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Jeet Thayil Records Album With New Project Still Dirty

The poet and vocalist-guitarist from jazz grime duo Sridhar/Thayil has roped in rock band Menwhopause’s guitarist Anup Kutty and reggae band The Ska Vengers’s bassist Tony Guinard, among others for his new rock band

Anurag Tagat Apr 25, 2014
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(Center) Thayil with Sandeep Madhavan and Katie Mackay of the Burning Deck. Photo: Ravi Menezes

(Center) Thayil with Sandeep Madhavan and Katie Mackay of the Burning Deck. Photo: Vamsi Krishna

Poet, guitarist and spoken word artist Jeet Thayil has been on the road for the last two years, not just to gig with his jazz/grime group Sridhar/Thayil, but to promote his book Narcopolis, which released in 2012.  Says Thayil, “I haven’t been in one place for more than two weeks.” Music, says Thayil, has always been a priority for the guitarist, except he couldn’t spare several hours to write or record songs.

So Thayil’s new music project, Still Dirty, aims to sound unpolished and spontaneous with elements of rock, funk, blues and a “miniscule” amount of jazz, according to the guitarist. Says Thayil, “The point of the music is that you don’t clean it up, you do it in one take.” Still Dirty released its first song, “Like a Crack,” in December last year, when Thayil met Italian bassist/producer Luka Lagash in Berlin and decided to jam.

Still Dirty has a flexible lineup depending on where they are performing, according to Thayil. Still Dirty played at Lodi Restaurant earlier this month, featuring what Thayil calls the Delhi lineup – comprising guitarist Anup Kutty [from rock band Menwhopause], bassist Tony Guinard [from ska/reggae band The Ska Vengers], Finnish saxophone player Santra and drummer Bhanu Thakur. They also jammed with vocalist Suman Sridhar, who has recorded the song “Sister S” with Thayil and Bengaluru alternative/electronica band The Burning Deck. Says Thayil, “I went in to record with the Burning Deck] with a few melodies in mind and two lines. We finished the whole thing in three hours.”

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The Burning Deck frontman Sandeep Madhavan adds that Thayil is part of his upcoming collaborative four-track EP. Says Madhavan about the EP, “Burning Deck is very electro, but these jams sound like a jazz cover of an electronica song.” Madhavan and Thayil first met at a book-reading event in Bengaluru earlier this year, where Thayil was scheduled to read after the Burning Deck’s performance. Says Madhavan, “But he saw us and said he wanted to play. He plugged in and we did this version of [poet Rabindranath] Tagore’s ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ called ‘Where The High Is Held High’ with British trumpet-player Katie Mackay.”

Thayil is also planning a separate Still Dirty album, which is currently being recorded at producer Paul Schneiter’s studio in Delhi with Kutty, Guinard and Thakur. Says Thayil, “There’s no name for the album yet, but we’ve got about seven or eight songs at least. It’s going to be quick. That’s the point of the music – we’re not trying to make every note sound like Steely Dan.”

Listen to “Where The High Is Held High” by Still Dirty + The Burning Deck

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