Inside Skrat’s Fiery New Album ‘Bison’
The Chennai rockers’ frontman Sriram T.T. on why they prefer to release albums on short notice and tour plans
There’s no better time to be candid than when your album is out there and Sriram T.T., vocalist-guitarist of Chennai rock band Skrat, is ranting about everything from two-faced “trust fund kids” who identify as part of the extreme-left to the clutter of Facebook newsfeeds.
But even when it comes to their own album Bison, which was prefaced with the release of their song “Fireworks” a week prior, Sriram is unsparing. He says with a laugh, “It is not the best song on the album. It’s not even close to the top five, it’s in the second half for me.” But he explains how the song was perfect to introduce the storyline of Bison, the anthropomorphic army general who’s awoken to raise havoc. Sriram adds, “He wakes up, decimates the world and goes back to sleep. It’s like a refresh button for the world.”
A refresh button sounds like something the world could do with in today’s times of would-be megalomaniacs. The soundtrack to Bison’s culling are 10 tracks of Skrat aiming to be their loudest, heaviest and most aggro. The follow-up to 2014’s The Queen was recorded with studio engineer Toby Joseph amidst plenty of ill luck – from bassist Satish Narayanan leaving to move to Canada to delays in recording. Sriram says, referring to Murphy’s Law, “Murphy was my best friend. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The amount of adjustments the band did… we’re now called Adjustment Bureau.”
Sriram told us earlier that the band entered the studio with an intention of creating a dance rock album, but quickly moved into heavy territory. “This is the first time where none of us come to the jam room with any ideas. I didn’t want to think about the album unless I was in the jam room. That’s why it took a while as well. We went completely down the live route. That got a purer vibe from what we wanted to do. I didn’t know we wanted to do this kind of heavy. We didn’t think we’d go this heavy, but we have,” the frontman says.
Bison still retains the jump-around rhythm section of their previous releases, shout-along sections (no matter how repetitive) and chunky breakdowns, but it seems like an album for hardcore fans, with a few exceptions such as the dance-y “Red Ox Hide” that turns rabid in its last minute and the closing ballad-esque title track “Bison.” Sriram recognizes the hardcore fans as the reason they chose to release the album via their website rather than seek out an exclusive via platforms such as Apple Music. The frontman says the band didn’t want to “alienate” their earliest fans. “The people who‘ve been to every gig–they’ll come to two gigs on the same day and all–they’re college kids who are in bands, they’re the reason why we do this. In the end, we don’t want to alienate them, because if I was them, I’d be pissed off.”
The challenge now, of course, is to take the entire album live, when they launch it later this month in Bengaluru, followed by festival stops including the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune, as well as Express editions. Sriram says, “We sound great live, but we don’t know how to make this record sound like that. That’s a real headache, because we did some stupid shit this time – we recorded guitars in my garage, we recorded vocals through a guitar amp.”
Listen to Bison here