Will Scribe Ever Sound The Same Again?
After vocalist Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy calling time on the Mumbai hardcore band in November last year, vocalists Siddharth Basrur and Viraaj Saxena have big shoes to fill
At the Bengaluru edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Mumbai hardcore band Scribe were set to play their only set at the annual multi-city festival. The group were hanging out at the Red Bull Tour Bus Stage, but vocalist Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy was nowhere in sight. Bassist Srinivas Sunderrajan aka Vaas was quick to mention that their mad-hatter vocalist was on a break. Guitarist Prashant Shah said with a straight face that Krishnamoorthy had left the band, and introduced me to Scribe’s new vocalists, Siddharth Basrur [from alt metal band Goddess Gagged] and Viraaj Saxena [previously from hardcore/prog band Reverrse Polarity]. What was first brushed aside as a joke — knowing metal bands’s tendencies to troll journalists — it was later confirmed by Basrur that he was Scribe’s new co-frontman, along with Saxena.
It’s not surprising then that most fans reacted with disbelief when the band, who released their third full-length album Hail Mogambo in September last year, announced in November that Krishnamoorthy is “going on an exile into other creative projects that are unable to co-exist with the band.” What becomes immediately evident is that no vocalist can match Krishnamoorthy’s skills be it as a rapper, man-of-many-voices, growler, all of which make him a phenomenal frontman. No one could possibly reel off the recipe for pav bhaji on “I Love You, Pav Bhaji,” or go into singing “Roop Suhana Lagta Hai” from 1994 Hindi film The Gentleman on “Ate A Banana.” Even on Hail Mogambo, Krishnamoorthy stepped up his game, climbing to next-level madness with speed rapping [“Cops Cops”] and covering at least five different voices on “The Fumanchurian.” After their performance at Weekender in Bengaluru, the band performed to a home crowd at the fifth edition of bike and music festival Harley Rock Riders in Mumbai. Unlike their Bengaluru set which had fans asking for Vishwesh, Mumbai metalheads knew that this was an all-new Scribe they were now experiencing, whether they liked it or not. Says Manasi Kale, who has been a Scribe fan since 2007, “I was sad [when I heard Vishwesh left] but I’m willing to give the new lineup a chance.” Kale points out that Basrur provided vocals on Scribe’s debut album Confect in 2008, but that Saxena is a new aspect — that of a second vocalist. Says Kale of Saxena, “Personally, I can see he has worked really hard and improved by leaps and bounds from when he played with Reverrse Polarity. But they still need a little time to adjust.” Mumbai-based Bobin James, programming head at music channel Pepsi MTV Indies and ardent metalhead says he was shocked when he heard about Krishnamoorthy’s exit from the band, but adds, “Everyone is averse to change — it doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad. You can replace Basrur’s name with anyone in that Scribe announcement post and people would still be saying things like ‘Scribe will never be the same’.” Indies hosted Scribe’s last set of shows with Krishnamoorthy, the Hail Mogambo album launch gig in Mumbai and Pune in September.
Krishnamoorthy, who formed Scribe with bassist Sunderrajan aka Vaas, guitarist Prashant Shah, drummer Niraj Trivedi and guitarist Akshay Rajpurohit in 2005, says his decision to leave the band was a tough one. The vocalist says that his job as a filmmaker and director often doesn’t allow him to commit to tour dates with Scribe. “A couple of times, we’ve let it go, but it comes to a point when you think of what is good for the band,” says Krishnamoorthy.
While Basrur and Saxena are immediately tasked with taking on all of Krishnamoorthy’s rapping, growling and a thousand other comic voices for the band’s current material, Vaas says that they chose the new members to be more than just live members. “We were looking for someone who can add to the songwriting side of things in the future, just like Vishwesh does.”
With more gigs in the works, including an auditorium show at Shanmukhananda Hall in Mumbai for SIES college’s annual rock show Thunderstuck on January 16th, the members also busy themselves with other projects — Vaas is funding for a new film, while Rajpurohit has launched his synth-based project Aqua Dominatrix. Basrur is also working to release his debut album with his year-old alt rock project Last Remaining Light, while drummer Virendra Kaith is a sessions drummer and performs for extreme metal band Demonic Resurrection. Just as Vaas mentioned to us earlier, “For us, it’s back to square one. But we’re with people we are comfortable with.”
This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of ROLLING STONE India.