My first DEWA concert in Jakarta's Hard Rock Cafe for Valentine's Day 2002; I have been a fan for years so needless to say I was ecstatic to see them play live
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BIP: Anti-Drug Rockers from Indonesia
by Farah 'Fairy' Mahdzan (29-Oct-2002) | Readers Say

Drugs can tear a music band apart but it can also bring about the spirit and birth of a new one such as bip (be-i-pe).

Three of bip's members, Bongky (bass), Indra (keyboard) and Pay (guitar), are ex-members of the first formation of Slank, an insanely popular Indonesian rock band with a large number of fiercely-loyal fans (who are termed Slankers). Slank started to ride the waves of fame and success in the early 1990s with hits like Suit-Suit....Hehehe (Gadis Sexy) and Terlalu Manis.

Things looked good for Slank until drugs tempted Bongky, Indra and Pay into desperate addiction. The drug dependency shared by these three men left Slank in shreds and pieces as conflicts went unresolved and relationships between band members and management intensified. Finally in 1996, the trio left Slank and pursued their own lives until one day a mutual sentiment hit them like a bolt of lightning: they missed playing music as a band. After recruiting the talents of Irang and Jaka to fulfill the positions of vocalist and drummer, respectively, their new band was given a name by combining the initials of Bongky, Indra and Pay. Hence bip was born on 20 April, 2000 in Bandung.

The press conference in KL

Malaysia had a chance recently to host and be entertained by bip's captivating sense of music and showmanship. I seized the golden opportunity to join a group of journalists and press photographers in a bip press conference in Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur on October 15. The conference was held to expose to the media the talents of these 5 creative men from negeri seberang as well as promote the showcase concert that was planned for the evening of October 20 at the same venue.

As Irang took to the mic and the band players started to kick their instruments into full gear, we were treated to an awesome, rock-melodic and thumping performance of two songs from their latest album, Min Plus: Atas Nama Cinta and Sampai Nanti. I could also see Dewiq in the background onstage as backing vocal; she's a female recording Indonesian artist with three albums so far who happens to also be Pay's lover.

Anti-Drug Ambassadors: "Jangan Jadi Junkies!"

After bip's brief but very impressive performance, the five band members walked steadily to their designated table and faced the crowd of invited attendants, ready to answer questions. Of course, everyone was curious to hear of their involvement with drugs back in the day. bip was sincere in sharing stories of their junkies days. The band ensured everyone present that they were no longer drug-dependent and that their acts have been cleaned, although it took them several years to rehabilitate from their horrid dependency.

As a music band with a lot of following, bip has somewhat adopted itself as anti-drug ambassadors, reminding their fans (called bipers) that narcotics was a way of life that should be avoided at all costs since it can only bring life destruction. Bongky spoke of an incident in which Indra was found overdosed and unconscious and had to be admitted to the hospital; unfortunately Indra went into a coma for 2 weeks but miraculously his life was spared and he survived. Pay reminisced on several occasions where he sold off everything valuable he owned, including expensive, collectable guitars, just to collect money to pay off for drugs.

The guys were casual in relating their painful and regrettable experiences circulating around their addict days. I personally developed respect for them for being able to share and take on the responsibilities of the drug-related stories that most would be ashamed to tell, moreso publicly.

Jazz + Rock = Indra's Specialty

Photos of bip in Malaysia

If I had to choose my favorite personnel from bip, Indra would be my number one pick. I highly admire Indra's talent and presence as a keyboardist in the band which give bip's modern rock music (which is normally dominated by guitar-sounds and distortions of various sorts) a sophisticated and unique sound. I learned that Indra loves piano jazz, and when he started playing keyboard in a rock band, he thought that the music was simple in comparison to jazz. That's why his piano-playing is melodically-thrilling and not conventional in rock music; Indra would happily make jazz-improvisions that add color to the music his band plays.

bip's additional projects

bip not only produce and write material for themselves but they help out their fellow artist-colleagues whenever opportunities arise. For example, Indra helped Element in the production of their most recent album, Paradoks. Bongky and Pay have played in other bands such as Flowers and Dhani (Dewa)'s band, Ahmad Band. They both have also worked alongside artists such as Dewiq, Bunglon, Harapan Jaya, Ipang, Adi Adrian and Etha.

There's a bonus if you're a guitar maniac and a biper (bip fan) rolled into one: a guitar company in Indonesia has even released Bongky bass series guitars and Pay series guitars which you can add to your personal guitar collection.

bip is bip, bukan Slank

Although the rise to fame of bip has been largely fueled by the presence of the three ex-Slank members Bongky, Indra and Pay, the band emphasizes that bip is indeed a different band with Irang and Jaka and that the public should now see bip as bip, not as a spin-off of their old band, Slank. However I personally think the association of bip to Slank is inevitable due to the history and music-style the two rock bands share.

bip summed up the press conference by thanking everyone present for their attendance and attention and expressed their hopes that Indonesian music fans will embrace their music wholeheartedly. I wish them success and may we all continue to hear great music from them.

Photos: Fairy

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