As he prepares for his band’s 30th anniversary concert, Yuenyong Opakul aka Ad Carabao, opens up about personal revolutions, failing democracy and his desire to work with Santana.

No one in Carabao ever expected we would come this far. It’s been 30 years now.

We didn’t even know what category our music was. We were just doing music the way we wanted.

Each member of our band is like they were sent by god. We just met and then played together. Luckily, they are all good musicians.

We grew up in the era of vinyl, LPs and cassettes­­—it was our time of huge success. We sold at least a million copies of each album. But all the success seemed to collapse when the digital age arrived. There were so many problems with pirated copies and these days people don’t just want to listen, they want visuals as well.

I accept all change. As Lord Buddha said, “All that is certain is uncertainty.”

I came from the process of political struggle. I cultivated a political ideology. I couldn’t help but talk about problems in life, society and spirit in our songs.

Later I wrote songs about love. It was after I realized that real life isn’t only about politics but also the human side of people.

I am trying a personal revolution after failing to lead society to revolution. I thought that if we went out onto the street it would make society better, more democratic. But today it is all dirt. There are colors making chaos and trouble everywhere. It’s not true democracy.

Our country was still illiterate when we implemented democracy. True democracy happens in a country that’s already advanced in human rights and freedom. We don’t understand the core of democracy. It’s like bread for us who eat rice. People just take the money to vote this way or that. It makes the system crappy.

I am worried for our youth. I don’t want them to be duped in politics and in life. Children might think these people are wonderful but, in fact, they’re saints with wicked hearts.

I want them to learn from our lessons. I might make an album to remind them about our political struggles over the past 30 years.

Don’t rely on the Prime Minister alone. Abhisit’s just an academic. He’s a good person to be prime minister but he is not great at everything. We need to help him.

I used to help Thaksin but he got himself in trouble. Thailand has space for everyone but not enough space for one rogue.

Every part of society has to fix problems together, especially the citizens. All the areas of society are weak. Public servants or politicians don’t serve people, they just look after themselves. It’s like in boxing, when they do deals to try and protect their belts.

Life as a musician is a happy life because we make others happy through our songs.

I won’t let fights spoil our anniversary concert. Last time, we had no experience about controlling crowds. If it happens again I will kill myself.

I decided to make an energy drink [Carabaodaeng] because I saw an uncertain life in music.

I don’t know how to do business, so when I met Satian Setthasit [owner of Tawandaeng Brewery] who had a recipe for an energy drink, I totally threw myself behind it.

Our band can keep playing for another 20 years. We might play until our 70s. I might retire in a coffin.

I think my life experiences are interesting enough for children to listen what I say. They will then have a chance to decide to be something like me or better than me in whatever they want.

No life is easy. I used to wake up at four or five am to play guitar until my fingers were numb. I didn’t know about musical notes so I decided to go back and learn even though we’d already had a huge success from the Made in Thailand album.

I dream of making an international album in English, sung with my rural accent. Now I am writing an English song. If possible, I want to work with international artists like Santana, Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen.

New musicians, don’t think there is no one watching you. To be successful, you have to find your own identity. There are lots of bands in the pool but there are few bands with any real chance. You have to be serious about it.

Teaching children to be honest is a noble virtue that creates their prosperity.


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