JUNE 9 — Tucked away in the basement of an old mall lies gleaming Singapore’s only heavy metal bar, where music fans brush shoulder-to-shoulder with international rockers who helped pioneer the genre.

Few venues cater to the country’s tiny but vibrant metal scene, while the government has focused on luring more mainstream headliners — most recently Taylor Swift.

Around the corner from the looming parliament and Supreme Court buildings, “The Flying V” is a metal music oasis in the otherwise manicured environment.

Sitting at the bar on a Tuesday night, Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover enjoyed a dark Welsh beer ahead of his band’s concert the next day.

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“I’ve gone to a few places like it, and this is one of the best,” said Glover, whose band is behind one of the most recognised bangers of all time, Smoke on the Water.

Two days later, a meet-and-greet session was held for fans of legendary metal muso Marty Friedman, ex-shredder for bands Megadeth and Cacophony.

Metal music forges a close community, Friedman told AFP, while “fans of other genres have found good things about metal”.

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“So, it’s not just an underground community anymore,” he said, after posing for photos and signing autographs.

“But places like this are very cool because it’s the hardcore real metal fans.”

‘Beer, pizza, metal’

The bar’s walls are plastered with fliers, posters and heavy promotion of Iron Maiden’s “Trooper” beer.

A sign over the entrance bears the venue’s mantra: “Beer, Pizza, Metal”.

Besides metalheads in black band T-shirts, the pub also attracts customers in their office attire as well as tourists.

“What shocks me is you get all of these guys who kind of look like you, or they look like me, or they look like regular office guys, especially like Japanese guys and German guys,” said George Kirton, who co-founded the bar.

“They still have to wear their shirts and their suits for work. But deep down inside, they’ve still got that heavy metal streak from when they were teenagers,” said the Briton.

Customers take turns to cue up their favourite tracks via the pub’s communal iPad.

Songs blare out, ranging from classic 1980s glam metal to thrash, grindcore or math metal.

“When we come here (to the pub), we don’t feel like we’re in Singapore. We feel like we’re in Europe,” said Singaporean barber Saifullah Sabri, 36.

A Dutch engineer sipping his beer on a bar-stool told AFP the Flying V reminded him of metal bars in the Netherlands.

“When you are in such a bar, you immediately feel at home,” Daniel Hokke, 48, said.

The bar is situated in the historic civic district where annual National Day parades are often held in front of the former City Hall building.

But in the 1990s, during the global punk revival, the area was also popular among local counterculture groups, including skinheads, punks and metalheads, and was home to a handful of shops selling music merchandise and skateboards.

Ross Knudson, who co-owns the Flying V with Kirton, also runs LAMC Productions, which brings in rock and metal acts to the city-state.

Rock and metal are under-represented in Singapore and a place was needed for fans to hang out, Knudson told AFP.

“Singapore has a very fancy kind of mentality,” the American said.

“We just wanted to do something that’s different.” — ETX Studio