Carefree is Back for Good

The music industry often sees music groups change members - from the complete rinse-through seen from horror punk band, Misfits to the periodical changing of members as seen in YES, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, TLC and Destiny’s Child. It hardly came as a surprise when local pop outfit Carefree, followed suit.

Carefree became one of the biggest local pop products of the 70′s following the launch of their first album Kebebasan, under the management of the late Mike Bernie Chin – with a majority of the songs emerging as big hits. ‘Rindu Bayangan’ topped the list, most fans from the generation are quick to reminisce of how everyone who knew how to play the guitar was swift to add this to their repertoire. Following soon after were Kebebasan ll and Kebebasan III – which featured songs like the evergreen ballad, Belaian Jiwa (made popular to the young ‘uns by Malaysia’s premier R&B group, Inuendo).

(L-R) Carefree's all new line-up, Hizey, Hadi, Reeyan, Leo and Zack, performing at Hard Rock Cafe of May 11

The new Carefree line-up features Simon Justin Leo on guitar and vocals, Hadi Hassan, 51, on bass and vocals (singer Salamiah Hassan’s brother), Zack (Ahmad Zakaria), 54, on keyboards, Hizey (Wan Hidzir), 39, also on keyboards and Reeyan (Amran Sha Palari), 43, on drums.

”The new line-up has been playing together for two years. The members bring passion and commitment. I truly enjoy playing with them, they are very mature, musically, and all add something new and special to our sound,” enthused Leo, who is the only remaining member of the original line-up. All are full-time musicians, except for Hadi, who is also the chief executive officer of Dream Music, the label that Carefree is signed to.

The reactions from fans are mixed, with a majority of them flocking to social media platforms such as Facebook to show support and share in the excitement of their return after a 30-year absence. True to their promise when they first reappeared in 2012, Carefree’s new 7-track album, Bersama Carefree, maintains the blend of disco and pop reminiscent of their sound in the 70s. In a humanitarian effort, Carefree has also dedicated the sole English track on the album, Find It in Your Heart’, to the Department of Social Welfare (Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat); which appears to becoming a tradition, following the production of a song for the troops, Si Baju Hijau, in 1983.

Currently on tour, the boys played to a sold-out Hard Rock Café on May 11th. Unlike most contemporary acts, who have the tendency to sound better during studio recordings, Carefree fervently showed off true and unmatched talent with the perfect of combination of Leo’s guitar prowess and Hadi’s groovy slap bass techniques, the band truly came to their own. If guests were presumptuous to expect only a repertoire of dated, heard-this-before tracks – you were in for a pleasant shock.

Leo is the only remaining member from the original lineup.

Aside from songs from their new album, some favourites from the old, they regaled fans with Van Halen’s ‘She’s the Woman’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’; with a soulful and moving performance of Brian McKnight’s “One Last Cry” from keyboardist, Zack. Together with his new bandmates, Leo is geared to revive Carefree’s legacy.

Their nationwide tour involves small towns, shared hotel rooms and budget airlines – saving the penny to invest in new equipment like the iPads that have replaced their songbooks on stage. Currently wrapping up shoots for six music videos to promote their comeback album, the boys have already begun churning ideas of album number two.

This article was published on May 31, 2014 in The Malay Mail.