Thai rock band Slot Machine has had a career spanning a decade, garnering slews of fans and awards along the way. The band’s live shows are highly thrilling affairs enabled by on-stage theatrics and the foursome’s undeniable stage presence. After captivating fans regionally, they’ve set their sights on the international main stage with the forthcoming release of a full English album, produced by the prolific Steve Lillywhite whose discography includes the likes of The Rolling Stones and U2. JUICE spoke to frontman Foet to talk about the album, working with Steve Lillywhite, the importance of band unity, and much more.
Firstly, why did it take Slot Machine 10 years to release an English album?
Actually, we didn’t set a timeline to wait for 10 years, you know? This is our sixth album; we wanted to do something different and challenging for our current album. It made us feel inspired and excited after 10 years of being in the scene. Maybe our challenge [is that] we could play somewhere out of this world (laughs).
How is it writing and performing in English? Were you all able to properly express yourselves through that language?
Yes, sure, it was challenging for us because English is not our mother tongue, but music is an international language and it is an instrument that expands our art. It’s more than just songs to us, they are pieces of lives, so by offering our deepest emotions to our fans, the process of expressing ourselves in English was not that difficult.
Other than making an English album, was there another creative direction that was taken for the new album?
We’re very proud of the sound on this album. They are the sounds that we grew up with, the memory of the sound of our childhood [that] we carry through our instruments. It’s our way of expressing who we are and where we come from. So, we translate Thai culture for an international audience.
We understand that Steve Lillywhite was supposed to work for only four tracks, but what happened that got him to stay on to produce the whole album?
Firstly, it was the chemistry between us. We had a great way of working — it was informal and relaxed when we create music and we love rock’n’roll. We share similar taste in other genres of music as well, such as Latin music, punk, dance, and reggae, to name a few. We [both] enjoy living in a tropical country and our similarities helped us create the album that we have envisioned. We really worked hard on it and I think there were many reasons that led Steve to stay for the album instead of just four songs.
We’ve seen that the band has performed some of the new material in foreign countries such as Taiwan. How have the fans reacted to them?
I think you can dance to our songs. The recent songs help our audience to enjoy [themselves] a bit easier. Also, we have so much energy which we try to share through the band to make our fans more carefree and therefore have [more] fun with us.
Could you explain to us a little bit about the Thai rock scene to our readers?
The rock scene in Thailand is strong. Rock has been in the industry for a very long time, and it’s [deeply rooted]. Rock songs are consistently charting, we have a lot of strong rock bands. The long-standing Thai rock bands have their own unique styles and sounds, which are important for any music. It is especially important for successful rock bands to have quality, and we have many of them.
Having been together for ten years, what do you think is the most important thing for a band to have longevity in the business?
The most important thing is band unity. We think it’s important for a band to work as a team and never forget who they become successful with. You also have to believe and take the challenge of [working with] one another, so you can maximise one another’s strong points to create a strong and balanced band. Steve was very happy to work with Slot Machine because we treat one another like family, that’s where the secret of success lies. He always said, “Trust me, I have worked with many bands for 40 years (laughs).”
One of the reasons why Stephen wanted to work with the band was because he saw that you all were still able to attract a lot of young fans. Why do you think this is so?
I think it’s because young fans appreciate who we are and what we stand for. Slot Machine has a very clear image, we try to balance our personal views and visions with new and unique sounds in order to give our fans the best that we can offer, you know? This is what the four of us love to do, and we enjoy it immensely. It is a new experience for us, everytime we go on stage and our young fans can hear our vibe.
Will the band continue to make English albums from now on?
Most definitely, yes. This is the new starting point for us to what’s ahead of us, yes. English and Thai, we’ll do both, but I’m not sure if I can sing in Chinese or Korean (laughs). Yeah, that will be nice (laughs).
Slot Machine’s sixth and first English album is set to be released sometime in 2016 via BEC-Tero Music.