Somewhere along the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, one remaining emergency flasher blinks out from a run-down ex-LAX airport shuttle van. The shuttle, with its transmission frozen and only allowing the bus to move in reverse, leans on the uneven shoulder of a blind curve, 5,800 feet above sea level. Its inhabitants, The Bangkok Five, now five months into a self-booked, semi-disastrous MySpace tour, sleep in makeshift beds that make Chino prison cots seem like the Four Seasons Hotel.
From their one functioning cell phone, they call 911. The Highway Patrol arrives. Instead of trying to save the band from the imposing doom of barreling logging trucks, they pull them out into the freezing cold and make them unload their equipment onto the shoulder of the highway in an obvious search for contraband. The search for “your hidden drugs, guns, knives, speed,” as the patrolman suggests, turns up nothing except the mantra for the bridge on “We Love What Kills Us,” the band’s first single from their Long Live Crime Records debut, WE LOVE WHAT KILLS US. The band gets a ticket for the busted emergency flasher, and the cops simply leave the band to figure out how the hell they’re gonna make it to the shitty gig in Denver that night. But the story of The Bangkok Five did not begin there.
It begins in 2004, Los Angeles, California, and like most great bands, a few different players came and went before the right formula was hit upon. Frost (vocals), Sweeney (lead guitar), Coatez (bass), Blanco (drums) and Bobby S. (guitar) have developed into a band that performs with a fury not seen in a long time. Recording WE LOVE WHAT KILLS US on tape, (yes, tape) and 100% live, the band delivers a provocative assembly of dark verse over thick sexy grooves. The type of tracks that keep hips shakin’, and fists flying high, whether in dorm rooms, muscle cars, the smoky blackness of clubs, or arenas across the world. “These songs have a power that destroys me when I perform them, I physically hurt myself onstage,” Frost ignites, “these songs are about chaos, sex, nervous breakdowns, and revenge. I have hurt myself with bad relationships to write this shit. They are a window, not a mirror. You see my soul.”
Equally at home playing in Silverlake, a benefit at a loft downtown, or a private affair for some organized crime figures daughter’s graduation party, the band cut its teeth in the back alleys of the Los Angeles underground. Between the junkies, dumpsters, Aston Martins, hookers, pimps, Lindsay Lohans and Latino street gangs, the band has not only seen it all, they have truly lived it all. “This record reflects the treachery, deceit, manipulation, loss of love and identity that surrounds us everyday in Los Angeles,” states bassist Coatez.
The band’s talent has been recognized and awarded, not with gold-plated plastic trophies, but with tours and opening slots from the likes of Peaches, Hot Hot Heat, The Cult, The Stooges, The Bronx, Buckcherry, (International) Noise Conspiracy and Papa Roach, to name a few. The music they’ve created has continually hit home with the hipsters, and the title track for the new record was chosen as the lead song on college/tastemaker’s Planetary Group’s “Stranded In Stereo” (Volume 8) collection. That past series alumni boasts Wolfmother, Interpol, Bloc Party and Baby Shambles to name-drop a few.
Regarding the creation of WE LOVE WHAT KILLS US, lead guitarist Sweeney chimes in, “These songs were written by a band on the road being a band. There is a brutality that you will hear in every guitar note, word and drum beat.”
The new record marks the first time the band will release music in two languages, English and Spanish, vocalist Frost breaks it down, "I left for Europe when I was a teenager to avoid the banality of California life and the feeling that I had no future here in America. I ended up in Spain. There was something about the culture that resonated with me. I ended up living there for a few years, learning the language, the music, and the lifestyle. I started to DJ clubs and picked up a real love and deep respect for the scene. When I came back to Los Angeles, I discovered the Latino culture I loved was here all along, living, breathing and making great art. It was a natural progression to translate We Love What Kills Us into Spanish; This record is about LA and what goes on here. To ignore the Latin culture and its people would to ignore the real Los Angeles."
The Spanish language voiced tracks on the new record display absolute brilliance, with a cultural awareness of the true Los Angeles, and sheer artistic craft. We Love What Kills Us fulfills the promise that the band’s first release, Who’s Gonna Take Us Alive? (Universal 2006) merely hinted at, with it’s first single "Spread Eagle" hitting 1 at several tastemaker Indie rock radio stations across the U.S. Allowing them to take their vision global, getting the band in front of heads worldwide from the UK to the Netherlands. They’ve played across Canada as well as extensive coast-to-coast tours across the United States.
They are the real deal. No industry groomed darlings, no concept of a record label, no hijacking of someone else’s vision. "We are not cut from anyone else’s clothes," declares Frost, "we have our influences, but our sound comes from our scars and all that we lost to get here, where-ever that is." A juggernaut live, with the band’s talent palpable: Frost has the chops of rock’s greatest front men to back up his swagger. Whether he’s driving The Bangkok Five’s wickedly talented four piece, or demanding an audience to surrender to the groove, he is in command.
The Bangkok Five is a band that has lost, but has never quit. They are a band that has broken down, but never folded up. They stand for every kid with a dream who picks up a guitar, or sings into a hairbrush, and for every person who has waited for just one band to uphold the covenant that great rock ’n roll has always extended...
This is The Bangkok Five, and the story does not end here.