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Interview: Wu’u, Grindcore from Viet Nam

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“Extreme metal, extreme people is everywhere. Don’t lose your faith and stay brutal! Hail from Viet Nam!” – Trung, of Wu’u

Hey, you. Yeah, you. Do you realize how fucking spoiled you are? With your high-speed internet connection, your smartphone, your surgically straightened teeth, with an organic grocery store on every corner, and a government that busies itself blowing up everything in sight but generally leaves you well enough alone? (Unless you decide to “occupy” “their” land in the name of freedom… but that’s another story.)

You’re pretty lucky, kid, but no, that’s not enough for you. You’re pissed off. You can’t afford college, can’t find a job, can’t figure out why the girl or guy you like doesn’t care about your near-complete collection of Agathocles 7-inches. You feel alienated by the mainstream, misunderstood by your dad – “disenfranchised” is probably the word, but you’re not too clear on the definition. Either way, you’re not happy, so what do you do? What’s your grand gesture, your Great American Novel, your fist in the face of god?

You start a fucking grindcore band – and now you feel a little better.

Imagine that scenario playing out against an entirely different backdrop. The government takes none too kindly to Western influences, let alone the godless, unnervingly dark exterior of extreme metal. You’re cut off from the global metal community, at least as far as the touring/festival circuit goes, but you’ve still got that internet connection, and a helluva lot more reasons to be pissed. You form your own scene, patch together your own recording gear, write your own songs, and draw from the bands that you like, free of any input from foreign genre police. You start that fucking grindcore band, and you make it the best damn grindcore band that Vietnam has ever seen. And you name it Wu’u.

– Kim Kelly

Wừu is :
Trung (Siu Bleh) – Guitar
Hoang (Y Voyh) – Vocals
Khoi (Ia Koi) – Vocals
Pi (Kpak Klong) – Bass
An (Nub) – Drums

When and where did Wu’u form? What does your band name mean?

Trung, Wu’u guitarist:
We formed January this year. The band name is taken from Bok Wuu, a local hero in Gia Lai providence, where I was born. He fought for his brothers and the village during the war between Viet Nam and France. He got caught and was tortured three times but he never said a word. Last time [he was caught], he was killed, with just one eyeball left. But he still kept the secret about the barracks. That’s why he became a big hero deep in the hearts of everyone.

What brought the members together? Had you guys played in other punk or metal bands previously?

We played together for a long time before this happened. But we were in different bands. I play in Disgusted (death metal), Khoi plays in Multiplex (metalcore), Pi plays in Co-exist (melodic/core), An and Hoang play in Omerta (old-school death metal). We hang out all the time, because, you know, the metal scene here is kind of small, we all know about each other from different bands. And thank the lord, we all love extreme metal. That’s why we all have the same interest in grindcore.

What is the metal/punk scene like in Vietnam? Who are the most popular bands, labels, and distros, and how does living with Vietnam’s government and culture affect them?

It’s kind of small, as I said. There’s around 10 extreme bands here and around 20 bands play some popular rock or mainstream metal. I think the most popular band is Da Vang, a progressive metal band formed in 1991. Not any label exists here. Maybe only mine, Bloody Chunks Records, a small studio record label for metal bands around the city, but the products are just free to download – we don’t sell much so maybe we can’t call ourselves a record label. Vietnamese people are still afraid of this kind of music. Black, death, brutal, grindcore is still something that can’t be understood by them. Just a small community with 100 to 200 people in Ho Chi Minh City know it well and enjoy the gigs.

What is it like to be a grindcore fan in Ho Chi Minh City? How difficult is it to get your hands on Western music, especially underground metal?

I got some records from my friend 10 years ago through post office transfer. It was kind of hard getting those CDs at the time. But now with the internet, we can find anything. To me, I like CDs more than mp3. But after 2001, internet really killed the CD in Viet Nam, so now everyone downloads and downloads every day. I can tell you that there’s no difficulty at all in getting our hands on Western music. Back in the ’80 or ’90s, we had some big metal coffee shops here, we knew about Sepultura, Suffocation, Slayer [etc.] at the same time as you guys from the West. But it’s really underground! Some students sent CDs back to their home and the others just spread it out into the community.

Do you ever run into problems with your families or the authorities because of the kind of music you play?

No. They let us do anything we want. Just don’t try to use drugs or kill anyone and everything will be fine, hehe.

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How did you first become interested in extreme metal? What were the first metal/punk/grind records you got, and where did you get them?

I heard Metallica in 1998 and began to like metal music since that time. In ’99 I found Cannibal Corpse and was really attracted by them. Everything is so gory and violent at the time. I heard them for a long time and when I saw them in a live DVD from around 2001, I say, “Wow, this is fucking cool, I wanna be like them in the future.” After that, I grew my hair, learned to play guitar. That’s my story. The first metal CD I got was Metallica’s Black Album as a gift from my uncle. The first grind CD I got was Napalm Death – Inside the Torn Apart. I bought it on a summer vacation to Ho Chi Minh City, when I was in high school. Made me wonder for a while, hehe.

When Wu’u plays live, what kind of venues do you usually play – bars, clubs, or DIY spots? What is a live Wu’u performance like? Have you ever been shut down by the police?

We usually do it ourselves in bars or clubs around the city. We perform craziness in normalcy. Actually, we like to concentrate on the music quality more than anything else. Sometimes the vocalists jump and mosh or lay down on the floor, or dance some discotheque melody :)). That’s all. We’ve never been shut down by the police.

What is the meaning of your album title, 888?

In Viet Nam, a person who talks too much will be called a “8 person”. And we think we got too many songs about too many problems here, so maybe we are “8” too :)). And beside that, some other band used the number 666 too much, and we feel ashamed about that. So why not… 888! Our humor, our style!

What were your major influences while writing the songs for 888?

Lots of influences! I like old style, like Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Cancer, Solstice… The others like new styles like nu metal, metalcore, deathcore. So I think, why don’t we bring them together in one song? That’s the way we write the riffs for the songs. A band doesn’t mean everybody has the same style, so I don’t want to make anyone feel bored. As the main riff writer, I want everything to be fresh, humorous and extreme! You can’t go on the same way for every song. That will kill your passion. And at the beginning, we agreed to make this band become a funny, “non-style” extreme band, to fulfill every passion of every member. That’s why sometimes you hear dance elements or acoustic guitar in there, hehe!

What are your lyrics about? What are you guys fighting for?

It’s about the people we meet every day. Some of them make us want to spit on them, because they’re liars, stupid, hypocrites… or anything we don’t like. Besides those, some songs we wrote about the problems in the system in a funny eye sight [funny point of view]. Or some, just a sentence about something, such as the song called “Khong le tao danh may ngay tai day” (“Do you want I beat you up right here?”). The vocalist said this to the bassist in the morning when they argued about something. I heard that and I wrote the song for them right in the afternoon. Maybe, after playing that song together, they will love each other more than before, hehehe.

How did you guys hook up with Grind To Death and end up working with Grindcore Karaoke?

Facebook. We posted some demos and videos. Then Alex came to us. Thanks a lot for that. He helped us to find out about Grindcore Karaoke. I think they’re cool and we did it!

What do the members of Wu’u do when they’re not playing grind? Are you guys involved in any other bands or projects?

We played in another project called Wind Slider, an alternative/punk band. We use this band to earn money around some bars, clubs in the city a couple of nights every week. Beside that, I’m a DJ at a rock coffee shop, An is a graffiti artist, Pi and Khoi are still students, Hoang is a chef.

What are your plans for the rest of 2011? Any new releases or live gigs coming up?

We’ll have some new songs this year and will film a video clip for a song which hasn’t been released before. About gigs, sure, some DIY gigs are still waiting. But we are trying to find chances to play overseas too. That’ll be great if we can make it!

Last words: Extreme metal, extreme people is everywhere. Don’t lose your faith and stay brutal! Hail from Viet Nam!

Keep the faith, indeed.

— Kim Kelly

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HEAR WU’U

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0zNuyz-Blo

Wu’u – Live Video

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Wu’u – Di Dao Pho

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BUY WU’U

Grindcore Karoake (Digital Download)

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