What happens when a metal-head from Italy goes to South East Asia, falls in love with the underground scene so much he joins a band and never leaves?
Banana Punk Rawk Trails – that’s what.
It’s a book by Marco Ferrarese that documents his experiences joining, and touring with Malaysian thrash metal band WEOT SKAM in what he describes as a “DIY hellish sleigh ride” through mainland Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia.
The Other Option includes personal accounts of some of the more intense and bizarre experiences of Australian bands touring South East Asia – but being immersed in the chaos and culture of the South East Asian as part of a local band, Marco details some incredible tour tales in the book.
Here is how he emerged in the middle of Malaysia’s thriving punk and hardcore scene:
“At 27 I came to the understanding that these Western punk and metal scenes were not so outstandingly diverse from mainstream society. They also were characterised by a rat race, a fashion show made up of people who were more interested in proving their worth by wearing the t-shirt of some obscure band, rather than supporting local struggling bands with ideas. I was sick of all this. When [my band] the Nerds disbanded in late 2007, I jumped at the chance to move to China and teach languages. I didn’t listen to any music nor cared about any scene development for the following 3 years.
When I arrived in Penang and fell in love with a local girl at the end of 2009, I still didn’t give a damn. But in 2010, a series of serendipitous meetings – or under the plan of the rock and roll devil himself – helped me connect with the guys of WEOT SKAM. They asked me to play lead guitar in the band.”
The pictures of Marco shredding with his Asian mates bring a sense of hilarity to the whole situation and are enough to make anyone pick up the book to find out more. But when I talked to Marco more about what he loved about the South East Asian scene, his response stood out and I immediately related it to many people who expressed the exact same sentiment in The Other Option.
“A quick look to their scene showed me that it had a different kind of energy, it was more real. On top of that, and contrarily to the domesticated scenes of the West, these guys risked authority retaliation by embodying these subcultural identities. I thought that was more punk than any Western-based punk, and I simply enjoyed my ticket to a wild, at times culturally challenging, ride.”
Banana Punk Rawk Trails is the first English language book on the metal punk scene of Malaysia and Indonesia to be produced locally in Southeast Asia. It also includes a collection of over 250 black & white pictures and a complilation CD of South East Asian punk/hardcore/metal artists.