Rice forms the staple diet of millions of Asians; in fact it is enjoyed right across the planet. But this is why one particular Indonesian alternative rock band have dreamt up such a simple but appropriate name for themselves: Padi.
Padi is Indonesian for rice. You might not immediately see the connection between the foodstuff and a group of young men renowned for playing loud guitar music. But the philosophy behind it is actually very straightforward. Everyone enjoys rice, from peasants and children, to bankers and senior record executives. So, all you have to do is substitute rice for rock band, and you get a band that is universally appealing. Simple, but effective, just like all the best rock n' roll names.
Padi are deliberately understated. Not for them the bombastic but extremely tired rock n' roll clichés. You won't find individual band members throwing television sets out of hotel windows, or driving cars into swimming pools. They prefer to make their passionate music do the talking.
Their origins go back to 1997, and Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java. Five students got together to jam some tunes: Fadly on lead vocals, Ari on rhythm guitar, Piyu on lead guitar and backing vocals, Yoyo on drums and Rindra on bass.
Their debut album, Lain Dunia (Other World) was released by Sony Music Indonesia in 1999. Containing ten tracks, it sold an impressive 800,000 copies. Their second offering, Sesuata yang Tertunda (Something Delayed) was released in 2001. This flew off the shelves; in fact, it was one of Indonesia's highest-grossing records ever, notching up 1.8 million sales.
Padi are well-respected by critics, as well as adored by audiences. Rolling Stone Indonesia listed two of their albums on their chart of ‘150 Greatest Indonesian Albums of All Time': Sesuata yang Tertunda and their third studio album, Save My Soul. Additionally, two of their songs were included in the ‘150 Greatest Indonesian Songs of All Time' listing: Mahadewi and Sobat (both tracks actually appear on their debut album, Lain Dunia).
Part of the phenomenal success story of Padi can undoubtedly be put down to their humble origins. Never under any allusions about the hard work required forging a career as rock musicians, they have grafted away, enduring frustrating dead-ends and knock-back while they were hawking their original demos. Rather than simply shove the discs inside an envelope and sending them off in the post, Padi thought of the origins of their name. Record executives liked rice, so why not offer them a sample delivered straight to their offices? So the musicians in Padi set off on a campaign to hand-deliver demos to anyone who would listen. All that paid off when they were eventually rewarded a contract with Sony Music Indonesia.
Reading about their meteoric rise is one thing. Actually hearing them perform is something else. YouTube has plenty clips to whet the appetites of rock fans who don't always find themselves in the vicinity of the South China Sea when it comes to catching their favourite band. They can do hard rock; but like all the great bands, from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to Nirvana or Coldplay, they can also take the tempo down a notch. Their softer ballads really showcase Fadly's heartfelt range, and Piyu's superb fretboard skills.