Bangkok & Back
Bangkok And BackWords Paul Watson
Eric Lavansch tells Paul Watson a tale of small beginnings, massive middles, and djembe lessons in his living room...
After responding to countless dead-end ‘drummer wanted’ ads, 23-year-old Eric Lavansch finally struck gold. Just weeks after a bizarre audition opposite Holloway Prison, Lavansch found himself cruising in a limo on one of Bangkok’s elevated tollways sat alongside Thailand’s biggest rock star, Sek Loso. That was 2003 – a three-month trip that would lead to 10 wild years on the road, countless recording sessions with legendary producer, Owen Morris, who now cites him as ‘the greatest drummer he has ever worked with’, and nine million record sales. Not bad for a lad from rural Hitchin [England]...
It’s 4pm on a Thursday, and we pull up a pew in a quaint little Hertfordshire pub. Lavansch orders a pint of Greene King IPA, claiming that “it’s a good session beer,” before immediately slugging about a third of it. I can see where this is going already. Before we delve into the weird, the wonderful, and the bloody bizarre, we talk a little about Loso, Sek’s band, and without doubt the most successful of all time in Thailand: to give you an idea, the first record, Lo Society, sold 1.5 million copies, and a further eight followed, each selling at least one million, some three million. This new project was to be Sek’s first solo effort, and being a fan of Western music, he wanted a Western band, with a Western sound.
“It was a little ad in the NME that said ‘established Thai artist seeks drummer and bassist’, and to be honest, most of the time you know it’ll go nowhere - but this one was different,” smiles Lavansch, swallowing a fist full of chilli & lime cashew nuts ‘to line the stomach’. I order the beers. “I just got lucky, and being so young, I didn’t even bother re- searching Sek [Loso], as I still didn’t think anything much was going to happen, even when we were put on our first plane to Los Angeles. “I really had no idea what I was get- ting into, but it all became pretty clear when we touched down in Bangkok and I saw a massive image of Sek endorsing a product beamed onto a skyscraper!”
Up The Tempo
The Bangkok adventure began after a quick-fire stint in the US; and then it was off out East for a string of sell-out shows... in Bangkok restaurants! Then came the stadium gigs. Like any man, nerves got the better of him at the beginning – one particular incident he recalls almost resulted in the most bizarre of overdoses.
“We were playing to 25,000 people and I was entirely crapping myself – they’ve got this energy drink out there that’s owned by one of the Red Bull founders, and there was a giant crate’s worth of the stuff backstage that you could probably fit five people into, so I grabbed a handful, and started downing them,” he says, his expression starting to change for the worse. “Within a few minutes, my heart was beating like it would in a cartoon – I’m sure it was coming out of my chest at one point; and when I told Sek’s manager what I’d done, he showed me the health warning on the side of the can: apparently, you must not exceed more than two of these in 24 hours! I would say that was probably the worst performance of my life!”
After the touring came the recording, and Lavansch didn’t have much studio experience at the time, so being told he had to cut all his drum takes quickly with no other than the legend that is Owen Morris (Oasis) came as quite a surprise.
“Again, I was crapping myself; I had great admiration for Owen’s work – Definitely Maybe and What’s The Story, Morning Glory? are classic records of our time; I mean, he is essentially responsible for the biggest band since The Beatles,” he smiles. “So, I do the first take, and he says ‘yep – got it’, and I’m relieved; then it was ‘OK, next one’, and I found myself doing 12 demos in quick succession. Thankfully, he rated me, and that meant a trip to Singapore to its equivalent of Air Studios.”
Lavansch refers to Singapore’s Audio Plex Studios – a luxurious facility set bang in he middle of an industrial estate which boasts a 1970s Neve console as well as a more modern SSL offering.
“I did the drums for 17 songs in two days,” he laughs. “Then Owen would do some comping onto Pro Tools. I then spent the remainder of the two weeks in Singa- pore enjoying it all, watching Sek do his stuff.”
Lavansch is currently playing drums in pubs and clubs, and rather brilliantly, teaching kids of all ages how to play the djembe drum and the ukelele on behalf of the Hertfordshire Music Service:
“It’s a great organisation - they do workshops and have music teachers for all of the schools in the county. I do a lot of family music workshops, which gets parents to interact with their kids all in a room together. It’s not about becoming brilliant, it’s about families spending quality time together. It's funny, this time last year, I was playing to 50,000 people regularly, and now I’m there with my djembe drum and 24 little people are staring at me and only me for two hours - and I know which is scarier!”
Check out Lavansch's latest project: www.jayscottandthefind.com