Tag Archives: God Forbid

High And Above: The First Wave by Gingerfeet

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Very few young bands from Kolkata make the effort to stand out amongst the plethora of the tried and tested formula that are so prevalent in the city. The ones that do make an effort eventually get shot down before they manage to establish themselves. Indeed it is not just about having talent, or about adopting the right approach or about having the right connections – you also require a thick skin and the mentality to walk barefoot through the fire that surrounds you. If you as a musician are able to do THAT, then maybe, just maybe you will have people appreciating your efforts and eager to listen to your music as well. Reaching a level where music lovers are actually dying to listen to you is a long, long journey. Some musicians struggle for years to reach anywhere close to this grade. Most musicians give up after a few years of trying. It’s a hard climb, and there is really no guarantee you will see a light at the end of the tunnel. One thing is certain though – there is no short-cut up this ladder. You start from the bottom rung. And you climb.

Gingerfeet’s rise up this virtual ladder has been startling to say the least. Almost like a violation of the laws of physics. Less than a year back this band from Kolkata did not even exist. A few jams, and before you know it they were short-listed to compete at Nagaland’s prestigious Hornbill National Rock Festival. And despite the fact that they were up against some of India’s finest young bands, Gingerfeet managed to beat the odds and turn out the eventual winners for 2012. Being crowned winners of a prestigious competition is a great springboard for any young band. However, Gingerfeet has ever since done precious little to keep themselves in the eyes of the music loving public, even in their home base at Kolkata. Being selected as one of the Indian finalists of the Hard Rock Rising competition in and playing the odd gig in and around the city is all that they have done in the past few months. Ask the average live gig goer in Kolkata and chances are they know nothing about the band – much less attended any of their gigs. It’s a cruel world, show business, and unfortunately if you don’t make efforts to remain in the eyes of the public you soon become yesterday’s news.

Releasing a debut album in such circumstances seems a bit of a risk for Gingerfeet, especially with very little having being done in terms of promotion. It almost feels like sitting for an exam after just a single midnight cramming session. However a lot of good effort has been put into High And Above: The First Wave as a whole – the Rs. 5 lakh prize money attained from the Hornbill win has indeed been put into good use here, because what you get as an end-product is an album where the band confidently delivers a mesh of funk and hard rock ditties, and although none of the 9 originals really blow your mind away, yet the quality of the compositions and the ability of the musicians do shine through. For a debut album most bands couldn’t really ask for more.

The 9-track album starts off with the bouncy, happy-go-lucky ‘Am I Dreaming Or What?’ and Vedant Razz impresses with the guitar parts. The next track ‘Fake You’ successfully changes the mood and tempo however and there is a more hard rock/glam feel to this composition. Drummer Abhindandan Mukherjee lends a steady hand on this track, commendably controlling the rhythm section – and he is ably assisted by Lokes Mangar on bass and Dibya Raj Mukhia on the rhythm guitar. Vocalist Abhishek Gurung has fun showing off his vocal range throughout the track. Very much the same is on offer for track #3 ‘Game On‘ and here too the grooves hit you thick and fast. ‘God Forbid’ is up next and bassist Lokesh and guitarist Vedanta get into a battle of the axes here, each egging on the other to slap and tap faster than the other. It does make for interesting listening.The tempo slightly changes with the title-track ‘High And Above’ but the element of funk doesn’t let up. Abhishek’s vocals sound a whole lot dreamy here and his voice transports the listener high above the ground, almost giving you the impression that you are floating in the air. The backing vocals sound a bit clichéd, but then again their absence would have somehow left the song incomplete.

Five tracks and we are mid-way through the album – if you, the listener, are an ardent fan of funk then Gingerfeet certainly has a lot more to offer and that is enough to take you through this journey. However if funk isn’t really your thing then chances are you may have already been bitten by the deja-vu bug. And unfortunately the deeper you dive into Gingerfeet’s effort the chance of you succumbing to the effects of mental fatigue are huge. Track #6 ‘Mr. Bombastic’ while starting off promisingly with some more of Lokesh’s intricate bass work somehow fails to hold your attention – which is a pity because this isn’t a bad composition. But despite the loud driving chorus and Vedanta’s interesting solo in between, it’s almost like all of this has already been covered by the band in their previous tracks.

The same can be said of track #7 ‘No Division although what does make this composition a wee bit more interesting is the Rage Against The Machine feel to the song in the chorus section, thus providing a lot more punch to certain sections of the song. But it is only when you get to hear track #8 ‘Stars do you feel that maybe, just maybe,Gingerfeet has a few more tricks up their sleeves. Amidst a flurry of infectious grooves Abhishek unleashes the monster within him and lets his voice take you through a crazy bumpy funk infested ride. Luckily the fever doesn’t subside and in the final track ‘The Vibe,’ Gingerfeet gives you another composition that stands out from the rest due to the edgy progressive rock influences that are wedged in between the otherwise hard-hitting funky grooves on offer. It is a good way to end this debut effort, because at the end of it all, what it does go to prove is that Gingerfeet are thankfully not a one-trick pony. And this is more than a relief because, as mentioned previously, in terms of musicality the biggest drawback to the band’s entrée into the Indian rock music world is the lack of surprises on the album – which is a big ‘surprise’ since the musical competence of this quintet has never been in doubt. However as debut albums go High And Above: The First Wave is seriously not a bad effort. In fact its production values far outshine most debut albums that are available in the market. And once again, although musically it is not the most brilliant of funk/hard rock albums on offer, yet whatever the band does dish out is pretty commendable. And you do get the feeling that their sophomore effort (whenever it is conceived) will contain a lot more zingy zesty surprises and will also tone down a whole lot on the monotony bit.

Gingerfeet as a live act are indeed a captivating lot and it is on stage where they rule the roost. And this is why the band should probably have laid a lot more emphasis in promoting their music through live channels. Unfortunately, performing just two gigs in Kolkata does not in any way constitute a pre-album tour. And though pre-album gigs may have been performed in other parts of the country, in all honesty enough has NOT been done to promote this album to the music lovers of the country. Which is a shame, because High And Above does deserve a proper listen. It is times like these where the band may feel the top of the ladder is so near and yet so far – perhaps a proper introduction to the band’s music on the live circuit followed by the album’s release would have been the proper sequence to follow. Anyway, what is done cannot be undone – and one can only hope that Gingerfeet will not rush their way to the top and will take the next couple of months to establish themselves and their music. And although this may slow down their climb up the proverbial ladder, being slow and steady will actually hold them good in the years to come. They definitely need to get their music heard across the land, and though this fine debut album will no doubt assist them in achieving that, it is eventually on the strength of their live performances where Gingerfeet will benefit the most.

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Gingerfeet’s Kolkata Debut at Someplace Else, The Park

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The last couple of years have seen the rise and fall of many bands/artistes in the Kolkata rock/music circuit. This demise and/or hibernation of these top bands in Kolkata have led to a void which many new acts are trying to fill up. The jury is still out on who the current top dog is – but one band which is laying good its claim to this throne is Gingerfeet.

Gingerfeet is a group of five young blokes, two of whom are also members of the very popular band, The Cynical Recess (currently in self-exile), – drummer Abhinandan Mukherjee and vocalist supreme Abhishek Gurung. The remaining 3 members who make up this funk rock quintet are Vedanta Razz (lead guitar), Dibya Raj Mukhia (rhythm) and Lokes Mangar (bass). They are a band which not many people know about, and although they were last year’s winner of the prestigious Hornbill National Rock Contest, the guys from Gingerfeet preferred to remain underground all these days until, that is, the 17th of June , when Someplace Else decided to play host to their debut gig in the City Of Joy.

After a shitty day at work I really needed something to soothe my frazzled brain. I had no idea if Gingerfeet was the remedy though, having never seen this band play live – I hadn’t ever sampled any of their originals either – but after seeing their quick sound-check before the gig I had a feeling that my Friday wouldn’t end as badly as it had begun.

An hour-and-a-half later, my spirits were certainly sky high, and it wasn’t because of the drink in my hand! With their intoxicating combo of funk and super-charged energy on stage, Gingerfeet knocked me off my feet. The crowd at Someplace Else that evening was wowed too – a huge feat, since the majority of the crowd comprised of the Friday evening Hip Pocket faithful, waiting for their weekly dose of classic rock covers. Gingerfeet were anything BUT classic, and their infectious energy and musical showmanship on stage was like a vicious punch in the solar plexus to the crowd.

The band opened with the catchy original ‘Game On’ and that got the Friday crowd’s ears perked up. This song was followed by two other very funky originals, ‘Fake You’ and ‘Am I Dreaming Or What?’, both ditties being majorly laced with a heavy guitar tone, reminiscent of a typical Red Hot Chili Peppers number (courtesy Vedanta’s proficient axe attack). And right on cue, their 4th track was an RHCP cover, ‘Suck My Kiss’ – and that got the SPE crowd hooting with joy! One of the highlights of the evening was their rendition of the Jamiroqui cover ‘Black Capricorn Day’, deconstructed to give it a very Gingerfeet-ish sound. Half way through the setlist and Gingerfeet had the crowd literally eating out of their hands, as was evident by the way they broke into impromptu sing-along sessions during the chorus lines of ‘Stars’ and ‘God Forbid’. The band’s cover of Extreme’s ‘Get The Funk Out’ also went down well with the SPE audience who by now were busy either headbanging, hand-clapping or jumping up and down to the funky rhythms being dished out. After 7 originals and 3 covers, the crowd still hadn’t had enough of the band – so encore time it was, and a repeat of the setlist opener ‘Game On’ was performed as the final track of the evening.

Cheered on by a close-knit group of fans and friends, the band served up 7 originals and 3 covers, and by the end of their set-list the entire pub was roaring for an encore – a good sign of a job well done. Each band member was in their element that evening –Vedanta in particular stood out with his excellent funky riffs cutting through each song like a knife. Dibya on rhythm and Abhinandan on the drums too gave a steady performance. Lokes the dreadlocked bassist was bang on with his bass tones and also majorly entertained us with his never-ending energy, making him look like a bouncy kangaroo at times. And what can I say about Abhishek and his golden voice? Arguably the best male vocalist in the Kolkata circuit, the lad knocked the socks off everyone in attendance with his range and vocal power. For those who were hearing him sing for the first time, well, they were lucky there were no flies around. Yes, no joke that, his voice made my jaw drop too, despite the fact that I’ve been hearing him sing for more than 5 years now.

And so did end the evening’s entertainment and also my first taste of the band Gingerfeet. As debut shows go by, Gingerfeet’s was definitely impressive to say the least. Good originals that made you both want to headbang and tap your feet, great musicianship and a fun stage presence – Gingerfeet ticked the boxes for all 3 categories. If there was one thing however that made your head buzz, it was the fact that their originals did lack a bit of variety, and after about 5-6 of them played in succession you’d probably get the feeling that they sounded the same – something that could be worked upon. However, if you love the Mizo band Boomarang and their brand of music then Gingerfeet is a band you should most certainly check out. And even if you aren’t a fan of funk, I would still recommend you to catch them live. Especially if you’ve had a shitty day at work and don’t think booze is going to be much help to soothe your soul. It certainly did wonders for me! A big thumbs up to Gingerfeet.

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Interview with Lamb of God at Clark’s Exotica

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What’s The Scene? caught up with the members of Lamb of God, the American heavy metal band from Richmond, Virginia before their performance at Nokia aLive 2012 and here’s what they had to say about performing in India, their music and more… 

WTS: When you guys started out way back in ’94 in Richmond Virginia, did you in your wildest dreams imagine you’d play to a crowd of over 40,000 in India someday?

Randy: No, no not at all!

John: When we started we were a garage band happy playing to crowds of 100-200 people, this is something we didn’t foresee it’s also something that we don’t take for granted. It’s exciting for us to see so many guys turn up for our show.

WTS: Were you overwhelmed by the response that you guys got the last time you were here?

John: Absolutely, no doubt about it!

Interview with Lamb of God at Clark's Exotica

WTS: Coming to your new album Resolution, the general opinion has been that compared to the raw sound of your previous albums, the sound in the new one is a lot more polished. Was this a conscious band effort to do something different? 

Willie: We’re a heavy metal band, and we write music that we love and what makes us happy and what makes us proud to be here today. Me and Mark bring in riffs and bring in songs that both of us have spent timeless hours cracking in order to make the best of what we can. I don’t like repeating what I’ve done in the past because what I’m trying to do is reinvent what I’ve done prior to what I am doing now. There are times when I want to absolutely branch out and do something a little bit different, but at the same time without straying much from what I do best which is play metal, heavy metal.

WTS: You guys have be on the road for 18 years now, and with each passing year or with the release of each album the expectation from fans just grows, does it affect your song writing in anyway?

John: No, no fan expectations don’t really bother us, we try making the record we want to make or at least we try making the record we want to make and maybe we’ll get better at doing it in time.

Randy: I don’t know, I don’t know where I am right now. We’ve had only about three hours of sleep in the last 36 hours. I mean I don’t know with every record we try and expand, and I’d personally like to see a crazy expansion. I mean something entirely different. We’re a metal band sure, but you can only do so many things so many times, I’d like to see us go somewhere else, I don’t know we just finished this record so we aren’t thinking of whether or not it’ll meet the expectations.

Interview with Lamb of God at Clark's Exotica

WTS: What’s your take on the layoffs at the Roadrunner records?

Randy: I don’t know what goes around competition wise, but as far as I am concerned personally, it was a huge bummer to me as I became friends with many people at that label over the years. Even before we were ever on the label you know they were always really cool people to us and I hate to see a bunch of them lose their job and these weren’t people who were “corporate record owner” kind of people man, they were just regular music fans who happened to have a job in the business, and they did their best.

WTS: We heard that the process of songwriting for Resolution started during the Wrath tour. Is this a common practice?

John: Yeah, Mark started working on his laptop. This is the first time it has happened then really as soon as we got off tour he started recording himself, then we all came together to put this record together we already had a bunch of material to work with so we got to work right away and that led to more and better developed songs.

Interview with Lamb of God at Clark's Exotica

WTS: You guys are widely considered as the pioneers of this “new wave of American heavy metal” what do you have to say about that?

John: That’s really the media that was defining that.

Randy: It’s kind of over isn’t it? Nobody says that anymore.

John: Yeah. As we came up playing shows further and further away from home we found all these other bands were doing the same things like God Forbid or Shadows Fall. We played basement shows with these guys for years and then all of a sudden we’re called the new wave of American heavy metal. We were sitting around drinking and suddenly it is called the new wave of American heavy metal. It is journalists putting a label, which is fine as it gives them something to talk about. It is flattering to be considered the pioneers of it, but we live very much in the bubble.

WTS: What do you think about metal as a form of social and political expression in a country like India?

Randy: We don’t know!

John: Yeah, I am not very sure about the thing in India but as far as just the art form is considered it’s a great way to express uh…

Randy: Precedence.

John: Yeah, it’s very aggressive and it can be very cathartic. It can be a very channelized way of showing aggression but it can also be raw negative aggression without any focus.

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