Thai Music – Rock
In our last article about Thai music, we looked at Thai pop music. This time out we will look at the Thai rock music scene.
Thai western-style rock really started to become popular from the mid-nineties as it took over the mantel of Peua Cheewit (Thai songs for life). The music style is strongly influenced by Britpop and American soft rock.
Thais have a great passion for live music and you will find live music bars in just about every town in the country. There are now dozens of successful Thai rock bands playing to big audiences around the country.
Loso are the most successful Thai rock band. The name is a play on the Thai term hi-so (derived from English 'high society'), which refers to upper class Thais or socialites. The name Loso (low society) mocks the band's humble backgrounds.
The band was formed and fronted by Sek Loso (notice this tendency of Thai rock stars to use the band name as their stage surname, e.g. Ed Carabou, Da Endorphine). Sek was the son of a poor rice farmer from Korat. He moved to Bangkok when he was 12 and worked in a jewelry shop while perfecting his real passion, playing the guitar. By the time he was 17 he was playing live in a local music bar and within a couple of years he formed his own band.
They released their first album, 'Lo Society', in 1996 and it was an instant bestseller. It was the first of a string of best selling albums including their classic 'Red Album', released in 2001. Sek's wailing guitar and vocals and a strong westernized rock sound really struck a chord with a new generation of partying young Thais.
In 2002, Sek went solo. He released his album '7th August' and did some collaborations with pop star 'Bird'. However, Sek had bigger aspirations and in 2004 he went to England in search of international fame. He spent an intensive 6-months learning English and displayed a natural talent for language to match his musical ability. He then put together his new version of Loso with international performers and started work on some English language songs. They released the English language album 'For God's Sake' in 2007.
The album had some success and Loso made successful live performances at major events such as Glastonbury. However, like Tata Young before, they found that a genuinely big breakthrough into the English language market was elusive.
Loso continue to play, mixing their international aspirations with a strong emphasis on their hugely successful Thai market. There has been a steady turnover of band members in recent years, including the return of original bassist 'Rath' Sukkhajit.
They have a long string of classic Thai hits behind them:
When the original Loso split in 2002, the two other original members of the band, drummer 'Yai' Khotkam and bassist 'Rath' Sukkhajit, formed new band Fahrenheit. They recruited female vocalist Piraporn Pranpanas and guitarist Pichet Kruawan. They continued to play rock but with a darker, edgier feel.
In 2006, bassist 'Rath' Sukkhajit returned to Loso and Fahrenheit recruited Arkom Nuchanin from Taxi. The band has a good number of hits without ever achieving the heights of Loso.
Clash are currently one of the biggest rock acts in Thailand and are very popular. The band play rock music but also mix in a lot of slower ballads. They are a rock band with a bit of a boy-band look. The band members are good looking and trendy which attracts a lot of female fans.
Another of the top Thai rock bands of the moment is Bodyslam. They originally formed while at school and like so many other Thai acts, they found their route to stardom by winning music contests. They are most well known for the distinctive undulating voice of their lead singer Toon.
Big Ass started off as a pop rock band but have gradually evolved into a more hardcore rock band in recent years. Their latest album (Love, 2008) has been a huge hit and includes several hit singles.
Modern Dog have been around for a long time and are often hailed as the leaders of the new generation of Thai rock bands. They formed in 1992. They have a long string of hits behind them and even achieved a little international success with performances in the US and UK. They are sometimes compared to Radiohead.
YouTube - Dtah Sa-Wang (Be Enlightened)
This is just a selection of the many Thai rock bands currently playing. That completes our look at the stars of Thai music. Next time out we will finish with a look at the live music scene in Phuket.
Thai Music -- Genres & History - An introduction to the main genres of Thai music and their history.
Thai Music -- Mor Lam - An introduction to the stars of Mor Lam (Thai folk music).
Thai Music -- Luke Toong - An introduction to the stars of Luke Toong (Thai folk and country music).
Thai Music -- Peua Cheewit - AAn introduction to the stars of Peua Cheewit (Thai songs for life).
Thai Music -- Pop - An introduction to the stars of Thai pop music.
Thai Music -- Rock - An introduction to the stars of Thai rock music.
Live Music in Phuket - We finish our series about Thai music with a look at the live music scene in Phuket.