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Guitar Pop From Malaysia
Couple is a Malaysian power pop band formed in 1995 that has released five demo tapes/CD-Rs, three studio albums, and countless compilation and film/TV soundtrack appearances. Their debut album, Top Of The Pop, was independently released in April 2006. Their latest album, Poptimism, was released in 2022.
Aidil Rusli Interview
There are a lot of great bands playing guitar pop around the world these days—but there are many different terms for it. How do you describe your own music?
Aidil Rusli: I'd say we're definitely power pop, but with sprinklings of other kinds of guitar pop in certain songs just to make things a bit more interesting and varied. The cosmetics may differ on certain songs, but that essence of power pop—the never ending pursuit of that killer three-minute pop song—is always central to how I write songs.
“Bands like The Nerves, Raspberries, Big Star, and Cheap Trick will forever be the fountain of melody and muscle for anyone taking both the words 'power' and 'pop' seriously in power pop.”
How do you feel about genre labels in general?
Aidil Rusli: I'm all for them, even if nowadays things tend to blur together way more than they have in the past! It's not so great if you think of them as boundaries to stay in, but they can be infinitely more useful if you think of them as a kind compass to be used so that you won't get lost (or lose yourself) whenever you're out exploring music.
Who are some of your biggest influences? Which songs/albums? Why?
Aidil Rusli: Classic ‘70s and ‘80s power pop will always be things that I return to time and time again, bands like The Nerves, Raspberries, Big Star, and Cheap Trick will forever be the fountain of melody and muscle for anyone taking both the words 'power' and 'pop' seriously in power pop. And of course I can never escape the ‘90s with acts like Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet, Redd Kross, The Marvelous 3, Velvet Crush and pop underground heroes like The Shazam, Cotton Mather, The Rooks and Cherry Twister forming a huge bulk of my music listening diet.
But I was also a metalhead when I was in my early teens (still am actually), so I personally have a very soft spot for the rockier/heavier side of the 'power' part of the equation—I also count The Wildhearts and Enuff Z ‘Nuff as big influences. The song "Turning American" by The Wildhearts, which was only a B-side, is to me an insanely perfect blend of power pop and metal riffage, so it’s a dream for me to be able to come out with something like that.
So, I guess the gist will always be this for me—does it have both melody and muscle?
What's the local music scene like where your band is based? Any other local bands we should know about?
Aidil Rusli: Like everywhere else on the planet, the local music scene will always consist of the haves (the mainstream) and the have-nots (the indie/underground gang). Over here in Malaysia, the mainstream is still dominated by bombastic ballads with 'power vocals' and slow rock, but since the late-2000s there are at least a few bands from the indie scene that managed to break through to the masses like Hujan, Bunkface, Masdo and SOG. So at least there's still some fight left from the guitar/rock scene over here.
But the real excitement of course is in the non-mainstream scene, with the two biggest bands at the moment being No Good (garage-tinged punk sung in Kelantanese, a local dialect) and Sweetass (irresistible fusion of grunge and shoegaze-y noise pop). My personal faves would be Dependent, The Fridays, Claudia, Muck, Ramayan, Lust and Lovethee. It's a rich and very varied scene that has all sorts of genres covered, but sadly we're still the only ones waving the power pop flag here!
What's happening for your band right now? What's next?
Aidil Rusli: Right now we're preparing for the physical release of our latest album, Poptimism, on CD. The artwork design for the packaging is almost done, so once that's sorted out then we'll definitely have to plan for some new music videos and a tour to promote the release. There are some plans that are still confidential that I can't announce just yet, but if they work out then they'd be pretty big and exciting things as well, but I think these will be more towards the back half of the year.
For now, I’ll be concentrating on bringing the physical CD release of the new album out there, and in the background I'll continue crafting the new songs for the next album, which I think will see us back swimming in the loud and catchy sea of guitar-oriented power pop!
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