Song: Film by Side Effect from the upcoming LP Rainy Night Dreams (2015). Visitors can listen to the Featured Song by clicking the play button above.
There is nothing strange about being an indie band from Burma. That was the one request the band, Side Effect, one of Myanmar’s finest and most popular acts, made when I reached out to them about an interview. “Just please no ‘there are punk bands in Myanmar! Whoa!!!’ headlines.” Fair enough, rock is, roughly, half a million years old at this point; so to pretend that there isn’t at least one Bad Company cover band in every country on the planet is to extend the notion of otherness past the point of credibility. The kids will have their say… it just might take a while.
I initially got into contact with Side Effect (who, to be clear, aren’t even close to being a cover band-they’ve been making their own power pop noise since 2004, even without being able to afford a drum set) while attempting to reach out to punk bandsin Myanmar that were willing to sing about or discuss the, now, nationwide harassing, and in some areas such as Rakhine, ethnic cleansing of Muslims by purported Buddhists. I say purported because the sideways explanation is sometimes, as it is world over, that “these aren’t actually Buddhists” and/or it’s a government instigated plot. The “not actually Buddhists” argument of course works in the same way that “true” Christians, “true” Jews, and “true” Muslims wouldn’t do…all the things that seem to get done by them on a fairly regular basis. Of course no wanted to believe Buddhists would ever commit atrocities, but they are, of course, human. The “government plot” notion is of course more complicated. Buddhist temples all over Myanmar were infiltrated by government agents after the “Saffron Revolution” in 2007 and that fact fuels many conspiracy theories about how the (now theoretically dissolved) Junta is using ethnic strife to solidify its power. For myself, I have absolutely no idea. And there are better sources (some listed at the end of the article) than I for your understanding. I just know it’s happening and it’s appalling. ANYWAY, there were reports of punk bands writing songs about it. I reached out to a few. Side Effect got back to me. I’m glad they did because they are A. An extremely good band, and B. one of the truest expressions of the tired notion of “the personal is the political” misused by fixed gear bikers and vegan line cooks world over. Living under actual oppression, not living politically isn’t even an option.
Side Effect’s music is a compelling mix of DIY group chant punk, not unlike our own Plan-It-X type bands, and contemporary pop rock (as much as I hate the term “indie,” they use it so, yeah, fuck it, indie) and the fact that they’ve even managed to exist is a pretty rad. And since The Strokes don’t seem terribly interested in being The Strokes anymore, someone has to get the job. I nominate Side Effect. They have an album recorded at Luc Besson’s (!) studio, Digital Factory that’s going to be out early 2014. They’re looking to come to America. Someone with bucks make this happen.