So, we had an interview with the awesome Brigitte Rozario
awhile back but the story never got printed because someone somewhere forgot to read their emails...so we'll be running it here on the website instead. ;)
On a Thusday evening, two men sit at Sid's Pub in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, lamenting the lack of professionalism in the local music industry, referring to their band as possibly a “supergroup” of sorts.
If you didn't know them, you might think they sounded like two arrogant bastards who are full of themselves.
Except, it's not arrogance that exudes from the more experienced Riz and the straight-talking Shaneil. The duo have time and again put their shoulder to the wheel to hone their skill at making music, performing and marketing their music.
What you do get from more than an hour of talking to half of local band The Endleaves is a sense of professionalism, commitment, passion and drive.
The other half of the band – Rashaad and Krist – have full-time jobs and couldn't make it for the interview.
What is The Endleaves?
Shaneil: A rock band with me on vocals and rhythm guitar; Riz on lead guitar and backing vocals; Rashaad on drums; and Krist on bass.
What type of music do you play?
Shaneil: It's just straight up rock.
How was the band formed?
Riz: (Shaneil) originally didn't have a backing band for his solo EP launch. So, he called me up and said, "Hey, wanna play for this gig?" And, I agreed. And, we ended up doing that.
Shaneil: The first time we rehearsed was on the afternoon of the EP launch on April 21 this year (2013). The EP launch went well and then I asked everyone if they wanted to play this other gig together and everyone was in.
What's the story behind the name?
Shaneil: I put my name (Shaneil Devaser) in an online Scrabble Helper and, I went through the list of words that came out. Endleaves was one of them. No other band had the name Endleaves. I was looking for a band name for a long time and couldn't find anything that was original, so I thought I'd go with that. No one before had ever named a band Endleaves, so I bought the domain name, booked the Facebook, Twitter and Reverbnation. Then I went to look for a band. So, I actually had the name in November last year (2012), before the band was formed.
Why did you want to form another band when both of you have been in other bands in the past and are now playing acoustic solo gigs?
Shaneil: Because it's boring playing solo. It's so boring.
Riz: The problem with the whole band situation is that you have other members to think about. It's like another relationship. You spend a lot of time together, at least twice a week for two hours at a time per session and then you play on weekends. So, you deal with a lot of different personalities and there are certain things that they want to do that you don't want to do. And, if you end up being the main writer for a song that you want to play up but they don't want to play up, then you're stuck. That's kinda what I did with my old bands (Paku and 3) and what Shaneil did with his old band (Crossing Boundaries). Then you end up doing the acoustic thing alone and you find that it's easier because you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want...
Shaneil: Then you find out it's boring to do the acoustic thing.
Riz: Oh, it's completely boring. The reason I was in a band was so I could play electric with a band, not by myself. It's fun for a while but after that it gets boring.
How we got together was based on, at least for me, the frustration at not being able to do the type of music that I wanted to do because my band rejected it, saying it wasn't heavy enough or was too pop. To me, music is just music. It's just how you apply it and the minute you get into the context of your band, it will become what it is.
Shaneil: The lackadaisical attitude of some makes it hard to work with them. Everyone wants to play in a rock band without putting in the work.
So, what do you think makes a band work?
Riz: 70-80% of bands is not even about the music. It's this. We're not even talking about how we write as creative people. We're talking about how we get along as individuals. That's a big part of a band.
For me, when I see a band member, I never go for the talent because talent can always be developed. If you're a bass player and you're not as good but you're willing to learn and you have the attitude (“And you drink beer,” says Shaneil), you're in, because you will learn how to play the bass well, the more you do it.
I'd rather get someone like that than somebody who's up here (he says gesturing to his head) and has all the attitude. You don't want to deal with all that. It doesn't become fun anymore because until the day that we're making millions of dollars, we're just having fun. It's all about having fun because if we wanted to make money obviously we would be a covers band ("Or work in a bank," says Shaneil).
Why not be a covers band if that's where the money is?
Shaneil: Nothing against them. They make more money than me...for now. But I don't see the difference between that and working in a bank. Instead of working from 9 in the morning till 5pm, you work from 9pm till 5am.
Riz: There is less creative process when playing covers and this is more apparent when a covers band plays a song, note for note, like the original band. But then they are revered by the patrons who commend them for playing the song exactly like the original band, and it reinforces that. So, they want to do that again. The minute they try their own music, they get no reaction which is what you sometimes get when you play original music in a bar situation.
I recently found out that I can't do that day in, day out. I can't play Mustang Sally four nights a week for the next month. It will just kill me. I actually need the original stuff more than I need the covers.
You have both been in the lead vocals in other bands, how do you work together on The Endleaves? Isn't there a clash of personalities?
Riz: He has age and I have experience so we blend in terms of energy and enthusiasm. We bounce ideas off each other and it works very well. He's like a younger version of me ... with longer hair.
We're both lead singers and songwriters in our own right. Technically, it shouldn't work but I'm at the point where I'm not about that.
We all have our roles to fill. He's in the front singing, I play the guitar and sing backup. So, we're still trying to fit in our respective moulds.
Shaneil: He's the only other musician in Malaysia who is up at 7.30am. I can message him at 7.30 and he will reply. We're up early in the morning. We get shit done. We're 15 minutes early all the time. It's one of the main reasons I get along with Riz.
Riz: The journey is the fun part. It's more important than being obsessed with “making it big”.
We have experience so we can get from Point A to Point B in a short time.
So, who is the “gurubesar” in the band?
Riz: He is (pointing to Shaneil).
And, who is the party dude?
Shaneil: Riz is (laughs).
And, what sets you apart from other bands?
Shaneil: Music is music. But what sets us apart as a band is consistency, punctuality and originality. We worry about the tone, not like other bands who just come in, plug and play, and everything sounds like rubbish.
We bring our own amps. It's a professional quality band. The only other people I believe in our category are Free Deserters and Cats in Love and maybe a couple of other bands around KL.
We offer nice, accessible rock n' roll. It's not heavy metal, nor is it overly artsy-fartsy that no one understands it.
Riz: I think mainly what sets us apart is the sound. Six months down the road I would be able to say better how our music is different but at this point we're just trying to fill in our catalogue. Right now, for me, as a guitar player – it is the sound and tone of the band. And, how we carry ourselves in terms of stage performance. A lot of people don't talk about performance.
Musicians can't look like they just got out of bed or came from work. The quality of the sound, and the music are important, too.
What are your upcoming gigs?
Riz: Our first big gig was in Diamond in the Rough at The Venue, KL. Based on Shaneil's contacts, we're getting called to play at festivals, events and gigs that are already established. We're busy, which is actually what I want.
When will the first album be out?
Shaneil: Soon ... by the end of this year, or maybe the first quarter of next year. There are currently two songs recorded – High and Just Dream On. Other original tunes include Once Upon A Time, Forget, For A Day and Maple As She Glows (the first tune Riz and I wrote together). We've got a couple of work in progress tunes including These Things and Isn't it Strange?
Is the whole band writing songs together?
Shaneil: But drummers and bassists don't write...
What do you promise fans and people who attend your gigs?
Shaneil: A good time!
P.S. Maple As She Glows, technically our second single as The Endleaves, first single as the current line up, will be out for free by the end of this month. So, stay tuned, folks! :D