Punk Rock In Thailand?
Middle Aged Thai Punk Rockers Needed For Thailand’s Next Great Band
I play in a local rock band, and we are awesome and super popular! Justin Beiber popular…but more like a fat, half balding, middle-aged Justin Beiber, dressed in a dirty undershirt; wired on caffeine; drunk on vodka; and lots-of-super-models-hanging-around kind-of-popular. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little: we still mostly have our hair and are fairly trim. And I only slightly stretched the truth about the super models (our wives are pretty damn hot!) The only thing I really lied about is the vodka. I’m half-Thai, so alcohol doesn’t mix well with my asian heritage. Damn you, Asian Flush Syndrome. But hey, the caffeine part is absolutely true; I drink buckets of coffee and sometimes I stain my shirts with grande americanos from Starbucks.
At least in my fantasy world, we are über popular. True story: at a big show of ours in San Francisco the audience lit our stage on fire. I prefer to think that the fans were assisting our stage with added pyrotechnics, and not that they were trying to kill or immolate the band. I’ve been playing in bands for a long time now, and I love punk rock music: moody, artistic music; and fast, loud, aggressive, thought provoking, complicated music. I love rock, it loves me, and I love to rock! To me, pondering the ugly side of life makes me appreciate the beautiful things so much more. I tend to really dislike oversimplified music that only talks about spending money, picking up slutty girls in dance clubs, and driving around in fancy cars. This music is shallow and easy, and therefore appeals to the widest possible audience–it’s music for the masses. Even if I appreciate the astute business practices of the corporate music industry, I don’t have to like the music it churns out.
But after all these years of trying to make it with unfriendly and unpopular music (I always seem to find myself swimming against the current), I’m moving to Thailand where my preferred style of music is even less appreciated. I’ve heard of an underground music scene in Bangkok, which I’m really looking forward to discovering. When I lived in Thailand for the first time more than twenty years ago, there was much to be desired in the music scene. To give you an example, the most popular band at that time was the Pepsi generation band; yes, the band that was responsible for the pepsi ads on television–does that even count as music?? However, the last time I was in Bangkok, I saw many great bands of various music styles. I stumbled into a jazz club one night and saw a fantastic band playing classic American jazz. The musicians were top notch! It’s great to see that Bangkok’s music scene today is alive and kicking! Check out this cool band I found on the sky train walkway in Sukhumwit: Cool Thai Busking Marching Band | A Family In Motion
My Dream Band In Thailand
Once I arrive in Thailand, I want to put together a band that combines traditional Thai music with punk aesthetic. A Thai-style Pogues, if you will. Are there any Thai Shane MacGowans out there looking for a rock band? We’d have to find that rare Thai guy who can drink hard alcohol like water–again, damn that Asian Flush Syndrome. Well, if I don’t make it in the Thai music scene, then maybe my daughter will become the next Kristy Gibson.
One of the hardest aspects of this move will be the inevitable break-up of our band. My bandmates love me. They love to make music with me, and I love making music with them….And hey, I love them too. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little bro love, right? Will they persevere and forge ahead without me? Probably. Will they become famous with a new guitarist that is infinitely better than I? Hopefully they will. Will I become insanely jealous and regret leaving them for Thailand? Yes, especially if they finally discover the magical path to musical success and achieve the true mark of stardom that involves destroying hotel rooms and showing up in tabloid magazines, a goal we are working hard to achieve. At this point, I think my band is a last ditch effort to hold on to a shred of remaining teenage angst. People have always accused me of being immature, but I tend to think that this is what keeps me and my fellow bandmates looking so young.
Breaking up the band for Thailand….hey that rhymes!
I am hoping to find a group of musicians in Thailand with whom I can totally rock out, creating loud and bad punk rock. Will my Marshall half-stack guitar amp even work on 220V? The one universal truth I have discovered about Thailand is this: Louder is always better! (Check out this giant truck equipped with insanely giant loud speakers!)
My Marshall goes to 11…that’s one more than 10. As long as my new band is extremely loud, I’m sure we’ll do just fine. Oh wait, I still have to learn how to sing in Thai, and no Thai song–even aggressive punk rock–is truly complete without the words hua jai (heart). La, la, la, hua jai, yadda yadda, hua jai, la, la, la, hua jai. (add guitar feedback here, then cheesy guitar solo, and end song) How’s that for Thai punk rock??! Can I at least get a “YOU SUCK!”? Hopefully, the Thai audience won’t set our stage on fire.
A few of my own compositions that need translating into Thai. Auditions for lead singer are now open.
Post: Thailand and Punk Rock