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The Beatlenuts, from left, Robert, Paul, Somchai and George. The Beatles tribute band was formed more than 20 years ago by Somchai.

The Beatlenuts, from left, Robert, Paul, Somchai and George. The Beatles tribute band was formed more than 20 years ago by Somchai.

Thailand's Beatlenuts head to Liverpool for International Beatles Week

The Thai Beatles tribute band the Beatlenuts are off to Liverpool at the end of this month to join cover bands from all around the world in celebrating 50 years of the Beatles.

Beatlemania officially began back in 1962 when the Fab Four - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - performed "Love Me Do" at Hulme Hall in the village of Port Sunlight, Wirral.

"The Beatles had such a strong influence over our lives and musical attitude," says Somchai Komlertkul, formed the tribute band more than 20 years ago.

The Beatlenuts used to be known as the Beatle Society and featured Krit "George" choktippatana on bass, Annop "Pong" Chansuta on drums, Jirapan Ansvananda on guitar and Yothin Cheeranon on keyboard. Jirapan and Yothin quit after the first year and Paul Bekanan joined the band on guitar. Robert Dila took over from Annop, who died in 2006.

"After Annop's death, we stopped for a while. It was kind of hard to play because he had always shared our passion for the Beatles. But after a while, we went back to playing because it was what he would have wanted. Today, at every concert, we play 'In My Life', in his honour," says Somchai.

The Beatlenuts fly out on Monday and will be playing seven shows - four at the Cavern Club, where the Fab Four started out and on stage at Liverpool Queen Square from August 24 to 27. Each show will be around 40-45 minutes and feature a set of a dozen songs.

"After checking the schedule, it looks like we will be the first tribute band from Thailand, from Asia in fact, to be performing," says Somchai, 64, who has worked as a producer at GMM Grammy and with the group known as Company back 1999.

The Beatlenuts have been invited by Kitti Wasinondh, Thai ambassador to the UK and a friend of George's from their chulalongkorn University days.

"We feel like culture ambassadors for Thai-UK relations," says Somchai, with smile.

"Kitti wanted to see a Thai band playing the Beatles at the annual International Beatles Week," says George, 60, strumming his way through "I Should Have Known Better".

Among the covers the Thai lads will be playing are "When I Get Home", "Please Please Me", "Ticket to Ride" and "She Said She Said."

"It depends on the feeling and mood," says Somchai. "I will also present Company's song, 'Nak Dern Thang' [Traveller], which is in the Beatles' style. I didn't copy or imitate any song but produced it from my knowledge, understanding and thinking about the Beatles. Now, I've put English lyrics to the song.

Many of the tribute bands around the world go whole hog in impersonating the Beatles, dressing in black suits, thin neckties, ankle-high boots with sharp pointed toes, and mop-top haircuts.

"When I was a kid, I was influenced by the hair and was punished by a teacher for using a comb in the classroom. I never went for the costume, though," says Somchai, as George jokes: "If it were like that, I have to play the bass with my left hand."

With Thailand boasting a handful of Beatles tribute hands, would it not be possible to organise a 50-year celebration event here?

"The event must be appropriate to the world's best band but it would be hard to find financial support because the Beatles aren't trendy in this country," says Somchai.

"Going to Liverpool is like visiting the hometown of The Beatles. It would be so cool if Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr could see our show."

Tickets to ride

_ The Beatlenuts play tomorrow night at the Happy Eagle Irish Sports Bar at the All-Star Golf Complex on Soi Saha Kan Pramun off Pracha Uthit Road in Huai Khwang.

_ After International Beatles Week, they'll be heading to India for a show in September.




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