Paperplane Pursuit. They’re a Malaysian band comprising of a doctor, a guy who loves bread, a band member whose music guilty pleasure is Spice Girls and a dude with electric blue hair. The 4-piece band was born 8 years ago and they’re pretty hands on with their approach too. Did you know that the guys write, produce and record all their music in their own production studio?
There’s John O on the vocals, Isaac Ravi on the guitar, Dru Yap on the drums, and The Chief on the bass. In October 2015, Paperplane Pursuit entered the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 Indicator Chart at #40 with their single ‘Feel Good’. They were on the same chart as musicians like Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift.
Discover KL recently caught up with Paperplane Pursuit as they share everything, from their favourite food to what they were like in high school.
1. What is your warm up ritual prior to hitting the stage?
John: I think out of all the guys, I’m the one who’s most concerned with staying ‘in the zone’ before a show. During that time, I usually mentally rehearse the show, do vocal warm ups, and say a prayer just before getting on stage.
Isaac: Before we got ourselves a production manager, I used to be the one running around making sure everything was in order for our set before we played, which didn’t leave me with a lot of space to ‘get in the zone’ for the performance. Similarly, these days, I like to keep myself mildly preoccupied so I don’t end up thinking too much about the performance, which I find keeps me relaxed and keeps the nerves away.
Chief: It all depends for me. If I get the chance, I’d like some alone time to get ‘in the zone’ like John. But most of the time, I’m either discussing arrangements with Dru or getting the tracks ready.
Dru: I’m usually the guy who is asking everyone about the song arrangements.
2. You guys have been together for almost a decade now. Has there been any major clashes, and if so, how did you resolve it?
There are clashes all the time haha, but nothing too major I guess. We’re all pretty vocal guys, so most of our decision making tends to be a pretty rigorous back and forth, with everyone exchanging thoughts and opinions, and I guess our clashes aren’t that different. If things ever escalate we just try to set aside time to talk things out and air our frustrations, then reset. What makes a difference is all of us have the same end goal, so despite having conflicting opinions on how to get there we know we’re all fighting for the same thing and compromise doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
3. What’s the best perk and downside to being a musician?
John: The best perk for me is being able to earn a living from expressing my creativity. The downside might be that it’s hard to separate your art from yourself, ‘cos it’s so personal. It’s dangerous and unhealthy to see people rejecting your art as people rejecting you.
Isaac: The best perk is that you’re the captain of your own ship. It’s entirely in your hands what you do with your career and how far you want to push it. But this is also probably the toughest part of being a musician.
4. Who is most likely to mess up on stage?
Chief: I must admit. I get carried away jumping around and having too much fun on stage sometimes.
Isaac: I’m gonna second that. Haha. If the bass suddenly goes missing from the sound, or there’s a pop on stage, chances are Chief was jumping around too much.
5. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
John: I think I’d be doing something that involved mentoring in some capacity, like teaching or training.
Isaac: No idea. I might have stuck around at my old job at a startup for a couple of years before going out to do my own thing.
Chief: I love the creative process. I’d be involved in some sort of building or making. Possibly engineering.
Dru: A doctor.
6. What do you miss most when you’re touring?
7. Where is your dream location to perform, and why?
John: A sold-out stadium, doesn’t really matter where. It’s just a dream I’ve had for the longest time to play a concert in a stadium filled with our fans.
8. Dream artist to perform with?
John: Bruno Mars. Though honestly I’m more excited about working in the studio with him than performing with him.
Isaac: It’s a toss up between Rage Against the Machine or Nine Inch Nails.
Chief: Mike Shinoda. A die hard LP fan over here. And probably the reason why I got into this business.
Dru: I have always fantasised about subbing for a huge metal band’s drummer. Maybe one day Lars Ulrich will give me a ring to sub for him in Metallica.
9. What is your guilty music pleasure?
John: I very much subscribe to the wise words of Dave Grohl – There shouldn’t be any guilty pleasures in music. You should just like whatever music you like without feeling the need to feel guilty about it, who cares if no one else gets it?
Isaac: There is no such thing. I think music falls into two categories, music you enjoy and music you don’t enjoy.
Chief: Sometimes I do like going back to those bubblegum pop records from the 90s. Spice Girls, Aqua, Vengaboys. Haha.
Dru: That has to be the Backstreet Boys.
10. What is the meanest comment you’ve ever had and how do you handle negative criticisms?
Someone in the media posted about us saying that Malaysian bands need to stop making up fake news in desperate attempts to generate cheap publicity. A friend screenshot it and sent it to us, then we all had a good laugh about it. That’s pretty much how we handle our negative criticisms. We mostly get very entertained by it, haha.
11. If you were stranded on an island, name one person (dead or alive) that you wouldn’t mind being stranded with, and why?
John: Jesus. I have so many questions I’d love to ask.
Isaac: Bear Grylls, duh.
Chief: Bob Dylan. I like people who have a lot of stories to tell.
Dru: Dave Grohl. I imagine it would be so cool to pick his brain about his life experiences.
12. What is your dream hair colour that you would attempt next?
John: Jet black hair.
13. What is one thing you would not mind eating forever?
John: Nasi Lemak!
Isaac: Bread. I’m allowed different types of sandwiches and bread right?
Chief: Fried Chicken. Not only does it fill my stomach. It also fills my soul.
Dru: Banana leaf rice.
14. Who is most likely to win in a bar fight among the four of you?
John: I think me, for sure. I could whoop these pansies any day.
Isaac: If you can catch me.
15. What were you guys like in high school?
John: I was one big douche. I was basically certain that I was God’s gift to mankind.
Isaac: I was tiny and quiet. Not very different from now. Haha.
Chief: I was a pretty bratty kid. Haha.
Dru: I’m at least sure that my physical fitness was much better than what it is now.
16. What is one hidden talent that your fans wouldn’t know about?
John: I used to be pretty good at drawing. Haven’t really done it in years though.
Isaac: It’s not really talent, but I very unexpectedly (for my size) do Olympic Weightlifting.
Chief: I’m very good with Flags. Try me!
Dru: Probably most people already know about this but I am also a doctor.
17. What do you think about when you’re alone in the car?
John: I think about EVERYTHING when I’m alone in the car. Sometimes it’s planning my day, sometimes it’s processing what happened during the day, and often it’s ideas for the band, or other stuff that I’ve got going on in my life.
What an interesting question, I didn’t know thinking when you’re alone in the car is a thing for most people.
Isaac: “I’m really enjoying this drive”. It’s either that or I’m thinking about the music I’m listening to.
Chief: I generally like “zoning out” in the car. Not much thought goes on.
Dru: I think about music the most in my car. It’s the place where I listen to music!