Jethro Tull + keyboard warriors: Interview with the Anand Bhaskar Collective
Fan or not, odds are that you’ve heard of The Anand Bhaskar Collective somewhere before. Perhaps you saw them featured on Kappa TV’s Music Mojo program or maybe you’ve read of them snapping up various music awards or recognized their music used in the soundtrack for various popular web series.
This Mumbai-based alternative rock band has been kicking around since 2011 and has stacked up a fairly impressive list of accomplishments since then, especially for only having released two studio albums.
We chatted with the band about how they started out, asked them about their intriguing album names and what’s next for them:
1) How did the Collective come about?
Anand used to be the lead singer of a band called MH 04. During that time, he was already working on original compositions in Hindi that he wanted to further develop. And after performing a song titled ‘Hey Ram’ at a couple of concerts, he became more confident in blending a heavy alt-rock sound with Hindi vocals sung in a style inspired by Indian classical music.
He then wrote the album ‘Samsara’ on his own, and recorded it with the help of other musicians when it was nearing completion. This line-up changed after the launch of the album, and is currently Anand on vocals, Neel Patel (Anand’s ex-bandmate from MH04) on bass, Shravan Sridhar on violin, Chandan Raina on rhythm and lead guitars, and Sishir Tao on drums.
We’ve been quite busy; we participated in Music Mojo Season 3 and 5, released our second album and followed it up with a 5 city tour, and are confirmed for the Mahindra Open Sky Festival this year. We’re already working on our third album and music videos for tracks from ‘Excuse Me.’
2) The sound and style of the band’s music is really intriguing. Who or what are some of your influences?
Well, we all really like melodic songs; there’s no point of a massive riff or drop or groove or solo if it’s not preceded or followed by a melody that a 3 year old can sing. We want anyone to be able to hum or sing along to our songs immediately, so that is one aspect to our music that we consciously pay attention to.
Musically, our influences are varied, as between the 5 of us, we listen to pretty much everything. We try to soak in as much as we can and translate that into our music and our sound.
3) We’ve learnt that you despise being called a fusion band and prefer to be known as an alternative-rock band. Why?
Jethro Tull famously incorporates flute melodies in their music, but they aren’t a fusion band, they’re a rock band. Sepultura used Brazilian folk instruments in their music but they’re a metal band. Similarly, we have elements of folk in our sound, but we’re an alternate-rock band.
4) Why did you name your last album, ‘Excuse Me’?
When we started writing the album, being a keyboard warrior and social media outrage was just coming into vogue. It was fashionable to scream your lungs out online without really thinking about what you were saying, and an echo chamber would amplify it. So, our title was a reference to that attitude of interacting with people who refuse to acknowledge and engage with perspectives other than their own. If one only believes that what he/she know is best, how will one grow or learn or evolve?
It’s a question that extends to different issues – social, emotional, political and spiritual. ‘Excuse me…but do you see what the government is doing? Excuse me… do you understand I love you? Excuse me… you may be Krishna and all that but I’m Radha!’ The album tries to make the listener think just a little more critically about their own set of ingrained beliefs.
5) The Collective has addressed chewing tobacco, religious riots and political issues too in your songs. What made you choose these topics?
I don’t think we consciously try to be political or anti-establishment. There are just things we see around us that piss us off so we sing about them. And then there are are things around us that inspire us and make us love and laugh and we sing about those things as well. We’re basically just reflecting on our environment through our songs.
6) Any words of advice to aspiring musicians?
The only thing we can say with 100% confidence is: just keep at it. People will tell you that you’re not worth it, that your music is shit etc. We still are told this. But, this is part of the process. Take it all in, channel it and keep going.
At the same time, stay grounded. If your music is actually not that great, accept it, and then work on improving your skills. Hard work, preparation and self-evaluation are all key. One day, you’ll get there.
Whether you’re an old fan or (now) a new one, we’re sure you’re in the mood to listen to The Collective’s music after reading this interview. Click here to listen to 'Samsara', click here to listen to 'Excuse Me' and click here to keep up with upcoming gigs on Facebook.
Written by Swoyam Tuladhar
Featured image source: Anand Bhaskar Collective