(Answers by Daniel Sassoon)

When and how did In Each Hand A Cutlass get together as a band?

We got together in 2008; I was really hankering to do some instrumental music in a post-rock vein, but without limiting myself to that exclusively. I was watching La’Dies, which has been my ex-Livonia drummer Alfe’s main outfit for years, and I always thought their bass player Kenny was the bomb. I proposed the idea, he was cool with that – and I found Farid and Roland from an ad I placed on Soft. We had some rehearsals with another drummer, but it was not till Leonard Soosay told me that Jordan, who I met while he was drumming with Rafe, was back in Singapore after studying at Berkley for some years – I immediately convinced him to try jamming with us and that’s where everything really fell into place. It just happened that everyone in the band are all great musicians in their own right and come with a wealth of experience in their own field.

What is the concept behind the name In Each Hand A Cutlass?

It’s a little funny idea that I had…that the only thing more awesome than a pirate wielding a cutlass, was a pirate wielding two cutlasses! You know, the exaggerated pirates vs ninjas internet thing. On thinking a little further about that, I realized it’s a moniker for how I live my life – charging forward into adventure and romance, all guns a-blazing, all swords a-swooshing, no holding back. Life’s too short to never at least try to do the things you want to; it’s about living on your terms. Also, we call ourselves sonic pirates because we raid and pillage all genres, an we’re outlaws in every one. We conform to no fixed ideals, the band’s mission statement is anything goes; we push ourselves to the max, challenge ourselves to write interesting, complex yet catchy music  – which is why our music is so varied. It’s not easily classifiable.

We understand that there has been a change in band personnel recently. Can you please elaborate?

Yes, Farid was unfortunately unable to continue with us as his work role has changed and he has to travel frequently, while pushing further studies at the same time. I really clicked with his guitar style and was not keen on looking for another guitarist I could work well with – someone with technical chops, who is also creative, inventive, plays with style and taste and who likes the idea of what we’re doing. Roland’s great on keys, but the guitar is his main instrument so he was a natural contender as he fulfills all the criteria so it was a smooth transition on that count. Of course I immediately thought of my ex-bandmate Amanda to fill the keyboard role; besides being a top notch player, she always makes everything sound sublime and exciting. I’d forgotten how great the tone of actual proper keyboards and synths are, compared to soft synths, until we starting rehearsing. During our set in Baybeats 2009 Roland’s iMac overheated, and for half the songs we played the keyboards were out of tune as the pitch started wavering! That made us really wary of soft synths. Anyway we managed to pull Amanda over to the dark side and are pleased as punch she’s now part of the crew!

How would you describe the music of In Each Hand A Cutlass?

We like to think of it as progressive, epic, sprawling music that could be the soundtrack to an unwritten movie. Which is something we would love to do if we get a chance – score a couple tracks for a movie soundtrack.

Is the band planning to record and release its songs in the near future?

Certainly! We recorded once just a couple months after the band started, and we only have one fully recorded song, Glaciers – and the drum tracks for another one. But we intend to really get things going this year, as soon as Leonard Soosay finishes recording his current project I Am David Sparkle – speaking of which, we can’t wait to hear their new material, they are simply fantastic! We have this really ambitious idea – all the songs we’ve written are thematically connected, as Kenny being our artist in residence came up with this really interesting project idea – a noir-ish love story slash murder mystery set in outer space, with alien characters, accompanied by an immersive, multimedia experience. Yes the oft-dreaded term “concept album” rears its head again!

What can fans expect from In Each Hand A Cutlass when it opens for Russian Circles?

It’ll only be our second show since Amanda came on board, and unfortunately Kenny is kicking himself because he’ll be in the midst of travelling for work and won’t be able to join us for this one. However we’ve got a fantastic replacement in Clement Yang from Ugly In The Morning – he’s scary good and learnt the songs really quickly! Opening for such a fantastic outfit will only inspire us to give everything we’ve got for a no frills no filler quick and dirty set – our job is to warm up the crowd and we’re gonna turn up the heat big time to make sure we’re worthy to be on the bill. As a local support act for this show, I believe we also have the duty to not just  ensure that no one leaves the gig thinking poorly of local music standards, but to also impress the most cynical of audience members and make them want to come down to watch our next show.

In Each Hand A Cutlass opens for Russian Circles at Zouk on 18th September. More details here.

More about In Each Hand A Cutlass here.

Picture by Thomas Tan.

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