Something Relevant is not an alien term if you are in any way associated with the independent music scene. The jazzy townies have been seen in the gullies of Parel more than the stages of the popular venues of the country in the last few months. We thought of digging deep into this mystery before their fans took to some extreme measures in these times of no relevant music. Oh and their fans can surely get extreme, females even more, ask any person who attended their gig at Mumbai’s Sophia’s college last year. We followed their trail for a few days and found out that they stay hidden in this beautiful cosy studio called ‘The Cotton Press Studio’ at Parel. We got talking to three of the band members, Aalok (Al) , Jehangir Jehangir (JJ) and Stuart (Stuart) about Mars, Venus, Cotton and more…
So when is the new album releasing?
JJ : It’s releasing soon. Maybe on the 10-11-12.
Stuart : You see, mars and Venus will align that day. Mars is like the planet of men and Venus is that of women. So when they align on 10-11-12, we figured something big may happen.
Al : Or not!
What did you do in the last one year?
Stuart : We went to music school.
JJ : And we started a studio. Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music is where we went to in August 2011 and we came back in January. Then we wanted a space to work out. It started with Stuart messaging me ‘you know we should look for a place for ourselves’.
Al : We went looking around at places. We went to jail road, Mazgaon. We went to fucking Worli. Some backyard alley between two chawls in Worli, and a lot of other places. All this in a three day intense period of looking at places. And a lot of random places in Tardeo, Parel…
JJ : And we finally found The Parel Cotton Press Compound. We decided that this is the perfect place to have a studio at. While we were getting this deal done, we went to Bangladesh and played with a symphony orchestra. We played covers, one of our songs and some other stuff that we’ve never done before. And now we’re hoping to end the year with a bang, with the new album.
Stuart : But what are you really asking us?
JJ : What did we do last year?
Stuart : Oh, I played a lot of basketball. I lost some weight last year.
What was the driving force behind the big decision to get a studio?
JJ : Most of the sound comes from the source. No matter how good a musician you are, if your equipments suck then your sound will eventually suck. You need a good room with good equipment to produce a good sound.Stuart : And we’re very open to other artists coming and recording here. In fact that was the whole idea behind the studio. We want to share this space with upcoming musicians who could use a good studio setting.
There also has been a slight line up change?
Stuart : Our old lead singer wanted to persue some other aspects of his creativity. So we didn’t stand in his way and we marched on to music school and a studio and other stuff. And things are cool with him.
JJ : Stuart and Tanmay do most of the singing now. All of us sing actually.
Stuart : We’re thinking of making Al sing a few songs for us in the future.
It’s been three years since the last album. How has the sound changed?
Stuart : Sound’s changed ya. Man, sounds change, people’s perspectives change, times change. You take out one creative element from the band, even if it’s like..a shoe. If I stop wearing a shoe tomorrow, the sound’s gonna change. If I cut my hair tomorrow, the sound’s gonna change. If JJ shaves his pits, the sound’s gonna change. Wait, did you shave your pits? Show me..
JJ : Yeah I did! (wide grinned, shows off his clean pits)
Stuart : Oh no wonder you were playing so fast today!
JJ : I think every band needs to change their sound. People want to hear something new all the time. If you come to a gig and hear us playing the same thing we were playing ten years back then you’re not gonna like it.
Stuart : Our melodies are stronger now. A lot of people told us that our songs didn’t have hooks, they weren’t radio friendly tracks. I don’t know, consciously or sub-consciously we took that to heart. So now we have changed that way.
Al : More than that I think we started looking at music from a very perspective after the music school. In a more holistic view as compared to, you play the drum part, I’ll play the conga part, you play that melody, you do the vocals, ok that’s the song. I mean, all of got together for writing songs together. And that’s where the studio helped because we were here 24X7 to just explore our music together and go really deep inside it. * Pauses * Fuck, that’s a great answer!
Which band member according to you has evolved the most from the music school?
Al: I think JJ. Because he is a lot more self assured now. (Followed by a chorus approval by the rest)Stuart: Ya, he was very nervous before. JJ was always like ‘oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck’ (trembling hands).
Al: I feel like he’s leading the band a lot more than he used to, in terms of his playing also. Stuart has become super confident with his singing and that’s a big positive. He could always sing, but he was in a shell. Now he has just come out of that. Also I am mentioning these two because they’re in front of me right now and the other three bastards aren’t.
Stuart: The one thing we learnt from SAM (Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music) is that even if the idea is not good, it’s not the person at fault, it’s the idea. You gotta separate the maker of the idea and the idea itself and work on only the idea. It’s like, you have to work with a person if he has great ideas. And with this crew right now, the ideas are just multiplying post music school. And musically we’re all on the same page now.
Al: About the same page thing, I think the three years preceding SAM, we all somehow subconsciously went in different directions while we were still together. Everybody had a different idea of where this was going in their head. But now, we just gel in that way as well. We’re all on the same page.
How is the new album launch planned?
Stuart : We’re going to go on tour. We don’t have too much of help in terms of agents and logistics and all that. We’ve got the XIC (Xavier Institute of Communication) rooting for us. We’ve got our friend Ratan rooting for us and Red Bull have shown support as well. Vijay Basroor is helping us with his website too. So we’re making the most of it all.
Who are your 2 other favourite Indian artists?
Al : Thermal And A Quarter. And Thermal And A Quarter.
Stuart : I like Ankur Tiwari and Piyush Mishra.
JJ : For me again it’s Thermal And a Quarter. I really like Spud In The Box. Oh ya, I like Color Compound also.
Final Question. Hypothetical situation – If you had to leave this band and you have the option to replace yourself with any artist from the country. Who would you choose?
JJ: Rohan. He’s an engineer in the studio and a friend. He’s got a really good ear. He should replace me.
Stuart : Naina Kundu
Al : Aditya Ashok.