Meet Slot Machine, Thailand's biggest rock band
We talk to the Bangkok quartet with their sights set firmly on the world
You may not have heard much about Slot Machine, but that’s all about to change very soon.
The biggest rock band in Thailand, this Bangkok-based four-piece – vocalist Karinyawat Durongjitakan (aka Foet), bassist Atirath Pintong (aka Gak), guitarist Janevit Chanpanyawong (aka Vit) and drummer Settharat Pancgchunan (aka Auto) – formed at the turn of the millenium and have just released their first full English language album, Spin The World. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, who’s worked with the likes of U2, Thirty Seconds To Mars, XTC and The Psychedelic Furs, it’s the band’s first attempt to break into the Western rock scene.
Given how well they’ve done in their native Thailand – they’ve supported Linkin Park in Bangkok, headlined the city’s biggest indoor venue and have released five studio albums – it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the quartet enjoy similar success around the world...
You formed Slot Machine when you were still in high school. What sparked that initial idea?
Foet: “We went to the Family Values Tour in 1998 and we saw Limp Bizkit and Korn. It was the best show and we decided we wanted to do something like that!”
Gak: “Nu metal is very popular in Thailand.”
So what were Slot Machine's ambitions were you were first starting out?
Foet: “We just wanted to write and record our own songs. We didn’t want to be massive; we just wanted to make our own kind of music.”
Why the name Slot Machine?
Foet: “We loved the word ‘machine’ because it reflects the energy of rock music, and a slot machine represents the idea of infinite outcomes – so we can do everything that we’d like to in terms of creativity. We thought it was a really cool name and no-one had used it before.”
How important was it for the band to incorporate traditional Thai music into your songs?
Foet: “I think Thai culture is very interesting for foreigners and tourists. And, being from Thailand, I we wanted to add elements of that into our sound to create a new style of music."
Gak: “I think it’s unique because we are combining different parts from different cultures. We come from Asia, so I think it’s important to show that in our music.”
Tell us about when the band supported Linkin Park in 2006.
Foet: “It was a huge venue, and it was the first time we had the chance to open for Linkin Park. Back then, they were very famous in Thailand, so there were 30,000 people in the audience! During our show, we tried to make as many fans as possible and I think we did. It was a very good experience for us.”
And you’ve now headlined a venue in Bangkok to 15,000 fans. Did that Linkin Park set give you a taste of the life you wanted?
Gak: "Absolutely! It was incredible."
On your second album, Mutation, you worked with Scott Moffatt from The Moffatts – what was that experience like?
Foet: “When we worked on that album with Scott, it was the first time we were really making our own music by ourselves – including the lyrics. The band and Scott both wanted to challenge each other and try to do something new."
Gak: “We wanted to prove ourselves."
And now you’ve just released your new album, Spin The World. Was it easy to make the transition from singing in Thai to English?
Foet: “It was very difficult and totally different, because we had to understand the culture too. But Steve Lillywhite, who produced this album, was very helpful when we were writing the lyrics – we wrote them together."
What makes Slot Machine's album stand out in 2016?
Foet: “Steve has won six Grammy Awards, so of course, we learned a lot from him in the studio. But I think our live show will help us make new fans too."
Gak: “I think what makes us interesting is our view of the world as an Asian band, coupled with our unique Thai and English sound. Everyone knows about our food and that it’s a good place to visit. But rock bands in Thailand? We’re very rare!”
So what do Slot Machine hope to achieve now the album is out?
Foet: “We hope that every Asian band will be able to come into the world music scene like K-Pop and J-Pop. We’re the first band from Thailand to do this but hope we can help others do the same.”
Gak: “Yes, there’s a lot of great bands in Thailand. We’d like to be pioneers and give the same opportunities we've had to other bands too."
Slot Machine's album Spin The World is out now through BEC Tero Music. For more information on the band, visit their official site.