There has never been much mystery to Amateur Takes Control (ATC). From its origins as a solo project hatched in founder Adel Rashid's bedroom to its current status as five-piece instrumental rock outfit, the band's name has always been a transparent mission statement: an affirmation of independent DIY ethics and a call for the everyman to take the reins of their lives. The powerful emotion of Amateur Takes Control's music encapsulates the band's unwavering belief in progress and forward movement – a stance that has endured since ATC's inception a decade ago.
Rashid began Amateur Takes Control in 2006 with little to gain or lose: he had departed his previous bands and sold much of his gear. Unfulfilled by his past musical endeavours, he began writing music with just a guitar and delay pedal, sharing the results mainly with his friends, who noted the music’s unintentional echoes of post-rock greats Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai.
The stakes were minimal and the project informal, but even then, taking the name "Amateur Takes Control" was a deliberate move of empowerment, says Rashid. "At the time, I felt like I was starting from scratch," he says. "When I started ATC at 16, I felt I needed to sound older than I was for people to take me seriously." With the moniker, Rashid was no longer just another teenager playing music. "There was a whole new identity to it."
Rashid played his first show as Amateur Takes Control in October that year: he performed alone, looping his guitar to an empty room, but it was nevertheless the most cathartic show he'd ever played. After recruiting members and self-releasing two EPs between 2007 and 2008, Amateur Takes Control put out their first album You, Me and the Things Unsaid on KittyWu Records in October 2008. They didn’t know it then, but ATC had created what would become a landmark album in the short history of post-rock in Singapore. Led by the explosive, by now classic single "Communication Downbreak", You, Me and the Things Unsaid is a record beloved for its moving mix of power, complexity and emotion. ATC soon gained a following in both Singapore and Malaysia, landing opening slots for bands such as ENVY, LITE, +/- (Plus/Minus) and Bitch Magnet.
Although the band members’ mandatory service in the army diminished Amateur Takes Control's creative output in the following years, they remained prolific in other musical projects like dream pop band Pleasantry and instrumental rockers I Am David Sparkle. Amateur Takes Control officially went on hiatus in 2013 when Rashid left Singapore for college in the United States, a transcontinental move commemorated by a bittersweet show at Home Club. It was at that farewell gig that Rashid flubbed his parting statement from the stage, serendipitously creating a definitive declaration for this band and the community that has coalesced around it: "We are all Amateur Takes Control."
Revived March 2016 and officially resurrected over the third weekend of 100 Bands Festival 2016, Amateur Takes Control is now back in the saddle writing and recording an EP of new material. Joining them are two new members: guitarist Field Teo and drummer Martin Kong, who hail from rock band and KittyWu labelmates Caracal. They take over from longtime members Junaidi Kusnong and Ahmad Khaliq, who now play in the progressive jazz band T-REX. Influenced by all current members' experiences in heavy bands, this iteration of Amateur Takes Control is noisier, darker, more aggressive. Songs spool out from a single guitar riff into unexpected territory. "When I come into the studio, half the time I don't know what I'm going to be playing. That's the fun part," says Rashid. "Somehow we all gel. It hasn't felt this equal in a long time."
Beyond new songs, Rashid's goals for Amateur Takes Control are modest: to become a solid working band, one whose members balance day jobs with music-making and touring, playing to new and maybe more people each time. Stardom is not necessary, but forward strides and hard work are. "That's my philosophy," says Rashid. "You've got to keep doing it until someone notices you." For Amateur Takes Control, the journey ahead beckons.