Baybeats 08 Band Profile: The Oddfellows

Source: Channel News AsiaThe Oddfellows
Singapore

The Oddfellows was formed in 1988 with Patrick Chng, Casey Soo Wai Cheong on drums and Stephen Tan on bass at a time when original Singaporean music was unheard of except in the small growing underground scene. Thanks to sprouting fanzines, most notably, BigO, in the mid to late 80s, the rise of the indie scene began in earnest with lo-fi DIY cassette releases by the likes of Corporate Toil, The Ordinary People, Mortal Flower and The Oddfellows. The Oddies became an underground favourite with 1988 demo EP, Mild, a three-song 1990 cassette, Phooney Accent and two songs on BigO’s New School Rock CD.

In 1991, Vincent replaced Stephen and Kelvin Tan came on board. The Oddfellows released its debut album, Teenage Head, a demo eight-track recording released by BMG Singapore. The first single, So Happy, became the first Singaporean song to hit #1 on Perfect 10 98.7FM radio chart and a top 3 hit on Radio Heart 91.3FM (now WKRZ). The second single, Your Smiling Face, also smashed into the top 10 on 98.7FM. Intense gigging in late 1991 at schools and popular nightspots broke the band into the mainstream.

In 1992, the band toured Kuala Lumpur to support the release of Teenage Head in Malaysia. The Oddies also opened for their punk heroes, The Buzzcocks, in Singapore. Casey left the band to pursue his studies overseas and The Nonames drummer Abdul Nizam stood in on the 1992 second album, Carnival. First single Unity Song hit #1 on 91.3FM and was a top 3 smash on 98.7FM. The follow-up single, She’s So Innocent, also dented the top 10 radio charts.

In 1993, Johnny Ong was recruited and his powerhouse drumming added another dimension to the band’s sound. The Oddies returned to their roots by releasing a cassette-only five-song EP, Seven Year Itch, in 1995. The band also contributed a re-recorded Foggy Daylight to Pony Canyon’s Dazed And Confused CD compilation in 1996, the original recording of Foggy Daylight to the soundtrack of Mee Pok Man, and Breach to the 12 Storeys soundtrack. Breach hit #3 on 98.7FM in 1998.

The band started work on a third album under the Pony Canyon label but unfortunately, Pony Canyon closed its Singapore office and the album was abandoned after three years of recording. The Oddies started from scratch at TNT studio in 2000 and recorded six songs before running out of steam. Kelvin released his debut solo album The Bluest Silence and had a Top 10 hit with She Sheds A Light on Perfect 10 in 1998. Johnny recorded his Chinese solo CD and was featured on the movie soundtrack of Eating Air. Kelvin also formed the improv band Stigmata and still releases solo albums. Johnny now lives in Taipei and plays for Taiwanese band Neon. Patrick joined TypeWriter as guitarist and performs with Kelvin and electronic musician r-H as Prana vs r-H.

The Oddies released Bugs And Hisses in 2001 – a collection of rare tracks, b-sides, live bootlegs and previously unreleased tracks. The band played their last gig in 2002 at Orchard Library and took a hiatus. Patrick, Kelvin, Vincent and Johnny reunited in February 2007 for gigs at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre and Home club.

Related Link: The Oddfellows Interview

Baybeats 08: Observation Deck
Meet-the-Artist: The Oddfellows

Sat, 30 Aug 2008
3.00 – 3.30pm
Open Stage, library@esplanade

Posted with permission from the Esplanade. Information correct as of 21 May 08. For more info on Baybeats 08, please visit the official website at www.baybeats.com.sg.


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