Sharing Road Tales with The Bangkok Five
By Naughty Mickie

Los Angeles rockers The Bangkok Five formed in 2004 with a rollover of players until finding the right combination. They played anywhere they could in their stomping ground of Sliverlake- private parties, benefits and clubs and then hit the road. They have traveled the world on tours with bands such as Hot Hot Heat, The Cult, The Stooges, The Bronx, Buckcherry, (International) Noise Conspiracy and Papa Roach. And finally, the group's long-awaited release, "We Love What Kills Us" (Long Live Crime Records), will be out in June. It is double the effort, as there are songs in English and Spanish.

The Bangkok Five features vocalist Frost, lead guitarist Sweeney, guitarist Bobby S., bassist Coatez and drummer Blanco. Their music is pure rock and roll- with talented singing (no screaming), musicianship and thought-out writing.

I roused Frost from an early dreamy morning for a chat.

"I think the band started when the band started touring," Frost says with a yawn. "I felt like we were putting something together and not all the pieces were in place. That was when the genesis of the idea came together. I was trying to put something together that was rooted in almost a criminal operation, hence the name The Bangkok Five. It wasn't band, it was more like a traveling brigade of pirates.

"I didn't know this was real until we got attacked with a baseball bat," Frost goes on. "We were in Seattle or Oregon, I don't remember which, it all becomes a blur after a while, and some local thugs started hard-nosing us for our gear. They weren't going to get anything. They had baseball bats too. We're fine, but a lot of people don't realize how dangerous it is. If it's not local haters trying bummed out that their girlfriends are looking at you, then it's people trying to steal your shit."

Frost calls Los Angeles home, but he's on the road so much that he's technically homeless.

"I was forced to play piano at eight," Frost tells me about growing up. "We were all forced to play piano and I hated it. I'm dyslexic and I didn't know it as a kid and I was so hard to deal with that they wanted to put me on Prozac. I was sitting there not understanding what they were trying to teach me. I also had a lot of temper issues, like I'd kick the piano, sigh and complain. The funny thing was I learned how to read by ear, which I've recently learned opens up a completely different part of the brain- the person who goes that route turns into a writer.

"People who learn to sight-read generally don't play unless there's music put in front of them. If you learn by ear you'll always have it." Frost continues, "By instinct, I'm very creative. It's debatable how that happens, but I will say that I'm a very right brain person, a very creative person. When it comes to dates and math my brain kinda fails me, but when it comes things like painting, literature, music, I'm good with languages too."

Frost has always sung. He was a good imitator of other artists and his friends would get him stoned to perform for them. As he got older, Frost came around to the "idea of being a singer." He is a big fan of James Brown and likes everything from Frank Sinatra to Peaches, as well as '50s and doo wop. Frost also relates to Dave Bowie who has said that he imitates various artists as a route to making his own voice and style.

"To bring it all the way back around, I think that music is in me to the extent where I don't choose, it chooses me. And it chose me when I was child and it chooses me every day that I wake up," says Frost.

Frost didn't go to college, but he has studied voice with premiere vocal coach Gary Catona.

"I had the whole thing in my brain, but I didn't have the prowess or the idea or the knowledge of the human voice to make what I wanted to happen," Frost explains.

Working toward his career, Frost has done many creative jobs, such as working as an installation artist and painting the walls of clubs when he lived in Spain. He states that his weirdest job was being a telemarketer.

When he's not busy with music, Frost  is a graphic artist and loves photo shop. He does much of the band's work and you can see his poster art at www.myspace.com/nikfrost

The Bangkok Five has played with a lot of hard-core bands in strange places-- a hayloft in Ohio, a backyard outside of Detroit, VFW halls across the nation, basements and more.

"We play with lots of hard-core bands. For some reason that little circuit of kids understand what it is to be in a band and they all want to be in rock and roll bands, but rock and roll is too hard to play so they play thrashy hard-core shit because it's much easier to play and doesn't demand musicianship," says Frost adding that the kids get their licks in and can learn and grow to be better musicians.

As for the hard-core bands they play with, The Bangkok Five often find themselves in demand. Why? Because of their stage show.

"People say when we perform, it's like we're going to explode in the next 30 seconds," Frost explains.

I ask him to tell me about their writing process.

"We all bring riffs in." Frost says, "Sometimes I'll write a whole song and bring it into the band and sometimes my guitar player will write a whole song and bring it into the band. Generally it's very collaborative. I'll give you a real good example, when 'We Love What Kills Us' was brought in it had almost a two-minute intro, it has all these parts and it was sawed completely down by the band and the producer. The band likes to play their instruments so generally there's a lot of superfluous stuff that I know is going to go away, but I ride with it because it's fun.

"I'm not a player so to speak, I'm a singer/lyricist kind of guy." Frost goes on, "I play the piano and the guitar, I play the bass a little and keyboards and I program drums, I work Pro Tools, I do everything, but I don't want to produce the band, I want to write with the band and be the singer. When you start telling them what works and doesn't work and getting a little too hands-on, the band starts resenting you."

Creating music for The Bangkok Five is a team effort--  no one tells the others what to do, they work together for a common goals.

"It just has to be good and a quality recording," Frost says, stating that he values the studio over doing recordings at home in the garage.

"Everybody asks how did you become a national act or how did you get signed and it's like I worked my fucking ass off, man, and I never gave up and I was nice to people." Frost shares, "It was the fundamental thing- I worked hard, I have talent and I'm nice to people and that's the key to making it happen. So many people get lost in drugs and alcohol, bad attitudes and making it the easy way and there's no easy way to make a great record. We performed live, we didn't cut a bunch of parts together or make a drum track for someone who couldn't play."

The Bangkok Five is still on tour, this time through the United States, an plans to continue touring for the next two years. They are garnering accolades, as well as endorsements from companies like Fender. And you may even see a reality show about them soon.

But Frost sums up the core essence of the group best when he says, "The Bangkok Five is not about me as a singer, the band is about the five of us."

Find out when The Bangkok Five are coming to your town at www.thebangkokfive.com and www.myspace.com/thebangkokfive

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