1-800, one the newest guys on the block in Pune’s live music scene. With songs like Revolution and Alackaday, they’re being noticed by gig frequenters, getting calls for competitions and gigs across the country.
Puneet Parija: Vocalist
Swatantra Sarode: Guitarist
Aditya Virmani: Guitarist
Sajib Ranjan Biswas: Bassist
Sreekar Ch: Drummer
TheTossedSalad: 1-800. We understand it to be India’s toll-free code. A rather peculiar name for a band.
1-800: We believe that music should come free to everyone. Though we have a heavy western influence in our music style, our lyrics are about the lives of young individuals who are stuck between generations and are trying to break free from the cultural divide that India is.
TTS: How exactly did 1-800 happen?
1-800: Puneet, Swatantra, & Sreekar used to study in MIT (Maharashtra Institute of Technology) together and they started having jamming sessions there. Midway, they realised that it should be something more serious than just jams. So, the band started in late 2008 but the line-up got completed in 2009.
TTS: How has the musical journey been for you? Do you see yourselves having evolved since the establishment of the band?
1-800: When we started off, we were just a couple of amateurs like any other band. But 1-800 has actually picked up pace this season. We participated in Strawberry Fields’09 (Bangalore) where we came in the top 9. Since then we’ve played in college competitions in Pune, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Lucknow.
We won at Alacrity, the AISSMS fest in Pune, were runners up at Rockford Ridge which was featured in Channel V’s School is Cool. We have also given headlining performances at MyBand Night, Hyderabad, headlined with Workshop & DNPB, headlines with ISB&M with Javed Ali & Ashwamedh, etc.
TTS: What are your songs about? Also, can you tell us a little about your music creating process?
1-800: We’ve been very influenced by people around us in our songs. Revolution is based on a revolution and was written when we were all angry with something or the other. Rum & Coke was about a person who has lost his will to live and he gets a bottle of rum & coke and that is the answer to all his problems.
TTS: In the recent past, there has been an increase of technology in the music recording process in which softwares are available for bands to get a professional sound. As a band, do you intend to go the modern way and use such softwares or stick to the conventional method of recording without such alterations?
1-800: Aditya’s a very old school guy and all his guitar effects, riffs, etc. are from the 80s. Swatantra is doing a sound engineering course and tries to bring in the new technology on stage. So, we have a mix of both the old school and the new age sound which shapes up our music.
TTS: What is unique about the band?
1-800: The attitude of the band is unique-we are what we are. How we act on stage is how we are in our daily lives. The music reflects what we are. There is no farce in this portrayal. Unlike other bands, we won’t write songs about things that aren’t relevant to our lives and try and portray us as something we’re not.
TTS: Who are your musical influences?
1-800: As a band, the main influences are Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert. Considering personal influences, for Swatantra, it is Baiju from Motherjane & Shakti Kapoor; for Puneet it is Eddie Vedder; for Sajib, it is Primus; for Sreekar, it is Chad Smith of Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
TTS: What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
1-800: Basically it has been to try and get recognised for our talents and to become ‘something’ in the Indian music scene. This has been a task enough for us and to overcome this, we’ve participated in anything that comes our way so that we can actually get out there and get ourselves heard.
TTS: You just won the best Rock band at AISSMS. What’s next on the line for you?
1-800: We’ve been signed on with Seamless Records for an album which is managed by Seam Edu and they’ll be promoting us. Also, I-Rock in June is on the line. We’re also planning an album launch tour but this depends on whether the album is complete by June or not. So till then, we’re concentrating on getting our act together.
TTS: In what ways are you trying to market your band? What media have you used?
1-800: Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace have helped in elevating the band to the next level by giving a platform for our music to be shared with a wider audience. Before our gigs, radio channels have also helped us. We’re an indie band right now and so, the fans are the ones who are promoting us.
TTS: What do you see as the future of Indian rock bands?
1-800: 10 years back, I’d say that Indian bands didn’t have a bright future. But in this decade, bands like Motherjane, Junkyard Groove, have made themselves known and allowed their music to actually reach the masses. This has provided bands like us with a hope that it’s not only Bollywood music that is prevalent in India and that there IS an audience willing to listen to non-main stream genres. Thanks to them, we feel that even we can also do something with our music.
TTS: Which has been your most memorable performance till date?
1-800: The performance at Symbiosis Center for Information Technology (SCIT), Hinjewadi, Pune, for Epiphany in December, 2009, when we were giving a headlining performance with Workshop and DNPB was by far the most memorable performance for us. We got massive crowd support and after that, there’s been no looking back.
TTS: Any last words.
1-800: Go home. Drink rum and coke. And listen to our songs!
Interviewed by Rohini Kejriwal