Bennetty's oldest member is 87. Their singer is 80. Their debut music video is approaching 200,000 views.

On Apr 3, rock group Bennetty’s first released track, “Jood Derm,” blew up on social media. It’s a heartening success for a group that started its music career late: the band’s youngest member is 65. The group formed as a result of collaboration between Choojai and Friends Agency and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation in a project encouraging the elderly to realize their dreams. We caught up with four of the guys in a small cafe in Lad Phrao to talk about their lives and what they’ve been listening to.

Bennetty’s members: Siri “Ri” Deelun, bassist, 69; Thitichai “Toom” Sawadwetch, guitarist, 65; Thanakorn “Chart” Jiasiri, drummer, 65; 2nd Lt. Boonserm “Burm” Choochuay, mouth organ player, 87; Watchara Na Ranong, vocalist, 80; and Thep Kengwinich, keyboard player, 74.

When did you start playing music?

Ri: I’ve played music since my military training during the Vietnam War era.

Toom: I’ve been performing since then too. I started playing professionally when I wasn’t even 20. I used to skip class to play music.

Chart: After I finished college, I worked as a traffic-planning technician with engineers from Germany. After I finished my contract there, I performed for 7-8 years, then went onto other jobs before returning to music finally.

Burm: I started learning the violin when I was about 15, but the school flooded so much I never took learning seriously. I then became a soldier. I’ve been a soldier all my life. I fought in the Korean War. I play the saxophone as well. I taught myself the mouth organ and, using my own techniques, can play without using my hands.

 

How did you form the band?

Chart: The Thai Health Promotion Foundation were launching a campaign for the elderly, and they were auditioning for musicians. We submitted our profiles and they chose us based on our backgrounds.

 

When did you start playing together?

Toom: Around the end of June last year.

 

What usually inspires your lyrics?

Ri: We have a producer helping us with the song writing.

Toom: I would love to write my own lyrics one day if we have enough support.

 

What do your children/grandchildren think of this?

Ri: They were surprised and also very proud. They keep bragging about me to their friends.

Burm: My children told me that I am now famous and I still don’t understand how.

Chart: They are very happy, like, WOW!

Toom: They’re very proud of me. I’ve had people coming to film me at home, too.

 

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the stage?

Chart: There are just too many things to say.

Toom: Way too many.

Toom: So many fights in front of the stage. I’ve seen a lot.

Ri: One time, a drunk guy requested a song. Then he wasn’t happy about the way we performed it, so he threw a glass at the stage.

 

Who are your favorite bands right now?

Ri: Vic Damone, Frank Sinatra and a lot of Spanish and Italian songs.

[Chart starts singing one of the Italian songs, “Santa Lucia”.]

Toom: Anything really, I just look on Youtube and listen to everything. I like people like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani.

Chart: Mostly '60s-'80s era stuff. The Doors and The Beatles.

Burm: Any music, really. Whatever I played at restaurants to get lots of tips.

 

Do you know if you have any groupies? Are you guys on Facebook?

Chart: I have Facebook but I don’t really know if we have any fans. I looked at the YouTube link but the comments are too small for my eyes.

Ri: We really can’t see something so small.

 

Can we expect to see your full album anytime soon?

Chart: We haven’t really thought about it yet.

Ri: Not yet, only singles. Our band is still very new. If we get a lot of good feedback, we will probably do a full album.

 

When and where can we catch you perform live?

Toom: I play at the restaurant on the tai toon floor [old Thai word for the underground floor] at the Siam Garden apartment on Sundays and Mondays.

Chart: Don’t call it tai toon! [laughs] It’s the ground floor. GROUND floor. I play at Wine Bibber Sangria around once or twice a month. My band is called Generations.

Listen to Bennetty's debut single below: