You can’t get any more rock and roll than Hujan.
“Hujan adalah band syok sendiri,” so declared the band’s frontman Noh Salleh. According to him, the band does whatever it likes, simply because it can. (“Syok sendiri” here roughly translates to “full of itself.”)
“Honestly, we just play songs for our own self-fulfilment,” Noh said during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, recently. Also present were his bandmates guitarist AG Coco, bassist Izzat Uzaini and drummer Azham Ahmad.
The band’s earnestness has gained a legion of loyal fans simply known as Raingers. For as long as the band has been around – 10 years to be exact – fans have relished in the fact that Hujan is not changing for anyone or anything.
“We started from the bottom. We knew what it was like to get rejected by labels. We’ve sold our own T-shirts. We’ve experienced everything. We take pride in the fact that we’re still a band not signed to any major label. This is so we can maintain complete control over our own work,” Noh explained.
But this year, the band is doing something differently.
Hujan has released its latest studio album Jika Sempat (fifth in the discography and first album in four years) and it’s currently accessible only on Spotify. A physical copy will be available later this year. Call it an evolutionary step for the band who first spread its music through random distribution of physical copies. Noh described the band’s method as “guerilla-style”.
“I think a lot of people assumed we started out as Myspace band. But what really happened was that I’d write a song at night and then pass it to AG to make it complete. Then we make copies of the song and just pass it around to anyone.”
While his bandmates looked on, he added: “We had no expectations that the songs would spread any further than say, KL. Then we went to Ipoh for a show and there was a major turnout. That’s when we realised that our songs have travelled far. Our Raingers community made it all happen.”
Jika Sempat is made up of two new tracks (Pemicu Gila and Kau) and 10 previously unreleased songs from the band’s archive. Fans may have heard the title track Jika Sempat from a concert in 2012 while Papa Mama goes way back to 2008. Noh said the album represents the journey of the band for the past decade. Each song, he added, will remind fans of Hujan throughout the years – from its raw beginnings to the Sang Enemy-metal phase in 2012 and onto a more refined sound that reflects the band’s growth.
“We re-recorded the older songs just for this new album. They sound better, more polished than ever. Let’s say some of these songs have been marinating for a while, just waiting for the right time to be released,” AG, who also acts as the producer for the new album, explained.
Each song has a special meaning to the band. For Azham, Papa Mama has a theme that everyone can relate to. “We all have parents, right?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Aku Janji has AG feeling nostalgic. “That song is seven years old! Looking at how the song is moving forward with us, it feels like we’re watching a child grow,” he said.
Izzat picked Biarkan Saja because he loves playing the song live and Noh confessed that he was feeling homesick when he wrote Miri, an ode to his hometown in Sarawak.
“I cried writing this song!” Noh said.
Noh also shared that he took vocal recordings for the songs on this album more seriously than previous times. He explained that he never liked the recording process and used to get away with doing things half-heartedly. The jovial vocalist attributed this newfound maturity to the fact he’s getting older. He is 31 years old.
“I put aside my ego for this album. As the producer, AG has the right to tell me to do things differently. Of course, it was not easy. I noticed that he would glare at me if he’s not satisfied with my performance. After 10 years, I have learned that I need to improve myself,” he said.
AG acknowledged that Noh has changed. He said: “He is used to doing things his way. And now, his singing style has definitely improved. It’s still his trademark lazy-singing style, but better.”
The band also has ambitious plans for the future – release another album in vinyl, master new songs in New York and possibly do a UK tour. Whatever comes next, fans are assured that Hujan has more tricks up its sleeves. This is a band determined to keep going.