Ep 003 - Jeremy Wallach

Exploring the Rhythms of Metal Music with Professor Heavy Metal

Ep 003 - Jeremy Wallach

In the vibrant, cacophonous streets of Jakarta, where the traditional and modern collide in a symphony of sound, a serendipitous meeting in a music store in 1997 marked the beginning of an enduring friendship and academic journey. It was here that I, first encountered Jeremy Wallach, a man whose passion for heavy metal would transcend mere fandom to become a profound academic pursuit.

Jeremy, known today as the “Professor of Heavy Metal,” has an academic career as intense and intricate as the music he studies. His fascination with heavy metal began in his teenage years, inspired by bands like Iron Maiden, whose cultural significance captivated him. This early passion laid the groundwork for his future research into the global phenomenon of heavy metal, particularly in Southeast Asia.

In our interview, Jeremy delves into his experiences and observations from his research in Indonesia. By the early 21st century, heavy metal had woven itself into the cultural fabric of Indonesian society, standing in stark contrast to its Western counterparts. He observed a profound sense of community and solidarity within Indonesian metal scenes, a refreshing divergence from the often individualistic nature of Western scenes. Bands like Eternal Madness and Voice of Baceprot, which seamlessly integrate traditional Sundanese music with heavy metal, exemplify this cultural fusion.

Jeremy’s reflections on the underground music scene’s role in the fall of Soeharto reveal the political potency of heavy metal. This era of political change, combined with the rise of punk and metal studies, positioned Jeremy’s work at the forefront of academic interest. Despite the initial skepticism toward heavy metal studies in academia, Jeremy’s dedication to following compelling data and cultural narratives paid off, establishing him as a pioneer in the field.

Throughout our conversation, Jeremy emphasizes the importance of pursuing one’s passion in both music and academia. He likens the scholarly pursuit to musicians creating music for themselves first, a philosophy that has guided his groundbreaking work. His insights into the unique cultural adaptation and community values within Indonesian heavy metal offer a fresh perspective on the genre’s global impact.

As our discussion concluded, I couldn’t help but reflect on the shared experiences and the significant contributions Jeremy has made to the understanding of heavy metal. His journey from a music enthusiast to a respected academic figure serves as an inspiring testament to the power of passion and perseverance. This prologue sets the stage for a deeper exploration into the heartbeat of heavy metal, as seen through the eyes of one of its most dedicated scholars.