Rock ’n’ roll has often been associated with several things—sex, drugs, youth or that antisocial dude stoning in a corner and talking to his guitar. We chat up producer Azrin Abdul Rahim, who tries to give rock music a more wholesome image in his newest offer, Rock Opera The Musical—A Rock Anthology, a Malay musical with English subtitles.
What’s the concept behind the show?
It’s a sequel to last year’s Rock Opera—An Artiste Life. The whole concept of Rock Opera The Musical—A Rock Anthology is to bring the appreciation for music, especially rock music, to a new level. We’re looking at how we can increase appreciation by including ethnic elements and an orchestra. Ultimately, the whole concept lies in this one liner: “progressing without leaving behind your roots.”
What kind of ethnic elements will we see?
There will be ethnic percussion instruments, and the story line is very multiracial. It talks about how the main character and his band, Roots in Motion, struggle for five years before they get signed as an artist under an Indonesian label. Their promoter is an Indian guy, and the main character is in love with a Eurasian girl.
Tell us more about the performers.
We have a blend of actors and four professional singers. The freelance actors have done stage and TV. I have full time musicians with me too. Look out for people such as Sulaiman Ekbah, Azyza and Eka Mairina.
Why do you choose to revolve the story around rock musicians?
I am captivated by the energy of rock music. Rock is a metaphor for energy in the show. In the ’80s, the top rock bands were the Malay groups. Rock music is what we as a community, is good at. It’s one of our achievements. When you think of a rocker, you think of a Malay guy. But now, there are a lot of negative opinions towards rock, and I want to turn things around. I hope to use the energy to bring across desirable values and beliefs.
The theme song is composed by revered Malaysian artiste M. Nasir. What is it about?
The title of the song is “Cin Tamuagung.” Literally translated, it means “greatness of love.” My personal view is that the song is about self awareness and love between people. But on another level, it’s also about the manifestations of love between man and his creator, saying how this love has no barrier and cuts through time.
Are all the songs featured in the musical rock numbers?
The musical tells a story about rockers, but in terms of music, we have different genres of music besides rock. We have ballads, pop, blues and more. The whole idea is to fuse everything well, and to make the music sound good and acceptable to the masses. I hope that at the end of the day, people can relate to it.
Do you intend to come up with a sequel next year?
Yes, some people may feel this show is not a full musical because there is quite a bit of dialogue being spoken instead of sung. Next year, I plan to produce a full blown musical, with more dialogue sung.