As we gathered in the artist room somewhere backstage at the *SCAPE Ground Theatre in Orchard, the boys of indiepop band Stopgap began to talk about robots. Vocalist Adin Kindermann, guitarists Calvin Joseph Phua and Lee Yew Jin, bassist Grayson Seah and drummer Eldad Leong began to have a discussion about “Razer” from British technological game show, Robot Wars. Razer was a “bird-robot made from titanium that was too heavy so they poked holes in it.”
The camaraderie of the band is evident and endearing as they moved on to talk about non sequitur topics like Cirque Du Soleil, the use of autotune in the Usher song OMG, Adin’s prowess in first-person shooter Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the relevance of famous trance-techno hit ‘Sandstorm’ by Finnish DJ Darude, and also the truffle fries of McDonald’s. This bunch, having known each other from their school years, are the paradigm of school friends starting a band and progressing with it.
Started From The Bottom Now We’re Here
Stopgap was in the middle of setting up for their album launch happening on December 4. “Totems” is the name of the album, and it has been a long time coming. Adin explained how they kept delaying the album and that although they are just launching it now, it’s not really quite a new album. “We’ve been playing the material for a few years now, although we added some new ones, but really it’s a collection of what we’ve done so far. We decided that we wanted to do it all on our own, so we also took our time,” he says.
For most local bands, the business of running a band is done entirely independently. Take Stopgap for example: they were school friends who started a band from scratch, and now, they’re managing and sorting out things on their own. This includes settling the gear and equipment for their show (even booking transport to Tuas to collect their stuff), settling the production of the album itself and the making of the physical copies (“We got thumbdrives from Taobao!”), and also managing their various social media platforms — you’ll be able to listen to the songs the band has put out so far on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.
On the creative side, the band has been in the Noise Mentorship Programme, showcased their music at premiere local music festival Baybeats and been part of a year long campaign, Scape Invasion, where they play at a bunch of schools throughout the year. All this hard work: it’s no different from being a startup owner or an entrepreneur.
Still, it’s important to play hard as well as work hard, and the Stopgap guys sure know how to geek out:
A band that games together, sticks together. Like all gamers and pop culture nerds, the band is pretty preoccupied with the recent release of Fallout 4 and the incoming Star Wars film, already dubbed Movie Event Of The Year.
“I want to draw a gear head,” Calvin says, laughing. I assured them that they didn’t have to think so hard for this segment because the in-depth and informative Robot Wars discussion earlier had pretty much answered my question.
As wacky as they are, the group selected a couple of solid, grounded, and reliable apps as their favourites. They even contemplated ‘Email’.
Like for many, the need for a transportation app is high. Get on it, someone!
“Best gaming musicians in Singapore? Stopgap, Stopgap, and Stopgap,” Yew Jin says confidently.
“Last time nobody wanted the Singapore erasers, or the Malaysian one,” Adin said as the band paid tribute to the greatest childhood game of the nation of Singapore: the country eraser game popularised by primary school children in the 90s and 00s.
The guys had many ideas about what sort of game they wanted to build, but decided to keep it simple: “Anything that isn’t DotA.”
The band did an impromptu rendition of Usher’s ‘OMG’, complete with autotune effects. It was almost beautiful. Later, there was a discussion on whether Dubstep and Knife Party was considered guilty pleasure. Hanging out with Stopgap is an enriching experience.
“Ok, ok, which is worst: Creed or Nickelback?”
“NICKELBACK,” chorused everyone.
Totems by Stopgap launches today, December 4 at *SCAPE Ground Theatre where they will be performing. The band will also be performing at *SCAPE THE INVASION music festival, happening December 5, to mark a whole year of shows in schools around Singapore.