Thai alt-pop duo SCRUBB wooing Filipinos’ hearts

AFTER over 20 years of filling Thai airwaves with indie pop music as the band SCRUBB, musicians Muey and Ball find themselves in the Philippines for their very first concert in the country.

SCRUBB: Live in Manila will take place at 123 Block in Mandaluyong City on Feb. 10.

Muey and Ball (which are the stage names of Thawatpon Wongboonsiri and Torpong Chantabubpha, respectively) started their music career in 2000 when they were still university students in Bangkok. After graduation, they produced their own music, sold it to record shops, posted it online, and sent demos to record labels — thus kicking off their journey into Thailand’s alternative scene.

Since then, SCRUBB has released six albums and have achieved extreme popularity in their home country thanks to hits like (“Everything”) from 2003,(“Close”) from 2005, and (“Smile”) from 2013.

In 2020, the Thai duo’s global fame skyrocketed when they contributed 18 songs to the official soundtrack of 2gether The Series. The “boy’s love” (BL) hit series stars young celebrities Vachirawit “Bright” Chivaaree and Metawin “Win” Opas-iamkajorn as college boys who fall in love.

“Though we started in the 2000s, the soundtrack for the BL series gave us a fresh following of young people. Now, we have renewed motivation to continue writing songs,” Muey said during an online press conference on Jan. 25.

“We never expected fans outside of Thailand, so we consider ourselves lucky to have the opportunity to perform in places like the Philippines,” he added.

As the lead singer who writes the lyrics to SCRUBB’s music, Muey also said that he is excited to teach Filipino audiences at the concert a few basic Thai words so that they can better understand the songs.

For Ball, who comes up with the rhythm to the music, the most important part about performing to a crowd — whether Thai or not — is that they are pumped up and excited.

“The great reception from Filipino fans keeps us going,” he said. “During the pandemic, when we had a collaboration with the talented Filipino band Ben&Ben, we were happy with the positive reactions.”

The collaboration was an online jam session where Muey on vocals and Ball on guitar performed their song “Everything” while the various Ben&Ben members provided percussion by scrubbing and tapping household items.

“After that, many [people] were sending us messages asking for a concert in the Philippines. Our heart is filled with happiness that we get to do it,” Ball said.

While in Manila, Muey is hoping to find somewhere to go for a morning run while Ball is looking forward to discovering good coffee shops.

Muey added that the language barrier may be daunting, but it hasn’t posed a problem as far as their music is concerned. Their songs are “written to reach people’s hearts,” he explained.

“Our approach to making music is like writing a diary of experiences and recording it for others to hear. We hope that people, no matter what their situation, can feel the love and compassion we’re putting out.”

Tickets for SCRUBB: Live in Manila are now available via Ticketmelon, with ticket prices ranging from P1,800 to P5,200. Local musicians Elijah Canlas and TONEEJAY will be performing as guest acts. The concert is presented by GNN. — Brontë H. Lacsamana