Indonesian band Ungu coming back stronger

With their frontman settled into his job as a deputy mayor, the band are ready to celebrate their 20th anniversary with concerts and a new album

Ungu – comprising (from left) Makki, Enda, Pasha, Rowman and Onci – will perform at the Esplanade on Feb 25. PHOTO: ESPLANADE

Ungu, one of Indonesia's most popular pop-rock bands, have been lying low in the past year as their frontman, Pasha, went into politics.

The singer, whose real name is Sigit Purnomo Syamsuddin Said, took public office as deputy mayor of the Central Sulawesi city of Palu early last year.

Now that he is settled into the job, Ungu are making a comeback and will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a show at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Feb 25.

The concert puts to rest rumours that they have disbanded, although Pasha says that the band will not be performing as often as they used to.

While he is busy with his political career, his bandmates have performed as Ungu without him and are also occupied with other music projects.

Bass player Makki Omar Parikesit, better known as Makki, and drummer M. Nur Rohman, better known as Rowman, for example, also play in a newly formed band, The Secret.

Still, Pasha insists that the bond between him and his bandmates, who also include guitarists Enda and Onci, has never been stronger.

"We're more than just a band, we're friends, we're like a brotherhood. We also give one another space to do our own thing, and that's why Ungu have lasted for 20 years," says Pasha, 37. He spoke in Bahasa Indonesia in a telephone interview from his office in Palu.

Ungu, known for songs such as Demi Waktu, Aku Tahu and Tercipta Untukku that have become hits in the region, have done several gigs at major venues here. These include shows at the Esplanade Concert Hall in 2013 and the Singapore Indoor Stadium in 2010.

Pasha says: "We're always happy to do shows in Singapore because the response from the fans there has always been outstanding - the atmosphere is always exciting, the fans are always singing along to all our songs."

Formed in 1996, the band released their debut album, Laguku, in 2002.

Their third album, Melayang, released in 2005, gained them a regional fanbase when the songs became popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The band have won several awards, including the top band accolade at Indonesia's SCTV Awards in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Besides their seven studio albums, the prolific band have also released five religious albums and contributed songs to five soundtrack albums.

More than just shows, Pasha says Ungu's comeback includes plans to return to the studio to record a new album for release this year.

"That's one of the things that we wanted to do at the Esplanade show, to play some new songs for our fans," he says.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline Indonesian band Ungu coming back stronger. Subscribe