Lovehunters back on the prowl

Lovehunters back on the prowl
Veteran local rock band Lovehunters, left to right: Saharudin Jalil, Yazid Abu Bakar and Moliano Rasmadi.

At their last gig, a sold-out performance at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Jan 1, 2011, veteran Malay rock trio Lovehunters announced it as their last concert together.

So it came as a surprise when the band recently said that they have reunited and will be doing gigs and recording again, starting with a show at *Scape on May 3.

The three - singer/bassist Yazid Abu Bakar, 52, guitarist Moliano Rasmadi, 54, and drummer Saharudin Jalil, 51 - got back together because they have "unfinished business" to settle, they tell Life!.

Explains the drummer, better known as Sahar: "We have always wanted to inspire younger musicians with what we achieved over the last three decades, just like how we were inspired by local bands such as Sweet Charity which came before us.

"Right now, the local Malay music scene is crawling at a slow pace, not like how it was when we started out. We want younger bands and aspiring musicians to have people to look up to and inspire them to come forward and bring the scene back up again."

Lovehunters first came into prominence in the Malay music scene here and across the Causeway with the release of their 1987 debut album, Sehari Dalam Hidup (A Day In The Life), which included radio hit Ku Ukir Nama Mu (I Carve Your Name).

Prior to releasing the album, the band were already a known name in the local club scene.

While all three members have been playing in different rock, blues and funk outfits in the nightclub scene since the 1970s, they started playing together with two others as a quintet, which went by various names such as Jukebox and Mirror Mirror, only in the early 1980s.

Sahar says: "We started out playing everything, from the hits of the day by pop bands such as Miami Sound Machine to Cantonese rock music."

The band's singer and keyboardist left in the mid-1980s and the rest continued as a trio, taking on the name Lovehunters, inspired by the 1979 album by British band Whitesnake.

They took part in an annual band competition organised by now-defunct nightspot Rainbow Lounge in 1986 but did not win.

Still, the buzz they created in the competition led to offers from several local and regional record labels. The band chose to sign on with local independent label Pancaran Productions, run by founding Sweet Charity guitarist Joe Salim.

Losing the competition became a catalyst for the band, Yazid recalls.

"The band which ended up being the champion of the competition, they are not around anymore, but look at us now, we've released nine albums."

Over the years, Lovehunters chalked up more Malay radio hits, including Berpindah Minda (Moving Minds) from their 1991 album Blues Untuk Rakyat (Blues For The People) and Sambutlah Kasihku (Receive My Love) from their 1999 album Kembali (Return).

They released one English album in 1995 which produced Angel In The Night, a song which won the Favourite Local Song award on MediaCorp radio station Perfect 10, now known as 987FM.

At their upcoming *Scape gig, Lovehunters will play many more cover tunes by bands which have inspired them, including American blues rockers Grand Funk Railroad, British hard rockers Deep Purple and American metal pioneers Metallica.

Says Moliano: "Most people know only our hit songs and might think we do a lot of love ballads. But there's a lot more to our band and, for this show, we want to show off the heavier side of our music. It's also like back in our club days, when we used to play covers instead of original songs."

The band are now planning their moves for the next five years.

In the pipeline is a box set of the best songs from their albums, live DVDs as well as two new albums. The band also hope to do two tours in Malaysia.

Sahar recalls a past interview given by fellow Singaporean Malay artist Art Fazil, when asked about the Lovehunters' 2011 farewell Esplanade show.

"He said: 'I don't believe this is the end of Lovehunters. I think the band are going through the beginning of a new chapter.' And he is right - that's exactly what we are going through right now."

This article was published on April 21 in The Straits Times.

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