Homegrown band Oddfellows reunion in the works?

24 December 2012 / 3 years 10 months ago

Source: My Paper/AsiaOneSINGAPORE - Plenty has changed for Singapore's indie-music scene since its "underground" heyday in the early 1990s - and not all of it is for the better.Just ask Patrick Chng, founder of seminal home-grown outfit The Oddfellows. Chng, 45, is a fixture in the home-grown music scene. He has mentored other musicians, and helped up-and-comers produce albums.He now works part-time as a consultant for Gibson Guitars Singapore, and plays the guitar in power-pop quartet TypeWriter.Compared to the 1990s, he thinks that bands these days have it good. There's access to information and other bands around the world via the Internet, coupled with a certain savviness about selling themselves as an act.And there's money floating around, with people - well, parents, mostly - willing to bankroll their kids for lessons, gear and other necessities.The downside? According to Chng, "there's less of a kampung spirit (now)" in the music scene, he told My Paper in a recent interview."At that time, the thought of making it big was practically non-existent...you (made music) for the love of it," he said."I remember gigs where only one guy would have a bass guitar, and every band's bassist would borrow it for their set. Now, the kids all have expensive gear, pedals and everything."Still, the fact that Singapore indie bands today are "much more ambitious", with more aggressive marketing strategies and more avenues to get their work out - for example, via the Internet - is a good thing, Chng said."People like Charlie Lim and Inch Chua have shown (music as a career) can be done," he said. Lim, 24, recently toured Asia while Chua, also 24, has been pursuing music in Los Angeles since last year.For his latest labour of love, Chng enlisted the help of the pair - as well as a slew of other home-grown artists - to put together Christmas In Singapore, a charity album of mostly-original festive tunes. All artists, producers and others involved worked pro bono, bringing back a bit of that kampung vibe that he spoke of.Chng - who formed and ran non-profit arts group Music For Good from 2004 until 2008, when he shut it down due to lack of funds - also took $3,500 out of his own pocket to produce 1,500 copies of the 14-track album.All proceeds from sales of the record go to the Rare Disorders Society (Singapore), which aims to boost awareness of rare diseases and offers patient support.Chng said he first heard about the organisation through a friend who was volunteering there.Having recently become a father - his son, Matthew, was born last year - the cause was "something I felt I had to support".Bringing up a kid is already hard enough, he said. Not to mention one who has a disease."To bring up a child with an illness is surely quite stressful mentally, not to mention emotionally and financially," said Chng, who is married to PhD student Stephanie Chok, 36."It was something that resonated with me as a father."Next up on the music front for him: Working with bands like Sapporo Safaris and The Pinholes on their upcoming releases, as well as TypeWriter's next EP, to be released next year.And, as those tuned into the scene might know, next year marks the 25th anniversary of the formation of The Oddfellows.Any chance of a reunion for the indie pioneers, who last performed together at Esplanade's Baybeats festival in 2010?With a twinkle in his eye, Chng said: "Maybe we might do something to mark the occasion... I'm not sure."

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