"We just get up there and grind": An interview with Wormrot

With an excellent debut under their belt and not a bad review in site, Singapore's most brutal export, Wormrot, has a beer and a cigarette with Metal as Fuck.

Shoreditch is an uber trendy area of London, filled with city bankers (that's not meant as rhyming slang) and generally be-suited wealthy types. It's not the kind of place you would expect to find a pub with an evening of unbridled brutality unfolding on the first floor.

It's here at The Old Blue Last, a well-known pub/venue for everything from funky house to punishing death metal, that Metal as Fuck is meeting Wormrot, Earache's latest signing, and a band that is bringing old-school grindcore from the most unlikely of sources: Singapore.

The difference in climates is clearly an issue, as band members Arif (vocals), Rasyid (guitar) and Fitri (drums) stand outside the pub, hoods up, trying desperately to enjoy their cigarettes.
 
In contrast, I'm wearing a t-shirt and thin coat, and basking in the resplendent luxury of 15 degrees. Apparently this isn't helping the band.

"The UK is fucking cold," grunts Arif.

"It's like, 32 or 33 degrees in Singapore at the moment!" says tour manager Azean with a shudder.

Cigarettes extinguished, we start talking about Wormrot's recent set at the North of England's Deathfest, which received rave reviews from many sources (including one from this prestigious site). Combine this with nothing but positive responses to their debut album Abuse and it seems Wormrot are on a sharp upward curve. Asked how it feels being signed to one of, if not the most well-known label for grind bands, the answer is blunt:

"It's too early to really tell," says guitarist Rasyid. "We haven't had any shit yet. It's definitely helped though; it meant we can come to Europe and do this tour."

"It has helped us a lot," agrees vocalist Arif, "Before, when we were signed to Scrotum Jus, they did their best but we needed to be spread around more."

Earache is home to some of the world's greatest grind bands; is this a worry for the young trio? Rasyid is quick to answer:

"No. There's no pressure for us, there are always new bands coming along, only time will tell. We don't mind being on the same label as the greats!"

Singapore doesn't have an extensive list of musical exports of the metal variety. I enquire about the Singapore scene.

"You answer, scenester!" laughs Fitri, joined by Rasyid, as they point at Arif. Arif smirks.

"Singapore has lots of trendy wankers but it's a fusion of musical types. There's a lot of deathcore [a word that causes eye rolls from the rest of the band] but very little grind. I've always been a fan of grindcore and brutal death, that's why we play what we play."

Aside from grind, where else do Wormrot find their influences? After a pregnant pause and some audable thinking, Arif admits a fondness for soul music. Perpetual joker Fitri smiles and shouts:

"Deathcore!"

Climate aside, there are other difficulties that come from being a Singaporean band on tour: national service, for one. The Singaporean government calls for all males, as soon as they are eighteen, to undertake a full two years of military service. Once this is finished, two weeks of every year must be spent in military training until they are aged somewhere between 40 and 50, depending on their rank.

"The system is all fucked up, man," says Arif, "Every year you have do do two week's national service. You go in the army, train, and that's it. If you defer, you have to do double national service the next year."

Rasyid is due for his national service in September; the same time as Wormrot are scheduled for a promotional tour for Abuse in the USA. I ask Rasyid what this means to the band. The guitarist shrugs his shoulds and looks at me philosophically:

"Who knows?"

Military service might prove to be a nice break for Raysid though. The European Abuse tour is a punishing two-month schedule with days off you could count on one hand. Tonight, Wormrot are due off stage at midnight, then straight to the airport (or they might be going to boss of Skill Wizard promotion, Marek Steven's, house - they can't quite remember) for a flight to Amsterdam in the early hours of the morning. And it's not like they're travelling in luxury.

"Our bus breaks down all the time," Arif says. "We have to push it most of the way!"

Only two weeks into the tour, it's clear that these guys are feeling the burn. Cold, tired and, in Rasyid's case, suffering from crippling toothache, are they starting to get sick of the sight of each other yet?

"Not yet. We keep each other company by masturbating each other!" drummer Fitri laughs, and is joined by the rest of the band, including tour manager Azean - who just happens to be Arif's fiance. As for when the young couple are planning to get married?

"When he gets a proper job!" laughs Rasyid.

Raysid, as the main songwriter in the band, cites many different sources for the music of Abuse. He tells me with a wry smile that he ripped off a number of Insect Warfare and Phobia riffs, as well as adding an homage to Mebourne grinders Fuck... I'm Dead with the song Fuck I'm Drunk. And there is no doubt that Abuse feels like it's coming from a much more experienced grindcore band.

Vocally, Arif is terrifying. But in the flesh, the vocalist is anything but - his band mates constantly take the piss out of his small feet, and he always takes the abuse (ahem...) with a smile. Fitri's drumming reflects his personality - completely mental, bouncing around all over the place, and totally in the groove. And the intensity behind Rasyid's eyes comes through as his six-strings beat out the most heinous of grinding, crunching riffs.

Having played everything from junky-filled squats in Germany to big-ticket (well, in grindcore terms) shows in the UK, Wormrot are on the rise and it's a crazy motherfucker who stands in their way.

What can you expect from this trio of SIngaporian mad men? Rasyid tells it best:

"Fast, loud; the same shit grindcore!"

Wormrot's Abuse is out now on Earache/Riot.