Metal fans, bands salute Jokowi's win

Metal fans, bands salute Jokowi's win
Indonesia’s President-elect Joko Widodo owns every album by heavy metal legends Metallica (above). During their concert in Jakarta last year, he chose to squeeze in with the crowd, away from the VIP section.

Global heavyweights Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe have congratulated President-elect Joko Widodo on his election victory, but Mr Joko's win has also excited rock and metal heavyweights.

The outgoing Jakarta governor is a known heavy metal fan, who owns all the albums of the iconic band Metallica, and says the loud music helps clear his thoughts.

Sting and Jason Mraz endorsed his candidacy during the campaign, and after major news outlets reported his victory last Tuesday, members of popular bands Lamb Of God, Megadeth and Guns N' Roses greeted the election of Mr Joko, commonly known as Jokowi, enthusiastically on social media.

Lamb Of God singer Randy Blythe famously posted on Instagram: "Holy crap! The World's First Heavy Metal President!"

Megadeth's Dave Mustaine added on Twitter that he could not wait to perform in Indonesia and hoped to meet Mr Joko. The band is slated to play in Jakarta next month as part of their world tour.

Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal also posted his congratulations on Twitter.

Mr Joko's passion for the genre would not have been out of place were he an ordinary citizen, given the sizeable number of metal fans - and home-grown bands - in many major cities of Indonesia.

But his insistence on being just another concert-goer is.

When Mr Joko attended Metallica's concert in Jakarta last year, he squeezed in with the crowd, away from the VIP zone, earning plaudits from fans.

Mr Joko's interest in heavy metal began in middle school, and he has said he could not study for his forestry degree at Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University without such music.

Local media reports from the time he was elected mayor of Solo in 2005 document his passion.

And in recent days, his win was recorded on many a music website - international and local.

A picture of Mr Joko, who was then mayor of Solo City, at Lamb Of God's 2012 concert in Singapore's Fort Canning Park has also been making the rounds.

Biographer Yon Thayrun told The Sunday Times that Mr Joko also sees such music as an apt expression of fighting for change, a key thrust of his political platform, and believes many heavy metal fans have a high degree of social conscience.

"He feels many rock anthems revolve around the themes of love and humanity, and offer lessons on life," he adds.

Fans hope Mr Joko will now bring some official support to the local heavy metal scene.

He told music website Metal Rebel in a recent interview: "The government should give their support so those bands can succeed internationally."

Now that he will soon be in charge, fans hope Mr Joko will create greater social acceptance for the music they like.

"It's not music that will make kids go straight to hell like many Indonesian parents believe," local entertainment portal Hai reported Ebenz, the guitarist of one of Indonesia's largest bands, Burgerkill, saying.

"It's just an aggressive (and beautiful) style of music our president enjoys!"

zakirh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 27 2014.
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