Tag Archives: Praveen Biligiri

Peepal Tree at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

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Peepal Tree isn’t just a band. It’s a supergroup of sorts. I mean, you have some of the best musicians in the independent music scene coming together to make great music. Their very first gig at The BFlat Bar saw them performing to mostly friends and a whole bunch of music lovers. The band’s biggest achievement? “Getting Tony Das (Lead guitar and Backing Vocals) to sing in Kannada and Hindi!” announced vocalist Sujay Harthi.

Peepal Tree at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

Let us go back in history to the beginning of Peepal Tree. It isn’t all that far back though. Harthi and Praveen Biligiri (Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals) coughed up a couple of great tracks together but didn’t know what to do with it. Voila! Willy Demoz (Drums) enters the picture insisting that they croon these numbers and entrance audiences. Das is summoned to work his magic on these tracks and thus the fellowship is born! They revealed their project to the world on the 8th of August with the help of the good folks at BFlat.

Peepal Tree at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

Let’s get down to business now. As a bunch of established musicians you’d expect them to work mostly originals and they did not disappoint. They successfully proved that language is no barrier in enjoying great music. They opened with ‘Chetana’ which had a very haunting melody line. There were strong Red Hot Chilli Peppers influences on a couple of their tracks. ‘Bayake’ in particular was very RHCP meets Bisi Bele Bhath. Laugh all you want, but it’s true. Biligiri’s bass in ‘Anubhava’ and ‘People Tree’ was unbelievable. It was the strong yet silent force that drove those songs to greater heights. His backing vocals were equally mesmerising. Das clearly had a lot of fans in the room and for good reason. His riffs in ‘Anubhava’ drove the crowd to frenzy. His wielding of the guitar was exceptional but unfortunately his singing went off pitch in a few places. ‘Kanasu’ and ‘Konavaregu’ were tracks in which Demoz’s drumming was truly amazing. It’s not always you get such pitch perfect classical singing with heavy riffs but Harthi managed to pull it off. Yes, there were very slight issues with the pitch at one or two places but they were easily forgotten.

Peepal Tree at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

The covers they had picked weren’t a walk in the park. Their cover of ‘Govinda’ by Kula Shekar was so good that it seemed to heighten the beauty of the instruments and vocals. It was one of their best covers. But their cover of ‘Khuda’ by Spyro Gyra was a little disappointing with Harthi going off pitch in some places. They did, however render near perfect covers of Nitin Sawhney’s ‘Nadia’ and ‘Minds without Fear’ by Imogen Heap/Vishal. The latter was the perfect amalgamation of vocals and interesting instrumentals.

Peepal Tree at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

Their original ‘People Tree’ was one of their best with a haunting chorus and intense instrumentals. They did, nonetheless save their very best for last. ‘Thangi’ was the perfect end to a great start. Filled with great loops and a brilliant guitar solo, ‘Thangi’ left everyone wanting more but sadly it was time for us to say our goodbyes as they took their final bow. On the whole, Peepal Tree’s performance was extraordinary. They made sure to talk to the audience and keep the atmosphere light and friendly between tracks with Harthi offering to give fans Das’ contact information. The crowd too was extremely happy to be so close to great music. People were struggling to stay in their seats as all everyone wanted to do was forget their troubles and sway to Peepal Tree’s tunes. An outstanding first gig that is how we’d put it. Here’s looking forward for more terrific performances!

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Peepal Tree all set for their debut gig at BFlat

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Bangalore-based band Peepal Tree  is all set for their debut gig at The BFlat Bar today. The band comprises Sujay Harthi on vocals, Tony Das on guitars, Praveen Biligiri on bass and Willy Demoz on drums and percussions. They describe their music as “Indian melodies sitting on funk grooves with overtones of electronica, and sung in Indian languages.”

Each musician in the band has been part of some of the most successful bands from India. Guitarist Tony Das is also a part of the heavy metal band Bhoomi and used to play with independent music stalwarts Thermal and a Quarter, and hard rockers Moksha. He has toured extensively with these bands and does sessions work as a guitarist, bassist, programmer, and writer/composer, both in the studio and live. He has also worked on the background score of some of the biggest Bollywood movies over the last few years such as Paan Singh Tomar, Rowdy Rathore, Son of Sardaar, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, R.Rajkumar, with legendary music director Sandeep Chowta. Drummer Willy Demoz has performed globally with the Raghu Dixit Project for the last 5 years. He has also performed with other celebrated and well known artists and bands like Vasundara Das, Sunita Sarathy, Sunita Rao, Keith Peters, Moksha, Bhoomi to name a few. Bassist Praveen Biligiri has performed across the country with numerous bands in Bangalore, most notably Bhoomi. Vocalist Sujay Harthi has performed with various Bangalore bands, the most popular ones being Bhoomi and Second Hand. Bhoomi is currently recording an album with Grammy winning producer Neil Kernon.

Speaking about the band and their debut gig, vocalist Sujay Harthi says, “The four of us have been playing together for the last 12 years and we never had a band that we started together, finally we have a project that we can call our own. Playing regional stuff is definitely a first for all of us and is an entirely new experience for us – singing in a language we have never before. We are hoping that the audience will be pleasantly surprised, and going by the general response to the songs we have released online, I’m sure they will take to the sound!”

Catch Peepal Tree live at their first gig at BFlat, Bangalore tonight!

 

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Interview with Bhoomi

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Bhoomi was formed in April 2002 with the intention of playing original music in the cover-infested scene in India. Recognized as one of the best bands from Bangalore, the band is presently in the process of recording their first album. WTS caught up with band members Sujay, Praveen, Tony and Kishan and got them talking about their new album, their experiences on stage and more…

WTS: For how long have you been playing together and how has the journey been so far?

Tony: Seven years. Sujay and our bass player Praveen are only the original members of Bhoomi, as they started. I’m new, Kishan’s new. 7 years you can call it, 8 years of the band’s journey. These guys started in 2002 and I joined early 2004. So it was one year, plus a few months.

Sujay: It’s been great actually. We were a college band before Tony joined. We graduated and met Tony through another friend who was drumming for us – Willy (Wilfred Demoz, who plays with Raghu Dixit). So after that it has been total fun, it’s just that we used to concentrate on playing only metal, and after Tony came in , Mrinal came in, Willy came in, the influences became more, we started discovering new bands and playing a lot more shows. From 2004 after Tony joined, till 2006, we played a lot of gigs, we played at almost every college festival in and around Bangalore. We played a few times in Mumbai, Pune and Chennai.

WTS: How has the music changed with the forming of new associations and breaking up of old ones?

Sujay: It has affected in a good way I would say. The kind of music that we’re playing now is definitely a lot cooler and lot more interesting than what it was when we were a college band. Back then, it was more or less safe heavy metal – 4/4 kind of heavy metal. We just wanted to go there and play as loud as we could, but now the subtleties have come in.

WTS: What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?

Tony: Politically driven in a few songs.

Sujay: More social I’ll say, about what happens around us. We have a song about the mindless, senseless riots which take place at the drop of a hat in India, like everybody goes about stoning buses for no apparent reason. They’re not involved, they don’t really have to do anything like that. It’s about that and how it affects people like me. If I’m going to work and I’m stuck in a jam because of a stupid rally going, for reasons I don’t care about. It affects me because I don’t want to get stuck on a hot day in a traffic jam.

WTS: What are your rehearsals generally like?

Kishan: They are damn funny actually. Out of one hour of jam time we get about 15 minutes of quality music and 45 minutes of quality bonding, when we take each other’s cases and stuff like that. We make good music though, in the 15 minutes of jam time. It just happens, which is what matters.

WTS: Tell us about the time you discovered your taste for heavy metal, did you guys also start off listening to boy bands, pop, rock etc. and progress towards something you liked best or was it heavy metal all along?

Kishan: Yeah most of us matured out of it really early except for Sujay who still listens to it! (laughs)

Tony: As long as there are boys in it! This guy (Sujay) just looks at the TV and goes “Oh, I love you Ronan Keating!” I was lucky because I grew up in Dubai where you had awesome radio!

Kishan: A lot of Spandex metal and Spandex rock!

Tony: This guy (points to Kishan) wears Spandex! (pulls his pants to demonstrate)

WTS: Do you believe that being in a band is equivalent to being in a relationship or do you think it is okay for band members to hook up with other bands once in a while?

Tony: When you say hook up now… (laughs)

Sujay: I think we’re cool about guys playing in different bands as long as you turn up for the gig, not even for the jam! (laughs) You can be committed and do other things.

Tony: Nowadays I think people are a lot more open to it, everyone’s playing with everybody else. Especially, if you look at something like the jazz community – each one of those guys is playing with everyone else at some point. Personally, there is only so much you can do with one band. There’s only so many people you can play with. When you’re playing with different people, you get so many opportunities, to play different kinds of music, to play on stage a lot more, it gives you a lot more of that experience. It’s the best way to learn stuff.

Sujay: There are people who are insecure about their bands. We’ve seen that happen, but we’re cool with that. I don’t think any one of us will find a bad bunch like this out there!

Tony: Awww, so sweet! (laughs)

WTS: When Lamb of God came down to perform in Bangalore, there was this bottle-throwing incident! What do you have to say about that?

Tony: Oh no! It’s called an incident now! The truth is that it was one stupid kid who got too drunk, he hadn’t been laid in a while or ever obviously, he had to find an outlet! (laughs)

Sujay: To answer this question seriously, the sound also plays a part. When an Indian band is opening for an international band on the same stage, the sound is like less than 50%.

Kishan: The point is we ultimately won the crowd over. Except that this guy (Sujay) gave a huge Gandhiji speech.

Tony: It was really a non incident that unfortunately got blown out of proportion.

WTS: There was this hiatus post March Metal Mania 2007, why didn’t we hear from you for a while?

Tony: We were sorting out stuff for our recording.

Sujay: We were just getting ready to record, which we did. We did the recording in Chamundeshwari Studios in Cunningham Road. We’ve spent close to ***** right now…

Tony: Sssh! Don’t quote the figures!

Sujay: **** dollars we had to pay in ****…

Tony: Shhhh!

Sujay: Because **** generally charges ***dollars.

Tony: (frustrated) Thank you! (hysterical laughing in the background)

WTS: What is essentially the difference between Bhoomi and Second Hand in terms of members and the music?

Tony: Same members.

Praveen: Second hand is more commercial, Bhoomi is actual passion!

Sujay: Second hand is all covers and Bhoomi is all originals with a few covers which we like.

WTS: What do you think sets you apart from the other metal bands in the city?

Tony: We sing. I think all the metal bands are growling and here we sing. We’re a little more old school. Our sound is not the contemporary heavy metal. That’s not what we sound like.

WTS: What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

Tony: Don’t. Please! Spare us the pain because if you form your own band, we’re gonna have to come and judge you at some college competition! (laughs) Please don’t form a band!

Priyanka Shetty

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

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