Recently I had a chance to talk to bro Karl of Cromok via email. I asked him if I could do an email interview and he sportingly agreed. So I sent to him a series of questions which he answered in only two days!
The interview will be in two parts. The first part is the interview about his band Cromok. Most of the info in this interview cannot be found in the internet, exclusive for Gelanggang Gitar blog readers only.
The second part, which I will post later, consists the questions about guitars and stuffs, which will be interesting to read. Trust me.. I’ve been reading it four – five times a day since I got the reply!
I would like to apologize to my readers since the interview wil be in English. Me and bro Karl have been conversing in English all this while (in emails – I don’t think we will be using full-English if I were to meet him in real life).
I won’t be using English for the lesson, don’t worry..
You may use the content of the interview anywhere else, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE credit Gelanggang Gitar, ok? It’s not that hard, just put a link to this blog somewhere anywhere..
So.. here goes the interview, stuffs about CROMOK you won’t read in anywhere else!
How and when did you guys meet? How long had you known each other before forming CROMOK?
Sam, miji and I were in the same school (Sek Men Sains Dungun, Terengganu) in 1984 doing the English course (TOEFL) after SPM for sponsored students going for overseas. It was a stupid move by the govt to send students to Dungun to learn English coz no one speaks English there. We ended up learning Trengganu dialect instead!
Sam and I were housemates when we were in Crows Nest Boys High School in Sydney in 1985. What a waste – no chicks there! And Miji was sent to Brisbane, Queensland in 1985. In 1986/1987 (I think) Miji got a place in Wollongong University together with me and Sam. Din was our Senior by one year in Wollongong University.Miji and Sam were housemates in Wollongong together with Din. They converted their house garage into a jamming place.
Cromok was created here and before cromok was established, another Guitarist named “Mat Puck” or “Pucky” played with the group. The line up was Sam, Miji, Pucky and Din. Cromok played in clubs with this line up. All of this is during 1988-1989.
In 1990 the group was not happy with Pucky’s performance so they asked me if I want to join Cromok.actually I had my own band called ‘KERAZ’ at that time playing in clubs as well and Keraz were the 2nd best band in Wollongong at that time. We played more towards hard rock stuff with my line up consisting of 3 Australians, 1 Greek, and 1 Philippino.
I told Sam, Miji and Din that I will only join Cromok if they are very serious about the band. I do not want to be just another garage band. We should try our very best to ‘make it to the top’. My conditions of joining was:
– Cut a proper demo with album cover, cassette duplication just like a real album.
– Approach recording companies with the demo to promote the band.
– Invest in better equipment – the drum set at that time was horrible – they used a house floor lighting stand as cymbal stand!
– Be professional – regular practice
They eventually agreed and we spent around AUD$1,000 to record the demo in a garage studio. Miji bought a brand new 8-piece double base Pearl drum set. Our friend named Wak Turau created the logo and another friend of mine draw the black and white visual of the original unicorn (not released in Malaysia – I have a few more copies of this original demo with me).
(Make mental note to ask him about that particular demo when we meet!)
With the released of the demo titled Image of Purity in 1990 Cromok was then officially established with Sam, Miji, Din and Karl. We then played in various clubs until Cromok was voted the best band in Sydney by the Hot Metal Magazine in 1990.
At the same time our friend Jig who studied with us in Australia went back to Malaysia. We asked him to approach all the record companies in Malaysia and 6 months later, we signed under Valentine Sound Production and released the Image of Purity version in Malaysia. The album cover was design by Wak Turau.
How did the name CROMOK come up?
Sam, Miji and Din love P Ramlee movies especially the Bujang Lapuk series. I think one of the script is something like “ muka kau macam tepong kromak”. And some how a bunch of letters was put together and the name Cromok was created – the name sounded heavy and it suits the genre.
(Listen to the dialogue at the end of the Youtube video)
Why did you choose unicorn as your .. mascot?
There was a popular cartoon about a unicorn at that time. The story is about the Unicorn’s uniqueness, purity and eternity. So I guess Cromok has the same attributes and hopefully we can last forever. I think this is how the Image of Purity was created.
As you might have already known, there are many Malaysian bands formed by Malaysian students out there, just like in CROMOK’s case. But what were CROMOK’s amazing stories behind Image of Purity recording opportunity?
You have to be different to be noticed!
Physically – What are the chances of the Mat Salleh’s seeing 4 long haired ASIAN heavy metal guys on stage compared to other bands in all blondes. We looked different!
Musically – Mat Salleh are into blues and other typical heavy metal riffs while we were very melodic but with heavy vocals and rhythm to suit the genre. We are unique even until today!
(Yes they are!!)
Have a dream. Have a goal – aim for stardom. Have a plan. Put your heart and soul into it and it might get you somewhere and your dreams can become a reality.
And be professional (which means) invest in time and equipments.
Who was the major contributor to CROMOK’s songs?
The way we write songs are different from others. We created the riffs, rhythms and arrangement first and then we put in the lyrics. The feel of the songs determine the lyrics. All of us contributed to the arrangement. Lyrics were mainly contributed by Sam and Miji. Sam because he is going to sing it. Miji because his English was better than any of us.
After Din parted ways with CROMOK, who was your sessionist for rhythm guitars?
When Din went back to Malaysia in 1991, we had a Philipino guitarist/sessionist replacing him in Australia. Cromok kept going. We got an offer to play as opening act for Motorhead group in 1991 but unfortunately we had to turn it down coz we were not ready yet with the new guitarist.
When we came back to Malaysia, we had a concert in Life Centre. I can’t remember the secessionist name but I remember he is the brother of XPDC guitarist. We also had GG who owns the guitar service shop in Gombak.
Just out of curiosity, CROMOK was the first AMUK’s line-up, wasn’t it? And you were Metal Jawa, weren’t you?
I don’t event know who is behind AMUK and Metal Jawa. Ah…now I remember. EMI was pressing us on releasing an album in Malay but we felt that the language was not suitable for Sam to sing so we did not release any album in Malay. So EMI created this AMUK using original Cromok recorded materials/album and ask someone to write lyrics in Malay and someone to sing along on top of the recorded materials. I think the singer was Nasha.
Don’t know anything about Metal Jawa – another compilation? (heh) Don’t really follow local album releases.
We’ve heard about the CROMOK comeback concert which will be featuring the original line-up (You, Sam and Miji). So far we haven’t heard an official announcement yet. Would you mind giving and exclusive overview to Gelanggang Gitar about that concert.. please?
Umm.. Bad news. I have just got the confirmation that Cromok is not playing. What a bummer! I was really looking forward to it. Would love to do a reunion concert/album.
What a bummer indeed!! I have actually surveyed the ticket for the Sunburst KL International Music Festival organized by Pineapple Concerts , and yes, it was really heartbreaking when Cromok name was not in the list!
Allrite.. stay tuned for the second part.
Until then.. ROCK ON!!