See The Sound
Every time we’ve written the date these past couple of days, we’ve inevitably put down 2011 first, before scratching it out and replacing it with 2012. After all, we’ve got habituated to writing down 2011 during the past 12 months. We experience something similar when it comes to talking about or transcribing anything related to the Indian indie rock band called Sky Rabbit, which will launch their debut album at a gig tonight, Wednesday, January 4, at Blue Frog. We inevitably refer to them as Medusa first, and then correct ourselves. After all, we’ve been calling the Mumbai-based electro pop-rock act Medusa for the past eight years; they’ve been known as Sky Rabbit for all of five months.
The name change was a long time coming, say the band members, but “we couldn’t agree on one”. They’ve been wanting a new moniker ever since they went from being an industrial rock act to an electro pop-rock group in 2006. That’s when they obtained a sampler, got subsequently fascinated by its powers, and changed their sound forever, and it should be said, for the better. Today,
Medusa Sky Rabbit, currently comprising founder-members, vocalist and songwriter Raxit Tewari and guitarist Rahul Nadkarni along with bassist Siddharth Shah and drummer Harsh Karangale, has one of the most distinct sounds in Indian indie.
It’s a sound that’s laid-back yet vibrant, one that’s driven by Nadkrani’s clear, bright guitar tone and Karangale’s muscular, efficient drumming, and steered by the voice and lyrics of frontman Tewari whose deadpan drawl can often come across as disdainful as that of James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem or as despondent as that of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. They cover tunes by both those bands in concerts, as well as those by Radiohead (another group they’ve often been compared t0) and more obscure acts like Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.
The band members will however neither confirm nor deny these as obvious influences. For as easy as their music sounds to the ear, they are equally difficult to interview. “We listen to loads of music…[our songs are] a collage of everything we have ever felt,” said Karangale. “I’d like to say Drive D [on my computer].” Their lyrics, of course, have always been abstract and packed with such non sequiturs as “Me for President/And my Anti-Coke Ganpati/Me for President/We’ll fight this rank/A blasphemy”, which they sing on one of their best-known tunes, “Anti-Coke Ganpati”. Asking them to explain their songs, or inspirations, only lead to more questions. It’s not that they don’t reply, it’s just that their enigmatic responses are delivered with such sincerity and conviction that it’s a fool’s game trying to unearth the hidden meanings behind each line.
Who is “the president” they sing about on “Anti-Coke Ganpati”? Who is the man who’s “never full” on “Oil”? Who is “underground” in “March”? “A lot of it functions on a second-person level”, said Tewari. “I’m not talking about any particular person. Maybe a couple of songs—like ‘Swimmer’—are conversations or dialogues you’d have with a friend.” It can be easy to forget how young they are. They’ve been around, as Medusa, for just over eight years, and they’re all still in their early- to mid-twenties. While Shah, a copywriter at FCB Ulka, is the only one with a full-time job, the rest are focusing their energies on Sky Rabbit full-time, managing to sustain themselves by living at home with their families and not having to pay rent.
To us, a lot of Sky Rabbit’s music plays like, for lack of a better comparison, modern art. It’s a random collection of words as opposed to shapes or colours, and you’re free to interpret it as you feel. “They [the songs] are not meant to be a commentary,” said Tewari. “Just a gathering of thoughts.” It’s, in many ways, the visual idea being represented through sound. And thus fitting then that they chose the name Sky Rabbit because Tewari believes that the most common animal shape people see in clouds is that of a rabbit.
Indeed, at times, Sky Rabbit, both the band and its music, sounds so dreamy and ethereal that it’s tempting to call their brand of Indian indie “stoner electro pop-rock” but the lack of thematic cohesiveness within a single song (forget album) belies a musical vision that’s anything but apathetic. Because if we were to read between the lines, there’s a strong thread that runs through the record. Whether it’s the idea of self-evolution on “I Become I”, the resistance to be one of the herd on “Clone” or the loss of innocence they talk about on “Sweet Smile Diving”, they are a sharply observant and opinionated act. As Karangale told us, “Maybe we don’t sound angry but we do have a point of view.”
Sky Rabbit by Sky Rabbit, EMI, Rs195 will be released on Tuesday, January 10. You can buy a copy at their concert tonight.Tags: Blue Frog, Medusa, Music, Sky Rabbit
LocationMathuradas Mills Compound
Tulsi Pipe Road
Relevant DatesWednesday, January 4
Ticketing & Price InfoRs300