If we are to talk about a new generation Thai rock band which has developed and grown quickly but steadily from a rising band into a new hope of Thai rock scene, “Slot Machine” will surely be one of the first bands to come in mind.
In 2000, four students from The Demonstration School of Silpakorn University formed a band “A-lum-a-luay (Compromise)” and they showed their great potential by winning the third place from Silpakorn Music Award and the runner-up from 6th Hot Wave Music Award.
Three years later, their small success led to their debut album with Sony Music BEC-Tero (presently Sony Music Thailand). They changed their band name from “A-lum-a-luay” to “Slot Machine.” Their self-titled debut album with its hits include “Ror (I’m Waiting for You)” was met with warm embrace.
In 2006, two members left the band and were replaced by three new members. The four-piece band became a five-piece band. Their following album, “Mutation,” included a track called “Phan (Yesterday)”, which was a widespread hit. It was not only a hit. “Phan” became a critical success as the song was awarded SONG OF THE YEAR from Seed Radio, the biggest music station in Thailand.
Aside from “Phan,” “Kam Sud Tai (Song for U)” was another hit from the album. In the same year, Slot Machine received the greatest honor for a band with only two albums in their resume by being selected to be the opening act for the world famous rock band Linkin Park in their Bangkok concert in 2007.
Since then, Slot Machine has been put under the spotlight as an exciting band and one of the most anticipated bands in Thailand.
They did not let their fans wait for too long. In the following year, Slot Machine returned with “GREY.” They described this new album as transcending “rock” genre. They used rock as a foundation to freely express their creativity through music.
“It was our way, our heart, our mind, life, music, clothes, image, behavior and etc. It was not Rock, Pop or anything else other people put the label on us…We defined our way as ‘Grey.’” Slot Machine described themselves.
For this album, Slot Machine collaborated with Scott Moffatt (ex-member of The Moffatts from Canada), a producer from their last album, once again. Now, there are four in the band (as in the present band). Their opening track was “Fhun (Dream)” and was met with a great success, both in album sales and concerts. Their success led to a special DVD album called Machi~Nema, a collection of music videos, live performances and behind-the-scenes.
“As I recalled, there were many shows, music festivals or events during our last album (GREY),” said First, the lead vocal. “Slot Machine did not have a fixed performance. We might have a rough pattern for choreography. However, our shows were different by improvisation. I thought it was an important factor which made our shows refreshing. We had mixed natures.”
“During studio album session, we totally put our minds on it. We declined all show offers. After we finished, however, we focused on shows full time. Our mindset in working had not changed but we had to understand the nature of each work. In studio, we needed perfection whereas in performance, we focused on sound and visual. No matter what, we worked as a team, including four members of the band and our staff.
“We discussed a lot, not only in meetings but also in telephone conversation or during meals. We talked and shared ideas all the time because we felt it was fun to create new things and to perform. For last albums, we performed about 500 times in two and a half years,” summarized First of what the band achieved in almost two years.
Finally, it is time for them to start considering of their 4th studio album.
“People tell us that we should make a new album already. But we consider our responsibility as an artist who was born to make music and as a professional both artistically and commercially. We want to be a living legend. We want each album to last at least five years or ten years. We want to focus on it and stay in this business as long as possible. Even if there will not be any new album, songs from Grey are enough,” says Kak.
“Our new album is named ‘Cell.’ Its concept is derived from ‘Grey’ which is the middle between black and white. That is what we are. In this album, we consider our mind and attitude as CELL which is the tiniest yet most critical component. The kind of cell we have defined what we are,” First reveals the story behind the album name.
“We had two ways in making of this album. The first one started in a rehearsal studio. We recorded our jam sessions with mobile phones and created demo from computers. The other way started from each member. The time we’ve been working together has helped us to know one another more deeply. We know one another’s weakness and accepted it. In this album, we have to get approvals from all members in the band. If it does not work, we have to revise it. We have to improve it. We have to listen to everyone’s comments. We respect one another more and showed what we are made of more than before. Everything will be clearer in this album. We feel every song in this album is good enough to be release as single.
“Music in this new album will be more vibrant and fashionable. Its melody will be more dynamic.” says Vit the guitarist.
“We had rough melody for lyrics and subject matters. I hummed whatever tune I wanted and we would analyze what we heard. The language would come later as poem or visual. I like visual narrative. Our subject matters are from our attitude. There are matters related to Buddhism, philosophy, science and lifestyles. For example, ‘Leum Lok (Outta Space)’ and ‘Phan’ from last two albums were very Buddhism. I think Buddhism and science are the same things. In this album, there is Ratri Rai Nam (Darkness Sunlight)’, which is about the battle between two things. It can be compared to our fight with the dark side, the sub consciousness. We believe that everything has two sides. Every track in this album would show the characteristics of Slot Machine. The most tangible song in this album is ‘Phra Athit Songklot (Golden Age).’ It starts in a rehearsal studio as a very Thai melody. We have a same feeling about this song. We have spent a long time to create Thai flavor in a very modern way into this song.
“Chan Chao (Goodbye),” the first single, is the best example of the new sound from “Cell.” Despite being modern and unique, its melody still reflects Thai flavors strongly. Its lyrics are more in common with poems than any other Thai rock songs. The song reached #1 on three major radio stations in Bangkok before it became a winner of ‘RECORDS OF THE YEAR 2010’ from FAT RADIO. Moreover, its music video earned five CHANNEL [V] THAILAND MUSIC AWARDS#7 nominations and won in the category of ‘Best Cinematographer.’
“As for ‘Pluto Tee Rak (The Plutonian),’ it is a symbolic love song. However, it talks about the loneliness. When we are alone, we feel lonely. But if we feel lonely even amongst crowds, the loneliness would be more severe. It is the loneliness we feel when we miss someone or something we love by comparing it to the vastness of the universe. We use Pluto as a symbol. We have known Pluto since we were young. One day, it was removed from the solar system. So we question why. Why do we have to remove it from the system only because it is so far from us? Do we have a right? Who are we to do so? It still remains in the same place. So I use Pluto to present the distance between us and what we miss,” First reveals of his writing process.
In this album, Slot Machine has shown their development both in attitude and skill. Moreover, they admit that they can develop skills thanks to the collaboration with Jay-Montonn Jira as a producer.
“We worked with Jay with ease of mind. He was a great man with a big heart. He was so good to us that we felt bad.” Auto says about their collaboration with Montonn Jira. “He always had ideas but he wanted to listen to our ideas first. He would not tell us what he thought. At the end, he would smile and asked us to try this or that way. Actually, by his position, he could tell us what to do. But he honored us and never overlooked our opinions,” Auto says.
“In this album, we are heads of departments which we are best suited. In other words, we are all bosses (laughing). We focus on teamwork. We believe that for a band to change the world, they have to start from themselves. We try to change many things. For example, in live performance, we wonder why drum kit has to stay in the back. Next time, who knows? We may swap to make a drummer stand in the front and a vocal in the back,” First says the last words with laughter.