Penang’s punk rock haven

loading Tonight's gods of noise spin Soundmaker's excited crowd as a lawnmower would do with grass.

Underground music is alive and well in George Town at a place called Soundmaker Studio. Contrary to being the Satanic boogeyman it is perceived to be, punk rock fosters ethnic relations and subculture in ways that only music can.

As much as loud guitars and bleached hairstyles might seem alien to Penang’s cityscape, a burgeoning alternative scene radiates from Soundmaker Studio. Tucked away on the first floor of an anonymous building along the coastal thoroughfare of Pengkalan Weld in George Town, it’s here that Penang’s underground music revolution churns distorted guitar riffs, uncaring of the punk-and-heavy-metal pet peeve developed by Malaysian authorities over the last decade.

In fact, since 2001, the Malaysian extreme music scene has intermittently flashed up in local and international headlines. Targeted as the main cause for loosened Islamic morals, drug use and alleged “devil worship” among youth, underground music suffered a crucial blow in January 2006 when the National Fatwa Council banned the black metal genre in Negeri Sembilan.

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