Rocking the house

Band chronicles

Rocking the house

Enthusiastic, lively and witty — the members of ‘Aathma’ are as much fun off-stage as they are on the dais. Propagators of a cheerful brand of music, which they have christened as ‘happy rock’, this group is on a mission to infuse the joy of music into people’s hearts.

Having recently performed at The Humming Tree for ‘Freedom Awards — Season 4’, Nikhil Abraham, Prashanth Gnanamuthu, Sidharth Bharadwaj, Ajay George Joseph, Vyshak Varma and Prathik S N spoke to Rajitha Menon about gigs and life.

How would you describe your music?

Prashanth: As a band, we don’t fall under a particular genre. None of us have any musical connections in common but I guess that’s what makes us versatile. We like to experiment with everything that we bring in as different musicians and create something totally new.

What do you feel about the music scene here?

Prathik: It is picking up compared to what it was 3 to 4 years ago. At that time, you didn’t have many venues; now you have venues in every part of the city. And these places are quite supportive but they don’t really pay bands that much.

Speaking of payments, what are the challenges you have faced?

Prathik: Our biggest challenge is clients that don’t have a good enough budget. We are quite a big band; there are 7 of us. When we have to go play at a gig where you don’t get paid according to your expectations, it means that everybody does not walk off with an adequate amount for the effort they have put in.

Favourite gig till date...

Ajay: I have two personal favourites. Last year we played at Hard Rock Cafe here and we had a really fun time. The sound, the stage and the vibe; the way everything came together that night was amazing. The other one was one of the biggest performances; we did a TED talk in 2015. TEDx Bangalore was a huge milestone for us.  

Musical inspiration...

Sidharth: We, as a band, are from Bengaluru but origin-wise we are from all over the place. The band has Tamilians, Malayalis, a guy from Punjab, one from West Bengal and so on. The main thing is to bring in as many languages as we can and have as much of an audience as we can. We like to combine everything and call it ‘fun rock’ because we believe it is all about putting those dancing shoes on and having fun.

Current projects?

Prathik: We played at ‘Strawberry Fields’ and we recorded the whole show. We are going to put that out, part by part. There is also a plan to shoot three music videos in the next two months. After these are launched, then another album.  

Does singing in regional languages have a limitation?

Prathik: The language that would appeal to people in the North is Hindi. But we are planning to penetrate that market soon and we will definitely have a few Hindi songs in our next album. But these won’t be completely Hindi because that will ruin the vibe of what ‘Aathma’ is about.

The influx of regional languages in music...

Nikhil: It helps to connect with people more. Once we played a Kannada song in Forum and the mad energy of the crowd showed just about how much they loved it.

A funny backstage incident?

Vyshak: The band has written a song about our flautist Sidharth. Its basically about him being a pun master and he actually sucks at it. Prashanth: But he still doesn’t stop even after being ridiculed and mocked.

Sidharth: People should check out my page about puns.

Prashanth: No don’t, its lame.

You still haven’t answered...

Sidharth: So this happened at Acharya Institutes. It was one of the biggest crowds we have played for — there were around 30,000 people there. We decided to go all out and write new songs. For an added effect, we decided to make everyone wear ‘lungis’ on stage. So everyone dressed up in lungis (and some looked very awkward) and went on stage. Midway through the performance, we realised it wasn’t working out, went back and changed into pants. And then everyone in the crowd went ‘lungi.. lungi..’ But there wasn’t anything we could  really do about it. That was funny.

Vyshak: That wasn’t funny.

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