For local retro rockers The Pinholes, rollin’ good times are always the order of the day. And a hayride through the feel-good swingin’ ‘60s – with licks of surf-rock, funk and soul – is just what you should expect from Bring Back The Vibe, their first full-length release after a string of EPs. To give the album the boisterous debut it deserves, the easygoing quartet will be playing their very first full concert, Break From Normalcy, at The Esplanade. But before they serve up some shakin’ and bakin’, we catch up with frontman Famie Suliman, who talks about their funkadelic outfits and his dream jam buddies.
Hi Famie! Congrats on completing your new album! Has it been in the works for a long time?
To be honest, Bring Back The Vibe has been planned since 2006 – and its previous working title was Ready To Go. We’ve recorded the whole album four times before this cut, and it didn't happen; but there won't be a fifth time. So here we are, we’ve delivered!
Now is as good a time as ever. How does it feel to finally be launching it?
It's definitely exciting for us because it’s our debut full length album. We have always been an EP kind of group, but now that every other band (in Singapore) is coming out with EPs, we wanna do the opposite. And on top of it all, we’re launching it our own way, The Pinholes way.
Will you be doing anything special for the album launch?
For our one and only concert so far, we are bringing in a strings quartet and some horns sections. This will be a one-off thing, and there won’t be an experience closer to this, so do come down and join us. We guarantee a night of zaniness to end your February in style.
The album launch will be your first official concert, but you guys have played at plenty of gigs and festivals. Which gig do you have fond memories of?
The one that still makes us feel great is the first time we played in Johor Bahru, as part of JB Arts Festival. There were more than 5,000 in the crowd dancing to “Youth Of Gold”!
The Pinholes have a very distinct sunny '60s sound that sets you apart from other local bands. What drew you guys to this style?
To start with, we really love our homegrown peers like The Stoned Revivals and Force Vomit. I think both are responsible for drawing us back to the more earlier stuff from our local scene in the '60s and '70s. Then we discovered great, exciting bands and artistes like The Quests, Straydogs, Pest Infested, The Swallows, Ismail Haron and many others that kept us curious. Mind you, these people made Singapore vibrant with culture back then in the heyday, yet as young Singaporeans, we don't really know their legacy much. That’s why I started to dig up on them – out of respect and honour for the way they started the earlier pop movement here.
What else do you like about the '60s era?
Every single bit of the '60s is tops. It’s colourful yet rebellious, and embraces experimenting and expression. It’s all about being serious, yet not taking yourself too seriously.
Did you record Bring Back The Vibe in your home studio like your previous EP?
We actually produced our record at Thom's Loft in Arab St. A very cool space they have, you guys should check them out.
Were there any challenges during the recording process?
A few. Didi, our guitarist, got himself a job in Malaysia. Even though he is now based in the neighbouring country, he still managed to find time to travel to and fro and finish recording. Meanwhile, Wando, our bassist, could only join us during weekends since he’s serving national service and stays in camp most weekdays. There were times he was confined and we’ve had to scrap a lot of booking times. Well, sometimes things happen, but on top of this we still managed to put the record out. And that matters most.
Being such a well-loved band here, did you ever feel any pressure from your fans to release a full-length album over the years?
Thanks for the compliment! So far our fans have been super cool with whatever we are doing. I think the pressure is only from ourselves to try and produce something. If there was a fan pressuring us, he or she might as well join us as a band manager – definitely very aggressive!
Are there any songs on the album that you think will surprise fans, or any that will become a new crowd favourite?
There are a couple of songs that I think would be crowd favourites, like "How Much Is Too Much", "Bring Back The Vibe" and "Money". But in terms of surprises, our fans might have to wait a little bit longer. Maybe after another album or two, we might collaborate with Daft Punk for a shoegaze album.
If you could travel back in time and jam with any band (dead or alive), who would it be?
We would love to jam with Paul McCartney from The Beatles and Reggie Verghese from The Quests ('60s local band) – this combo together will definitely blow our minds.
We love your retro mod outfits! Where do you guys usually shop for them?
We don't buy them. This great band from the '60s called The Kinks donated their outfits to us. Fits us well, really.
Will you guys be working on any music videos to go with the new album?
We’ve talked about it but nothing’s concrete yet. Directors out there, if you have any cool music videos ideas, don't hesitate to collaborate with us. You can always find us at Bukit Gombak.
Lastly, how would you guys like to break from the normalcy of life in Singapore?
Holding a proper gig at a very busy prata shop or coffee shop when there's no football on television. We won't settle for anything less. Then again, what is normal?
The Pinholes perform on February 28 at the Esplanade Recital Studio. For tickets, visit sistic.com.sg.