The professional thing to do would have been to hire a nice studio with real recording engineers but since I have zero budget we had to settle for the Londoner Brew Pub a most natural setting for songwriters. And the ale and mead flowed down the gullets inspiring lively conversation now in purgatory of digital life. My memory is hazy but a few things remain: Top suggested I cover more local Thai bands; Ben, Matthew and Top all shared the experience that their songwriting was an extension of introversion... of being the weird kid with little social life in his room hammering away on a guitar and totally obsessed with music. While many rock stars become tabloid headlines for their drug use, partying and failed relationships, for many bands, it started with some social misfit, recluse, loser, loner, reject, geek who somehow found in music a relationship they might not ever have with human being. Kurt Cobain, the icon of rock music (all music?) in the 90's at the end of the day was an introverted artist struggling with both physical and emotional pain – he found escape in heroin – and eventually took his life. (There are conspiracy theories but this isn't the forum for them.) I am not saying that social isolation will breed brilliant artists but that solace can breathe the individual soul of the artist - I know few writers that can write at parties. So even if the “songwriters forum” is never recovered, I did walk away from the experience thinking this was the right thing to do – bring 3 artist friends together to share ideas freely about why they do what they do. In between all the wonderful stream-of-consciousness chattering, someone would beg me to “Ask a question!” and then somehow the ship would mutiny yet again, the topics change like winds in a storm... deep introspection with the humor of pirates lost at sea. All the while a mused danced on the table and above our heads... the aspiring rock journalist-philosopher lost himself as well.... So much fun merry-making. The Cream Bitter goes down like water and also has the potency to steal memories yet leave the pleasant feeling that one helluva ruckus.
Update August 18th
The Songwriters' Bands... You Should See and Hear to Judge for Yourself:
Ben Edwards and Basement Tape: It's difficult to separate the artist from the music. I have utmost respect for Ben Edwards' passion for creating. As a fan with a pen (or laptop) I follow as a way to learn, to be inspired and then to share it. Bangkok's Basement Tape are like a blast from the 60's and 70's when the Beatles ruled the world with songwriting, arrangements, and the romanticism of youth. I can hear a lot of John Lennon in there. This is music for a rainy day when you need to be uplifted to the heavens. I am still getting to know it - kind of like dating but with music. There is a magic in the air when Ben is playing and the reserved, enigmatic songwriter transforms into a lion on stage - it's an amazing sight to see and medication for the weary soul. We are all inspired by this prolific talent in the underground.
Matthew Fischer and The Fishes: It's not easy to write about Matthew and The Fishes objectively because of my closeness to the band. I have been listening to Matthew's music for 4 years - I know many of the songs... they are the lingering ghost music in my head at the end of the day, or walking to the bus stop, or sitting in a coffee shop. The music is a cathartic experience and his life a testament to the power of clear vision and the will to carry on. Our community would not be the same without his contributions as a musician as well as mastermind behind Fatty's Bar & Diner. As a writer, I can only exist because someone out there is doing something worth sharing. The hard work, down-to-earthiness, and dedication to the craft of songwriting have not been unnoticed. It's a remarkable thing to see a young artist I met on craigslist in 2009, rise to the forefront of an underground artistic community. If there is a soul to underground music, then Matthew Fischer is the embodiment.
Top Tarasin of Degaruda: Sonically intense musician. Degaruda are regarded as one of the best underground bands in Bangkok. No one sounds like Degaruda. I've asked Top to do a monthly podcast with me on Bangkok underground music. As a Bangkok native, well-regarded in the community for musicianship, humor, and wit, Top's at the top of my list for co-host. The idea is to bridge the divide and merge the segmented cultures we can observe within the music underground and share a unified vision with the international community. I will rely on his expertise, knowledge, and judgment.
It's hard to write about your friends' music objectively. As a friend and fan you want them to succeed and reach new levels. Sitting down with Ben, Top and Matthew really was like Fantasy Football where you can put one of your dream teams together and see what happens. Working on getting the songwriters forum file recovered - you really can't imagine what it's like having these guys at a roundtable discussion - like opening a barrel of monkeys.... and the highlight of my time as a blogger.
Expanding coverage: Top has reminded me to cover local Thai bands. Ben is always suggesting more bands and shows to go and see. I saw Chladni Chandi at Overstay – really awesome. I've go to see Sticky Rice, Lowfat featuring (Top Tarasin on drums), aire, The Gad. Discovered Inspirative thanks to my friend Danny and have fallen in love with the music – it's like a Terrence Mallick film but music. Saliva Bastards are playing with Yellow Fang and Buddhist Holiday this month at Brown Sugar – I'll be there! Also there's a show happening at KMUTT very soon – check my facebook for details.
Rumblings: Itchy Band may be back in Bangkok in October – they are having a record release party in Chiang Mai tonight. The beast that is Bone Clone may be reincarnated very soon when Spike returns. My friends, Niall Murray and The Sangsom Massacre are in the studio writing new songs – farewell Joey C, and welcome Joe R - BTW has anyone seen Marlene gracing the flyers for BASH? Marilyn Monroe... Madonna... and Marlene Massacre... way to go Marlene – you've got a heart of gold (and thanks for all the beer you buy!) ... There's a new band in town called Kamp Krusty and Sausage Fest... you can find them tearing it up at Skytrain Jazz on Soi Rangnam near Victory Monument on Monday nights – there was at least one Mancunian telling me they were the best live band he'd seen in Bangkok – from a guy from the north, that's ALOT! Ben and Tom aka Panic Station are hungry and looking for action – you can find them at the Alchemist very soon. A little bird has been in my ear about a Hungarian-born blues player in Pattaya who defected to the United States – there's a story there, I know it.
On August 17th, you can see and hear Basement Tape featuring Ben Edwards; Matthew Fischer and the Fishes; Degaruda featuring Top Tarasin; and Local Machine at Haus 20 Design & Dine.
Thanks for sharing, liking and supporting. And thanks for the beer – you know who you are. The Bangkok indie underground music scene rules and it's all because of your contributions.
See you at the shows. DC
I apologize for typos, grammar, punctuation, and general flow problems. If anyone would like to volunteer to be my copy editor and prevent me from embarrassing myself, that would be appreciated.
Ben Edwards is songsmith in the Bangkok rock bands Basement Tape and Plastic Section. Top Tarasin screams and bashes the guitar for the most flammable band in Bangkok, Degaruda and beats meat drums for Lowfat. Matthew Fischer is the Midwestern soul of Matthew Fischer and the Fishes as well as the cofounder of Bangkok's Fatty's Bar & Diner.