Suhaimi Abdul Rahman can’t remember the month rock band Search was formed in 1981. He pondered on that question during a recent interview in Subang Jaya, Selangor.
“Maybe it was in January? Tak ingat lah (I can’t remember)…” Suhaimi, or more popularly known as Amy, conceded.
Underneath his blazer, the 57-year-old vocalist of one of Malaysia’s longest-surviving bands Search, was sporting a sheer lace black shirt paired with dark skinny jeans and grey Chuck Taylors. He pulled the look off with so much rock star swagger that he’d put his younger counterparts to shame.
The affable vocalist also insisted on standing during the interview while the media filled up the small seating space.
Soon, the question veered towards the last time Search played at an arena concert in Kuala Lumpur. This was something Amy remembered fondly.
“The Evolusi Lagenda Rock Search at Stadium Merdeka in February 2004,” he recalled excitedly. “We played to a huge crowd of 25,000 people. It was crazy!”
The concert which reportedly cost RM1.2mil in production saw Amy rocking out with Search bandmates bassist Nasir Daud, guitarists Hamzah Mohd Taib and Noordin Taib and former drummer Lola (Saiful Rizla Kamaruddin of XPDC filling in for Yazid Ahmad who was not well).
The event was also significant because it marked the first time Amy performed with Search after his departure from the band in 1998.
“Stadium Merdeka is like our Madison Square Garden in the US. As a Malaysian band, we would have felt incomplete if we never performed at Stadium Merdeka.
“But I also remember that my bandmates and I were not happy with how the show went. Looking back, we realised we could have done better.”
More than a decade after that Evolusi gig, Search gets the chance to redeem themselves.
On April 9, Search will perform at Stadium Merdeka in a concert organised and sponsored by domestic flight charter company AFjets.
Expect an explosive, emotional two-hour long show as the band will also be celebrating its 35th anniversary in the music business.
AFjets chief executive officer Amrul Nizar Anuar said his company will be spending between RM2mil and RM4mil to make the event a memorable night to reflect Search’s status as one of the country’s most iconic bands.
Amrul explained: “The main reason why we wanted to sponsor this concert is because we at AFjets are all loyal fans of the band. When they approached us for sponsorship, we couldn’t say no.
“We’re proud to be a part of what will be one of the biggest concerts for a local act in Malaysia.”
The CEO also shared that as a kid, his friends used to beat him up because he never stopped singing Search’s classic rock ballad Fantasia Bulan Madu.
According to Amy, Search XXXV has been in development for the past four months. “We’re still in the middle of deciding if there should be an opening act,” said Amy. “We’re also finalising the setlist and stage settings.”
The Johor-born singer mentioned that the band is rehearsing for the concert in the studio. Maybe even record a new single.
“Overall, we’re really excited to give our fans a show like no other. They just have to be there.”
There will also be a tribute segment for drummer and founding member Yazid. Due to his deteriorating health, 54-year-old Yazid has been advised by his doctor not to perform.
“If I can, I really want to perform with my bandmates because it’s my responsibility,” said Yazid at this evening press conference held at one of the hangar complexes in Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport.
“Over the past 30 years, I’ve sacrificed so much for the band. So I’m grateful to be honoured with a special segment.”
Yazid founded Search with Nasir in Johor Baru with vocalist Zainal Rampa and guitarist Hilary Ang. When Zainal left to form a new band, it seemed like the band’s career was over even before it could release a debut album.
Fortunately, the band found a replacement vocalist in Amy. It also added second guitarist Noordin.
Cinta Buatan Malaysia was released in 1985 when the group was signed to Polygram Singapore and it sold a respectable 20,000 copies.
When the band was recording its fifth studio album Fenomena, Ang left to pursue a solo career. He was replaced with Hamzah.
Fenomena, which featured the hit song Isabella, became the band’s bestselling album with 200,000 copies sold. It also established a massive fanbase in Indonesia when it played to 50,000 fans at a concert which Yazid recalled took place at a paddy field.
Things only got better when in 1991, Search marked its 10 years in the music business by playing a showcase in New York City.
But then in 1992, the group got a blow when it faced a ban for being male performers with long hair.
The directive was issued by former information minister Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat and it affected the group’s television appearances as well as radio airplay on RTM.
Search came back with a vengeance four years later when it won Best Album and Best Rock Album at Anugerah Industri Muzik for Unplugged Gema Di Timur Jauh.
Just when the band was in top form again, Search was hit with another drama; the beloved lead member Amy decided to pursue a solo career in 1998.
Refusing to call it a day, Search got Awie (formerly of Wings) to serve as guest vocalist for the recording of its 10th album Bikin Wilayah.
But Amy’s heart was always with Search – he made a return to the group five years later in 2003.
Three years later, the band recorded its last studio album Gothik Malam Edan, its 12th.
When Wings celebrated its 30th anniversary concert at Stadium Merdeka last year, it played for nearly five hours, ending the concert only at 3am!
How is Search planning to squeeze its vast catalogue of hits and fan favourites in a two-hour anniversary gig?
Amy acknowledged that it would be a great challenge to relive the band’s illustrious 35-year history together in that period of time but the members are up for the challenge.
“If I tell people the stories of what we had to do to survive this industry, they would not believe us,” Amy said.
Looking at his bandmates, Amy revealed what got each and one of them through the various obstacles: “Patience.”
Tickets to Search XXXV Celebration Concert in Stadium Merdeka on April 9 are priced at RM135 (Mat Rock/Isabella zone for female fans), RM288 (standing/sitting zone) and RM899 (includes a meet & greet session). Event starts at 8.30pm. Check out www.ticketpro.com.my for more information.