The Supersonics’ Ananda Sen Talks New Directions and New Plans
Supersonic’s frontman says the split was good for the band
After releasing their universally acclaimed debut Maby Baking in 2009, The Supersonics from Kolkata disbanded in 2010. Frontman Ananda Sen, moved to the UK to study and the rest of the group went their separate ways. After two years, Sen is back, The Supersonics have reunited and there’s a new album on its way. ROLLING STONE INDIA spoke to Sen about the lessons learnt during the band’s hiatus and their new plans.
Hi Ananda, you mentioned you’d written a whole bunch of new songs while you were in the UK. Tell us about how they fit into the new Supersonics album.
Well here’s the thing. Maby Baking was a narrative about life in a city like Kolkata. It was negative, pessimistic cry for a release of some sorts. I don’t like the idea of constantly putting down the city that I call home, but the fact remains that Kolkata has become a black hole of sorts. The city acts as a breeding ground for great art because people have all the time in the world here to pursue their interests, but that art never gets to see the light of day. In the UK, I was exposed to the exact opposite. I met musicians of all sorts, painters, writers, actors, designers… you name it and they had this booming infrastructure to support their art.
This positive energy totally rubbed off on me and I started writing things with a more positive outlook and at a prolific rate. I originally started recording these songs for my own solo album but somewhere down the line, started imagining members of The Supersonics featuring in them. We’re now actively working on all this new material, which is shaping up very differently from the stuff we were playing previously.
Of course, now we have another problem: we had more than 50 songs when the band broke up, out of which only eleven made it to Maby Baking. So now we have 40 odd songs plus the new stuff and are struggling to figure out which ones to put on the new album. I think that’s actually a great problem to deal with!
As one of the main songwriters for The Supersonics, what were the different influences and sounds you soaked up while you were away?
In terms of sound, the UK has always produced bands which are very quirky in nature. What I saw this time around was that all these bands still have this quirkiness, but with a more contemporary feel. After Glasgow, I was in New York for a couple of months where I noticed that the influences were the same but the sound was very different… very New York. I heard this band called Fishdoctor, [they are a] really cool bunch of guys and definitely imbibe the New York sound. The sound is quirky, but at the same time, it sounds like it comes from musicians who are living life in the fast lane. So yeah, I kind of picked up lots of little things here and there in terms of sound but I really don’t know whether it works in a band like The Supersonics. All these things that I’m talking about are rooted very deep in their culture. In India, our culture is very different so I definitely don’t want to force it into our sound. Who knows, maybe it might just pop out unconsciously.
Let’s talk shows. How close is a new Supersonics tour and how will your gigs be different this time around?
We don’t have any specific dates lined up, but we are definitely going to do a comeback tour very soon where we are going to do the old stuff and also start bringing out the newer stuff. It’s important for us to gig behind the new songs before we record them because that’s really when the songs start taking shape.
As I mentioned before, the new songs are more open and give us the space to jam and explore new territories. It gets tedious playing the same song the same way over and over again . This way, it keeps things interesting for us and the audience, who will never hear a song done the same way twice. How I’m envisioning the gigs is to break it up into two sets where the first set will consist of the straight up tracks
while the second set consists of the more spacey jam tracks so the crowd can ease into the heavier stuff more easily.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned that splitting up (or taking some time apart) was the best thing to have happened to the Supersonics. How does that work and would you recommend it to other bands?
I definitely think it works. When you’re in the middle of something, whether it’s a job, a band or even a relationship (and trust me, a band is like a marriage; The Supersonics is the longest relationship I have ever had), sometimes a time out helps you reflect and put things back into perspective.
Nitin [Mani, Supersonics’ bassist] said something to me when we got the band back together. He said that it’s very easy to break something, but it’s extremely difficult to build something and maintain it. It’s a very acute observation and one I totally understand now.