Wormrot on putting Singaporean grindcore on the map, the 'Grindcore Goat', and breaking barriers with their new album 'Hiss'

Wormrot on putting Singaporean grindcore on the map, the 'Grindcore Goat', and breaking barriers with their new album 'Hiss'

Singaporean grindcore trio Wormrot may have been on hiatus for half a decade but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been writing new material—their latest album Hiss is living proof of that. 

With three formidable studio albums (Abuse, Dirge, and Voices), not to mention a plethora of pulverising EPs and splits already strapped under their discographical belts, you’d think the band would’ve run out of novel ideas for a pummeling fourth instalment. 

Well, they’re here to prove you wrong because Hiss, which is set to be released via Earache Records on 8 July 2022, will slither its way onto streaming platforms before you know it. 


In fact, their latest explosive single ‘Behind Closed Doors’ has already been hailed as an earworm. 

The ferocious track, which combines Wormrot’s signature breakneck speed and brevity with the genre’s formulaic amalgamation of blast beats, killer riffs, and guttural vocals, shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the band still has what it takes. 

If this is a precursor of what’s to come, grindcore fans are bound to be in anticipation of the new record.

Bandwagon caught up with Wormrot’s guitarist Rasyid Juraimi recently for a chat regarding the songwriting and production process for Hiss which is seemingly their most ambitious venture yet. 

It’s been six years since Voices. What has Wormrot been up to for the past half a decade? 

For the first half of the decade, we were busy promoting Voices. We toured non-stop and tried to find shows overseas as much as possible. Somehow, in between, I wanted to write but I had no ideas and I also wanted to do something different so Marijannah happened. My priorities were jumbled up but it’s only because I didn’t have any ideas for Wormrot and needed some time.

Is it hard to come up with novel ideas for grindcore all the time?

I guess but I think it’s the same process as any other song. It’s just that we have our own style going on. Maybe Marijannah plays like 16 bars and we play only 2 but it’s all the same kind of writing. 

For this album, I tried writing with software and asked Vijesh to record something so I could splice it here and there, and see if it works. This is the first time I’ve tried that and some of the songs did make it to the album. 

Your highly-anticipated new album Hiss will drop in July this year! How would you describe the record to those who are eagerly waiting to have their ears assaulted?

Every album is something new, something we’ve never done before. All our albums don’t sound like each other. You will see progress and a different sound with each of them. I think this one sounds even more accessible than Voices and also, a bit more experimental because we took our time with it. 

What do you mean by more accessible?

I would say it’s slower and the riffs are more comprehensible. The production also plays quite a big part in it. You can hear everything and it’s not all flat like in our second album Dirge. The third album Voices has more of a metal production but is still, also a little flat.

With Leonard Soosay’s production in this one, it feels fuller. We definitely took our time with the production. I spent many days trying to get the sound right, partially because we didn’t know what sound we actually wanted to achieve. 

We’ve heard that this new album is going to be vastly different from the others in terms of its experimentation as it is said to feature new vocal techniques, effects and percussive elements, on top of strings and noise segments. Was this the plan from the get-go? 

When Arif was going to the studio for the first time in years to record vocals, he tore his vocal cords but instead of stopping, he adapted and tried to carry on. It doesn’t sound like what it used to before but it sounded like something new, maybe a bit more black metal. We have a little bit of power violence going on in the new single too. 

On Vijesh’s part, I just told him, “Dude, if you can add on some other percussion like Sepultura’s or some other shit, that would be cool” but we didn’t use 60% of it because… experimentation. 

For me, it was just playing with pedals. We dedicated a few minutes just recording some noise and trying to see if it can fit into the songs. That was the extent of the experimentation between all of us. Other than that, we also used violins and we had Myra record violins to put in more textures. 

What was it like collaborating with Singaporean violinist Myra Choo who contributed strings to the new album? Did you pick her specifically for it? 

It was actually by chance. I highlighted to Leonard that I wanted to add something new to the record and a violin might be cool. Leonard said we had a violin player who’s interning for them.

I didn’t know how well she played but I gave her one track and waited to see if she came up with something solid the next day, and it was so I gave her two more tracks to work on. It’s going to sound like The Witch and The Witcher games. Those were the influences I gave her. 

These avant-garde sounds aren’t typical of your usual grindcore act. Do you think this will set you apart from other bands of the same genre? 

Other grindcore bands, yes. But we are definitely not the first to come up with avant-garde metal. I think grindcore is very experimental because we get to play with noise and whatever, just not usually violins. Bands like Full of Hell play with noise too and it’s more avant-garde than what I can think of.

What was the songwriting and production process for the new record like? Was it 6 years in the making? 

Songwriting-wise, I tried programming and shit but most of the time, I just record the song with my phone and send it over to Vijesh who will record something and we’ll go into the studio to put the parts together. But of course, we’ll have to see if it works.

Sometimes I’ll just go in with an idea and I’ll ask Vijesh on the spot whether he can think of something. Sometimes those impromptu ideas are better than something you think of for the whole week. It’s really a balance. 

Do you prefer to jam in the studio to organically produce something or take some time away from each other and come back with your own bits?

Both. Sometimes jamming doesn’t work. You can spend the whole day trying to come up with a song and you get nothing but when you go home and play with the computer, splicing bits, you’ve suddenly got a song. 

What inspires your songwriting? 

I wish I knew. I don’t listen to bands very often. I listen to Malay songs that have nothing to do with my music but I just want to chill. It cleared my mind for a bit. 

But for this new album, I had nu-metal in mind, like basic chords and groovy riffs which is actually a goregrind thing also, just that people don’t want to admit it. So there are some similarities there. The grind parts are just me listening to or remembering bands that I’ve listened to in the past. 

I was also writing for Marijannah so sometimes those riffs cross each other. I’d be writing for Wormrot and sometimes I’ll think “this sounds like a Marijannah song” so I’ll open my Google Drive folder and put it there. I have two folders, one for Wormrot and one for Marijannah. 

Do you think it’s very different writing for stoner rock and grindcore? Cause’ one’s sludgier and the other is faster. 

Yes. Sometimes when I try to write Wormrot riffs, I will always go to Marijannah because it is comfortable and easier to play or fall back to. 

Jon Chan designed the realistic artwork for Hiss which features a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Meiko Kaji. Why did you choose her to be the muse, and what was it like working with Jon? 

I’m quite biased because I like Meiko Kaji and I was a film kid from a young age. I watched all these Japanese movies and Meiko Kaji was one of my heroes. Meiko Kaji, Sonny Chiba, Miki Sugimoto—all these people are up there for me.

When I saw Jon’s work, he was drawing some samurais, I think Toshiro Mifune, and when I saw the realness in his facial drawings, I thought we could work something out since he has an interest in Japanese cinema also.

Turns out he didn’t know about Meiko Kaji because it’s not really samurai-related but it’s more of a pinky violence kind of thing. Pinky violence is softcore porn for cinema. It’s catered to guys who like action movies and simp for actresses. It’s quite a weird genre. You’ll see girl gang fights and stuff like that but we’ve diverted too far… 

But back to the album cover. Arif wanted something blue. It started with a punk cover before evolving into a vintage cover. I just had this idea of a girl in the water so the problem was trying to find an artist. I wanted to have an Asian artist if possible. After Dirge, I always tried to find an Asian artist to work with including t-shirt artists.

I was trying to find a hyper-realistic artist which is extra difficult to find but I chanced upon Jon who also happens to be the Plainsunset vocalist. I went to his place and he drew a different Meiko Kaji in front of me in 15 minutes. He’s seriously really good. He did it on the spot. 

The official music video for your pummeling new single ‘Behind Closed Doors’ was released a couple of days ago via Earache Records. Could you tell us more about that particular track?

Song-wise it was one of the earlier ones. We had a sound in mind and I wanted to pay tribute to a band I like called Gridlink. I wrote that song around that particular riff in the middle, that was the main focus.

The working title of the song was actually ‘thrasher’ because we had a thrash mindset for that song. Vocal-wise, Arif doesn’t write that much because he’s been preoccupied so I took over the writing. Some of the songs are his lyrics which I’ve expanded on. This is one of the songs.

When he gave me a bunch of lines, I didn’t know what to make of it at first but I tried to make sense of it and now it’s become something about the younger culture being a slave to new media. There’s a line that says “humility, insanity, what’s wrong with me.” It’s basically about selling your soul, something like that. 

What can fans expect from the other singles that have yet to be released? 

You’ll get more avant-garde and violins, for sure. And, a few more music videos. We have a Snakeweed live session coming up and I think the new music video will be in mid-April. 

We were also wondering if there are any specific grindcore (or even non-grindcore) bands that have shaped Wormrot’s sound over the years? 

I will always say that Insect Warfare is one of the best bands. They are one of the real grindcore bands to me. The riffs are perfect.

Magrudergrind, Napalm Death… there’s this one period of time where everything made sense to me. Around the 2000s, 2010, that’s when grindcore made sense to me. I cannot listen to Siege or even old Napalm Death, it’s just too noisy and not well-produced and I cannot appreciate it. Later Napalm Death, when they started doing all the hardcore shit, for me, that’s power—starting from Enemy of The Music Business.

I’m also a nu-metal era kind of guy so I like Deftones, a little bit of Korn, and System of The Down, who to me, writes perfect songs. 

I understand that your Zurich show got cancelled at the last minute. I was about to see you guys at Corporation in Sheffield around the time the pandemic hit so that got axed as well. How do you guys deal with gigs being cancelled unexpectedly? 

This Zurich show was cancelled two years ago also so maybe that was the same tour. A bummer is an understatement. The guilt of knowing that people planned this for so long, only to have it cancelled at the last minute is a bit ‘paiseh’ but sometimes it’s not our fault. 

In spite of these mishaps, are you guys planning on playing any more live gigs soon?

We don’t have any plans until the album is out but I was thinking of doing an album launch. That is still in the cards but we are definitely touring internationally next year. It will be Europe first, and then we’ll see. Probably around March. 

Speaking of shows, we need to talk about Biquette, the viral ‘Grind Goat’ who can be seen in your concert footage when you played in France back in 2012. What was it like performing with a goat bleating in the front row?

I also have another Zoom interview about the goat later. Earache wants to release a book about the goat but this is a story for another time. I’m not sure if it’s Wormrot-specific or just a chapter but it’s probably going to be a coffee table book.

The goat felt like a dog. It ran everywhere, it ate everything including cigarette butts. It followed us to our room and messed with our beds. It’s a bit weird but it was funny and we didn’t think much of it.

Even during the show, when it was in front, we just took it as it is. We just made use of this moment. Our vocalist would pet his head and I would perform to the goat. But the next day, we didn’t see the goat anymore and that was it. 

Wormrot has toured the world and has put out three studio albums (Abuse, Dirge, Voices) with one more (Hiss) on its way, not to mention a number of EPs (Noise etc.) and splits to date. What does each of these releases mean to you?

I guess for me, personally, it’s a diary of my songwriting process. I see the maturity of it. Now listening to my old songs, I can remember my mindset then. My mindset then was a bit more caged because when I was younger I wanted to appeal to the grindcore and punk community. I wrote riffs that were more punk-oriented but now that I’m older, I try to listen to more things and am less narrow-minded with my riffs. 

I’m always hoping that my songs will stand the test of time and are still relevant now, not the product of what it was back then. You hear new bands like Doldrey playing old things but they still sound fresh so I hope that Abuse and Dirge still sound fresh to people now. 

I do think these albums have stood the test of time. With that being said, you guys have single-handedly put Singaporean grindcore on the global map. How does it feel to be recognised internationally for your music? 

It feels nice but what I’m always hoping for is that we are not the last grindcore band here. I hope there is another band that makes it aside from us but no one is doing it now. I mean, there are extreme metal bands but they’re not touring. I guess it’s because of Covid so hopefully, after this, they will. Everyone can do it, it’s whether they want to or not. I’m hoping for younger bands to go out overseas and do something. 

The first two tours we went on were strictly from our own pockets. When we flew over, we only had $50 in our pockets and Arif had like $20, and we were waiting for the first payout which was only $50 split amongst three people. The second tour was worse because we used the money from the first tour for a holiday and after a few months, we had to tour again but we had no money at all. 

But it’s not impossible, when there’s a will, there’s a way. Especially if you’re going through punk circuits, they’re always really helpful and resourceful so they can make things work for you, you just need to scale down on expectations a bit. 

And, lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to fans of Wormrot that have supported your music throughout the years? 

Thanks for waiting six years for this. I know we took our time since things happened in the band but we made it work for this one, and we are confident that this is a good album. 

Stream Hiss below.