Tag Archives: Shankar Ehsaan Loy

Channel [V] Nokia India Fest Day 1 at Baga, Goa

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Topiwalleh by Swarathma

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Topiwalleh

Swarathma is a talented group of musicians, just thinking about whom brings an explosion of colors in one’s head – not just because of the colourful dresses they don, not even because of the showmanship, the on-stage gimmickry or the props. These colours are of traditional art assimilated in an arrangement of largely western instruments, and the flamboyance with which the band rebukes the dishonest, mocks the ludicrous, and alleviates suffering through their honest rendition of songs that describe the world as they see it.

Their second album, Topiwalleh, is an experience where every word – spoken or sung, every pulse, beat, and measure, is a rush of colours of contrasting human emotions. Your senses are exposed to the entire spectrum in less than 55 minutes, if you listen closely. The melody is almost never melancholic, although when it’s dark, it’s ominous.

This album brought with it not just great music, but a lot of creativity in the album promotions too! Right from the colourful topis, the vibrant album cover, to running interesting contests on Facebook, and the launch followed by a ‘Restless Tour’ that took them to many cities over a period of one month, the band has done a fabulous job of promoting their new album.

Swarathma has six members: Vasu Dixit (vocals, rhythm guitar), Pavan Kumar KJ (percussion, backing vocals), Montry Manuel (drums), Varun Murali (lead guitar), Sanjeev Nayak (violin) and Jishnu Dasgupta (bass guitar, backing vocals), and for the sound that is more refined, all six members unequivocally acknowledge Loy Mendonsa (from the Shankar-Ehsan-Loy trio) who has co-produced this album.

One might as well call the band Swarathma 2.0, because of two noticeable things– one, a paradigm shift in the ‘sound’ of a recorded album, and two, a concept album with many societal messages being delivered within a span of 10 tracks. For the message to be heard and the outreach to be as vast as the problems addressed and solutions needed, their language of choice is Hindi, although they have sung in Kannada on two of the tracks.

Topiwalleh’ has an effervescent, Rastafarian reggae rhythm, a violin that can admiringly be called the second vocalist for the track, a laid-back 40-second guitar solo and the superb backing vocals. The lyrics take a dig at everything that’s wrong in the current political circles. There are many tongue-in-cheek references and no-holds-barred statements that the artists have taken the liberty to make on this track.

‘Koorane’, my favorite track from the album, starts with the sounds that we relate to crying of wolves on a full-moon night. Varun Murali finds a fit to display the rock in his guitar, which is alarmingly close to ‘Roadhouse Blues’ by The Doors. The song seems to draw a metaphor – the mention of a rare animal Koorane being hunted by the hunters (human or otherwise). Think capitalism, consumerism, how the society is fascinated by television and advertisements, while disrobing itself of tradition and a sense of judgment, hypnotized by the domineering supremacy of advertising duplicity.

‘Rishton Ka Raasta’ is pleasing, and contemplative, with an intention that’s driven straight to the heart by the expressive violin (the tone sounding almost like it’s a Saarangi) that opens this song which is about broken relations and the willingness to mend fences. For me, it delivers the most powerful message in the entire album.

‘Ghum’ is characterized by a sense of despair, urgency, and hopelessness, made apparent within the first 90 seconds of the song. The mood remains largely that, only you’d have to find an interview where the band mentions what this song is about. This is their voice against child sexual abuse, and is the gloomiest of all tracks on the album.

‘Naane Dari’ starts with a superb guitar solo but everything else plays second fiddle to the violin and to the terrific lyrics. ‘Naane Daari’ (I am my own way) talks about hope and leaving the past behind.

‘Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar’ may confuse you with the way it begins, if you ever used to trip on ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ OST (think ‘Jaane Kyun’) – and perhaps thank Loy Mendonsa? The highlight of this track is the juicy potpourri of all the overused or hyped snippets on the television (‘Sannate ko cheerti hui sansani’ and the like). It lands a sucker-punch on the sensationalism as created by the media.

‘Mukhote’ has got a fragrant, violin-drenched overture. This is a song about the two-facedness in human relations, the drumming stands out and is most imaginative among all tracks on the album.

‘Duur Kinara’, featuring Shubha Mudgal, has everything that is being and has been talked about already. Shubha’s vivacious vocals work perfectly with Vasu’s high-pitched recital of the Kannada lines on this track about separation from loved ones and the desire to unite, and about tales of a far-away land.

‘Yeshu Allah aur Krishna’ is where the arrangement goes back to reggae for most part, the violin speaks as if reinforcing the spoken words, and the vocals are dramatic and appealing. The song speaks about religious evangelists and communalism, but unless you are a in a mood to complain about the issue really, you might just end up dancing along with this one as well.

On a splendid album, where nine songs talk about one powerful subject each, ‘Khul Ja Re’ is one song that apathetically speaks of optimism with adolescent lyrics and ordinary singing. For being a keepsake from the band’s past, ‘Khul Ja Re’ is forgivable.

All said and done, social issues and worldly worries notwithstanding, Topiwalleh is a fun album. The sheer energy that makes the audience sway during their live shows is not missing on this record. Though the lyrics may seem juvenile here and there, the maturity that’s apparent for most part of the album compensates for it. The lead guitar has got to find a voice by bringing in more tones and risk-taking. As far as the percussion and violin are concerned, I would not want to change a thing. For the vocals though, my only sour point remains the habit of throwing the last note (for instance – at 1:29 mark in ‘Koorane’).

Swarathma has already started working on their third album and until that is out, buying a digital copy of Topiwalleh and listening to it is only the second best choice. The best choice is to land up at a Swarathma gig, and treat your senses to the musical mixture of colors, sights and sounds.

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Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

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Kailash Kher, charismatic singer in the Sufi-rock style, proved yet again that he is right at the cutting edge of fusion music in India during his performance at IIM Bangalore this weekend.

I left early for the venue to beat Bangalore traffic, and reached so early that I caught the band’s sound check. I chatted with lead guitarist Paresh Kamath who told me about the lineup for the concert, especially singling out Tapas Roy on mandolin and saz (long-necked Turkish string instrument).

Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

Roy’s instrumentation added a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour to the performance that evening. But that’s getting ahead of the story a bit! The crowds began to fill in late in the evening as the crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter lined up in the east, and the stars of Orion filled the sky above. The stars then descended on the open-air stage at IIM-B grounds: Kailash Kher and his band Kailasa.

Naresh Kamath on bass, Kurt Peters on drums, Sameer Chiplunkar on keyboards, and Sanket Nayak on percussion (tabla, darbuka, dol) provided solid energetic support. It was great to see Sankarshan Kini on stage as well (acoustic guitar, violin).

The band played a tight two-hour set with sixteen songs, covering everything from ballads to dance numbers. The global mix included rock (instruments, chords), Middle Eastern flavours (darbuka, saz), Indian percussion (tabla, pakhawaj, bhangra dol), reggae and Sufi vocals (with incantations to Allah; depiction of human love as an instance of divine love).

Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

In each track Kailash Kher’s soaring vocals and earthy style shone through, right from the opening tracks ‘Dilruba’ and ‘Aoji‘ down to the closing pieces ‘Allah ke bande‘ and ‘Saiyyan’. The songs ‘Teri Deewani’ and ‘Na Batati Hu‘ drew huge applause, as well as ‘Tu Kya Jaane’ and the title track from his latest release, Rangeele.

“There must have been at least 7,000 people in the audience,” event organiser Vasundhra Jain told me; she said Kailash Kher was chosen as the headliner for their Unmaad Festival because he is not only a commercially successful singer but also keeps his independent and innovative edge, and is involved in social causes (eg. against human trafficking, child labour, global warming). He also performed in support of the recent Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement.

Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

Indeed, at the Bangalore performance Kailash Kher revealed not only his creative edge and infectious energy, but his humourous side and social awareness, delivered in irreverent “Hinglish” while bouncing and jumping around the stage.

“English is the first most confused language in the world,” he joked. “Let us focus not just on movie music but indie music also,” he urged the audience, taking a gentle dig at the Bollywood industry which dominates much of the Indian popular music scene. Kailash Kher has had hits in Bollywood as well, which has won him admiration from the indie scene for being successful in both areas.

“Don’t focus just on branding and marketing, you must also cultivate a sense of corporate social responsibility,” he told the students in the audience. “Half of life today is pretentious anyway, don’t waste the other half,” he joked.

Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

He endeared himself to the Bangalore audience by saying that the people and weather of Bangalore were perfect for music, and he even said a few words in the local language Kannada. He invited a couple of girls to join the band on stage for a dance, and seven girls eventually joined him. “Live life Queen size,” he advised them.

“The time for this performance is very short,” he said, taking a dig at the stifling government regulations and the “moral police” in India who insist that live entertainment and pubs shut down at the ridiculously early hour of 10 pm or 11 pm, an absolute dampener for the live music industry.

His Sufi messages drew the most applause. “Divinity is in love, everything else is bakwaas (nonsense),” he said.

Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

For his last song he called on everyone to dance. “Including you sitting there, you with the tie,” he said, singling out an attendee in the ‘VIP’ section.

Now in his late 30s, Kailash Kher appeals to a wide range of Indian society, and has a huge fan following abroad as well. His early influences included spiritual music, folk songs of North India, and classical music (especially Pandit Kumar Gandharv). He then moved to Mumbai in 2001, singing jingles for various TV and radio commercials.

In addition to Hindi, he has sung songs in a range of Indian languages such as Oriya, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telgu, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, and Punjabi. He has been involved in hundreds of Bollywood film songs, and has collaborated with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar, Salim-Sulaiman, Zakir Hussain, Vishal Bhardwaj and A.R. Rahman. His songs have featured in Hindi movies (eg. Mangal Pandey, Corporate, Salaam-e-Ishq) as well as other regional movies in Kannada (Junglee, Jackie).

Kailash Kher: Sufi + Rock + Bollywood! at IIM Bangalore

The band’s first independent album Kailasa (2006) and second album Kailasa Jhoomo Re  were huge hits, as well as the subsequent ones, Chaandan Mein and Yatra. This was seen as part of a broad revival of Sufi literature and lyrics.

“Kailash has this rare touch of marrying tradition with innovation in his compositions,” according to Adarsh Gupta, head of business at the label Saregama India, on the release of the latest album Rangeele. On TV, Kailash has also served as a judge on Indian Idol and IPL Rockstar.

His music has been described by critics as “intoxicating,” “hypnotic,” and commended for blending Hindustani classical forms (dhrupad) and Sufi qawwal. Followers of south Asian music notice more of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in his voice than Mohammad Rafi.

In contrast to Bollywood-style formulaic and poppy production, Kailash’s songs stand out for their folksy and spiritual nature even with the contemporary mix. Mumbai-based composers Paresh and Naresh Kamath have been co-founders of the band Kailasa and have been with Kailash Kher since the beginning.

“You will get to meet all the killer musicians in my band,” said Kailash, as he introduced the band members one by one at the end of the Bangalore show. The group is bound to find more success as they continue to innovate on the foundations of Indian folk and Sufi music along with a solid contemporary and Middle Eastern feel.

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The Bangalore International Arts Festival – Day 1

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Bangalore is arguably the music capital of India and Malleshwaram has been the center of fine arts for generations now. In Malleshwaram is the iconic violin-shaped auditorium, Chowdaiah Memorial Hall – the holiest of holies for Indian Music. It is no surprise that the organizers of Bengaluru International Arts Festival (BIAF) chose this venue to kick off proceedings for the third edition of this annual arts festival which is said to be among the top ten in the country.

I arrived way ahead of time despite the excruciatingly slow traffic. There was the customary lamp-lighting ceremony, which was followed by welcome addresses by co-founders Dr. Suma Sudhindra and Kuchipudi exponent Veena Murthy Vijay. Then there were short and witty addresses by chief guests Mr. Ashwath Narayana and noted music director Hamsalekha. It was heartening to see that along with the usual shawls and garlands, all the VVIPs got a gift of a sapling: a gesture to encourage a greener Bangalore.

First on the agenda was the lovely Sonal Kalra’s Sufi Gospel Project from Delhi. I was consumed by curiosity about the “Sufi-Gospel” genre, wondering what they had in store for us. It turned out that the most obvious inference would have been correct. – their music is a delightful confluence of the East – Sufi, Bhakti, Thumri and the West – classic hymns, gospel jazz, negro spiritual.

The Sufi Gospel Project comes highly recommended just after four months from their debut and they will also be opening at the India Show that is to be held in Toronto later this year. The first piece was their rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ which began with alaaps on Rajesh Prasanna’s flute and Ahsan Ali’s vocals. Sonam Kalra then joined in with two verses of the widely beloved hymn. The music transformed seamlessly into a Sufi song with Ahsan’s impassioned wails of ‘Maula’, before giving way again to another verse of ‘Amazing Grace‘: only this time in Urdu! In all, this first piece was a spectacle in execution, thanks mainly to Alex Fernandes’ mastery on the keys. I was already beginning to wonder whether they had their CDs for sale in the lobby.

The next song was called ‘The Confluence’. The opening bars took me back many generations, perhaps into a royal durbar. This magic was created by Ahsan Ali, this time on the Sarangi, and Amaan Ali on the Kanjira. I could never have imagined that the essence of the song was actually an old Negro Spiritual, ‘Down to the River’, in the guise of a Bhakti song. Sonam Kalra’s voice was absolutely languorous as the band easily mesmerized half the capacity of the audience into a hushed silence.

Next up was a Ray Charles’ gospel jazz number, ‘Hallelujah! I Just Love Him’. What really stood out in this song was the solo section: first the flute, followed by the sarangi, the tabla, Daniel Paul on the bass and finally Alex Fernandes on the keys. Gandhi’s favourite hymn ‘Abide With Me’ was next, which magically transformed into an ancient Kabir song, ‘Moko Kahaan Dhunde Re Bande’, which had Sonam Kalra and Ahsan Ali crooning together to form a soothing, lilting harmony. The Sufi Gospel Project wrapped up things with their rendition of Bulleh Shah’s ‘Chal Bulleya Chal Othe Chaliye’, a fitting upbeat farewell to a delightful little show.

Next Up was Laya Lavanya, an Indian percussion ensemble lead by Vidwan Anooru Anantha Krishna Sharma. The cast for this show included three tablas, a kanjira, a chenda (temple drums), a madal, drum pads, congos, a mridangam and two morchings. It was clear that this was going to be a treat to my already heightened senses. I didn’t manage to get everyone’s names, but I did recognize Pramath Kiran, the live wire percussionist who played at this year’s Fireflies Festival with Dr.BC Manjunath’s Spinifex. The fact that the individual introductions of all the members of this super-troupe took ten minutes is testament to the fact that this was a collection of the very best of India’s Carnatic percussion vidwans. Anooru Anantha Krishna Sharma (or, Shivu, as he is also known) introduced us to the concept behind this project. ‘Laya’ means tempo and ”Lavanya’ means beauty. While the troupe was busy tuning their instruments Shivu kept the audience engaged in a delightful banter consisting of humourous personal anecdotes. This concert was very different from the kacheris (traditional carnatic concerts) that we are so accustomed to, with the performances more familiar and contemporary.

The entire performance lasted about forty minutes and comprised of just one composition, in adi tala, which transported the audience into magical lands from a faraway time. The opening movement was a Konakkal, but in five part harmony! The message was loud and clear. These stalwarts of the ancient art were going to give us something quite unorthodox and extraordinary. Two of the artists did a short burst with their morchings, and the stage was set for the next thirty minutes. The solos were perfectly executed in turns while Shivu looked at his fellow musicians with an almost benevolent pride. The pauses between the solos were filled with the soft rasping sound of audience keeping time, patting their thighs (another thousand points to Chowdaiah Hall’s acoustics.)

In entirety, the performance went from sedate and mesmerizing to aggressive and thrilling and back again. Anooru Anantha Krishna Sharma was brilliant as expected, and so was every other vidwan. Pramath Kiran was undoubtedly the star of the show, playing the drum pads, morchings, congos, and two other unfamiliar instruments.

Last on stage was Vijay Prakash and troupe. Vijay Prakash first shot to fame in a singing reality show in 1998, and has then gone on to record for many films in many languages. He has worked with all the big names in the Indian film music industry, including A.R Rahman, Ilayaraja and Shankar Ehsaan Loy. He has also performed with the likes of Zakir Husain and Sivamani, at events as big as the Kala Ghoda Festival and at the Prithvi Theatre Festival. Event anchor Deepthi urged the audience to come and occupy the seats in front because this performance was something “not to be missed.”  I was quietly hoping that the evening wouldn’t turn into another “Bollywood night”, but after the first few songs, it did. I sent a distress message to my editor and bailed out. Not that I had any grouse with the quality, but the hushed awe and sanctity that was created by the proceedings so far were torn apart by this unfortunate choice of genres. Among their first few songs, I particularly liked ‘Lat Uljhe Suljha Ja Baalam’ and the sound check (!), which had a superb flute solo.

Overall, it was an evening well spent. I was secretly thankful that not all roads led to Chowdaiah that evening, because I was looking forward to an intimate experience with these ancient arts (selfish, yes). The BIAF was kicked off in grand style, and I look forward to more such events in the future.

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Interview with The Ministry of Blues

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The Ministry of Blues (MoB) play a genre of music that originated in the 1900s, but combine it with a distinctly 21st-century flair. The band’s music is not the laid back, lonesome blues but a hard-hitting “we’re coming at you like a ton of bricks” blues played with finesse and a deft touch. Red Hot Blues Rock is what they call it! The MoB line-up includes Philipe (vocals & lead guitars), Vinoo (bass), Rauf (vocals & keyboard) and Deepak (drums).

WTS: Let’s start off with a bit of background information about MOB, how did it start and of course what made u call it The Ministry Of Blues?

Philipe: The three of us used to play together (Deepak, Rauf and Philipe) in a band called Aftermath. It sort of died around the same time that Ministry of Blues started. Not too much of a gap between the two. That was more of a hard rock band. Then we just got fed up of the music that we were playing, so we disbanded. Deepak came out with the idea of forming a blues rock band, nobody was playing blues rock then, we were the only band. Also Ministry Of Blues in short is MOB and it’s a genre of music that caters to the youngsters so we thought of calling it that.

Deepak: So we just thought of this name and everybody liked it immediately.

Rauf: I liked the whole MOB feel!

WTS: How has the band transformed in terms of members?

Philipe: That was for a very short period. The band formed when the other bassist (Sarat) left, he played for probably six months before he got transferred somewhere else. So the actual band started moving only after Vinoo joined.

WTS: How easy/difficult was it for you to make it big in the Bangalore music scene?

Deepak: Firstly, we don’t think we’ve made it big. We don’t take it so seriously. We just enjoy our music.

Philipe: People call us veterans, there’s a big difference between that and making it big!(laughs)

Vinoo: As long as we’re playing we’re happy.

Philipe: We’ve been there done that. I used to play in a band called Hammersmith, we had a whole lot of stuff going, my brother used to drive that band. We were Asia’s second act on MTV back then. What did we get out of it? Nothing. Rock machine went on for a short while and then they turned into Indus Creed. They had three albums after that. What happened after that? Nothing. Making it big is difficult unless you’re doing traditional Hindi music. You take Shankar Ehsaan Loy for example. Who are those guys? Ehsan was the guitarist of a band called Crosswinds, Loy was a hardcore keyboard player, now they have made it big after getting into Hindi music. For English music it will always be an issue. We don’t see it gaining equal popularity. Playing live, you can have a good day, have a good show, and the crowd has a blast. It ends there. Taking it beyond that and cutting out albums, making money out of it’s just not happening.

Deepak: People don’t make money out of albums. That audience is not there.

Vinoo: Many, many years ago, when I was in my teens I had decided that I’m not going to earn by playing music. It reminds me of things that I don’t want to do. I firmly believe that the only decent thing a musician can do is to play in front of people. Everything else is done to death. All this recording, being in albums and all that, it’s all done to death. The only thing that matters is that you play in front of people.

Deepak: That’s completely gone. In today’s world very few artistes/bands actually make albums and sell it, it’s the age of free downloads on the internet. Where is the money? The money is only in playing live.

Philipe: We are playing live but the market is not so big for English acts and guys playing Western music.

Vinoo: Take India’s largest band – Indian Ocean, they earn a large amount of money but they are making their money only through live performances. In fact their next album is being given out for free on the internet. I spoke to the guitar player, who’s an old friend of mine. I asked them why they are doing this, because I was very curious. He said “The record labels are the only ones who make money out of it, we get nothing out of it so we might as well give it for free.”

WTS: In a city that has a lot of rock and metal bands what is it like being a blues rock band?

Deepak: It’s nice. We enjoyed it, it’s something very different and new, and I think it’s still fresh, it still sounds good to people.

WTS: Ministry of blues only plays covers. Why won’t you play originals?

Vinoo: We haven’t got around to it. It’s not a priority.

Philipe: What we really like to do is take up covers and uncover covers. Most of our songs, I would say, are quite far from the originals.

Vinoo: They take quite a bit of work as well. Each song takes quite long! It takes a few days before we’re happy with it. There are a few songs we don’t play because we aren’t completely happy with it.

Philipe: Every college band says “Ok guys…Hi! Welcome to the show, we are going to do one of our own compositions”. We played in Vellore and the only criteria they gave the student unit, was to get a band that will not play their own material. The crowd doesn’t enjoy it! And also with this genre that we’ve picked up, it’s been done to death.

Deepak: In this genre there is a style, it’s a standard pattern of music so I’ll just be changing the lyrics. Now for example Eric Clapton, he recreates songs in his style. Its legendary that’s how blues rock is!

Vinoo: If you’ve heard him play ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, he has put a reggae beat to it!

Deepak: I grew up listening to Santana’s ‘Black Magic Woman’, that’s not his song. It was done many years ago before Santana was born!

Philipe: That’s how music is, it’s what you bring into the whole thing. Otherwise it’s just an ego thing, “This is my own comp, I’ve got my own song!”

Ralf: Some of the numbers that we do were written in 1930s, nobody even knows about those artistes. We do it our way, not the way it has been done before. That’s how we like to do it. We don’t want to play a song like how it sounds on TV.

WTS: What are the criticism/compliments that you get from fans?

Deepak: Even now we hear from people that it was a good show or a bad show. There are fans who say you guys started out really dull. You should have done this song in the beginning. The song list is not changing as fast as it should. Because the guys come for all our shows and we’re not able to change that fast.

Philipe: I told him don’t come to the show, take a break! (laughs)

Deepak: This American comes up to me and says, “You play all kinds of blues, Texas blues etc. and the range is pretty wide.” It’s not just one kind of music we’re playing.

Philipe: Compliments, well for one, in the 30-35 years that I’ve been playing, touchwood, I’ve never been booed. Never. It’s just value for money. You may not like the music, but you will listen to it.

WTS: How long does your sound check generally last?

Deepak: Five minutes and we’re done.

Philipe: There was this time when we finished our sound check and the sound guy says “Are you guys a serious band? A five minute sound check? I’ve never done it in my life, you know.”

Deepak: It has taken so many years. If you’re professional enough you’ll understand what is the limitation of sound, and that it’s not going to get any better, hanging around there and keeping the audience waiting, it’s just not worth it.

Rauf: It all depends on the kind of instruments there are, how many members there are etc. For us, experience definitely comes in hand. With Philipe, the sound that comes on stage is so amazing, because of his experience, his tones etc are just perfect.

WTS: Each one of you seem to have fairly busy lives, how do you manage to find time to jam together?

Philipe: You can make time if you want to. And you have to make time for that. We have nasty working hours. Thank God we have five day weeks! Friday evening we drop what we’re doing and head out to this lovely little basement. It’s heaven. It’s got lovely speakers, an electronic drum kit that sounds like heaven, and the amps there are awesome, so the mikes are plugged in, and in about ten minutes we get started. I think we take longer opening the beer. (laughs) Fridays are mandatory. We jam every week unless we’re travelling. Tightness has to be worked at. Don’t forget that you’re out there, if you’re not good enough don’t go onstage. You have no right to be onstage if you’re not good enough.

Deepak: Keeping the band tight is something that can only come with practice. It’s like a plane flying , I don’t think you can go on if you cut your engines! (laughs)

WTS: How have you managed to stick together for so long?

Philipe: Friendship! Never has anything gotten to a nasty, personal level. Never, never. We don’t get personal. We have disagreements but not anything personal. We wouldn’t carry it home.

Deepak: In the music room there would be a lot of disagreements, but then we look at the bigger picture. If I get pissed off, I know that more than anything, I like playing with them. So it’s just about keeping your emotions off of it and enjoying what you’re doing.

Philipe: It’s like a lousy marriage (laughs) and we have thumb rules, if it’s getting out of hand just drop it. Then after a while it all gets back to normal. We make use of stuff you learn from marriage counseling. If you lose your temper with your husband, count to ten, take a walk in the park, things like that! (laughs)

Deepak: Another thing about this band, it’s very interesting. The other name we thought of was Seven Down.

Philipe: That’s because Vinoo is seven years older than me, I’m seven years older than Deepak and Deepak is seven years older than Ralf. Exactly.

Vinoo: That makes him (Ralf) 21 years younger than me!

Deepak: So they can’t fight. It’s like a father and son relationship. It’s not allowed. (laughs)

Ralf: (To Vinoo) Dad, where’s my pocket money? (laughs)

WTS: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t been to any of your gigs?

Philipe: Aggressive blues rock. High on energy.

Deepak: We transform into animals onstage! (laughs)

WTS: Do you think people’s focus will ever shift to live performances from Bollywood?

Deepak: The good thing that’s happening is bands that are playing live are now associated with Bollywood. Take for example Kailash Kher’s band, I watch it on YouTube all the time. Superb! He’s a great singer. So, live music is coming up. Kailash Kher’s concerts have around 8000-10,000 people!

Philipe: But Hindi rock/pop will always rule. Anyone who is going to contest that is a clown. It’s never going to happen. You will never make that kind of money, never have that kind of crowd. The only time when you had such an audience was the early nineties.

Ralf: Then (sings) Video killed the radio star!

Deepak: Then the discotheques came in, the DJs came. In my opinion, there is too much out there, as far as entertainment is concerned. Online EPs, everything – we’re being bombarded with lots of entertainment. Even during gigs, after about five songs you can see the crowd getting a little restless. Our kind of music is one where you have to build that taste, acquire that taste. At least right now. The only thing that can be done is promoting the bands, and they should keep playing. It’s going to take time.

Philipe: But I think one of the main things that’s happening in terms of playing live is the live webcast. Motherjane did that. They had a live webcast when they were playing at Opus by the Creek.

WTS: Deepak, don’t you feel like overplaying sometimes?

Deepak: I overplay all the time. I’m the only one who does more than what’s required.

Vinoo: Actually all of us do.

Rauf: It also depends on how much alcohol we’ve had.

Philipe: He doesn’t drink by the way. Good boy! (points to Rauf)

Rauf: I’m more of an adrenaline junkie.

WTS: Have you guys had any embarrassing experiences while performing onstage?

Deepak: Oh a lot of them! All the time, at every show. Serious goof ups!(laughs)

Philipe: There was this crazy goof-up in this solo that we do. He just completely goofed up onstage (points to Deepak). I was cringing! I was up there thinking “I wanna die right now!” It was that bad! (laughs) and then we come back home, and we see mails from people in the audience which read “that piece by the drummer and the bass guitarist was superb!” (loud laughter)

Deepak: So when we goof up, we just look at each other and smile, and the way we cover up is also great.

Philipe: One thing we’ve learnt to do is smile and act like nothing happened when we know it’s a disaster!(laughs)

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