AFTER STORMING THE US SUMMER MUSIC SCENE, BALINESE ROCKERS SUPERMAN IS DEAD ARE ALIVE AND WELL. MARCEL THEE REPORTS
Mention punk rock, and most people are likely to think of rainbow-colored mohawks, safety pins and nose rings. It’s less likely they’ll think of Bali, the picturesque island known more for tranquility and tradition than rebellious rock. But if Indonesia’s most successful punk rock group has anything to do with it, that will all change soon.
Hailing from Denpasar, the trio of Bobby Kool (vocals and guitar), Eka Rock (bass) and spiky-haired Jerinx (drums) got together in 1995 through a mutual love for pop-punk groups like Green Day and NOFX. Originally named Superman Silvergun, the band settled on its catchy name out of a shared belief that in today’s world, nobody is perfect.
Superman is Dead, or SID, launched its first album in 1997. The hard-hitting Case 15 stood out at a time when Indonesia’s independent music scene was in its infancy. Then followed the self-titled Superman is Dead in 1999. By 2002, the indie scene had gained momentum, and SID‘s mini-album Bad Bad Bad proved a turning point for the band.
Then SID signed with major label, Sony Music Indonesia. While some accused the band of compromising their ideals, the boys insisted the move was simply a case of seeking better distribution. Jerinx insists, “From the cover sleeve to the music video, we did everything ourselves.”
Four major-label records later, Angels and the Outsiders was released in February this year. Littered with the band’s classic sound, it delivered a hit with the first single Kuat Kita Bersinar (We Shine Strongly).
The CD’s release was a relief for the band, coming after a troubled period which Jerinx describes as “managerial conflict, bankruptcy, and the loss of loved ones”.
Yet the album saw another fresh start, with Superman is Dead heading off on its first official US tour. In a major win for the band, gigs included the Warped Tour, one of the world’s most prominent punk festivals. With many bands playing simultaneously, the band wore traditional Balinese clothing and carried their own promotional signs, decrying “SID from Bali is playing here”. Despite a tough two-week schedule, spirits were high, and the band played warm-up gigs at legendary venues such as the Whisky a Go Go on LA’s Sunset Boulevard.
Regarding lessons so far, Jerinx is reflective. “We learned a lot about solidarity, patience, tolerance, team-work – and how to work together in the worst situations. And to be proud of Indonesia and its love of modesty, so important in a world that praises image and money.” (www.supermanisdead.net)