People threw bottles at us from 3rd story building across the street to get us to stop.
You lived in Thailand at some point in time and were around for the early years of Thai hardcore, right? Can you describe in vivid details your experience with respect to the early bands, people, venues and influences? What brought you to Thailand?
In 1999, I came as a body piercer & backpacker and stayed to work in a tattoo shop in Chiang Mai and learn how to do traditional Thai handmade tattoo. I started studying Thai language and found that all the music consisted of sappy love songs until I ran into punks Od, Khiaeng, and Gee and from the Hang Bar, a punk bar with a skate park in a abandoned construction site around the corner. We didn’t speak the same language but I went to the bar often and started making flyers for their shows, then patches of their favorite bands - there was no punk stuff in the market in 2000 – we had to make all our own gear. (Khiang and Gee went on to careers in design and screen printing). We used furniture fixtures and construction studs as spikes and studs. Funny stuff.
The Hang Bar got shut down and we opened Chaos City Bar and Tattoo Shop in Chiang Mai with the help of some punks from Jatujak Market. They all moved into my house in CM and we opened the bar – it was a 3 ½ floor building and we had a fireman’s pole to go from 2nd to 1st floors. Punks from all over the world scrawled their name on the wall at Chaos City. There was a tattoo & piercing shop upstairs and a bar downstairs. We booked shows at the bar but it was across from a Wat (holy temple) in the old city and loads of old people lived near by so that was often difficult.
People threw bottles at us from 3rd story building across the street to get us to stop. We started booking shows at the walking street where people bought hand made souvenirs from hill tribe women and ate traditional street food. They were also treated to a free show of Decay of Thailand, Prachamban and other early CM punk bands. It was not uncommon to see Ton (Nasty of BKK Alcohol and Decay of Thailand) pulling his pants down to his knees (underpants on) and screaming while writhing on the ground. The audience consisted mostly of unassuming northern Thai people and tourists. Thai folks gathered around standing utterly still with their mouths open in awe and shock.. Good times. Then we started booking shows at my fabulous friend Lee’s gay nightclub - The Fan Club – where once a month we would takeover and the overweight German tourist dudes were replaced by metal heads and punks – we had fire breathing, pole dancing and very mixed genre shows. We had nu metal, black metal, hardcore, pop punk all together in our little scene back then.
I was always influenced by political music and the scene in Thailand was not really politically charged at the time. I think that has changed in that there are a lot more bands and more issues to talk about that matter to people. I started a band called Atomic Influx with Oddy from Hang Bar on drums who was more of a stoner rocker ala Jimmi Hendrix with a tall blonde fan mohawk) and New (Who was a seriously technical black metal guitarist) from Carried the Weight. We had two Farang (white) Math Teachers; Josh and Jerome. Half the band spoke Thai and the other half spoke English, so I did a lot of translating.
I booked shows with Oddy – we put on a music fest called Water Fight Fest during Songkran at an old skate park/squat called the Seti complex. That was epic but we found that booking shows during big festivals was not good for attendance.
“X”, a metal dude from Chiang Mai University who was a killer artist and looked a bit like the predator (big and dark with dreadlocks) started working with me to put on larger shows. We put on a show with Yos at the Cultural Center in Bangkok that was the biggest Punk show as of year. We had over 20 bands in this sweet amphitheater – it was great until we were playing and a small riot broke out between the skinheads from Bang Kabi and a group from Jatujak Market. Hundreds of kids running across the amphitheater with broken bottles and hurling big pieces of wood. Not good man, not good. The night ended with only one guy being sent off with a bloody head to the ER.
We booked shows at the Mad Max Bar - “The Drunk Studio” that was made of recycled metal run by our friend Sua - a rocker dude with a thing for metal art. There were school busses you could sit on, a coi pond, and at one point we put the mic in the end of an old gas pump which was silly but fun.
How has Austin evolved over time and do you like its status as a music city with global recognition? Do you miss days when it was sleepy town?
I like living in Austin, There is a punk show at least every week, usually more than that. We have loads of venues we can book at and a huge crowd of punks. A lot of people play in more than one band. We just helped put on the Punk Rock Olympics in Late November – it is a music fest with silly sports and good times. Yeah there is good weather, good music, good food in Austin… but for me, nothing beats Thai food……
I have not lived in Austin very long so I can’t really speak to the small sleepy town, but does feel like its growing too fast. I hear about too much money turning old cultural mainstays and cool old bars and record shops into condominiums for people moving in. Anyway, Austin is awesome, and its great to come home too now and then, that’s for sure.
What bands out of Austin should we be watching out for?Well, there are so many, but for Thai punks they would probably like Punks on Parade, Starving wolves, Sniper 66, 13th Victim, the Hormones, The Stabbies, Splatter, there are so many really, I can’t get close to naming all the killer bands.. We suggest you browse the flyers on the Facebook page: Austin Punk Rock, to get a glimpse of what is going on around here.
If Bangkok bands were coming to Austin, where should they play and what zines or publications should they be reading?If Bangkok punks came to Austin they would see shows at Kickbutt Coffee, Bull McCabes, The Lost Well, Spiderhouse Ballroom, Grizzly Hall, Sidewinder, Beerland, Texas Mist, The Grand and others. They might listen to Stig Stench’s radio broadcast and read the alternative weekly paper – we don’t have any zines that I know of – seems like people are busy playing and recording around here..
You are touring Asia with MDC? Where are you going and how did you book the tour? Do you enjoy booking tours?
We are going to China, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan with MDC in January. We talked to them about it when we were planning some other shows with them in New Mexico and they were into it, so off we go. I’ve known a lot of these bookers and organizers for over 15 years so it just took filling in the gaps and asking around. We are especially excited about playing Libertad Fest where the Pyrate Punx rent a tropical island for a 4 day fest near Jakarta. We are playing with The Restarts for that one and then travelling with them for 5 other dates in Jakarta, Singapore, Batu Pahat at The Wall which is a great DIY venue and to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Rumah Api, a very cool venue, distro, info shop. Booking tours? It’s fun but exhausting. There are a lot of details – sleeping arrangements, flights, timing, etc. But it is incredible to have a plan come together through community efforts and punk rock ideas, you meet so many great people along the way. The Chinese visa process almost gave us all a heart attack though...
If you had to explain punk rock to people in Asia how would you explain it?
Oh man, I have done it so many times but not for a while. I have always been inspired by political music and that is why I got into punk rock, so I would say this is music that speaks out about things that need to be said, socially, politically. Punk can also be about camaraderie and brotherhood, a safe place to be yourself, the opportunity to live in a world outside of pop and consumer culture. Oh, and making great music that makes you want to thrash around with DIY ethics of integrity and helping others that are in need. And great fashion – depending on who you are talking to.
I did run into a problem with my old band Atomic Influx where we had a song called Babysitter’s Harem, which was about child prostitution in Thailand and people came back and said – “you can’t talk about that” and I said – “in case you didn’t know this is Punk rock and that is exactly why we do this.”
What is one song by The Elected Officials everyone needs to hear?
I like “The Lobby” it is about money in politics and corrupt government, kind of the essence of what we talk about
What is the relevance of a punk rock band today in 2016-2017?
Political music is like political art or photography – These mediums give us an opportunity to interpret the world in a way we see as true and real, not how the advertizing establishment wants. Songs and images can inspire and educate, save millions of lives as with an image of famine in Somalia or a little dead boy on the beach in Syria – people are inspired by the truth and seek it whether they know it or not.
Do you have any closing comments about the show in Bangkok on January 27th with MDC, Cold Black Vines, License To Kill and Lord Liar Boots?
I am very excited to play with License to Kill! I think the last time we played with them was at that riot show at the cultural center in 2002! I love those guys – Gop was always the biggest guy in the mosh pit and I was the only girl. Good times then, good times ahead! I am excited to check out the other bands too. In terms of bringing MDC to Thailand, I can’t wait to introduce them to Muang Thai.
Go to the fucking show! I wish I could.
The Elected Officials are playing with MDC, License To Kill, Cold Black Vines, and Lord Liar Boots on January 27th at Sou Sauce Factory. Sign up here.
Also note, The Elected Officials should be at the Dave Dictor acoustic show at Mezzanine on Soi Rangnam on the 26th. Sign up for that event here.
Read the Dave Dictor/MDC interview here.
Featured photo of The Elected Officials courtesy of David Brendan Hall Photography.