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Kassim Slamat & The Swallows

Kassim Slamat & The Swallows
Site officiel du Kassim Slamat & The Swallows

Friday, July 29, 2011

Playing it loud, jamming session in Kampung style :

Front Sleeve from The Swallows last EP.
Despite regular appearances at Panggung Negara, not many, at that time knew that The Swallows were a bunch of village boys from the far-fetched corner of Singapore. Practice sessions would take place frequently at Kassim Rahmat's kampong home. (Which was once addressed at 50 Andrews Avenue, Sembawang Road, Singapore 27 - before they were resettled by the Singapore Government in 1988). Fully equipped with state of the art amplifiers, these jamming sessions were deafening to the ears and can be heard by the last hut in Sembawang. At times, jam sessions lasted till 3 a.m in the morning for the entire village to bear. Kassims' rented home, which functions as a make-shift jamming studio in the evening, were made from standard kampung building materials that were very common in Singapore during the 60s. The foundation of the kampong house were made of granite slabs on brick which was partially laid to support the walls that were made of wooden planks. Thin layers of zinc rooftops provide a form of shade for the household, making it too warm and unbearable for any kind of strenuous activities to be performed during the day.

The Swallows, were a group of childhood friends who grew up around Kampong Wak Hassan and Kampong Ledak Bom - a village, vacated in 1988 as part of Housing Development Board's (HDB) plan to resettle village settlers into high-rise buildings. Although the exact location of their former homes can no longer be pinpointed, their former residence was situated somewhere between Andrews Avenue and the coastal beach of Sembawang. The Swallows were never sponsored by any establishments and were a part-time band that made music as part of a youth fad of the 1960s. With the commissions earned from playing gigs in order to sustain their activity as a touring band, The Swallows were able to acquire the latest gadgets at the local music stores. Their selection of music instrument brands ranging from Fender guitars, Ludwig drums set and the sleek tailor made suits were frequent upgrades from the money they earned through playing commissioned gigs. A band deprived of sleep, these were the rewards that came from the hectic weekend schedule at Malay weddings, Nelson's Bar and Mess parties. Mess parties at the military base were a lucrative bonus to the band. They were often invited to play for the commonwealth troops on annual celebrations such as on the eve of Christmas and The New Year. Without doubt, The Swallows were not only experienced in performing in front of a large foreign crowd, but also adequately equipped and an envy of many newly formed garage bands that were competing in the Singapore music scene. Not too bad for a village band that started off playing acoustic guitars and empty tin cans as accompaniment.

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