Tag Archives: Bangalore Rock

Thermal and A Quarter on their ‘Bangalore Rock’ Tour Experience


Almost 3 years after Thermal and A Quarter formally announced that their genre is called ‘Bangalore Rock’ (apparently we were the first media/website to hear from the band directly about this. Read full interview here), Bruce Lee Mani and Rajeev Rajagopal talk in detail about the highlights of ‘Bangalore Rock’ tour!

Watch them speak about the most memorable moments at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the overall experience – from winning the Pick of The Fringe award to busking on the streets and meeting the number one fan of Roger Binny!

Interviewed by: Priyanka Shetty

Camera and Editing: Vipul Vaibhav


The Explosive TAAQ Sizzles The BFlat Bar, Bangalore


Thermal and a Quarter is arguably one of India’s most successful and talented bands. Success of course doesn’t come without hard work and boy does this band work hard! Bruce and the gang who recently got back from their Singapore/US tour are recording their new album called Three Wheels Nine Lives and are playing explosive gigs such as the one in BFlat on 16 June 2012. I must say that I was one of the privileged few to have experienced such a mind blowing performance. I ran into Ramanan Chandramouli, LA Music Academy graduate and a faculty at Taaqademy, who acknowledged that this was the best Thermal gig he had witnessed in recent times. The sound at BFlat was marvellous as always and beautifully complimented the band’s technical versatility.

As I was sitting at the bar counter waiting for the gig to start, I saw Bruce Lee Mani get up on stage armed with his guitar and ready to belt out a tune all by himself. The floor was jam packed with TAAQ fans eagerly waiting for the show to begin. Bruce dedicated the first song ‘Terrible Trouble’ to his wife who was among the audience. The song was about his father-in-law, who belongs to a very different cultural and religious background from Bruce. The lyrics were funny and showcased Bruce’s tasteful song writing skills. The amazing Prakash K.N and the dexterous Rajeev Rajagopal joined Bruce and the mighty Thermal and a Quarter took stage. They played a mix of old and new tunes such as ‘For the Cat’‘De-Arranged’‘Mighty Strange’‘Aerodynamic’ and ‘Billboard Bride’. The band had performed ‘For the Cat’ (a tribute to Cat Stevens) and ‘Billboard Bride’ ’last November when they had played at this venue and one gets a feeling that each time these songs sound even better. The number of people in The BFlat Bar seemed to be exponentially increasing and every single one of them found themselves grooving to the irresistible Bangalore Rock sound of TAAQ.

Next up was ‘If Them Blues’, a song which was preceded by an amazing guitar and bass jam. Then, Thermal belted out their rendition of the classic‘Roxanne’. The breaks in this song were particularly noteworthy showcasing the fascinating tightness the band is famous for. ‘Chainese Item’ was up next and the band started the song very differently as compared to the studio version. The breathtaking stacatto solo was backed by immensely powerful drumming. After this song, Bruce wished all the people who were celebrating their birthdays before launching into the next tune, ‘Birthday’. The rhythm section during the guitar solo section of this song was particularly interesting as Prakash played chords on his 6-string bass guitar remarkably complementing Bruce. It was interesting to note that the audience consisted of people from varying age groups ranging from college kids who were standing right in front of the stage to 50 year olds who were comfortably seated in sofas.

By the time the band started ‘Jupiter Cafe’, the crowd was in full swing getting steadily high on Thermal. TAAQ plays ‘Jupiter Cafe’ differently each time they play it and I strongly feel that this was by far the best performance of the song by the band. The trio started the song with an elaborate jam session with Prakash playing a lot of harmonics on his bass while Rajeev displayed some very clever use of cymbals. The crowd sang the entire song, including the solo section, along with Bruce. Next up was ‘Meter Mele One and a Half’, a song whose opening lines were “three wheels and nine lives”. This song with a dangerously catchy chorus is about auto rickshaws in Bangalore. The versatile use of the cowbell by Rajeev impressed the audience and Bruce’s stegatto solo in this song was par excellence.

Thermal’s music cuts across boundaries and reaches across to a vast audience creating a cross cultural connection. The band has received tremendous success during their US tour making them one of India’s very few acts to have won accolades overseas. The band proceeded to finish the set with ‘Won’t stop’‘In the Middle’ and ‘Dangerous Mind’. I must say there were a couple of awkward pauses in the last song which gave one a feeling that somebody had messed up something but the trio quickly covered up their mistakes.

When it was finally time for the band to call it a day, the crowd did not let Thermal leave the stage. After a few minutes of loud persuasion, the band finally gave in and played ‘Chameleon’, the last song of the night. The gig was an exhilarating experience which will linger in my head for a long time. Long live Bangalore Rock!

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Anand Kumar

Anand Kumar plays bass guitar with a few Bangalore bands on and off. He is a coordinator with Songbound - a music outreach initiative that uses singing to reach out to India’s most impoverished children via collaborative projects with schools, choirs and professional musicians worldwide. His other interests include discovering new music on YouTube and computer programming.


Mad Orange Fireworks and Solder at Loveshack


Thursday evening saw me riding over the Koramangala-Indiranagar Ring road, braving the biting Bangalore cold to lay to rest a busy week and reach out to some good ol’ rock and roll. After reading a recent write up that christened our friendly band next door Solder as performing ‘Bangalore Rock’, I was eager to see what they had to  offer that evening.

I reached at half past eight and walked up the stairs of the building to find Mad Orange Fireworks halfway into their song ‘Black Hole’ – a song about a break up. I was partly glad at having caught an interesting song, and partly disappointed at having to listen to the sound in the first place, which was a tad jarring. I had listened to Mad Orange Fireworks at Strawberry Fields and was already familiar with the songs that they had on their setlist that evening.

Mad Orange Fireworks, which describes its music as ‘Orange Rock’, consists of Michael Dias on Vocals/ Guitars, Kaushik Kumar on Bass/Vocals and Shravan Bendapudi on Drums/ Vocals.

Loveshack is located on the fifth floor and has a bar and a restaurant that opens out onto a terrace. The band faces a small audience of about 25-30 and has to squirm on the stage to face the entire crowd. So the very setup of the stage isn’t very comfortable. I was also a little taken aback by the speakers, which weren’t flanking the band but were placed elsewhere.

MOF soon moved into their next set of songs, ’Kiss goodbye’, and ‘I want you’.  Unfortunately the vocalist’s voice was drowned in the bad sound system and the only lyrics I could decipher from the latter were “I want you so bad” – evidently a love song filled with longing.

‘Once I find you’ stood out among the rest for certain. An extremely groovy song, the drums and leads seemed to take their genre someplace else. ‘Empty Saturday’ followed next.

“I’m seven down the barrel,

Falling off the wagon”

– the lyrics sketched a ballad of a lonely guy on a Saturday night. Beginning with a bass intro, I doubt any band could capture the emotion as well as Mad Orange Fireworks did. However, Michael’s vocal cords seemed restrained that evening and, in my opinion, he could’ve sung better.

MOF wound up their setlist with ‘School Boy’ and ‘Don’t forget me’. The latter found the band diving headfirst into their song, their instruments exploding into a heavy outro.

Solder took to the stage next. A band much spoken about, much listened to and little written about, Solder is Sylvester Pradeep on guitar/ backing vocals, Akhilesh Kumar on guitar/backing vocals, Joel Rozario on drums/backing vocals, Samson Philip on bass/backing vocals and Siddharth Abraham on  vocals/acoustic guitar. Frontman Siddharth Abraham took to the stage, adorned with his familiar coat and hat.

I often wondered what ‘feel good’ rock meant and the answer lay in Solder. They broke into their first song, ‘Questions’, thrusting their brand of rock n’ roll over the audience. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear a word of what Siddharth sang, because of the tainted sound system.

Pushing through to their next song, ‘Save the World’, Siddharth began marching on stage with great gusto. If there’s one band that exudes spirit from every pore, it is Solder. The rhythms, drums, bass and leads were played with such cheerful unison that they blur the lines between a routine jam and a live performance.

‘Stay with Me’ followed next – a nostalgic, wistful number after which the band moved onto ‘Cookie monster’- a more fast paced and power-packed song.

Up until this point, the evening seemed rosy. Just as Solder started playing ‘Waiting for love’ the word came around that Loveshack didn’t have the license to perform so late into the night. The bouncers made an unwelcome entry, asking the band to tone down their music or wind up for the night.

Unwilling to let the spirit die down, Siddharth Abraham disappeared and walked back onto stage with a Glittering Candy Cane, marching up and down, drawing up laughter at his antics.

After a brief pause, Siddharth caught hold of his acoustic guitar and said that the next part of the show would be unplugged; resorting to the oft-quoted line “The show must go on!”

Next up, was ‘Passerby’. This song is almost a classic, heralding high pitched leads and rhythms at the intro.

Solder ended the evening with a Beatles medley, turning the damp squib by lackadaisical organizers into a power-packed lively gig that got people singing, ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Let It Be’. Siddharth threw Christmas caps into the crowd, bringing the evening to a cheerful close.

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Sharath Krishnaswami

Sharath is a freelance journalist. When he's not working, he's either painting on walls, trekking, or writing short stories.


Interview with Thermal and a Quarter


Thermal and a Quarter is a band based in Bangalore, notable for their focus on original music at a time when the nascent Indian rock music industry focused on cover songs, and their innovative use of the Internet to reach out to new audiences. Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ to the impatient) is: Bruce Lee Mani (guitars & vocals), Rajeev Rajagopal (drums) and Prakash K.N (bass). WTS had an hour-long chat with the band and famous flautist Ravichandra Kulur at Hard Rock Café, Bangalore and here’s what they had to say…

Interview with Thermal and a Quarter

WTS: Your music is truly Bangalorean, yet it appeals to people from other cities as well as other parts of the world. What do you have to say about that?

Rajeev: Music is not limited. Any form of music that’s done with passion, with a lot of love, will not limit itself to one community or one area. It will really transcend to all kinds of people. I remember we played in Cochin once, at a.. it was like a fish market kind of place, with folk people over there…

Bruce: It was in port Cochin, in a place called the ‘Chinese fishing net’ and the majority of the people in the audience there were fishermen. There were probably about five people there, who spoke English as a first language kind of thing… We played an hour long gig. It took a little while for people to sort of settle in but after a while they were all grooving, all of them were like clapping along!

Rajeev: And it worked! It works in a place like HRC where the whole format is understood, it works in a corporate office, in colleges, in different countries…we’ve been to Islamic countries to completely western countries. Any kind of music for that matter! A lot bands come here also, who play different music in different languages, who play only instrumental.

Bruce: Exactly! That’s the whole point of music, music is supposed to transcend!

Interview with Thermal and a Quarter

WTS: You “unfailingly surprise listeners and critics alike” – looks like you’d hate to be slotted! Is that a conscious effort you make while coming up with songs?

Prakash: Not really, but then after we’ve made the song we sit back and think, now what is this it has some reggae it has some rock, some progressive parts, so there is no label we ourselves can put to it.

WTS: We thought its Bangalore rock!

Rajeev: Yeah that’ what we call ourselves now!

Bruce: That is our label now! For the longest time, people had great difficulty in categorizing our music. You know… you had to put your CD on some shelf! Where do I put it? Do I put it in jazz, or rock, or pop, or jazz- funk-rock-pop-blues- something? Is there a shelf like that at all? Doesn’t exist, right? So we figured that if somebody had to come up with a label, it had to be us. I think we are a very Bangalore band. All of us are Bangaloreans. We’ve been here for a long time and there is a strong identification with this city and everything it stands for – the hangover British thing, the very cosmopolitan nature it has ,the kind of people who are in it and out of it all the time… so the label that we sort of put together is “Bangalore Rock”.

Rajeev: And actually you are probably the first media/website to hear from the band directly that “Yeah! We’re called Bangalore rock!” So yeah! Good one! This is truly historic! (laughs).

Interview with Thermal and a Quarter

WTS: Rhzude sadly had to part with the band. So how that affected the band and the kind of music you make considering the fact that he was a part of it for 11 years? Must be a big void that he’s left?

Bruce: Ah well! I wouldn’t call it a void because big man is sitting over there right now. I must say he has very, very ably picked up what we do. I think as a band, it’s definitely different with somebody new like that coming in, especially when you had someone playing with you for 11 years, which is a long time by any standard. We are really lucky to be able to play with Prakash. As an accomplished bass player, he’s been able to fit in with what we do almost effortlessly. It’s gonna take a while for us to develop a new sound with him. Right now we’ll have to work out all the old stuff, and then slowly progress to writing stuff with him. That’s happening again organically, which is the way we like to keep it! It shouldn’t be anything forced or put upon. It should come naturally. And that means a lot of playing together and that’s what we’re doing!

Rhzude…well, he was with us for 11 years and it was a choice he had to make, simply because, I guess In everyone’s life there is one time when u have to decide that, “Hey! Am I gonna keep doing things this way, or another way”, and it also depends on what stage in life you are at that time. Rhzude’s much older than the rest of us and we figured that it’s a different stage in life that he’s in right now. It didn’t make sense for him at this point to do this and the job and things like that…it was a call he had to take.

Rajeev: It’s not easy for the band…We’ve had this feeling twice- first when Sunil Chandy left the band. It was suddenly this, “Folks! What’s gonna happen now?” Well, it was much, much more difficult. The beginning of this year and the end of last year… we knew there was a transition in place. It was a tough phase.

Interview with Thermal and a Quarter

WTS: Was it a spontaneous decision to have Prakash on board or had you guys been planning on it for a long time?

Bruce: When Rhzude couldn’t make it for a few gigs, Prakash is like the first call bass player in Bangalore. People want a bass player, they call Prakash. He’s just the dude. We worked with him a couple of times and it was a good experience. Which is really great! Our music isn’t the easiest kind of music to learn immediately. There we say so ourselves again (laughs)! He was first on our mind. He can probably tell you how he felt. I don’t know if he was like “Oh no! Not them!”

WTS: Quoting from your website, its about one of your CD covers. It says, “The magnificent roach is a metaphor for determined longevity, the stubborn grit to be there in the future” – an impressive analogy – what is that one thing that makes you tick?

Bruce: I dunno…Ravi how many years have u been playing?

Ravi: Playing flute? Umm…Probably 26 years.

Bruce: Wow! Ok! That’s almost as long as we’ve been alive! (laughs) So have there been times when it was really difficult for you?

Ravi: Always! Sometimes it’s great sometimes it’s not very great! It’s all a part of any good musician’s journey. He has the power to go on!

Bruce: Yeah! So there are down times and there are up times – like the cockroach! There are times there when no one’s squishing you, there’s lots of food and it’s comfortable, and sometimes there isn’t and you have to survive! And survival takes tough skin. Takes determination. I think Sting put it really well – ‘It takes this sheer bloody-mindedness’. I just gotta do it. I don’t care! I don’t care what you say, I don’t care what you think. I’m just gonna keep doing it, then you survive!

Rajeev: You know the thing about the roach is, sadly everybody hates the roach. It’s really sad. (everybody laughs) I mean it’s just another thing there! Why should everybody look down upon something that’s so amazing as a creature! You nuke the whole planet and the cockroach will still survive! There are ways to look at things, so that’s how we looked at the whole roach thing!

Interview with Thermal and a Quarter

WTS: You guys seem to be a part of a lot of initiatives! Like ‘Shut up and vote’ and ‘One Small Love’. We don’t see many bands doing that. Do you use music as a medium for addressing social issues? 

Bruce: From the beginning we’ve always tried to do so through our lyrics! The bands that turned us on, the bands that we all looked up to, they told stories, talked about typical music topics – love, falling in love, falling out of love, rebellion, rock, things like that. People like Bob Dylan, people like…umm… Pearl Jam wrote songs not just about every-day topics but also things that resonated strongly with a social message, saying that this is wrong, it should not be done this way or there’s a better way to do something. Music is very powerful that way! A song can stick in someone’s head and maybe it can change some aspect of people’s behaviour just because it’s so powerful. For us it’s always been important to try and be relevant.

People like Cat Stevens, I can quote from almost any of his songs. He wrote them 40 years ago. But even today the lines will mean exactly the same. They will still be as relevant now as they were then. That is something very special. It’s not something that u can enjoy for 6 months and after that it’ like, “Ah, that’s old!” It’s gotta be something that not just transcends race and language, but also time.

Increasingly in the entertainment industry, the way the people consume music evolved, there is this tendency to go for the short shelf-life but really high selling commodity. That’s what makes business tick, but through all this, there is still this undercurrent of music that’s been selling for the past 50 years and does not stop selling…it’s a small thing but it’s ALWAYS there. And they call it “the long tail” nowadays. It’s like, you might sell very few but you continue selling for a very long time. That just makes sense! I guess that’s what we’re at… we’re trying to be relevant, to sing or communicate in a way that people 10 years from now will say, “I can still listen to that song and it still makes sense!”, and not say, “Oh! That’s so ’96” or “That’s so ’85!” It’s gotta be “That’s so …true!”

Interview with Thermal and a Quarter

WTS: “TAAQ is not just about the music… it’s a bubbling revolution waiting to take shape.” How do you intend to stir up a revolution?

Bruce: It depends on what kind of revolution you’re talking about! We’re not asking people to get up in arms or trying to tell people to sack their government or do things like that I think the revolution is more in your mind, its about being open to lots of new things. The world is shrinking and shrinking, everybody’s mixing with everyone else and as Russel Peters said, soon we’ll all be brown! (laughs) Increasingly, people have to become more open minded they cannot hold on to racial, cultural, ethical, religious boundaries, they are all blurring and getting more mixed up. It’s sad in some ways, cos some people are losing things that they held close to them but it’s inevitable because evolution takes its own course. For us the revolution is more in your head, to open up and accept and do what you do best!

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Priyanka Shetty

Priyanka Shetty is the founder of What's The Scene? Follow Priyanka on Twitter @priyanka_shetty