So this morning I read a facebook status of a friend, Mila (she was known as Stephanie and was the frontman of Quiet Rot, a short-lived ‘riot grrrl’ band from my hometown). She wrote that our friend, Rizal just passed away at 7 a.m. I’m shocked. Straight away I remembered my wife said once, about quite a few of my friends died at a young age. First it was Syukree, then Abroko, then Aiman, and now Rizal! I can’t help but cried a few times today.
People might know him for one of his projects; Grrrl: Rebel zine, Fuzztival zine, Lemon Soda Records, 18 Valencia (garage punk band). All those were Kuala Terengganu-based projects. He brought ‘Riot Grrrl’ movement to KT. Motivated girls to pick up music instruments and write for a zine they call Petals (only one issue released). Another two girl bands were formed Kindsadist and Kill Bridget. His label put out a series of worldwide girl bands compilation called ‘Amazon Planet’. And I think his zine Grrrl:Rebel was quite known all over the world within the female editors. The front cover of issue 3 was featured in the zine documentary ‘$100 and a T-shirt’.
I first know his sister Jaja who is the guitarist of Quiet Rot. It’s quite blurry on how we got to know but he was working on both of his zines. I started to hang out at his room, just to chat and borrow his stuffs. I still remember he had electric guitars, bass and amps in his tiny room and Shah and I used to ‘jam’ there. He doesn’t have a bed in the room. Just a couch, a TV, a computer and lots of comics, action figures, zines, magazines, CDs, and cassettes collection.
When I was studying and working in KL, every time I go back to KT I would visit Rizal who lived at Jalan Kamaruddin. We would talk geekly about punk rock, music, zines and other pop culture and youth stuffs. Every time I was at his house, he would serve me drinks and sometimes biscuits. He would show me the zines and stuffs he got from all over the world, mainly girl-projects or girl zines as he’s so into girl bands and girls in the scene. I learned hell lots of things from him. I cared about him like an elder brother.
He’s the kind who doesn’t go out much so we have to go this house to meet him. Fazri once said that he’s “too underground” since he have all the plans and projects but not many people know about it even from the same scene. Rarely he would come out and hang out and have drinks with us. And sometimes he would be at the studio jamming with his bands; 18 Valencia and Skullcrushers.
He had big dreams; to open a punk rock shop, punk clothing line, to write a book about Malaysian girl bands and a book about Terengganu DIY bands “Our little turtle scene”. He had designed everything on his computer, all the clothes, the floor plan, shop front, the book layouts and covers. Every time I was there he would show me all his progress. He always said that once he had enough money he’ll pursue all his dreams. Of course, one day I realized all his plans and dreams might only remain in his computer only.
I remember we went to his brother’s print shop and made copies of our collective zine ‘The Coalition’ a few nights. I later worked at the print shop as a graphic designer for a few months. My boss was his sister in law and my big boss was his brother. The last (and final issue) for both of his zines were bound like a book. Look like perfect-binding, but he did it all himself using his hands. He printed all the pages and covers at his brother’s print shop and superglue them at home one by one.
He studied Architecture in Australia and I would ask him to buy some CDs and zines. And he would trade it with the local stuffs that I gave him. When I was staying in TTDI, he always came by to use my computer to do his design works. The last time I saw him was at a shopping complex near TTDI and I never thought that would be the last time.
Rizal Othman (1976 – 2013)