By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The members of Slot Machine, a rock/pop band out of Thailand, knew each other before they got together, but it took time before the fateful hookup that united them all.
Singer Karinyawat Durongjirakan, who goes by the rock and roll name “Foet,” recalls, “Gak (bassist Atirath Pintong) and I were friends since high school, while Vit (guitarist Janevit Chanpanyawong) and Auto (drummer Settharat Pancgchunan) hooked up with us after they graduated from university.”
Vit adds that Foet started out as a drummer before making the switch to vocals. “Gak heard Foet sing once,” Vit adds, “and decided he needed to change his focus.”
Slot Machine makes its first-ever Seattle appearance on April 4 at the Neptune Theatre, as part of the “Asian On Tour” package. Their co-stars, whom they describe as “awesome,” consist of Miyavi, a Japanese guitarist who loves to dress as a samurai onstage and often plays his guitar by slapping it; and Kiha & The Faces, a Korean group seemingly bound to combine every existing form of popular music into their own.
When asked how the name “Slot Machine” came about, Foet said it matched the band’s own wide-ranging music — every spin of a slot machine brings a different outcome. The band has had various lineups, but the current quartet has been together since 2006. They’ve recorded several Thai albums and had a compilation of Thai hits released. The new album, “Spin the World,” contains English lyrics.
Foet recalls that writing in English wasn’t as hard as it might sound. They stayed in the studio for six months, working with the prominent English producer Steve Lillywhite (who’s done albums with Peter Gabriel, U2, the Rolling Stones, and many others), and they learned more English as they worked.
The band’s sound does resemble straightforward, mainstream Western pop/rock in many ways. Vit, though, says that he always tries to infuse “Thai sounds” into his guitar riffs. Foet says he also tries, with his lyrics, to include Thai culture, at least a little, in every song.
“I also help with the melody and the synthesizer,” Gak adds. “I like to include old-fashioned melodies into the mix.” Auto concludes that he doesn’t go for Thai sounds specifically, but he aims for Asian rhythms in his drumming.
They’ve traveled the world, but they say fans cheer them the most in Taiwan and Hong Kong. They’re scheduled for a headlining gig in their native country of Thailand this coming August.
“After that,” avows Foet, “we will continue touring around the world!”
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.