Before Harmonica opened had you ever had another music bar?
I had experience working on and off (part time) at music venues and other music related business before; however, Harmonica was my first doing a venue full time.
What were some of the memorable shows?
There were many memorable ones. If I had to pick it would be Aire's first single release party and Hariguem Zaboy's CD release party. I'm really proud of those guys because they were a big part of the scene going on at Harmonica from the very beginning, and seeing them develop into a major force in the current rising underground music scene... its still feels very surreal at times when I think about it.
What made you decide to open Harmonica?
Like all good things, it's a happy coincidence. Harmonica was first started as a record shop and a cafe by day and bar by night, at that time I just thought I wanted a place I can put on music I wanted hear through the PA system rather than the whole commercial pop or hit indie tunes that most bars in Bangkok were playing. After a while, we started organising shows and it just felt right so we kept on at it and eventually it became a full time thing.
What were the difficulties running the place?
Mainly paying the bills and keeping the gear in good working condition.
Harmonica was decorated with album covers – did you sacrifice your album covers for the sake of the wall?
We want people to know what we are all about even before they come through the door. Our main business is about bands and great music. That's all there is to it behind the wall. Believe it or not, it does turn people off sometimes, especially for non-music fans. I remembered when we first opened many customers wouldn't come in because they had no idea what was going on.
How has the underground music scene changed over time?
It has changed a lot to me. It's being taken more seriously by both the bands and the fans and bands take it on the chin more when they encounter problems which is good. All I hope for is that it stays this way and we should have a good strong scene going for a long, long, time to come.
Do you have any plans to open a new place?
Not at the moment. I'm taking a break from the music venue game for awhile. What I can tell you now is that its not over yet- it's only a matter of time before I go back to it really.
You are known for performing sometimes several nights a week – how do you maintain such a busy schedule and then go to work in the morning?
To me its quite simple: I try to get as much rest as possible when I have time and I always plan things ahead as much as I can.
Is there a "Bangkok sound" or style? Can you imagine Bangkok music having a huge overseas presence and millions of musicians descending on the city like Berlin or Austin?
Yeah, definitely. I think, overall, everyone is doing a good job already. We just have to keep at it. Stop at nothing. And we're on the right track.
Put Wednesday Suksriwan can still be found playing bass with the metal band, Cana; guitar in his own solo project 'Wednesday'; and drums with Plastic Section and Basement Tape - speaking of which...
- Deerhoof gig (with Plastic Section and Hariguem Zaboy) 17/6/14
- Aire album launch 31/5/14
- Second last gig at Harmonica (Plastic Section, Triggs & the Longest Day, Bloodshakers and Chladni Chandi) 17/7/14
- Hariguem Zaboy album launch. 9/7/14
- The final Harmonica party (so many bands) 18/7/14
- Sticky Rice (amazing show about 6 months ago, I think with LowFat? Can't remember.. but it was great! 16/3/14
- Plastic Section + Triggs & the Longest Day (a show we had about a year ago - not many people but it ended up a big drunken party with everybody dancing to my James Brown/garage rock selection after the show - really fun!!)
- Ah I just remembered a Harmonica show that should be near top of the list - Degaruda album launch - that was amazing!! 15/2/14 BE
[Editor's notes: I saw 6 of those 8 shows- all fantastic. In terms of magnitude, I think the Aire CD party was extraordinary - there was a lot of energy which came from having so many great bands and fans - the place was packed in by time Aire came on. That show featured Kinetics, LowFat, Wednesday, and Stylish Nonsense. For Neuter Lover's edited video of show click here.
The Degaruda CD party was smashing in its own right with Put and Iman crowdsurfing, Ginn Sentaro, guest drumming on a song or two. Degaruda shows feel like free-for-alls - maybe anything can happen and that's part of the excitement. For Larry's Hill's video of the performance, click here.
The Hariguem Zaboy CD party was amazing - special lighting and stage were set up for the night and the sound really came together with the lighting to create the ambience of a shoe gaze show.
That Deerhoof show was off the hook. While not as crowded as I was expecting it was a rare chance to see a huge indie band from the States in a little bar where you could stand right in front of the stage, listen and watch. Click here for more.
I think The Sticky Rice show in question featured Put on guitar - it was a Sunday night, small intimate show, amazing performance as always.
The last show at Harmonica was a marathon of music: Rocket Science, Kinetics, Degaruda, aire, Eico, Neuter Lover, Zweedz n Roll. There was a lot of jamming and champagne at the end. It was a good way for a beloved venue to slip into the halls of history. DC]
Where my soul arises - Ginn Sentaro on Harmonica