“It Took 20 Years Of Listening to James Brown”
In my experience, music lovers across Bangalore tend to associate the monsoons with one specific event in particular – The Tribute Season. The month of August saw Counter Culture hosting what they fondly called ‘The Time Capsule’. Bands crossing genres were seen paying tribute to legends like Bob Marley (covered by Mumbai’s Bombay Bassment), The Beatles (covered by Bangalore’s The Mad Orange Fireworks) and Radiohead (covered by Bangalore’s The Bicycle Days). Interspersed with original songs, each gig was a pleasant yet raw surprise. And the last of the season – James Brown (yes, you’re reading that right) – was no different.
On 31st August, Mumbai-based Indie band Something Relevant wrapped up Counter Culture’s impeccably-organized Tribute Season with an ode to The Godfather of Soul. Known for their stage performance, in-sync timing and all-round impish charm, the STR boys ensured fans were not disappointed. The band effortlessly covered iconic James Brown numbers like “I Feel Good”, “Sex Machine” and “Get Up Offa That Thing” (to name a few).
Each song played stayed with the audience long after their last drinks were over. The gig started out with the band members lamenting about their disappointment with Bangalore’s weather. But that didn’t last long. Cue in the first song and there was a sudden buzz in the air. Fingers flying over instruments, sultry vocals, and the crowd flirting with the band gave the illusion of just one vibe – fun.
Something Relevant’s second set of the night was the debut of a string of new original songs. As a STR fan, noticing a mild shift in genre was easy. What I found unexpected was the tightness with which these songs were delivered. In typical Something Relevant style, the lyrics were lucid and fun. The sound light yet intense. The audience’s mild surprise at the shift caused them to disperse. But it took one chorus to draw them back in.
As the gig came to a close, shouts for an encore couldn’t be ignored. While most people asked for their respective James Brown favourites, I could hear the Something Relevant loyals screaming for some of the band’s old work. STR wrapped up the night with the legendary “I Feel Good”, proclamations of love and a houseful of satisfied, pumped-up fans.
I had a chance to sit down with the boys and ask them a few questions. This is what Stuart DaCosta, Rohan Mazumdar, Jehangir Jehangir, Aalok Padhye, Tanmay Battacherjee and Ryan Sadri had to say.
Noopur: What was the most challenging part of doing a James Brown tribute?
Stuart: Being as funky as James Brown. It took us a while to get into the groove. Our entire lives in fact. It took 20 years of listening to James Brown, and 10 years of making music.
Noopur: Favourite James Brown song played tonight?
Jehangir: We all have different favourites. Sex Machine, Get Up Offa That Thing, I Feel Good, Out of Sight.
Noopur: You guys have been around for a while. Any drastic changes that you’ve seen in the music industry?
Stuart: People listening to original music. Online music shopping and online dissemination of music. Like NH7 for example has become a forerunner in the Indie scene.
There are a lot more like Score, Whatsthescene… all these guys are garnering around the live music scene and just kind of lifting it. Also, now you find dedicated audiences wherever you go. That wasn’t there before.
Noopur: Something Relevant’s line-up has changed quite a bit in the last couple of months.
Aalok: This is our original line-up now.
Noopur: Do you notice a different kind of synchronization between you guys?
Rohan: Completely different. We’re all on the same wavelength finally, and for the first time, we feel like a band. To a point where we all shop for the same things now. *laughs*
Noopur: I noticed Something Relevant’s sound has changed quite a bit. What is that change?
Tanmay: We’re more focused now. We know what kind of sound we want, what kind of songs we want. We know where we stand.
Noopur: Which city do you guys feel is the most receptive to live performances?
Stuart: Pune and Bangalore, definitely.
Noopur: One word to describe Something Relevant?
Ryan: Hungry. Emerging. In a nutshell – Relevant.
Feature Image courtesy – Counter Culture, Bangalore.