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Ever since I can remember, at most given points in my life, most days in my life, I’ve had songs or tunes of some sort stuck in my head. When I was ten years old, I had a song from the Tamil movie ‘Bombay’ in my head coupled with a picture of the sultry Sonali Bendre strutting around in her Alukkas sponsored jewelery filled outfit to , quite strangely, matching the beat of the drums that Rahman sequenced for the song. That was then.

As this post is being conceptualised(I love sounding all academic), the song stuck in my head is a song from a Malayalam ad where the now famous Kavya Madhavan comes running in with two sarees in her hand and sings “aiiii vanaloo vanamal”, heradling the arrival of the newest detergent into her life. (The ad has been taken off the air, probably on her request; it being a damage to her stature and all). The point I think I’m trying to get at is that do most people have tunes bungee jumping around in their head at all points in time. I guess, it’s impossible to know. Well,the point I was trying to make is actually a question and an argument. (Why do I always complicate things).

The argument I propose is as follows(there goes the academician in me again.Ha). Do only the most creative of musicians get the best musical ideas? I’m not too sure. It’s probably the musicians that are capable of executing the ideas, but that does not mean the rest of us don’t have as good ideas. Don’t you think it’s possible that a person sitting next to you on the bus could by some chance have a better tune than say an Eric Clapton or a Warren Mendoza(Zero). I say yes. Why not? Maybe, it’s possible that some guy sitting in Wisconsin could have written a better starting riff to Layla. At the risk of being stoned to death(I don’t mean the state of inebriation) , I would say yes it is possible.

Maybe some of the world’s best musical ideas are some we’ve never heard. I’d like to think so. Having said that I sincerely hope my father does not read this post.

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Thermal

“Frank Zappa once said rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t speak for people who can’t read.” Bruce Lee(no no I know what you’re thinking, not him) plays the opening riff of the song; the lights flash, the drums kick in. That was the day I knew I wanted to be a musician. I wanted to sound like them, I wanted people to sing my songs, I wanted to be them.

Thermal And A Quarter, in my books(not that I have many books) is the single most important band to have made music in this country. The dedication, the commitment to their art and yet the fact they stay on ground and know exactly what can and will happen. Thermal have just finished work on their fourth album(soon to be released). But the bitter truth is that they will never be as famous as U2 or a Metallica. But the fact of the matter is I don’t know if I’d be willing to give that up. I, as a fan, as a listener, don’t know if i would be able to share the band with the rest of the world. As selfish as it sounds, I would want them to just be the band they are just because I know that they have made their mark and that they will carry on doing what they want to do irrespective of whether they become famous or not.

The sound, the lyrics, the voices, the atmosphere at their live shows, and their personalities. I remember a show at St John’s, Bangalore when Thermal, the first band on stage started their gig only to be halted midway as it started raining. Bruce looked on. Rhude smiled. Rajeev checked his bass pedal. But the band just played on. Not a single soul moved. Jagan and I moved right up in front and sang along to all their songs. That would have to be one of the best gigs I have been to. That is the kind of band Thermal is.

As I move forward as a musician I realise that there is a lot more than playing gigs and getting drunk. It’s about the music, the feel, the connection. It’s a completely different feeling. There comes a moment in your musical life when you know that things can’t get better. You feel the vibe. You love the energy, but sadly you know it might not ever be recreated. Such is life.

Thermal has given me the best music I can listen to, the best memories. Thanks guy for this..

It’s a weird weird world said the spider to the fly.

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Caesar’s Palace

“One two treee four”. We all laugh. Kishan looks at me and says “Wot raaaa. I can’t say treee raaa.” That was the first time Caesar’s Palace jammed. Anurag with his broken guitar, torn shorts and chappal, scratching his chest. Fat David with his black bass telling me that he wanted to get drunk after this and girl-like Kishan complaining that his double-bass work was affected by the milk he didn’t drink. And of course, me standing there singing Gibberish.

That was the first time we jammed together. Two and a half years later, as I look back all I see loads of fun, times we got drunk, times we laughed at each other, times we stuck up for each other, times we got drunk(didn’t i say that?). And I realise the good timeswere sweet. Every band has problems and so did we. We sat around discussed, almost split once and got back. It was comparable to a teenage couple’s relationship.

Don’t digress Unni; back to music. We played several gigs across the country and attained a certain musical stature within a limited amount of time that only few bands could boast off. It’s a pity that very few people knew about the band, one of the most talented bands I’ve seen; of course I’m clearly biased.

Clearly, the best thing about the band was the fact that we had fun. We played what we felt like because we were a jam band, we had a couple of beers on stage and off, and that led us to the music that we were in search of. I rememeber the one time we jammed for around three hours with just a few candles, a bottle of whiskey and our music. We were just enjoying the music but were not tight. we finish a song and Anu turns to me and in the most genuine voice possible says” EYy myan we are so tight raaaa”.

Having moved to Chennai, and hardly jamming and playing gigs with the band, it feels like an arm has been cut off. I realised one thing, only when I don’t have something do I realise how much I miss it.

Cheers boys(Kishan, Anurag, Kenny, Jason and david) for all the good times.

zack_de_la_rocha.jpg

“Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy” sang Zach De La Rocha of the rap/metal band Rage Against The Machine. He was essentially “rapping” about the hypocritical nature of the American Administration and how these “imperialist lies coerced countries into democracy” almost against their wills.

As I sat in class and hear people rant about the “deprivation they saw” and the immense torture they were subjected me, I felt this funny feeling in my stomach something similar to what a north-Indian feels while having south Indian food( all sarcasm intended). I felt sick. I felt disgusted. I felt like taking a crowbar and shoving it right into some of their knee caps(thanks rajeev). Everyone suddenly felt so concerned about the poor. Granted that we did feel hurt by what we saw, but to react in such a way. Absurd. Some people claimed they were pro-poor(does that mean he/she wanted everyone to be poor?). What I gathered was that he/she was sick of the poverty. But then again ask an Anil Ambani or a Lakshmi Mittal if they were in favour of poverty and they would sy otherwise. But then again how are they the richest people in the world?

The post-deprivation trip disgusted me. Just the fact that i saw hypocrisy. I probably am portraying a ‘holier than thou’ image but this is exactly what I felt. I protested. They should not expect to change the world in a week(the whole notion of change is misinterpreted) and not be so hypocritical. I said what I felt and strangely enough i was labelled a cynic. My professor’s question convinced me. “How many of you’ll want to be rural reporters?”. Not a single hand. A resounding silence. I got my answer.

It was evident just a few of us felt this way. My friend(Rajeev) and I spoke about this. I was pleased in a weird sort of way to know that at least one other person felt the same way. But the rest didn’t care.

A good two weeks later. The dust has settled. The deprivation trip seems like a distant memory. No one cares. Rajeev and I speak about this on and off. The only thing we conclude is that we both wanted to”devastate them with crowbars”.

The song made sense. Rocha wrote about the American administration but it made sense now. He was talking about the hypocrisy in all our lives. Granted, I’m probably a cynic but one thing i hope I’ll never become is a “fucking hypocrite” as Zach de la Rocha puts it.

Amen to that!

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