Sunday, August 16, 2009

NiNe InCh Nails

I first heard of Nine Inch Nails in the late 80's. I was at one of the local record shops and chanced upon it. I didn't know anything about the band then but I took a test listen to it and liked it. Needless to say, I bought it straight away. It was Pretty Hate Machine. That kind of music was not much appreciated back then. And as I've written before, you can't depend on the local radio stations to play anything new or different to the norm. Also most of the people were not into such underground music. Cyberpunk is still not very followed here in Singapore. I then got my friends to listen to the album and they all loved it. Some went on to buy the album. Others just recorded it off each other. Slowly even my brother got fond of it especially since I was blasting it in my room everyday. Then his friends got into it. It was actually very nice to see some of them that night after so many years. Some married even. I was at that time one of the local musicians. My music wasn't very appreciated by the local scene which consisted mostly of the local Malays. We call them Mats here. The problem was I placed too much emphasis on keyboards and drum machines although I did have live drums and guitars as well. They just couldn't understand. I still remember April 18th 1991. I was invited to play a gig at the Substation, which interestingly is at the Fort Canning Hill as well. I was eventually booed at and that while I was playing NIN's 'That's What I Get'. Still there were people there who knew such music and commented to me that they really liked it. They too told me that Singapore and those Mats in particular were not ready for such stuff yet. Imagine my surprise when I saw such people at the NIN concert that night. My biggest influence in my becoming a musician is Depeche Mode. And NIN of course. But what really got me fascinated with NIN was when I found out that it actually was just one man in it. Fascinated because that was exactly what I was doing with my band! I play multiple instruments. Mostly self taught. So when I went to recording studios, I had to keep going back in to play the next instrument and lay it over the previous. It was tedious but I loved it. I had absolute control. I even eventually got my hands on the soundboard. It was only during gigs that I had to recruit some of my friends to play with me. Sounds so familiar, no? I finally made sound engineering my career and that was the end of my music dream. I read in the NIN's forum someone saying it feels like he left a part of him back there on the hill. A few others agreed. Some even said they feel like they were suffering from post NIN concert syndrome. They are so right. For that is how I feel too. I'll never see Fort Canning Park the same way again. I practically grew up there and it has always been special to me. I also had my first gig there. That was also where I had my first date. Now it will be so much more special. So much more beautiful. Still I don't dare to think of myself going back up there. I don't want to break the sanctity of that hill. Almost like I want to hold on to that night as the last memory I have of that beautiful place. Sounds crazy I know, but that is sort of how I feel. I feel a little empty inside. Like I've left a piece of me up there on that hill.

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