Stay Awake are an international punk rock band based in Bangkok. With influences ranging from Propagandi, Rise Against and Boy Sets Fire, several Asian tours and two hard hitting EPs, Stay Awake has developed a reputation for their professionalism and energetic live performances.
Where are you currently based?
Currently based in Bangkok, Thailand
What is your name and role within Stay Awake?
My name is John and I play rhythm guitar and sing
How did you first start playing music?
My mum bought me a guitar when I was 11 years old. Began doing stuff like ‘Smoke on the Water’ but from an early age would write my own songs. I was born in the 1980s, rock music was the most popular thing then and I always wanted to be part of it.
How did Stay Awake form and how did you all end up in Bangkok?
We all came from different areas in the world. I guess we all seek adventure and like what Bangkok offers, it’s an amazingly dynamic city. Andy formed the band with two other guys in 2018, but they quit when the band became more serious. I brought in Uly, the drummer from our old band ‘The Sangsom Massacre’, and he brought Paul along on bass. The current lineup works so well.
What’s been happening recently?
Bangkok is all locked down again due to a spike in covid19 infections. No tour, no shows. Bad time for live music…
Your latest EP ‘Portraits’ that was released in March 2021, What influenced the sound and songwriting?
We have lots of influences, but I think the main vibe is punk music from late 1990s and early 2000s. Was quite a nostalgic journey joining this band and writing stuff that inspired us in our youth with our own styles.
How did you go about writing Portraits?
The theme of Portraits is about looking at yourself and society. We had a lot of time to write because of 2020’s lockdowns and we feel the music is a snapshot of the year that was; internet interactions becoming the norm, increased government control, fear, division and a time to reflect on ourselves and who we want to become. We have all had to question things, accept changes, been influenced by the media and maybe even delved into conspiracies… Portraits is a record about this.
Where and when did you record, produce, master and who with?
We recorded in Bangkok at Vintage Studios Nov/Dec 2020, mixed by a super talented Thai mixer called Nin and mastered by US producer Shordeli.
How did you approach the recording process?
It was much easier than the first EP as we knew the process better and the studio. Each of us has been in studios previously so we also brought our combined experiences. In Thailand, the engineers aren’t very vocal or opinionated, you’re left to your own devices so you need to be clear on what you want. We hired the help of our friend Yotam Ben Horin from veteran Israli punk band Useless ID – he really helped us lift our game, improve our melodies and cut every song down to about 3 minutes.
Did Covid impact the creative/recording process?
Not so much, in November/December 2020 we weren’t locked down in Bangkok. Maybe we had more time to spend in the studio as there were less obligations and no travel.
You’ve been on some epic tours, please tell us about what you most enjoy and what you find most challenging when on the road:
The awesome parts of touring are meeting new people, showing our music to others and being inspired by new bands. But the most fun is being with ‘the guys’ in a new place, having a laugh, being super pumped after a show and talking about it in the hotel after. In the Philippines the crowds are super receptive, you feel like rockstars. Sometimes performing in outer-city punk shows, things can be a bit DIY. In Japan the sound teams and equipment is top notch so you’re always happy with your sound on stage. We have seen both sides of the spectrum in Asia. Most challenging part of touring? Dealing with hangovers from free local beer
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I have been listening to some heavier stuff, Defeater, Killing the Dream and Gideon, but also punk bands Like Pacific and newer Propaghandi albums. I found a 2004 Melbourne band called ‘Away from Now’ on Spotify last month and have been playing a bunch of their stuff.
What do you like to do away from music?
I like reading, working out, yoga and building my businesses (I am currently working in the cannabis industry developing consumer products and doing music events)
What’s planned for the remainder of 2021?
We are filming our music video as soon as lockdowns are over. Maybe we can do a domestic tour to north Thailand. Hopefully another band bonding trip to the beach to write new songs later this year. The band is hugely supportive of each other even without shows to play.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Bangkok has so many places to eat, so much variety, it’s hard to choose a favourite… but one I always bring friends is Barcelona Gaudi, a delicious Spanish tapas restaurant in Asoke built in Gaudi style. Best Thai food? Nearly every street has someplace new to try.
(P O R T R A I T S on Apple Music)