Well the science is not exact. There is no right answer. There’s almost no point discussing it at all because it largely revolves around luck. But sod that; I’m going to discuss it anyway – because I am a master of inexact science and my research has been going on for years. I have been in a lot of different bands conducting said research. It has been so gruelling that I have missed my submission deadline by a good week now just to ensure that the analysis was irrefutable and devoid of anomalies. Odd how decades of research needs to be finished off just when a deadline comes around (it makes for a good excuse anyway).
One of the bands that enabled some of this investigation was called Nexus Six and as teenagers we played mostly in Bristol but also all over England. If anyone can tell me where we got the name from then you’ll definitely win a prize – or at the very least I’ll push a goat in front of a train. To me this band felt like it really had something, real potential to take it beyond the realms of a mere hobby. At one point we had management interest from a guy who had previously represented The Pixies and was at that time manager for Hope of the States (an awesome band who sadly broke up a while after their guitarist committed suicide at their studio in Bath). When this manager started to line up gigs for us with some major bands such as Keane, Hope of the States, Radio 4 and Vex Red (to name a few that I remember) we really thought we might be in with a chance.
But we all also had places at universities. These universities were spread across the country. In one way or another we all took those places. What a sodding waste of time that was. Not long after that we dis-banded (yes that’s the technical term).
To be in a band that works, that really works, requires the mystical alignment of at least a dozen different factors that are all as mysterious and elusive as one another. Recondite and undefined by their very nature (not to mention wildly inaccurate) these are the things that seem to be necessary: a certain level of skill with your chosen instrument; the passion and resourcefulness to create new music; an ability to perform in front of a crowd with genuine (not forced or taught) stage presence; the desire to work your balls (or vagina) off; the strength to keep working your balls (or vagina) off even when shit seems hopeless; the energy to tour, gig and carry lots of heavy crap around; the money to purchase instruments, amplifiers and transport and - perhaps most importantly - a comfortable enough upbringing that affords you the luxury of pursuing artistic goals such as this. Then, not only do you personally need all of these factors but the other members of the band need them too - and in the perfect configuration. And their combination of elements needs to be similarly aligned as yours. And they need to be decent human beings that you can endure spending time with. And you need to be lucky enough to find them. Oh, and you cannot manufacture any of these elements (well, unless you’re Simon Cowell) and if they do arrive and if they do come together then it is only pure luck that has led to this point anyway.
The myriad factors involved here make it near impossible to even start a band - let alone a band that ever actually makes it anywhere - but if you are fortuitous enough to track all this down then stick with it. Don’t go to university. University is an expensive piece of paper. Well unless you’re curing cancer or whatever, then you probably need university. But don’t bother with Ancient History and Philosophy.
Nexus Six was alive with many of these factors, and many were in alignment. I am disappointed to have lost them and since then I have played in various bands and enjoyed a lot of them but never seemed to find that same gel. It took many years to find this mystical configuration again but after a series of serendipitous events something seems to have come up.
These chance happenings began in July 2013 when our singer arrived in Bangkok. Shortly afterwards we went to that Haus 20 show that I was on about in my previous article. Degaruda had opened our eyes and – responsibly drunk – we agreed right there and then that we would get together to play some music. This agreement turned into a trip to the Myanmar border, travelling on scooters out of Kanchanaburi, each with an acoustic guitar on our backs and little else in the way of equipment or weather appropriate clothing (I still haven’t learnt my lesson when it comes to motorbikes and waterproofs but I am aware that all this talk of clothing and waterproofs could be deemed somewhat of an innuendo). Our plan was to discover new venues around the city as a guitar duo – possibly earning free beer and the adoration of all female kind in the process.
As I remember we actually had some pretty good stuff (in fact one of those tunes came in handy when we were stuck for something to play during a slow acoustic set much later on during a tour to Myanmar) but this guitar duo never really got off the ground. Instead, when we returned to Bangkok, a fellow teacher and colleague invited us to a jam at Coco Walk. This colleague (himself no stranger to the dark arts of musical expression) had the intention of starting a covers band. I’m pretty sure the plan here was similar to that of our guitar duo – play music, get free beer, win adoration of female kind. Intrigued, our singer and I went along. As I have a strict aversion to cover songs my role was largely observational as I tinkered along on acoustic guitar but they did sound pretty good – our singer on bass, my colleague on lead vocals and guitar, a second guitarist who I’m pretty certain had just survived a car crash or something and some Rock Philosopher guy on drums.
Now, as all great rock and roll stars should they went for a beer and smoke break. The drum kit now free I decided to have a hit. My colleague returned and began to play along with his guitar. We were only tinkering but there was something there. We would rise and fall at the same moments, stop, stab and change between rhythm and dynamics without even looking at each other. This was like sex, but like awkward first date sex when you feel an instant and intense connection but are still not certain where all the bits go. We knew we had a real kinship here and we didn’t even need to take our trousers off. Then our singer came back in and slapped a bass line along too bringing us close to the kind of threesome you don’t really want to be a part of but it sounds so good to the ears that you don’t know how not to be. Then the Rock Philosopher came back into the studio and he thought I was a twat. The Rock Philosopher saw something in that moment and, despite his disappointment at relinquishing the drums, advised the three of us to work together and form a band. How wise (or unwise depending on your point of view).
Soon after, a wild-eyed Canuck with a notable talent for bass guitar arrived at our school (it turned out later he’s not too bad with a regular guitar either). No one really knew why he was there but no one wants to miss an opportunity so we roped him in quickly and the threesome became a foursome. Now we were all in the same place of work and were lucky enough to have a music room on site where we could practice. These four members - all of whom wrote songs themselves - were potentially a recipe for disaster when combined together. But there were no egos, no one was precious about their songs and the mystical elements seemed to be coming together. We worked on a lot of tunes in different arrangements and all swapping instruments. As the sound developed and grew so did the potential. Seeing this evolution, our colleague (who had been instrumental in lining up that first jam at Coco Walk) had a hunch that a lot more time and effort would be required to continue this growth than he had available. Prioritising family commitments over this frivolity he urged us to continue without him. It was a real loss, not least because we would not have access to his prolific back catalogue of great tunes, but also because it meant moving forward without a friend. Decision made however, that’s what we had to do.
With the factors seemingly aligned we then began the process of practice, hard work and beer consumption that led to our first gig. This inaugural performance was a true baptism of fire in front of 2,000 people. It was televised live across the country, occurred in the middle of the Ministry of Finance which had been taken over by angry protestors and caused a considerable amount of controversy but that’s also a story for another time. Then I read a book about cricket and we had the name Count the Thief.
So the investigation continues. Will this band make it? Who knows? In fact I’m not even sure what that means but I enjoy it and we are working hard and we really mean it. Come see us on Thursday 17th September 2015 at Moose, Ekkamai and make up your own mind. Or watch some of the other brilliant bands playing instead.
Ekamai 21 Above Y50 next to TUBA, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
RhuBarb & CusTard Presents:
YO MO FO
More midweek chaos with a great mix of local and international live outfits!
THE SANGSOM MASSACRE
COUNT THE THIEF
Live Visuals : Natthapoom Saenghan
Entrance : 200 Baht