Of the most phenomenal successes in the field of popular music in Indonesia has been the band Noah. They were formerly known as Peterpan (in fact, when they renamed themselves in 2012, the some of the promotional material stated ‘Noah Known as Peterpan Band').
What Noah have always done is excel in a particularly ear-friendly stream of alternative pop and rock. They formed back in 1997, in the way of so many bands, as schoolmates. Hailing from Bandung, the line-up at that time consisted of Uki (Mohammed Kautsar Hikmat) on guitar, Andika (Andika Naliputra Wirahardja) on keyboards, Abel on bass, Ari on drums and Ariel (Nazril Irham) on lead vocals. They called themselves Topi. To become more proficient with their instruments, they tended to play cover versions of their favourite British rock acts. When the drummer left Topi, they disbanded.
Fast-forward to 2000. The keyboard virtuoso Andika found himself inspired to regroup his former colleagues from Topi. Two new members were introduced, a new drummer, called Reza (Ilsyah Ryan Reza) and a lead guitarist, Loekman Hakim. It was also Andika who came up with the name of the band Peterpan. It was a reference to Peter Pan, a fictional character from the children's stories of J M Barrie. He was the boy who never grew up.
Peterpan had a fairly low-key start, busking on the streets of Bandung, and playing unplugged gigs in cafes. Their setlist consisted of a cross-section of the most popular British, Irish or American alternative rock acts, such as Nirvana, Coldplay, Pearl Jam or U2. They were spotted during one session, at the Sapu Lidi café, by Noey. He was a producer who was planning a compilation album that would reflect up-and-coming Indonesian artists. Peterpan, having used other people's songs to master their guitar playing and song-writing skills, performed three self-penned numbers for him: ‘Mimpi yang Sempurna', ‘Taman Langit' and ‘Sahabat'.
The album was a reasonable success when it was released, shifting a respectable 150,000 copies. On the back of this exposure, Peterpan were offered a contract by Indonesia's foremost major label, Musica. Their debut album ‘Taman Langit' was released in June 2003, with a follow-up, ‘Bintang Di Surga', following a year later. The latter sold some 350,000 copies in the first fortnight, and by the end of 2005 the sales figures had ramped up to over 2.5 million.
Album number three was a movie soundtrack, for the Indonesian romance, Alexandria. Entitled ‘Menunggu Pagi', the album's release was covered by Indonesia's six largest national TV networks in parallel.
Alas, that old rock n' roll bugbear ‘artistic differences' reared its ugly head in 2006. Founder member Andika and his colleague Indra departed (the latter having also just lost a child, adding to his need for a new direction). The duo had made an agreement about allowing the remaining members to continue using Peterpan. They did so until the name change to Noah in 2012.
Noah continue to write music which has a legion of devoted fans in Indonesia. Rock audiences remember their record-breaking tour of 2003-2004, when, as Peterpan, they performed in six Indonesian cities in a day (Medan, Pekanbaru, Lampung, Semarang, Padang, culminating at Surabaya.
Noah broke this record between 15 and 16 September 2012, when they wowed audiences in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, then finally Jakarta. This basically took them between five countries and two continents, all in the space of 24 hours.