Leonard Chua: Honestly, no mistake

Updated: 10 Dec 2012

He has only just celebrated his 26th birthday and he is the lead guitarist for a pop punk band called An Honest Mistake. Here, Leonard Chua chats with Su Aziz about his choice of music, a funny but significant encounter with a fan and just what it means for him to be all that he can be.

Leonard Chua will be one of the speakers helming this year’s TEDxGurney Drive on Dec 9 at penangpac. He has always been passionate about music and making music since high-school. He was born in Seremban in Negeri Sembilan 26 years ago into a musical family – his dad is a guitarist and used to be part of a band during the The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Shadows era) and his elder brother plays the piano and the keyboard. Leonard’s interest in the guitar sparked off at 15 years old when he was invited to church and saw how music and live bands were constantly at play there.

Today, he’s the lead guitarist for a band called An Honest Mistake that started in early 2008. Its frontman, Darren Teh, started the band off as a solo acoustic project but eventually shared his vision with Leonard. To cut a long story short, they gathered a few others and formed An Honest Mistake. Being an independent band, he multitasks and plays the role of publicist for the band to get their music onto the local radio stations, television and also print media interviews for the band members.

An Honest Mistake belts out rock, more specifically pop punk. ‘I grew up with bands like Blink 182, Greenday, Simple Plan. So, that kind of influenced what genre we play now,’ Leonard admits. ‘On top of that, pop punk music is very happy and jumpy. I believe most of our listeners and fans love it.’

A significant encounter with a fan, he recalls was when, ‘A girl asked me for my hoodie after my performance and she later tweets ‘wonder if I should wrap myself in his hoodie to bed?’. And yes I stalk my fans!’ He jokes with a big laugh.

The band’s very first performance was at the Laundry at The Curve in Kuala Lumpur a couple of years back. This is a bar known for hosting gigs. ‘It was fun. There wasn't much expectation because we did not have fans yet and the ones who came were friends of ours,’ he recalls.

Humbly, Leonard admits to ‘being just another average Joe’, if he wasn’t a musician today. ‘I’d be stuck behind an office desk from 9-5. But wait! I do have a day job as a brand manager from 9-5!’ He laughs again. ‘I love my job and my company is aware of my other life and they give me flexibility as long as I keep performing well at work.’

Reality aside, he dreams of an ultimate jamming session with, ‘American virtuoso instrumental rock guitarist Joe Satriani, followed by Paramore’s former guitarist Josh Farro and lastly would be the guitarist of Malaysia's very own PopShuvit, Jedidiah Wong.’ And being a versatile listener music-wise, Leonard listens to basically everything from jazz, pop to rock, ‘But most of the time I’d listen to electronic dance music.’

So, what does he think he has to offer the audience of TEDxGurney Drive on Dec 9? ‘Truth is I am not a superstar or claim to have made it,’ he replies thoughtfully. ‘I can merely share what I know with the objective of inspiring the audience to go all out to pursue their dreams, plans or ideas which are closest to their heart.’ This is very much in tune with this year’s TEDx Gurney Drive theme of ‘Be All You Can Be’. The he continues, ‘I hope to help them (the audience) to understand that anyone from small cities such as Seremban, for instance, does have what it takes to succeed.’

For Leonard Chua, to be all that he can be means, ‘Living my life to the fullest by pursuing dreams which will bring self-fulfilment and also be able to contribute to the world around us through the excellence of our work.’ And he is not far from fulfilling it either!

For the latest updates on Leonard Chua, see website.

Tags: Features