What is S-ROCK?
Simply put, it’s rock music made in Singapore.
Historically, S-ROCK began in the 60s, due to the influence of rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the West making an impression on the young people of Singapore to produce the country’s own pop stars, like The Quests (see video below), Naomi & the Boys, The Crescendos, October Cherries, Stray Dogs and so on.
However, by the early 70s, the popularity of S-ROCK waned due to the powers-that-be labeling rock music as “yellow culture” and thus, undesirable. From about 1973 to 1977, live rock music was actually BANNED in Singapore depriving many working musicians of their livelihoods. This effectively crushed the music industry in Singapore.
Although there were still rock bands plying their trade on the fringes of the mainstream e.g. Heritage, Gypsy, Western Union Band, Tokyo Square, Gingerbread, Transformer and Zircon Lounge (see video below), by and large the public perception was that Singaporeans were not talented enough to produce good music.
However, there was a sea change in the late 80s, early 90s where young bands – inspired by the British indie and US alt-rock scenes of the 80s – began to make themselves heard (together with BigO magazine) through gigs and “demo” cassette releases. Bands like The Oddfellows, Opposition Party and Corporate Toil were the first wave of new S-ROCK bands that slowly made an impact even on the Singaporean mainstream. By the mid-90s, it was not common for S-ROCK bands (like Oddfellows, Padres (see video below), Watchmen, Naked, Kick!, Lizard Convention, DNA, Black Sun, Daze and the like) to be prominently featured in the Top 10 charts of national radio stations.
The S-ROCK scene – like the rest of the country – did not do so well during the financial crisis of 1997-1998 and it was not until around 2002, where the emergence of new bands like The Observatiory, Electrico (above) and Ronin signalled the latest revival of S-ROCK. Since then the scene has been growing steadily as recognition of bands like The Great Spy Experiment (see video below), B-Quartet, The Fire Fight, Plainsunset, Astro Ninja, Jack & Rai – both locally and abroad – has given S-ROCK supporters the hope and belief that perhaps the Singapore music scene may be ready for its move into the next level.