For New Album, Punk Band No U Turn Grows Up

By Lwin Mar Htun 2 November 2018

YANGON — Well known local punk rock band No U Turn released its new 12-track album, “Muu Yit Say,” or “Drug,” last month. Lead vocalist Ye Ngwe Soe considers it one of the group’s most mature-sounding releases to date.

“Year by year, we’ve grown old. So our songs are also getting old with us. Making music also depends on feeling. So we chose lyrics that suit our age and rejected the same old boring songs, like about missing someone,” said Ye Ngwe Soe, who also plays guitar.

“We don’t want our ageing to go to waste,” said the 32-year-old, who sports long black hair and a handlebar moustache.

“Muu Yit Say” is No U Turn’s fourth album, recorded in the three years since their last release, “Luu Thar Sit Pwal,” or “Human War.”

The members of No U Turn. / Djavanshir Nico

Ye Ngwe Soe wrote two of the new tracks and guitarist Eaiddhi wrote eight. Ba Nyar, from the band General Tiger Gun, and Thet Khine, from Kultureshock, wrote one apiece.

“I like all the tracks on this album. My favorite memory from recording this album is that guitarist Eaiddhi sang four of the songs that he wrote,” Ye Ngwe Soe said.

The title of the album, taken from one of the tracks, is not meant to condone or promote drugs — far from it.

“That song is about the angry and sad feelings of a young man who was addicted to drugs but struggled and escaped from the drug trap,” he said.

“As is the nature of youth, they want to test everything, including drugs. Older people should show them the right way by teaching or rebuilding their mindsets, not by punishment — that can destroy many young lives,” the frontman said.

He said sending young drug user to prison could do more hard than good because it may bring them under the influence of hardened criminals or turn them into social outcasts once they’re released.

The cover of No U Turn’s fourth and latest album, “Muu Yit Say.” / Supplied

“So my point of view is that reforming the young generation is the right way. That is the message of the song,” Ye Ngwe Soe said.

“We don’t want to see cheap alcohol ad posters with sexy girls in public. We only want to see posters with the emergency phone number to call when someone is overdosing.”

“Muu Yit Say” was recorded at the Date studio, in Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay. The band wanted a place it could concentrate on the creative process and so set aside a few months.

“Each member has his own personal problems and it’s not easy to coordinate schedules…. We wanted more time together as a band. We discussed, we fought, we recorded and we had a lot of new experiences,” Ye Ngwe Soe said.

Around 2002, Ye Ngwe Soe started listening to rock bands like Guns N’ Roses and fell in love with the “pop punk” sound. He also learned about the scene’s style, trends and ethos from books and the internet. Thus No U Turn was born.

Along with himself, Eaiddhi and Yar Zar, their new drummer, Ye Khine Oo, rounds out the quartet.

“Punk music hit the world like a bomb in 1970, and pop punk hit audiences in 2000, including Myanmar. Before punk rock music, pop punk fashion had already reached Yangon,” Ye Ngwe Soe said.

“People did not really like punk rock music in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s; they just tended to wear the clothes. And a few groups of people became interested in their lifestyle because we couldn’t easily get internet access around 2000. Nowadays there are a lot of punk music styles — such as classic punk, ska punk, pop punk, street punk and hardcore punk — based on punk rock. So the new punk stars should learn more about the punk lifestyle and thinking, not just the fashion.”

No U Turn performs at a Jam It concert in Yangon. / The Irrawaddy

During their nine-year journey, No U Turn has built up a devoted following including foreigners. Most of their gigs are packed with a young crowd, especially boys.

“I have never identified the people who come to our concerts as my fans. All of us are living with the same music taste. Foreigners are interested in No U Turn because we sing a style of music from 1970 in 2018. If I saw someone [from abroad] singing our Burmese oldies, I would love it,” he said.

Ye Ngwe Soe is also the co-founder of Jam It, an underground music concert series.

“In the future No U Turn will keep making music, and the Jam It team will produce other talented musicians and help them as much as we can,” he said.

No U Turn will host a release party for its new album on Saturday at the Basement Bar with opening sets by Indie rock bands The Reasonabilists, Sonn Boon and The Apple-Jack. The show will start at 5 p.m.