JRX: Punk Rock Prince Charming

Born and bred in Kuta, this thirtysomething artist is apparently one of the hottest dudes in social media—he has more than a hundred thousand followers on Twitter. Not to mention his band (he’s the drummer), “Superman Is Dead”, who have almost two and a half million fans on Facebook (!).

Ari Astina a.k.a. JRX (read: Jerinx), also has a side project, a band called “Devil Dice”. They just released their debut (major-label) album, titled Army of the Black Rose. The recent rocket-speed rise in his personal popularity is believed to be due to the fact that not only does he have a pivotal role in two ultra cool bands, but also a very colorful personality: smiley, smart (he was one of the first community leaders in Bali to take up the environmental cause), yet badass. These days you can surely spot his profile regularly in national media, including TV.

The music industry in Indonesia seems to be in decline. Big labels are shrinking, most indie labels go bankrupt quickly, and it’s hard to hold out hope for the industry. How could this situation be helped?

The source of “hope” in the music industry shouldn’t rely on the labels, but rather on the fan bases. As long as we have a solid fan bases, we’ll survive. Our merchandise rockets, thanx to Bobby Kool’s (SID) great graphics. And of course, our main income comes from live gigs, adverts and associated stuff like that. With Sony Music we’ve developed such a good relationship, that somehow we don’t work for them, but rather, we work together. And that’s the most important thing for us, in terms of being in the ‘industry’.

So, stick with a major label or go “Do-It-Yourself”?

We’ve always been a DIY band since day one (when we got together, in 1995). The evolution of SID has always been 100% based on our own work/ideas (videos, lyrics, art work, album covers, etc). The only obstacle we faced pre-major label was distribution, and that’s why we decided to start working with Sony in 2003. But these days, now everything is digital, things are changing, so we’ll see what develops in the near future. And whatever decisions that come about, one thing ain’t gonna change—not even one inch—that SID will always be a “DIY” band.

Other than being a drummer and songwriter in Superman Is Dead, you’re also masterminding Devildice. No conflict of interest? No protest from your bandmates and/or the label? How you manage all these projects?

Key is to know what’s your priority and what you’re looking for in each band. With Devildice I know exactly how this band going to be in 5 years from now: playing selected gigs, staying ‘cult’, not too ambitious. We’re chilled, but whatever we do there’s always a loyal following for us. It’s a small band that people hear about but rarely get to see. A myth, perhaps. And we (DD) are fine being in that zone. With SID, man, it’s like my home. My comfort zone. My pride and joy. Whatever I do, I’ll always come home and try to make it a better place to live. Making sure that we have enough food on the table. And yes, I still have so many dreams I’d love to accomplish with SID and will always put SID at the top of my list. Nothing in this world can change that. So far, there’s no personal conflicts regarding to these two bands. Both are under the same management (Outsider Inc.) and under one label (Sony). Life is good 🙂

Let’s jump to another topic, how do you see democracy implemented in Indonesia, better than before, or no significant progress? If democratic progress is not satisfying yet, what’s your suggestion?

I care about my country but I’m not into politics. It’s complex. It’s retarded sometimes. I believe there’s a lot of good and smart people out there, doing their best to make this country a better place to live, but then again, in politics there’s so many conflicting interests. And we have to admit it, most of our politicians are not so bright, but they’re a majority (quantity-wise) so it seems like they’ll always have the ‘vote’. It’s frustrating! For a long term goal, I think the best way to develop this country is to give free, quality education and health care for the poor. I know it’s sounds corny, but hey, you gotta know how to stand up before you learn how to run, right? And the poor people, they’re the arms and feet of this country. Without them, we’ll have no buildings, no roads, no small businesses, no farms, no industry, NOTHING.

In religion, and law enforcement, more and more problems have been revealed to the public lately. Is this because of information-super-highway phenomenon, these days it’s easier for us to access more information, or simply from ineffective government, who don’t really do their job?

I think things have been the same since ages ago, it’s just that more is televised these days. And the climate is more open. In this situation, it’s (supposed to be) easier for us, the people, to know who to believe. But then again, in politics, even the ‘truth’ is sometimes not completely true.

You are a vintage car and big bike enthusiast. Don’t you think this is against your move as an enviromentalist as those vehicles use so much gasoline a.k.a. are not enviromentally friendly?

Yes, I’ve been thinking about this too. And I realize there’s a risk of being a hypocritical bastard here. That’s one of the reason I sold my vintage cars two years ago. But I just can’t delete my passion for old cars/bikes, it’s in my blood. I still have one of my vintage bikes. And the wisest thing I can do is to not to abuse the machine. Please note that I don’t drive cars in Bali. I ride either my bicycle or my small Japanese moped, on a daily basis. I only ride my big bike when there’s a special event, and that’s very rare. I don’t join motor clubs, and I don’t tour, and I only ride it maybe twice a month. With guilt, it’s true. I guess I’m just a walking contradiction. Just the same as everybody else. Ha!

You’ve had enough of the Punk Rock Prince Charming? Want more? Go follow him: @JRX_SID

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*This article was firstly published on Jakarta Expat, July 2011
*This is the unedited version, a bit longer than what published on the mag
*Photos courtesy of Ade Adinata and Fabio Lorenzo

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