DIY doco The Other Option explores Australia’s impact on the burgeoning scenes in Southeast Asia

By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor

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Warsore, SEA, 1998.

The Other Option traces the history of Australian punk and hardcore bands touring in Southeast Asia.

It’s a fair dinkum, full-length 94-minute film about how the hardcore scenes in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were opened up by an incursion of Aussie bands in the late nineties.

Its director, Rohan Thomas, tells UB “it’s basically about how the scene there went from a place no one toured to a place that is now known all round the world as having one of the wildest and most passionate scenes in the face of a lot of shit from religion, the government and authorities in general. And it was the Aussie bands that helped bring it recognition.”

It all started with cult Melbourne grind crew Warsore, who toured the region with Demisor at the end of 1998. Warsore hit a nerve. Singaporeans and Malays who saw those shows recall them with reverence.

“I’ve had people from America, Europe and all over Asia contact me about the film just because they want to hear about Warsore,” Thomas says. “A guy in Asia who runs a popular zine said he has watched it four times because he loves Warsore so much…and he can hardly speak English!”

What’s more, having seen Warsore get into SEA, other Australian bands followed, and on it continued.

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Warsore, Room Full of Blues, Singapore, 1998

The Other Option features interviews and never-before-seen photos and video of the key SEA bands and locals like Warsore, Dregs of Humanity, Pisschrist, Miles Away, Michael Crafter and heaps more.

You can find out where to get a copy or order online at otheroptionfilm.com.

“There were a number of reasons why I decided to release the film on DVD, even when most people laughed at me when I told them,” says Thomas. “I wanted something physical at the end of it, just like a band wants to hold their record. I also wanted to support local record stores and distros by telling people to head there to pick up a copy. And finally, while digital streaming is the norm now in Australia, that sure isn’t the case with punks in Southeast Asia, so I wanted to try and make a physical copy as accessible to them as I could.

“We are talking about a scene that, while still tech savvy in parts, also still values cassette tapes as a important music medium.”

 

 

 

 

 

A bigger, wider-reaching interview with Rohan Thomas is featured in the latest issue of Unbelievably Bad, issue #18, on sale now.

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