In The Studio: Menwhopause
The Delhi alt rockers are working on their third album, their first release since vocalist Sarabjit Singh Chadha left the band
As menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty puts it, his band members have “always had things going on besides menwhopause.” Perhaps that explains why there hasn’t been a new menwhopause record, or a tour since 2013. menwhopause played their last club show in Mumbai in 2013, alongside Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, during his India Tour. The ex-Sonic Youth member played a couple of shows around the country, including a headlining slot at Ziro Festival of Music, in Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, Kutty and Randeep Singh of menwhopause, alongside local promoter and friend Bobby Hano put together the idyllic music festival that is Ziro Festival of Music. The upcoming album, their third, is titled Neon Delhi, and is due later in the year. It will also be their first effort since the departure of former vocalist and songwriter Sarabjit Singh Chadha.
While guitarist Kutty mentions that “it will be the classic menwhopause sound”, or what one might expect – things have moved around a bit within the studio, and the band per se. With Chadha no longer in the band, vocal duties have been taken over primarily by bassist Randeep Singh. This change has also pushed Kutty to do a lot more songwriting. “While I did write a few of the songs on the first album, Home, Sarab had taken over entirely for Easy,” says Kutty, adding that his new role as a songwriter is to be blamed for the delay. The band did do a small writing and bootleg session with former vocalist Chadha, in early 2013, when Neon Delhi was titled Haze. Since then, the record has been on the slow burner.
The band have been tracking parts for the songs, at the studios in Saraswati School of Music, in southern Delhi whenever they could make time. Former drummer for the band, Paul Schneiter (of ethno-punk act Tritha) is helping the band, which is now a trio, track most parts. The band has also been through two drummers, including Schneiter who took off to Paris for a long while to focus on other music projects. Bhanu Thakur, of Global Music Institute, also came on board for a while to track most of the drum parts, and left due to personal commitments. “Bhanu was instrumental in composing some of the songs as well,” says Kutty, “But we also had Sahil Mendiratta (of Indigo Children, Frame/Frame Live) come on and record one song with us.” On stage however, the band will employ the services of sessions drummers, including old time collaborator Schneiter, and Mendiratta, who has performed with them in the past.
Kolkata-based studio genius Miti Adhikari, who also worked on Easy, will be taking over mixing and mastering duties for the album, which is being self-produced by menwhopause. Kutty hopes to get it all done soon, “and head out to Calcutta for a little while, and figure it out with Miti,” to ensure a (hopefully) timely release of the record in the first half of the year, before they drift off again. Given the camaraderie the band mates share, the new-old menwhopause avatar will definitely have its fair share of crazy, and somber moments. A hint of this was evident when they played their set-closer, “I’m On A Boat, Bitches!” at the Ziro Festival of Music in 2014.
Kutty doesn’t divulge much about the songs, preferring to ask us to wait and hear the album to figure it all out. What he does reiterate though is the record will be “more of a soundtrack really, to a short story, rather than an album.” It’s what he feels is a better way to describe the direction Neon Delhi has taken, songs that accompany everyday Delhi stories, as experienced by them — as individuals and band members, of a classic New Delhi outfit. “They’re basically songs about a city we love to hate,” he says.