Glastonbury Festival

Singapore's Wormrot rock music festival

Vocalist Mohammad Arif Suhaimi performing with his band members on the Earache Express, a stage set within a train carriage.
Vocalist Mohammad Arif Suhaimi performing with his band members on the Earache Express, a stage set within a train carriage.PHOTO: EARACHE RECORDS

The first Singapore act to perform at the famous event in Britain play to rave response

Things were hot and heavy at the Glastonbury Festival for Singapore band Wormrot.

The grindcore rockers played their first set at the music festival last Friday on the Earache Express, a stage set within a train carriage that had had its seats taken out.

Vocalist Mohammad Arif Suhaimi, 33, tells The Straits Times over the telephone: "It was packed, overwhelming. There was no space and we had no rehearsals before our performance."

Wormrot, formed in 2007, are the first Singapore act to perform at the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, one of the biggest and most prominent music festivals in the world.

The three-man band also include guitarist Mohammad Nurrasyid Juraimi, 33, and drummer Vijesh Ashok Ghariwala, 26.

They were slightly disconcerted by the fact that they were playing to two crowds - one on a level below the stage and another on the same level as the stage.

Says Arif: "We were not quite sure how to perform to both crowds at the same time."

But the audience's rave reactions to their performance put their fears to rest.

Says Vijesh: "It was awesome. The audience was going nuts when we performed."

This year's festival is headlined by world stars such as Radiohead, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Foo Fighters.

For their 45-minute-long set last Friday night, Wormrot played about 30 songs, each lasting around a minute.

Nurrasyid says the number that received the best response was Fallen Into Disuse.

Describing it as slow but heavy, he says it was lapped up by the audience because it was a break from the speed and intensity of their other numbers.

Speaking to The Straits Times just after the set, the band said they would catch some shut-eye before their two performances on Saturday.

"We can't wait," says Vijesh. "The Friday night show was just the warm-up for us."

Wormrot are signed to British label Earache Records, which invited them to perform at the festival two months ago.

In their early years, Nurrasyid says, the "welfare, turnout and payout" from the shows they performed at were poor.

"There were occasions when we had to sleep on the floor. We used to get paid £50 at best for a show. Sometimes, we got nothing at all. Once, we played to a 'crowd' of three people."

While they are now a popular name in the global underground metal scene, all three band members still hold jobs at home: Arif works in a warehouse, Nurrasyid is a deliveryman and Vijesh gives drum lessons.

They have managed to juggle this with concert tours in Europe and the United States, as well as stage shows in India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

On their agenda is a tour in Japan and South Korea in October, a show in Indonesia towards the end of the year and more shows in Europe and the US next year.

Says Arif: "It's been a journey of much hard work and struggles. But we have remained dedicated to our music and that's been worth it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore's Wormrot rock music festival'. Print Edition | Subscribe