LIVE Banned: Came and Putting Scene
When confused, here’s what you do. Take some Tollywood, Hollywood, Bollywood, and some true Kollywood eshtyle kuthu. Add some auto rickshaw angst. Stir in some comic relief, some social satire, and a five-member band specialising in the genre of ‘Awesome’. Mix well. Garnish with plenty of Drama. Served best on stage.
And there you have it – LIVE Banned.
This Bangalore based ‘Indo-International mass music’ band, as they like to call themselves, comprising Amrit Rao (lead vocals), Sridhar Varadarajan (guitar) Siddhart Kamath (keyboard), Dheerendra Doss (drums) and Raveesh Tirkey (bass) have been entertaining people in the most eccentric manner possible since July 2011. Whether it’s naming their debut album, ‘If You Park Here Your Tyre Will Be Air Out’, (after guitarist Sridhar spotted these words on a kebab joint board in Bangalore) or letting their lyrics reflect their kooky take on the mundane – this is your quintessential band-next-door.
Here’s what lead vocalist Amrit, had to tell us about their debut album, released in July 2014.
Aishwarya: We understand that producing an album wasn’t on your bucket list when you first played at the Big Junction Jam Festival in Bangalore in 2011. Who, why and what “putted” the idea?
Amrit: Yes, you are right. It was definitely not what we wanted to do initially. The idea was to play only live as we knew the visual element is very important to get the complete experience of the act, and what we do. But at the same time, we realised that getting our material out in some form was absolutely essential to reach out to more people locally and internationally. Also, the ‘scenesters’ and event promoters/festival programmers take a band seriously (even if it’s a comedy act) only when there is an “album” associated. This led to the idea of making a DVD with music videos of all the songs, but it wasn’t feasible practically and financially. So, the only viable option was getting a regular album out like all bands do. The challenge was to bring out the same madness when you watch us live, aurally.
Aishwarya: Any scandalous or exciting stories behind any of your seven tracks from your debut album, ‘If You Park Here Your Tyre Will Be Air Out’?
Amrit: There’s definitely a story waiting to happen. Oh wait, there was one but it was during the filming of the Death Dance video in Mahabalipuram. We were stopped by cops at 1 AM when we were entering the town in search of food. We were later taken to the police station and questioned. Yes, looking for a restaurant or food post 10:30 PM is a crime in this country.
Aishwarya: Who would you love to hear appreciation and criticism for this album from?
Amrit: Honey Singh. Oops, missed the Yo Yo. Sorry!
Aishwarya: What is that one unique feature that every member of your band contributes to your music?
Amrit: Each member brings in a different style which makes each song unique in terms of sound.
Aishwarya: Though Indian audiences are generally open and accepting, Live Banned has really pushed the envelope by blending comedy and parody into its music. Although taking that risk has proved to be successful, what nerves did you have to wrack to go up on stage for the first time?
Amrit: Yes, comedy/parody as a genre is coming of age here in India now and the audience is accepting of it, but there’s a long way to go. We just wanted to have fun, make fun of other people and ourselves and entertain the crowd. ‘Entertainment’ being the key word here. We knew it was a big gamble, but someone had to do it. We had to do it. We knew it would either be a disaster or a superhit. Fortunately for us it’s been the latter.
Aishwarya: You’ve claimed in the past that your music belongs to the genre of “Awesome”. Apart from a myriad of languages, cultures and road scenes, who and what inspires your music?
Amrit: I think it’s the society, social issues, the different sounds, the people and the diversity that inspire us. There are so many classes which we can cater to. But having said that, our music is also for the masses. We didn’t want to restrict it to just the ‘scene’ crowd.
Aishwarya: As colorful as your costumes are, so are your various personas. Rank in order of what you think describes you all the best:
– Social activists
– Little rebels
– Mass musicians
1: Mass musicians
2: Little rebels
4: Social activists
Aishwarya: First word that comes to your mind when I say: ‘Performing live to an audience’
Aishwarya: ‘LIVE Banned’
Aishwarya: ‘Early morning song’
Aishwarya: ‘Band hangout’
Amrit: ‘Dosa camp’
Amrit: ‘Deeeeiiii’ (insert expletive)
Aishwarya: And finally, what’s next in terms of your albums and tours?
Amrit: I’m not sure if we would like to do another album. We are planning something much, much bigger, which will also take a very long time. But right now, we want to tour in the other three directions (North, West and East), bring out interesting merchandise, and reach out to the international audience as well. We are playing a couple of festivals in November which include the New Wave Asia fest in Goa, and gigs in Delhi as well.
For more on LIVE Banned, visit their website here.
You could also check out their Facebook page here.