Written by Danie Satrio and translated by Imam Wisaya
The first ten years that they have gone through together has been a precious beginning for Pee Wee Gaskins
Cognitively speaking, in the psychological development of a child, a ten-year-old would usually begin to display small signs of adult behaviour. For example, the little one may already be capable of achieving a competent level of concentration, and enjoy rules and things that make sense. The most significant difference is that when a child is ten years of age, he/she would usually be able to carry out problem-solving tasks proficiently.
Whether it is a coincidence or not, these symptoms have begun to appear in Pee Wee Gaskins as they celebrate their tenth anniversary on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. A number of notable differences have been exhibited by the quintet compared to their early years as a band; most outstanding being their quality of performance on the stage.
It is widely known that since they first got together, the band have had their fair share of criticism. This is due to the media circus that surrounds them contrasting sharply with their live shows – be it about their inadequate sound, a musical output that does not match their recorded material, and the peculiar behaviour of its band members that tends to border on lacking of consideration and a bait for controversy.
Nowadays, though, such idiosyncrasies have been few and far between to the point of non-existent. At a few shows within the last year or so, Sansan (vocals/guitar), Dochi (bass/vocals), Ayi (guitar/vocals), Omo (keyboards/guitar/vocals) and Aldy (drums) have justified the reason why they have been the darlings of hundreds of thousands – millions even – of Dorks across Indonesia; a band that had achieve a top-of-mind status whenever a conversation steered towards acts for the high-school teenagers segment. They have maintained their intense, energetic and gimmick-filled routine, yet without sacrificing the basics such as sound quality and musicality.
Another aspect of the fivesome that has also changed is their willingness to start getting about their affairs in order. Currently handled by a far more professional management yet one that is still based on friendship, each band member is now responsible for his own contributions that go beyond the act of playing music, including social media promos and other technical elements. Essentially, they no longer wait for one of their own to come up with an initiative before committing to something for the benefit of the band.
Although the last point may not be visible to the naked eye, it has to be chalked down as an important improvement. Looking back, PWG could be classified as one of those bands that reached the top instantly after they got together. Equipped with a knack of promoting themselves digitally – on MySpace during those days – the band were quick to be on everyone’s lips. By the time they got popular, they welcomed the adulation with open arms without any preparation for what’s to come; they had to learn on the fly. Oftentimes, there is a price to pay for such lessons in life, and in the case of PWG, they have been deceived, manipulated, lambasted, and even literally experienced a near-death situation.
“The worst was during the APWG (Anti-PWG) days. We played a lot during those years, but simultaneously we became public enemies in every city that we went to. Imagine being invited to play for a show just so we could be humiliated...” says Aldy.
“The thought of quitting the band crossed my mind during that time; better than being killed in someone else’s city!” exclaims Ayi.
“I lost the will to perform because the reasons why I play with PWG are to have fun and to get a buzz off the crowd and vice versa,” Sansan remarks.
Apart from their difficult run-ins with APWG, it has to be said that their decade-long journey – and counting – has been one that has enriched them. At the time, all they had going besides talent and a bit of luck was their drive to succeed and their friendship. It was a case of us against the world for the five young men.
“To be honest, I hadn’t a clue of what to expect about PWG when I first joined. I only became really sure when the bassist in my previous band told me that this band were going to be huge,” states Omo, who became one of the earliest members of the band after being recruited by Dochi.
Such a sentiment was also felt by Sansan, who had already made a name for himself with his previous band before he opted to sign up with PWG after being given the chance to join the line-up. However, it was not because of his confidence in PWG’s potential to become even bigger than his band at the time. “I chose to join them because I enjoyed their company, and to play with them was exciting. For me, I thought the boys were already cool without even trying to be cool and different; they were naturally cool. They didn’t try to be cutting edge and modern; it was just how they were built,” he explains.
“Personally, I believe that the band-of-brothers spirit and togetherness that we have are the glue that has kept us together all this time. It is just a matter of approaching a challenge and to try and solve it together. I think that is the reason why we have come this far,” Aldy declares.
“Yeah, PWG are like a family. Nobody among us would ever feel like he’s the best in whatever; we are all equals. That kept me going, despite being battered left, right, and centre,” adds Ayi.
Yes, keep on learning, including from past mistakes and failures. Add that to their never-rest-on-their-laurels attitude, and that is why PWG are willing to change for the better. It was Dochi who expressed in detail the improvements that the band have pulled off. Back in the day, he reckons that PWG were reckless, ignorant, spoilt, fun, and drunk. Now, he paints PWG as a band that are grateful, responsible, careful, and sober but still fun. And all this may just be the beginning of something even more enjoyable and challenging – much the same as a ten-year-old child who behaves accordingly to his/her cognitive age.
Happy birthday and long live Pee Wee Gaskins!