FOUR GOONS LOOM through the Stygian blackness of the Hollywood club, a cavernous edifice squeezed between massage parlours on Bangkok's notorious Ratchadaphisek Road. 'You have to come and talk to the boss,' one rasps over the thumpity-thump of the Cheeky Girls singing about their bottoms. We're ushered into a windowless room decorated in the finest Thai rococo-kitsch style, and one of the goons ominously locks the door. Seated in the half-dark is a misshapen little man, who shoves his chair back and rises to his full height of about 1.5m. 'Who are you people, and what do you want, coming around here disturbing the talent?' he demands. I flash my press pass, and my translator explains that this has all been arranged with the record company. 'We're here to see the Silly Fools,' I say, as if that will make everything clear. It doesn't. The boss is incensed. 'No one goes backstage in my place without my permission. I don't care about the record company.' Frantic phone calls follow, to GMM Grammy, the entertainment giant that owns record label More Music. The bristling boss' hackles slowly lower. 'All right,' he says, after a terse conversation. 'You can wait outside the stage door, around the back.' Which is how I come to find myself, close to midnight, loitering around the back of a theatre on a steamy evening like some kind of pimply groupie. A white van pulls up with a screech of tires and a great puff of dust, and out of it spills the current court jesters of Thai rock'n'roll. Ladies and gentlemen, a big hand, if you please, for ... Silly Fools. 'Hi, I'm Toe,' says a burly fellow with a mop of unruly hair and big gentle brown eyes. 'Grab a seat. Let's talk before the gig.' He speaks perfect English, and my translator shuffles her feet and looks nonplussed. Where'd you learn to speak like that? Surely not in Thailand? 'No,' he says, with a laugh. 'My family all moved to Atlanta, Georgia, when I was a kid. I came back about 10 years ago.' Toe's real name is Natapol Puthpavana. The rest of the band - guitarist Songpol Juprasert, bass player Thevarit Srisuk and drummer Tortrakul Baingen - hover in the background, fiddling with instruments, content to let the front man be, well, the front man. I'm certainly no fan of Thai music, but I'd been captivated a couple of weeks earlier, when I flicked on MTV and was confronted by the sight of four men mocking all sorts of Thai institutions, and belting out a hell of a catchy song while doing it. The song, Mai Wan Mae Wan Ma Maak, takes its title from a television commercial for sanitary napkins, and translates loosely as 'Don't worry, everything's fine even when you have a heavy period.' It is, however, a kind of love song - a plea to women to get to know a guy before rushing to judgment, and to stand by their man. In the video, which is one long visual non-sequitur, the band dress up as everything from teenage schoolgirls to tennis stars Paradorn Srichapan and Tamarine Tanasugarn, various television hosts, politicians and wrestlers - taking the mickey the whole time. 'Everyone expects these nice glossy big-budget videos,' says Toe. 'So, we did exactly the opposite. We just kind of made it up as we went along, and did the whole thing ourselves. A lot of it was the guitarist's idea. He's a pretty weird guy. I'm surprised at the impact it's had.' The song stayed atop the Thai charts for weeks, and their latest album, King Size (which features the four in ridiculous muscleman poses on the cover) is selling strongly. It turns out that Toe isn't much of a fan of Thai music, either. 'Thai music sucks,' he says. 'I really mean that. Outside of us, I mean. There's something that really pisses me off about Thai music. It's too ... sickly. Packaged. It's not honest. It's just part of the big corporate lie. It's out to make money, not to push limits.' So, does the band see themselves as some kind of anti-pop heroes, keeping it real? Or have they just been around so long they've become bitter cynics? A bit of both, as it transpires. 'We've been together 10 years,' Toe says. 'Musically, we've been at the same standard for a long time, but I think before people weren't ready for us. I love some of our early albums, but no one bought them. What's our sound? I don't know, rock-pop I suppose. Sometimes we go pretty hard, but my melodies are quite pop-y. We love the 80s. I'm half Indian and I'm a Muslim, so I also like to inject a bit of the Arab and Indian vibe. I write all the lyrics. They're usually about love, although with a bit of a twist.' Silly Fools boast a diverse range of influences, from Nine Inch Nails to White Zombie, Faith No More, Steve Vai, Dream Theatre, The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. (Songpol says he prefers to listen to jazz and classical music). The four got to know each other playing in a couple of low-rent heavy metal pubs, jammed together a couple of times, and realised they had something special. They needed a name, so Songpol grabbed a dictionary, flipped it open, and the first word his finger landed on was 'Silly'. 'It also said 'foolish' in brackets,' he says. 'So, we had the perfect name.' The band are exhausted at the moment, Toe says, having played more than 100 gigs in the past four months. 'All we want to do now is have a rest, then get back in the studio,' he says. 'That's the problem with the Thai music scene. If you want to make it, you have to be with Grammy. But once you're there, you're a commodity, and they want their pound of flesh. I love playing live, but we've been on the road so long I'm losing my voice. Sometimes we're booked for two shows in one day. I'll be lucky if I can sing at all tonight.' They used to have dreams of making it big outside Thailand, but Toe says that's fading. 'It's too hard,' he says. 'Thai entertainment companies just don't understand there's a wider world. It's all so inward looking and short-term. No one has a clue about PR. We practically have to beg the record company to promote us. When our songs get played on the radio or on television, we don't get any royalties. And some of the concerts they book us for are free.' Toe says he'd like to try to write some songs in English, but worries the lyrics won't be good enough. 'I've only just got the writing process down for Thai after all these years. Trying to do it in English would be hard. I tried translating some of our Thai songs, but that didn't work at all.' It's almost time for the gig to begin. As we're about to enter the theatre, a youth trots up with a big piece of white paper. 'Please, can I get everyone's autographs?' he asks. 'It's for my brother. He just had a car accident. He's paralysed. He's a big fan. This will cheer him up.' The band dutifully sign their names, and for a minute the mood is subdued. Suddenly, the frustrations and pressures of being one of Thailand's top rock bands don't loom so large. It's well after midnight when the band take the stage, and launch straight into Mai Wan Mae Wan Ma Maak. The crowd, which has swelled to at least 1,000, goes wild, holding lighters aloft, snapping pictures with mobile phones. Toe looks good on stage. Those big eyes, in the glare of the lights, are saturnine, almost hypnotic. Thevarit flings his head about in heavy metal style, and looks in danger of losing an eye from his projectile dreadlocks. Songpol pulls strange faces and struts about. It might be a gruelling lifestyle, but it looks for all the world like being Silly Fools beats getting a real job.