SPOTLIGHT: Nicholas Wong Chronicles His Decade Worth Of Music [Singapore]

SPOTLIGHT | Nicholas Wong
Marijannah | Blood Pact | Bruised Willies | The Caulfield Cult | Mouthful Of Air | Abattoirblues

As we close out the decade – we are truly honored to take a moment to spotlight some really gifted musicians that we have befriended over the years that we’ve been running this site. Today we spotlight our good friend Nicholas Wong AKA “Changi Airport Is The Best”. If you look at the list of bands under his name above, you’ll know why we are excited to use our platform to celebrate this insane musician.

He recently commented on the fact that in the past decade he has amassed 19 releases that include full lengths and EP’s. (He actually has a 20th all acoustic EP but just informed us he’s too embarrassed to share that with us. We don’t think we were supposed to tell you that. hahaha…) Nicholas has kindly included a description of each one of these releases below – releases that go from hardcore to emotive punk to post punk to stoner doom metal. Goddamn.

We love this dude.

Photo Credit: Png Eng Ngee

Mouthful of Air
Little Care, A Lotta Concrete (Re-recorded version)
Released: April 2010

I watched MFOA live in 2008 and instantly became a fan before joining the band about a year later. They were people who had direction and plans, something unheard of then. We did a couple of regional tours and I took my first ever plane ride with them when I was 16, for a show in Bangkok, so this band opened many doors for me. We re-recorded some old songs from our bedrooms and released it with new artwork before doing a Southeast Asian tour with Ruiner.

Mouthful of Air
Pale Fate Split 8” w/ Driven Fear (Aus)
Released: Oct 2010, Pee Records

I hadn’t met the Driven Fear guys but the rest of MFOA knew them from tours together before I joined. This was the first time I had ever recorded in an actual studio. We recorded the drums and vocals with Ah Boy at TNT Studios and I’m still recording there today. This was also the first time I had experienced “proper production” and released music that didn’t sound like it was recorded through a toaster. These 2 songs we did were also ahead of its time for the genre.

The Caulfield Cult
Leaving Cemetery Junction EP
Released: June 2011

MFOA slowly faded away as the other members started getting busy with children, careers and national service. I had stopped going to school by mid 2010 and didn’t have much to do. I’ve never sang for a band before and always wanted to be in a more melodic kind of punk/hardcore band. I formed The Caulfield Cult with Brian and we both agreed that I’d sing the songs I wrote and he’d sing the songs he wrote but I ended up writing everything. We recorded this EP in a rehearsal studio and put it out before our first shows in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak & the Philippines. Apart from recording vocals for the first time, this EP was also the first time I’ve ever recorded drums as we didn’t have a drummer at the time. Unfortunately, you can’t find any recordings of this online but it’s terrible so you’re not missing out on anything.

The Caulfield Cult
Leaving Cemetery Junction (Full Length)
Released: October 2011

We took 3 tracks from the EP and re-recorded them along with 8 other songs, also in a rehearsal studio, with our new drummer. The production and quality of this isn’t up to today’s standards but in retrospect, I take a lot of pride in this album and they’re some of the best songs I’ve ever written lyrically. I was in a very confused place here and had a lot of angst in my adolescence that I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’ll never be able to write a record like this ever again. I had to be the hopeless, miserable 18 year old I was to do this. I’ll also never be able to sing like this ever again because I’m pretty sure I blew every vocal chord within a year of this release.

The Caulfield Cult
Things Can Only Get Worse From Here 12”
Released: May 2013 by DSTM

This was the first release I was involved in in about a year and a half and was also my longest period of inactivity in the decade, reason being I enlisted in the army (mandatory) the year before and spent all my free time & money playing shows and getting wasted on cheap beers. We decided to record our second album in the famous Snakeweed Studios with Leonard Soosay, a place where the bands we grew up with like A Vacant Affair, Plainsunset & Caracal recorded a lot of their music. Listening back, I felt like we rushed this recording. We were a bunch of broke 20 year olds paying by the hour. A lot of the tone could be better, the vocals could be much better. This was released by a UK label called DSTM and it was the first time I released anything on vinyl. We were on tour in England when we received this and holding them in my hands for the first time was one of my high moments.

The Caulfield Cult
Split Ep w/ Up And Atom (Australia)
Released: March 2014 by Romantic Nobita Records

We met Up And Atom when we played a show together in Singapore the year before. The guitarist, Matt, actually wrote us on Facebook about playing together and I love their DIY work ethic. 2014 was a busy year for us, we did a Japanese tour together with U&A and then we did a 2-month stint in Europe followed by about 3 weeks in America. Unfortunately I was in very bad health when recording this. I was smoking and drinking a lot and screaming without any technique or guidance every night really messed up my throat. I had a really bad throat infection when I recorded this and I sound like I have a golf ball in my throat. I quit smoking the year after and slowly learned how to not completely blow my voice in the first 2 minutes and sometimes I wish I could re-record all the vocals for the Caulfield Cult records. We recorded this in Brian’s brother’s bedroom.

The Caulfield Cult
Split 7” w/ Godard (UK)
Released: June 2014 by DSTM

These songs were recorded during the same sessions as the ones in the split with Up & Atom but I could be wrong and I don’t really want to listen to the songs again to find out. We met Godard because they wrote us one day saying 2 of them are coming to Singapore for a holiday and we hung out and decided we liked each other. This split came out on 7” vinyl with DSTM and we booked a 7 week long European tour that started the day after I finished my national service, which honestly is stupidly long for small bands. Half the shows had less than 30 people. The band started to kinda grow apart around this time, mainly because we were living in a small van together for so long and losing money every night. It was still an experience I’ll never trade for anything and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to do it older than I was then. It was a carefree time.

To Hell With You
Something Else To Care About
Released: Late 2014

To Hell With You was formed by dudes I was hanging out with a lot and I don’t know how but I just kinda joined the band. 2014/2015 was a very blurry period. We recorded these songs in rehearsal studios and played some fun shows around Malaysia and got to support Birds In Row. This was the first time I was doing vocals and not playing any instrument and I shouldn’t be allowed to do this again. Again, I wish the production and my vocals were performed much better. Keith played bass in this band and he also went on to play in Bruised Willies and Blood Pact with me.

The Caulfield Cult
Half Empty 7”
Released: July 2015 by Miss The Stars Records

I really don’t remember much about recording this. Skinny quit the band at the end of 2014 so we recorded this as a 3-piece and we recorded this all at separate times on our own. We did a European tour around this and played Fluff Fest that year so that was cool.

The Caulfield Cult
Audiotree Live Sessions
Released: Mid 2015 by Audiotree Music

This was very special and intimidating for us. I don’t remember how we got this. I remember waking up very early somewhere in Michigan or Indiana and we had to start driving at like 5am to Chicago to make the sessions. This was the first time I met Adel from Amateur Takes Control, who was living in Chicago at the time. He was Brian’s childhood friend and came to hang out. We didn’t do very well because we just weren’t very good. None of us were really good at what we play but we were given the opportunity and as a 22 year old who has owned the same 1 guitar and like 2 pedals for the last 10 years at that point, what do you want. Everyone back home was watching and some stayed up to 5am to catch the live stream and there were a lot of kind words online. It was a very pleasing experience because I do love kind words online.

The Caulfield Cult
Split with Abolition A.D.
Released: Late 2015 by Dangerous Goods

Again, I don’t remember much of this. Abolition were good friends of ours and we talked about putting out a split together for ages and they took fucking forever to record these 2 songs. I know Marwood was re-recorded and re-released for our next album. I don’t remember how the other song goes but I remember it being not too bad. The titles of the tracks were named after the characters of the film “Withnail & I”.

Bruised Willies
None Of Us Can Skate
Released: November 2015 by Dangerous Goods

I came up with the band name at least a year or two before we got together. I wanted to form a powerviolence band with the name. Keith wanted to form a melodic punk band and we just used ‘Bruised Willies’. We were listening to a lot of Menzingers, Gnarwolves & Joyce Manor at the time. I was getting disenchanted with The Caulfield Cult and the constant touring was stressing me out so I needed something fun to do with the mates that I hang out and shoot the shit with every day. I always tell people this story and it’s half-true, we got Farhan in the band because Keith and I lived in the west [of Singapore] and we wanted a drummer that lived nearby so we could find a practice studio that isn’t too far away from us. That studio has since closed down.

The Caulfield Cult
Cult 12”
Released: May 2016 by i.corrupt.records & Dangerous Goods

I came into these sessions with half a mind knowing it would be our last release. We did it with a good friend, Cedric at Inversion Studios. I remember travelling over an hour on the train and bus about 4-5 times a week and I think we finished it in about 17-18 sessions. Some of the songs, I had the lyrics only written in the studio, on the day of recording. I think ‘Weathered’ & the last track were 2 of them. I thought it was a good farewell, I haven’t listened to this album in a while. It doesn’t have the angst and energy like our first record but it’s more polished and mature. We mastered it with Alan Douches, an engineer I’ve been wanting to work with for many years.

Bruised Willies
John Malkovich Was Great as John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich
Released: Late 2016 by Dangerous Goods

I don’t remember anything from this except recording it in Long Live The Empire’s drummer’s home.

Bruised Willies
Dark Humour
Released: 2017 by Dangerous Goods

I can’t remember the month or time of year this was released. I’m actually quite surprised that this was the only release I had for the year but I was probably trying to slow down after The Caulfield Cult broke up. I was getting bored of fast melodic punk and was listening to a lot of Dinosaur Jr, Drug Church and Culture Abuse at the time so this EP was very mid-tempo and riff-heavy. I stopped trying to sing rough as well because I quit smoking cigarettes in 2015 and ate a lot cleaner and slept well so my throat cleared up. I’m not a talented enough vocalist to be able to flick the gruff switch on and off. This is usually people’s favourite or most hated Bruised Willies release [Editor’s Note: FAVORITE].

Til Marijannah 12”
Released: 15 February 2018 by Pink Tank Records

After Caulfield Cult broke up, I was very bored with whatever I was playing and wanted to try something completely new and this was it. It was the first time I’ve worked with Skinny in 4 years and the first time I’ve worked with Rasyid from Wormrot and Azri from Abolition. I’m very proud of this record, one reason being I’ve never received feedback like this before. Waking up to messages like “Oh did you know you were on Pitchfork?” and “Oh did you know you were on Noisey?” was very pleasant because it just showed that sometimes if the material is really good, you don’t need marketing monkeys and PR clowns to get press on reputable sites. Ozzy Osbourne’s bass player put us on his personal playlist, Revolver reached out for a Skype interview. It wasn’t a case of our people got in touch with some people who knew their people. We didn’t do anything and every good review and promo was a pleasant surprise to us.

Released: December 2018

The Marijannah LP was actually recorded a year before the release and this was the only thing I recorded in 2018. I was just bored and feeling idle and was listening to a lot of the fast melodic hardcore that I grew up with in the mid 00’s. I realised no one else was doing that anymore and that really bummed me out so I just decided to write a few songs. I’ve been vegan for 12 years and always wanted to be in a vegan hardcore band, unfortunately I didn’t know any other musicians from the hardcore scene who shared my beliefs and all the other vegans already quit that lifestyle. So I thought I’d just form a vegan hardcore band with just one person – myself. I recorded all the instruments on this and I’m really happy with the reception and how this turned out. I don’t know if these songs will ever be played live but I’d love to one day.

Blood Pact
Released: September 2019 by Ordo Nocturno Records & Disaster Records

This is Bruised Willies basically. Or it’s the same members at least. Farhan and I get bored of music very quickly and we always end up listening or wanting to play something completely different every 2 years. And as a band with no fan base and zero stock, we can change our sound as many times as we want with no consequences. We wanted to be in a serious band, not in an Oasis kinda way, but serious enough that we as adults won’t feel embarrassed when we tell people what our band name was. So Bruised Willies had to go. I’m a big fan of goth and post-punk music like 80’s Cure, Night Sins and Soft Kill and wanted to give it a go. It’s one of two bands I’m still active in today and we’re playing a show tonight as I’m typing this so I guess it’s going pretty well so far.

Released: December 2019 by Cursed Tongue Records

By the time our first LP came out, I think we already had the skeletons of 1 or 2 songs from this written. These sessions were a lot easier than the ones making the 1st record because we knew what we wanted. Till Marijannah was a lot of experimenting from the 4 of us, doing a style of music none of us have done before. Obviously a musician’s most recent release will always be their favourite so this is definitely my favourite release so far.

We want to thank Nick for taking the time to piece all of this together. Means a lot that a person of his musical pedigree would take the time to put something together for our site.

Marijannah is about to celebrate the release of their latest full length Istanah on February 7 in Singapore. See you all there!

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