SAARANG T-Bone, who performed right after The Hindu NXg Rockstar, had the audience swaying to their music. JANANE VENKATRAMAN
It is a balmy afternoon and they are dressed casually in shorts, lounging about the guest house lobby when I enter. They are T-Bone, one of Thailand’s biggest reggae and ska bands, slated to perform at The Hindu NXg Rockstar later in the competition as guests and I am nervous. But Nakarin Teerapenun, the band’s lead guitarist and manager, rises to greet me with a huge megawatt smile and all my apprehensions about communication difficulties immediately disappear.
“I was an art student in Thailand, studying drawing and painting, but music was my hobby. I used to have a lot of jam sessions with friends; I was hooked to it. So one day I decided to make a career out of it,” says Nakarin. “So I started the band in 1992. My brother, Jesada joined us in 1995 and we released our first album in 1996. And the rest is history, as they say.” Till date, this nine-member band has released eight albums including a “Greatest Hits” album called Ruan Pleng Dee T-Bone, with the next one, T-Bone In Da House, on its way. Influenced by Bob Marley, the band specialises in reggae and ska, music genres that originated in Jamaica, West Indies.
How did a band from Thailand pick it up? I ask. “When I formed the band, we played mostly blues and jazz. Even now, most of us are jazz musicians. I’m a jazz guitarist, Arin, our drummer also has a jazz background. So does Nattapol, who is our Bass guitarist. But Jesada had a strong base in reggae, he was into it. He was the one who brought it to the band.” At this point, Nakarin’s brother and the band’s lead singer, Jesada walks in and smiles the same megawatt smile as his brother. I ask him about their music. “Our music is generally very upbeat. We talk about people, Thai people, their ways and the culture and such. We make happy music,” he says.
Their songs are in Thai and there is always a tendency for things to get lost in translation, especially as they branched out and started playing abroad. “It doesn’t make a difference. England, India, Thailand, it doesn’t matter where we go. The music is the same. It doesn’t have anything to do with the lyrics. It is all about the rhythm,” says Jesada.T-Bone gained prominence after performing with the internationally acclaimed Tokyo Ska Paradise and became the first Thai band to play at UK’s Glastonbury Festival in 2005 after their participation in the Tsunami Benefit Concert by the BBC in April 2005. They were invited back again for the 2007 edition.
Of their two-decade-long journey, this is the first time they will be playing in India. Ask them about it and they are all smiles. “I find India an amazing place. Times change, people modernise, but I find that Indians’ core values have not changed at all. It’s going to be an amazing experience,” says Nakarin. Of their time here so far, Nakarin says, “It has been an amazing experience so far. India is a really interesting, colourful place. We went to the Kapaleeshwar temple and it was simply amazing. The people too are really nice. They smile a lot and they’re always ready to help.”
“We are looking forward to playing here. Our concerts start usually at around 10.30 p.m. or midnight. This is the first time we are playing at 4 p.m. in the evening. It is going be a very different experience and we’re all looking forward to playing at IIT,” he adds to which an excited Jesada agrees adding, “I know it is going to be amazing.”
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