The wait isn’t always worth it, but it was with Dengue Fever and their new album. The band released their first record in eight years, Ting Mong, last month via their own Tuk Tuk Records imprint. Dengue Fever really changed things up for the recording of this record. They created recording parameters, but ones that were different from other recording sessions. The overall intention was to let lead singer Chhom Nimol’s voice really soar to new heights. Nimol’s vocals are certainly a point of emphasis, with less attention given to the frenetic energy or noise of past records. When an act gets to album six, it becomes time to change things up, which Ting Mong is representative of.
The album title, Ting Mong, is a reference to Khmer folklore, prominent within Nimol’s home country of Cambodia. A ‘Ting Mong’ is a decoy or mannequin, similar to a scarecrow, meant to stave off evil spirits. The recording process began after the hiatus brought on by the pandemic. It did offer them the luxury of time to properly flesh out the songs. They wanted the songs to be different, so they took a more calculated approach to songwriting. The tracks are lengthier, slower-paced, and more psychedelic in nature. The sound of the record is an evolution and also felt more right to the band members, considering where they are at as a band.
Joining us today for a track-by-track rundown of Ting Mong is Dengue Fever’s Chhom Nimol, along with a word from guitarist Zac Holtman to discuss the record.
“Ting Mong is a spiritual scarecrow that Cambodians put in front of their homes to ward off evil spirits. Hopefully, our music can do the same.”
1. “Touch Me Not”
“‘Touch Me Not’ is a sensitive plant that withdraws its leaves when you try to touch it. In a relationship, if someone isn’t feeling the magic, they can feel like shriveling up and hiding to escape the unwanted affection.”
“‘Silverfish’ is an insect that is known to eat books. When certain groups try to erase or rewrite history to suit their needs, they remind me of these bugs destroying our history, so we’re bound to make the same mistakes all over again.”
3. “Macho Purple Sunset”
“‘Macho Purple Sunset’ is based on the airbrushed art you see on the side of a van. Sometimes, it depicts an Aztec Warrior with a naked women hanging on him. They’re usually on the bluff of a shoreline staring out into a ‘Macho Purple Sunset.’”
4. “Great on Paper”
“‘Great on Paper’ is when all the stats of two people seem like they add up to happiness. The reality of it is much deeper and requires a certain chemistry to be there to spark the magic. Stuck in limbo. Always wondering if you’d be better with someone else.”
5. “Prohak in My Suitcase”
“‘Prohak in My Suitcase’ was born from a beat machine called Digitakt. I played a bamboo flute that I made, sampled it, and played the repeating line. The title comes from when we were in Cambodia, and I bought a bunch of dried fish and took it home in her suitcase. She knows where to get the best dried fish for making the Cambodian dish of Prohak.”
6. “Late Checkout at the Cedarwood Inn”
“The Cedarwood Inn is a hotel that we always stay at when we tour the west coast of the U.S. It’s a night off from playing a show; they have a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and laundry facilities. It’s a where we catch our breath to get ready for the next show.”
7. “Room 720”
“‘Room 720’ is a haunted room at a hotel in Arizona. Years ago, a woman’s love was not reciprocated, and she ended her life by leaping from the roof of the hotel. It’s the Hotel San Carlos, and we always get creepy feelings when we stay there. The shoes of our bass player mysteriously disappeared when we stayed there.”
8. “Over the Handlebars”
“‘Over the Handlebars’ is about trying to help someone when they’re messing up left and right, and no matter what you do to try and make things better, they keep flying headfirst towards the pavement.”
9. “Wake Me Up Slowly”
“‘Wake Me Up Slowly’ is about all the things that need to get done or changed in this world. In the morning, when you’re still dreaming, it’s nice to have a minute more before you have to face reality.”