interrupted because I think she was just trying to be friendly, and then, we basically hung out and tried to figure out who she was and talked. At the end of it she left and we never saw her again. Hence, the title of the name.

Lucas: Like she didn’t tell us her real name, and she didn’t…every time we asked something personal like, “where’d you come from?” she wouldn’t really give us an answer, so it was a very bizarre thing. After that we never saw her again, so we called it “Hope you’re doing well now, if we never see you again”

Jocelle: Aw, that’s a very bizarre story.

Sam: We named the album after you, you have to come, you have to come for at least one show.

Jocelle: Is that her real name or do you actually not know it?

CURB: No no no, we really don’t know it.

Jocelle: And it’s just a person who you met at one of your shows or something like that?

Sam: No, it wasn’t even at a show, we were just hanging out, and then she just like, plopped down next to us, pop, and we were like, “Who are you?”. Yeah we have no idea, yeah, that’s the story.

Jocelle: Wow, I guess that kind of sets the tone for the whole album, right?

CURB: Yeah

Hope You’re Doing Well, Michaela Cover Art

Jocelle: Can I ask what are some of your favourite tracks, maybe one from each of you, from the album, and maybe a bit about the story behind it.

Sam: Oh, um…you guys can go first [laughs]

Lucas: I mean my favourite I think is “2020”, yeah I think cause Sam wrote a big chunk of it, so it’s just a great song. Sam is a god

Sam: No [laughs]

Farizi: My personal favourite is “Insult Through Injury”. I wrote it when I broke my finger the year before.

Jocelle: Literal injury.

Farizi: Yeah, literal injury. And then I think it’s just one of the more emotional songs of the record, and I quite enjoyed it.

Jocelle: [To Sam] Okay your turn.

Sam: I’m just going to go with the one I enjoy playing the most, so for me that’s probably going to be “Bellboy”, that’s always fun to play.

Jocelle: Nice, awesome. Anyway I think we have to wrap up because we have been talking for a long time, and [name (not sure the name)] is giving me the eye, so thank you so much for having this chat, and I look forward to hearing you guys play later on.

Lucas: Let’s gooo

Jocelle: Thank you

CURB: Thank you

-end of transcript-

Disclaimer: This transcript has been edited for clarity purposes.

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