10 things about: Marco Ferrarese, novelist/travel writer/musician

Marco Ferrarese (centre) is the lead guitarist for Malaysian thrashcore band WEOT SKAM. — Picture courtesy of Marco Ferrarese
Marco Ferrarese (centre) is the lead guitarist for Malaysian thrashcore band WEOT SKAM. — Picture courtesy of Marco Ferrarese

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Originally hailing from Voghera, Italy, Marco Ferrarese has made a name for himself as a Jack of, well... rather different trades. Besides wearing the various hats of a globe-trotting journalist and travel writer, the Italian is also a musician, specifically the lead guitarist of Malaysian “thrashcore” band, WEOT SKAM.

A chance decision to teach Italian in China in 2007 brought Ferrarese to Asia, and he has since travelled across 50 countries. Along the way, the intrepid traveller has lived in Italy, the United States, China, Australia and Malaysia.

Having written in both Italian and English about travelling, it’s his first book, the pulp novel Nazi Goreng, which explores the dark side of the local drug trade and displaced youth, that has caught the attention of the public. Ferrarese’s next book, Banana Punk Rawk Trails, which he calls a “metal punk memoir”, has just been published.

In his own words:

  • I grew up in Voghera, a mid-size industrial town at the southern tip of Lombardia, Northern Italy. I started playing guitar when I was 12, and recorded my first 7” in 1994, at age 14. Throughout the 1990s, a huge number of local bands were formed, inspired by Nirvana’s global success and the grunge revolution.
  • As a child with a stammer problem, I was very lonely and got easily attracted to horror films. They helped me feed my anger. The covers of early Iron Maiden albums that arrived from England were horror, too. I loved how Eddie held that pickaxe on the cover of Killers. My parents hated it, of course, which was another great reason to go for it.
  • At 14, I started playing “live” shows in real clubs, and that was the best kind of education I ever had. At 17, I formed The Nerds, with whom I played for 10 years until 2007. We toured Europe at least seven times, and did two tours of the United States in 2004 and 2006. Every free moment I had was for music, and of course touring was my first special way of travelling. I can confidently say that I have experienced angles of Europe and the United States that very few other non-musicians have.
  • In 2007 The Nerds disbanded and I hated my life in Italy so much that I took on a teaching job in Qinhuangdao, China. During the Chinese New Year of 2008, I had two paid months of holidays. Instead of going home, I scooted all over China alone, travelling by train, bus, horse cart, whatever I could find to move on. It was the year before the Beijing Olympics, and China was still so different, adventurous, and cheap. I loved it. That’s when I realised I needed to start writing about it.
  • English is my second language and requires more attention and editing, but I know that almost everything I write in English will get published. On the other hand, Italian is a much richer language, as we have adjectives, expressions and shades of meaning that you can’t recreate in English. But most of what I write in Italian remains unpublished, because there’s no interest nor money for writers in Italy.
  • I wanted to experience the world. Most people are forced by society’s rules to think of their lives as bound to a career, a single place… I don’t care, really. My life is bound to my movements around the world. I think I’ve done pretty okay thus far, so why not continue, and see where will I end up next?
  • Every place is a worthwhile experience in itself, and I often go hardcore. For example, I hitchhiked the best part of the distance from Singapore to Voghera in 2012. I have a good story for every day spent on the road.
  • I arrived in Penang from southern Thailand in 2008 and I loved it immediately. That’s where I met Kit Yeng, my partner. She definitely helped keep me here, but I also believe Malaysia is cheap, has an eternal summer and very low criminality. Malaysians tend to complain a lot, overlooking how good they have it over here.
  • Banana Punk Rawk Trails spurs from the desire of putting the Malaysian metal punk scene on the map. Many keep ranting about Indonesia, forgetting that Malaysia has had one of the oldest music scenes in the whole of Asia. I have been lucky enough to join WEOT SKAM at the beginning of 2010. I decided to write my honest point of view on the status of today’s Malaysian music scene from an insider’s perspective.
  • Thrashcore is a hybrid form of music that mixes hardcore punk and thrash metal. Playing with WEOT SKAM was like taking a rollercoaster ride and hitting your front teeth against the handlebar, feeling the taste of blood in your mouth. I’m a foreign object here; it couldn’t be otherwise. What’s more important is that I made friends for life, and had a chance to experience a side of Malaysia that few others have 

For more information, visit www.bananapunkrawktrails.com.

To purchase the books, visit http://www.monsoonbooks.com.sg/books/nazi-goreng-by-marco-ferrarese-ebook/ (Nazi Goreng) and http://gbgerakbudaya.com/bookshop/index.php?main_page=product_book_info&products_id=2776 (Banana Punk Rawk Trails)

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