Sunday, September 8, 2013

Macaroni Interview

 One of the big finds - if not THE big find - from my trip to Bangkok last year was Macaroni. Indisputable OGs in the world of South East Asian death metal, Macaroni have been around since the early 90's. With their latest album A Gift For Corpse, they offer a singular and distinctive take on the genre, a true sign of veteran status. Since I've been dying to know more about these guys, I e-mailed some questions to the band, which guitarist Supoth Sakaekhao was kind enough to answer.

DoC: Please introduce the members of your band by the instrument they play and their favorite noodle dish.

Hi everyone, we are Macaroni band. I, Supoth Sakaekhao (guitar), will represent our band: Anan Kanlapalee (guitar, vocals); Sayan Suwannameta (drums); Anake Kanlapalee (Bass). Actually we don't like to eat any noodles much, we prefer rice along with Thai food.

DoC: I know many people have already asked you this question, but I still have to ask: Why is the name of your band Macaroni? Also, please give me a recipe for the perfect Thai-style death metal Macaroni, including ingredients and directions.

I know that the name is kind of a stupid name for a metal band, ha ha. We have the name by accident. At the first, our band had many funny names; when we reserved the rehearsal room, we always changed the name, usually fruit and food names. We didn't mind the names, we just played music we liked. 
When we used the name "Macaroni", we had a chance to show in the first metal concert in Thailand called "Pain Of Death" in 1994. So that name "Macaroni" was known to the public. We used this name on our first EP Hot Like Hell (3-way split) in the same year. 
For us, the band name is important but the friendship in the band is more important than the name. Our line-up never changed since we formed in 1991, even the world class bands can not be like us.

Macaroni at Pain of Death, 1994
Macaroni death metal is kind of an old school death metal style with a little bit thrash beat and the important thing that the vocals to be clear, so that the listener can understand without reading the lyrics, despite the deep growling vocals. And we also use sound fx about our Thai culture to make a more Thai feeling such as monks chanting and traditional Thai instruments.

DoC: Macaroni have been around since the early 90's, which makes you one of the oldest death metal bands in South East Asia. What were your inspirations to form a band? What was the metal landscape like in Thailand when you formed? Were there other death metal bands in Thailand at the time?

We grew up in the peak time of Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Death Metal music. But in the early days of the band, we played old British hard rock such as UFO, Deep Purple, Judas Priest etc. And of course, we were interested in trying to play in a heavier genre. We liked to play Metallica's old albums, Slayer, Sepultura etc. until we started to play death metal; we decided that we should play this, since it suited us.

About the underground metal scene in Thailand at that time, it was not big. It was just beginning. There were some local metal bands that played death metal; just a few bands. Other bands played other kinds of metal, but not death metal.

DoC: You released your first album Cremation in 1996. What was the reaction like in Thailand? Did death metal fans overseas get to hear it, and if so what was their response?

Cremation surprised people at the time; that was the first pure death metal full length album in Thai among a few bands that played a mix of death, thrash and other kinds of metal.

I'm not sure that we had overseas fans as we were never promoted outside of Thailand and at the time there was no internet like today.

And nowadays Cremation is accepted as one of the classic death metal albums of Thailand.

Macaroni in 1996
DoC: Macaroni's lyrics are in Thai, though on your last album the song titles were also translated into English. Do you write all your lyrics in Thai because you're more comfortable that way, or is there another reason? Has there ever been a time you considered writing lyrics in English?

Yes, we are more comfortable writing in Thai. We can write what we feel to every single word. Honestly we don't have enough English skills to write lyrics, ha ha. But I think we can still communicate the feeling for death metal songs.

If we have a chance or some one wants to give us the lyrics in English, it may happen that we play our own songs with English lyrics. Cool.

DoC:  Last year you released your third album, and first album in over a decade, A Gift For Corpse. Why the long pause between albums? Did you get to tour locally or overseas in support of the album?

This is also the question that we are always asked, ha ha ha. Our 
first EP Hot Like Hell was released in 1994, two years later Cremation came out in 1996, four years after that 13th was released in 2000, and twelve years later came A Gift For Corpse in 2012. 
After we released the second album 13th in 2000, we just had a few local gigs to support the album. And there were many new bands that were born in the 2000's era and the new faces didn't know us widely as before. But the main reason that made us quit the metal social scene was that we had our own business to do, we can't be metal musicians as a career in Thailand. So Macaroni disappeared. 
Although we didn't [get together] as a band, we were still in touch as old friends and said that one day we would be back.

Around 2010, we had more life experience that can manage our time, we had more money that is very very important to do the things done, and we decided that we should do the new album without pressure, no rush, just keeping in the same way we had done before. And we started writing the songs. Finally our third album was released in 2012.

DoC: What sort of themes are explored in the lyrics for "A Gift For Corpse"?

All lyrics of this album were written by Anan Kanlapalee (guitar, vocals). The themes in this album mainly describe about death, suffering, wrathful, evil, and some song is about drugs, some is politics. 
Every bad things in the world happen by human hands, only one thing that can stop human...... DEATH.

DoC: A Gift For Corpse is a very interesting and unique death metal album, and one of my top albums of 2012. What were your goals when you began writing it? How does the finished album compare with your initial vision?

Before we started writing the songs, we internally talked about the direction. We kept in the style of old school death metal with a little bit of a modern sound. We were very serious about the sound. It should be clear, not a mess. This album took a very long time to do, about two years until we finished; as mention above, we had no deadline, no rush, so we had more time to develop our songs. Some songs were changed many times, recorded again and again. To compare between the initial versions with the  finished versions, some songs were almost completely different, some were made better in development. We would not release anything until we were satisfied.

DoC: All your albums have been self-released. What challenges do you face in terms of distribution and publicity? Have you considered online sites like Bandcamp to release your music?

In fact, our first 2 albums (tape cassette) had been distributed by a small label distributor and the first EP (tape cassette) had been distributed by a part of EMI (Thailand) [whoops, my bad - schooled DoC ed]. Well yes, the third album has been self-released. After our reunion, we insist on doing everything by ourselves including production and marketing as we have more experience and a higher budget. After we announced to our fans and released the album, we were very surprised that our fans still welcome us; that made us very happy. We sell our CDs (also T-shirts) on our Facebook fanpage and also distribute to our friends' metal shops. Regarding online sites, we will also consider this when we are ready.

And it's definitely thanks to technology that production is cheaper and the internet allows our fans to be closer.

DoC: What's next for Macaroni? Can we expect a follow-up to A Gift For Corpse in the next few years?

We are going to re-release the second album (13th) in CD format as we just re-released the first album (Cremation) last year. Now we have some gigs to play and after that we may plan for the new album, and again... no rush, that may take another decade, ha ha.

Macaroni on Facebook