TMR celebrates the 1-year anniversary of the historical Bandung Blasting Euro Tour 2015! We helped bring Indonesian metal titans Jasad and Burgerkill to Europe for the first time ever. Get behind the scenes with TMR and find out how everything was made possible.
Once upon a time there was a metal head in Sweden, who also happened to be a photographer who loved traveling backpacking style in Asia. That guy is me John. Back in 2008 I had an idea to combine my greatest passions in life; metal, traveling and photography. So I decided to make a photo-book of the metal scenes in Southeast Asia, together with my sister Lena, a super skilled journalist.
Back in 2008 we could hardly find anything online about the Southeast Asian metal scenes, besides the tragic deaths of 11 youngsters at a metal gig in Bandung Indonesia. We had to seriously dig into Myspace and forums to get in touch with people in the scenes, who could forward us in the right direction. Soon enough we got in contact with some amazing driving spirits who became our own “metal-guides” once we arrived. Many of these people are our best friends until today.
We travelled in The Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for about 8 months during 2008 and 2009. This epic journey took us through the Southeast Asian underground metal, punk and hardcore scenes. Meeting fans at intense basement punk gigs to big international outdoor metal festivals. Everywhere we went we were totally blown away by the hospitality and the super passionate fans.
We quickly realized this is something we have to tell the world about – this is the new frontier of metal music.
2012 we finally published our book Labour Of Love & Hate – An Underground Musical Journey Through Southeast Asia. The Metal Rebel and all my work with the Asian metal scenes is a ripple effect from this book. One place we fell in love with in particular was Bandung in Indonesia. We became very close friends with a lot of fantastic people in Bandung and to us, Bandung is our second home. So it´s no surprise that we have most of our connections and friends there and the biggest chapter in our book is about Indonesia and Bandung.
When me and my sister did a radio interview in 2014 for national Swedish radio with the Mayor of Bandung, Mr Ridwan Kamil – he surprised us all by asking me to help him bring the best and biggest metal bands from Bandung to Europe! He would support us all the way.
Mr Kamil wanted to help support the local scenes as well as putting Bandung on the international map of music.
We couldn’t believe it! Finally after almost 6 years we could hopefully realize our dream to help bring our best friends in Bandung to the bigger European metal festivals! Now it was up to me to become the booking agent, to find the right festivals and convince them to book Indonesian metal bands. Later I would join the bands as their Tour Manager throughout Europe.
The festival hunt
I will not reveal everything here about how we managed the bookings and preparations, because all that and the secret “on the road-goodies” will be included as a bonus chapter in the upcoming Indonesian version of our book Labour of Love & Hate! If everything goes as planned…
But, I will reveal some fun stuff for all you devoted Metal Rebels out there.
As soon as I got back home to Sweden in 2014, I put together a list of bands I thought was representative for Bandung in Europe. On top of the list was Jasad and Burgerkill, the two most popular metal bands from Bandung and the two bands that had the biggest reputation already in Europe. I then gathered playlists and promostuff for these bands as well as for three other bands. I didn’t even tell the three additional bands because I didn’t want them to get their hopes all maxed up to the sky, if they would turn out to be rejected by the festivals. And I wasn’t sure about the total budget for this endeavor.
I realized that bringing five bands to Europe would most likely not happen, but I had to try. These three extra bands were Outright, Demons Damn & Godless Symptoms. I picked these bands to have a mix of killer bands from different genres.
My hardest challenge was to try to convince the bigger European metal festivals to even considering having Indonesian bands on the bill in the first place. Bands that probably 90% of their festival guests had never heard of before. And to my surprise many of the festivals had already closed their bookings in early January/February for the 2015 summer lineup. So even if many festivals actually were interested they simply couldn’t find any open slots.
I was aiming for the bigger metal festivals like Wacken Open Air, Bloodstock, Brutal Assault, MetalDays, Obscene Extreme, Rockstadt, Summerbreeze, With Full Force, Rock Fest Barcelona, Resurrection Fest, Copenhell, Rockhard, Tuska Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival etc. I did this because I wanted the bands on Bandung Blasting to perform on stages with their international peers – I strongly believe that the Indonesian metal bands are absolutely just as good as any hot-shot Western metal band. I wanted to give the best possible exposure for the bands while touring in Europe – showing European fans, labels, festivals and media that these Indonesian bands kick ass.
All in all I worked super hard from January until early July. The first three months were spent on finding the right festivals, putting together a badass band-pitch email with convincing promo-stuff for the bands. Constant email follow-ups with the festivals, calling the booking contacts that didn’t answer my emails and then looking for other options. Trying to find out how the hell to travel with instruments and gears from Indonesia to Europe, and then inside Europe between the gigs. Mapping out a somewhat less insane travel itinerary between the different festivals based on show dates and distance while severely overdosing on coffee and Snus (Swedish nicotine). I also tried to decipher the Da Vinci Code-ish VISA-instructions for an Indonesian band touring in Europe, including Great Britain.
March to July was packed with preparations for the actual festivals. Everything from settling the technical riders, making sure about the arrangements on the festivals, getting the correct accreditations, looking for accommodations before we knew we had the support from the Indonesian Embassies etc etc. I worked closely with both Man Jasad and the manager of Burgerkill, Mr Dadan. Thank God WhatsApp is free. We spoke via WhatsApp and Facebook almost every day between March and July, discussing the tour plans and how to set everything up in the best possible way.
I got very close with Dadan and we became very good friends on the tour. Before Burgerkill came to Europe I could wake up in the middle of the night, remembering that I forgot to tell Dadan something super important (like checking the electric plug for The UK) and then throw myself on the phone to instantly inform him. Teamwork.
It was very hard work and at times very stressful, but I loved it and it was a great learning experience, both for me and for the bands and I´d love to do it again.
And on top of this, I was offering the European festivals bands that they had mostly never heard of before. Except for Obscene Extreme that knew of Jasad and Bloodstock who knew of Burgerkill. All this made me realize that I couldn’t offer the festivals a package deal of 5 bands from Bandung, or even 5 bands to chose from. And like I wrote before, many festivals were already fully booked. I had to focus on the biggest names from Bandung, Jasad and Burgerkill.
Meanwhile in Indonesia, Man Jasad – my best friend and main partner – was managing everything with the Mayor of Bandung, a very busy man indeed. For long periods of time we couldn´t get in contact with him at all, since he was so busy attending his other duties as the Mayor. Man Jasad scouted his connections and friends for additional supporters and contributions, trying to prepare for the tour as carefully and smart as possible. Man Jasad also prepared support and help with the VISA applications, as well as teamworking with the Burgerkill crew for everything else you need to cover for a European tour.
Once we got a booking for Burgerkill the teamwork between the bands grew deeper and the two teams had to get synchronized and work together. We had an amazing teamwork and everyone contributed in their own way.
So basically we are all working like crazy persons, holding one man to his words. We never really doubted Mr Kamil, we could not believe that he would not keep his promise to us. But it was stressful not getting that final 100 % confirmation once the festival bookings started coming in, since he was so busy and hard to contact. “May the universe bless us”, like Man Jasad says.
Man Jasad told me early on to contact Curby, the man behind the legendary grind/death festival Obscene Extreme Festival in Czech Republic. Man and Curby knew each other since way back and Curby had been wanting to book Jasad for years. But it was never possible until now, when we had the help and support from the Mayor of Bandung to cover all expenses. So after only two weeks of contacting festivals – we had our first confirmation in January – Jasad was booked for Obscene Extreme.
Imagine our joy when all the hard work started to pay off, and after only two weeks. And since I´m so close with Man Jasad and the guys in Jasad it was very emotional to know that I had helped my Bandung family to fulfill their childhood dream – they were going to perform in Europe. So now when we had our first actual booking, the tour-ball was set in motion and it would be easier for me to book more festivals.
While Man Jasad and his crew started preparing the VISA´s for Czech Rep and Schengen Area, I focused even more on getting the first booking for Burgerkill.
I knew that Bloodstock in England would probably be interested in Burgerkill since Metal Hammer had been featuring Burgerkill in their magazine and on the Hammer Awards. My goal was to get both Jasad and Burgerkill to Bloodstock, both bands should perform together on the last festival of the tour. It would be such an epic Bandung Blasting finale.
The only problem was that Bloodstock was more than one month after Obscene Extreme. And we still didn’t have any bookings for Burgerkill or Jasad in between those dates. We couldn’t bring Jasad to Europe in early July and have them hanging out in Europe until early August. Or fly back and forth between Indonesia and Europe.
I though that with Burgerkill´s slightly more commercially available melodic death metal/hardcore-style – they could probably get a slot on some of the biggest more “mainstream” metal festivals. So I aimed for the skies. I contacted Wacken Open Air. I mean, why the hell not?
While Obscene Extreme saw Jasad´s brutal death grinding style as a perfect fit for their “freak friendly festival”, Wacken preferred Burgerkills melodic death/hardcore over Jasad. And to be completely honest – Wacken was actually already fully booked. Dammit.
I tried to convince Wacken that Burgerkill would be an absolutely awesome addition to their already killer lineup. With Burgerkill they would separate themselves from other European metal festivals and Wacken would help promote the metal scenes from the East and Asia, gaining even more popularity in the global metal world.
So after some weeks of emailing back and forth with Wacken, one wonderful day I finally got the confirmation email from Wacken. They wanted to book Burgerkill for the 2015 festival. It´s hard to describe my own feelings at that time. When you´ve been working so hard for something that you´re really passionate about, and it finally pays off – it´s a goddamn soul-orgasm.
” Hey Eben, you guys are going to Europe! You´re gonna have your first show ever in Europe at Wacken Open Air! Fucking Wacken!”
I think Eben was so happy he got dizzy, when I called him to deliver the fantastic news in mid February. He started speaking fast in Indonesian and I could hear the overwhelming joy in his voice, almost cracking up. Once again, this was emotional for all of us. He asked me to send him the invitation letter from Wacken so he could see it with his own eyes, and show his band mates. It was like it was too good to be true.
Come Late February we now had Jasad making their Euro-debut in Czech Republic and Burgerkill would premiere at legendary Wacken in Germany. And when the good news eventually reached the Mayor´s office in Bandung we were extremely calmed to hear that Mr Kamil was a man of his words – he was super happy about the great progress and would fulfill his promise. He would support us all the way and Bandung Blasting was really happening.
Now I just had to nail that booking with Bloodstock Open Air in The UK, to get both bands performing together on the last show of Bandung Blasting Euro Tour.
In the next feature of Behind The Scenes of Bandung Blasting:
The gig at Bloodstock is nailed, join us to Germany and Wacken, learn how the Indonesian Embassies supported us in Europe throughout the whole tour, get exclusive goodies from our time in Germany and London! All this and more exclusive behind the scenes-stories from the road! And maybe a new little TMR video …
Coming soon on TMR.