You wouldn’t think about the Caribbean as a place where metal music is blooming. Maybe blooming is a bit too early to say, but there’s something stirring under the soil in Suriname for sure, where Luguber is making strides with their unique, dark sound.
This interview was originally published on Echoes and Dust. Check out that version here.
Suriname was up from the colonial days until the independence in 1975 part of the Netherlands. It explains a connection and influence from the old country, which can be seen in the music of Suriname. For years the country was also a dictatorship after a military coup. It’s all things to take into account, when looking at a relatively young scene that is still finding its ground.
But bands like Luguber are hitting that ground running, playing their own blend of various genres, mashed into a wild punkrock infused barrage. It’s the sound of anger and dissent, of frustration and depression. That makes it high time to get in touch with these guys and get to know a bit about them and their scene. Most questions were answered by Shavero Ferrier, except when noted different.
So meet Luguber!
Who are Luguber and how did you guys meet?
Luguber is a metal band from Suriname, we play a mixture of hardcore, thrash and grunge. Luguber has three members, who are Reguillio Norman Padma on bass, Akeem Smith on drums and Shavero Ferrier on guitar and vocals.
I met Akeem at school in Nickerie in 2014. He had the same interest in music and he heard that I was playing in a band. We got talking and found that there was definitely chemistry between us so… Luguber was born. Reguillio and I had been playing in a band together in Paramaribo, named Skafu, so I’ve known that bastard for years.
Before that I played in a punkband called De Rotte Appels, who released a single named ‘Punkers’ on compilation albums ‘Punks Not Deaf’ and ‘Suriname Punks Meet Guyana Punks’, which came out in the Netherlands in 2013. I and Reguillio still play in Skafu together.
After that first jam session with Akeem we started penning some songs, so Luguber started as a duo. With just guitar, vocals and drums we played 4 successful gigs in 2015. Reguillio joined on bass in January 2016. We play music that takes a bit from sludge, hardcore, grunge and thrash, as long as it makes it heavy, dark and depressed.
What’s the story you’re telling with your music, what are the songs about? It seems that there’s some personal demons unleashed in the lyrics.
My parents had to move in 2011 from Paramaribo (the capital of Suriname) to Nickerie. You can’t compare Nickerie to Paramaribo. It’s smaller, there’s not much to do during the day and in the evenings. When my friends left Nickerie to study I was left alone there in Nickerie. Moving from Paramaribo to Nickerie, from a busy life to a really calm life is what I’m expressing in my lyrics.
Why did you pick the name Luguber?
Originally we had the idea in mind to play doom metal, so we picked a name that would fit in well with that style. It worked out differently, we started playing completely different styles, but decided on keeping the name. We do a lot of lyrics in Dutch, so keeping the band name in Dutch made sense. We’re kind of breaking a taboo by having a Dutch name. Most bands in Suriname use English names. It’s sort of different in that way.
What bands inspired you to make music and are there any local ones that you looked up to?
Shavero: For me a local inspiration is Bitter Confessions, a metalcore band from Suriname from around 2001/2008. Apart from that I listened a lot of Black Flag, Bad Brains, Black Sabbath, Nirvana and Slayer.
Akeem: For me the song ‘115’ by Elena Siegman, was what inspired me to start drumming metal music. Other music that inspired me is Pantera, Asking Alexandria and Killswitch Engage.
Reguillio: For me its Mark Tremonti, Creed, Social Distortion, Metallica, Slipknot and Green Day (before 21st Century Breakdown). Local heroes for me where the bands Apoplectic and Morrighon.
If Luguber could tour Europe with a three band package deal, what would that package be?
Regillio: So, this is hard to answer… Creed, because of Scott Taps voice, wow! But…they split up. De Heideroosjes, awesome Dutch punkrock group that also split up I’m afraid. So I’d go for Korn, because that would mix well, since both us and they deal a lot with personal demons in the music.
Shavero: For me it would be Neuk! (Awesome Dutch hardcore band). They inspired me to write my lyrics the way I do. I also really dig Expire, I listened to all of their albums. I’ve been a huge Bad Religion fan since my teens though, so as a die-hard fan I’d add those.
Akeem: I’m a big deathcore/death metal fan, so for me Infant Annihilator is on that list. The drummer Aaron Kitcher has been a huge inspiration for me. Currently I really dig the band Eye of the Enemy and I suppose Slipknot, because it’s my big dream to see them play live.
What is it like to make metal in Suriname? The image of the region is usually one of sunny music and a relaxed atmosphere. The music of Luguber is very dark instead.
It’s always great to make music that is different for the masses, something they’re not used to. Mostly the audiences don’t appreciate it very much, but Suriname has a small underground scene that appreciates what we do. Those are the people we make our music for. No one is making any money out of this, we’re more likely to pay to play. It’s all about the love and passion for the music.
You guys are from Nickerie, on the first EP there’s a song titled ‘Nickerier Song’, what textually seems to fit more into a setting like King 810’s songs about Flint, Michigan (Murder City). It sounds pessimistic and the lyrics mention it as a hell hole. What kind of place is it you guys come from?
Nieuw-Nickerie is not such a bad town really, but for a city boy it’s a place that can get pretty boring. Maybe a good example is the UK Subs song ‘Down Here on the Farm’. It’s a fact that Nickerie is the second city of Suriname when it comes to suicide rates. To make a long story short, Nickerie can really bore you to death…
How available are facilities like instruments, studio’s, labels and record shops? I’ve learned from bands in surrounding countries that these can be serious issues.
It actually is a big issue. Not just for people playing rock or metal I have to say, but for any genre. Instruments are ridiculously expensive and the studios have no experience at all with the kind of music we are making. There are people who have been into the metal scene for decennia, who have a studio, but they’re simply unwilling to invest. They fear that they won’t make back any money they put into it. So we have to make do with what we have and that’s not a lot unfortunately
Can you talk about a metal scene in Suriname? What does it look like, is it segmented by genre or is it a mix?
You can’t really talk about either a metal scene or a punk scene in Suriname. It’s more or less a rock scene, where everything is mixed up a lot. The scene is not really bound to one specific genre. It’s also not very big, so you see the same people at every party, regardless which band is playing. People like a good atmosphere and a good mosh.
The rock subculture really becomes visible when there’s a related event. Everyone knows each other and respects each other’s musical tastes. We discuss a lot of stuff, but at the end of the night we share a bottle of beer and a joint and just have a good time.
How did the metal scene get started in Suriname? Is it possible to point out a starting moment?
The rock/metal scene in Suriname started in the seventies, when people were jamming in their garages, playing covers of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. It really took off in the eighties, when the band Allegre Fortissimo played an official gig and was actually on the radio for a while.
We don’t know that much about Allegre Fortissimo to be honest. In the 70’s people played funk more than anything and that band was the first one who dared to organise a show. For me personally the band Bitter Confessions has been one of the first bands that I saw live and inspired me to start this band. That was around 2007/2008.
Which bands from Suriname should people check out and why?
Bands you could check out are Asylum, Tidal Wave, Morrighon and Ravech. Tidal Wave is one of the oldest, still active bands from Suriname. Asylum plays shows full of energy, you could call them the Suriname version of Slayer.
Morrighon has been working on their sound for a while now and last year they released an album which sounds pretty amazing. They’ve been at it for ten years or so. Ravech is an up and coming band, they have a lot of potential. You can check out their EP online now.
You guys played the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean recently. How did it go and what is it like to play on a stage like that?
I can hardly find the words for it. It’s a night we’ll probably never forget, an evening full of top class metal music with great bands. Everyone was nice and encouraging towards one another, but there was definitely competition. I needed to visit the toilet like seven times, that was how nervous it made me. We played a great show in the end and probably one of the biggest we’ve done this far. Many doors have opened now and I think we’ve gained a lot of connections through our Caribbean brothers.
What is the connection between the surrounding countries, say the region that was part of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean? Is there a connection to the Dutch scene?
Before the Wacken show, we were familiar with bands from the region, but contact remained limited to Facebook connections. Now, after having played together at the show, the contacts have been strengthened and we have a wish to collaborate more.
As mentioned before, the band De Rotte Appels released a compilation in the Netherlands. A Distant Head Disorder can also be heard on that ‘Guyana vs. Suriname punks’ compilation. Jerrie Orie, who organises the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean plays also in Dutch metal band Disquiet and Cypher.
You can say that for us (Skafu/Luguber) there’s a good connection to the Netherlands, which lead to the compilation albums ‘Punk’s Not Deaf’ and we’re pushing each other’s music on social media. Jerrie Orie is definitely an important connection for us. Not only did he play in those bands, if we hear his name we think of long hair, metal and beer.
He invested heavily in the scene he has said, without making much in return and has been trying to make rock bigger in our country for years. He would like to make Suriname the centre for the music in this Carribean region. The Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean is the highlight of that this far.
What future plans does Luguber have?
We want to tour the whole fucking world, but mainly we would love to play Europe (yes, we’re talking about you too Netherlands).
But first we want to record our album, make some merch and plan local gigs. We also really hope to do something more with our Caribbean brothers.
If Luguber was a dish, what would it be?
We’re like a McDonalds meal, that you’re craving and afterwards you feel bad until the craving comes up again. You’re definitely never going to forget us.