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Artist to Watch Out For: Hungry

Barely two-year-old Bengaluru alt funk band Hungry draw from The Chilis and Avial, hope to release debut next year

Darshan Manakkal Jun 28, 2012
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While walking through the neighborhood of Seshadripuram in Bengaluru, you’d normally expect to hear strains of a Carnatic staple like “Lambodara Lakumikara”, possibly emerging from an old radio set in somebody’s drawing room. What you certainly don’t expect your ears to tune in to is a gushing hybrid of alternative rock and funk. When encountered with this somewhat incongruous but entirely agreeable auditory mix, we followed the sound to a tucked away room in the locality, where Hungry, the Bengaluru alt funk band meet to jam.

Hungry may have just fallen off the turnip truck ”“ they are barely two years old ”“ but are already making all the right noises. They recently played alongside Chennai alt-rockers and funk peddlers Franks Got The Funk, in a city mall much to the befuddlement of casual shoppers. In another mall gig a few months ago, some 2,000 people cheered the band on. Sprawled out on the carpeted floor of their jam room, evidently hungover from a long night of crapulence, the bleary-eyed members of the band told us about their short, yet incredible journey from the college fest circuit to air time on a local FM station. 

Hungry began life as an acoustic trio called Triangle. “As an acoustic group we were doing nothing worthwhile,” said Sonal Chittiappa, the band’s vocalist. “We were like three idiots on stage competing in acoustic events with these large a capella groups,” added lead guitarist Arun Ranganatha. After a few futile months spent trying to contend with choirs and suchlike, Chittiappa, Ranganatha and bassist Vinod Manikantan decided to plug in and found a rhythm guitarist in Vishwas Raghu and a drummer in Mahesh (who does not use a surname). In the year and a half since, they’ve graduated from college fests to the pub circuit and now, with enough original material, are even contemplating a debut record.

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The band, Manikantan informed us, draws its name from the Drive theory, a motivational theory in psychology which proposes that every human being has needs that have to be satisfied. “All our songs talk about different kinds of hunger,” he said. “Somehow my parents think all our songs are about sex,” Chittiappa chipped in. With some persuasion, band members confessed that indeed most of their songs are preoccupied with procreation, examples being tracks like “Deep Neck Beck” and “Keep Your Towel On”. “But we do have other tracks that are not entirely about sex, like ”˜Boombox House,’ which is about a marriage gone bad,” Chittiappa insisted. “Hungry Boy,” the only track they’ve recorded until now (in a home studio) is about ”“ you’ll never guess ”“ a hungry boy. The songwriting process for Hungry always begins with a text message sent out by Chittiappa. “And that message normally comes at 2.30 am,” Manikantan said. “The message is a sentence or a phrase that catches Sonal’s attention and then he builds a story around the sentence.”

Almost all of Hungry’s songs are punctuated by understated guitar work, leaving enough room for clear bass and rhythm lines, resulting in music that is refreshingly not self-indulgent. Yet, this is a band that is still trying to find their feet and their sound, and they have no qualms about it. You can trawl YouTube for early videos of the band, where on a track called “Rockahola”, they kick-off proceedings with a Coorgi warrior cry. “The last time we played that song on stage, Vishwa got electrocuted. So that song is a little jinxed for us,” Ranganatha claimed. “It didn’t work with the crowd and it didn’t work for us either, and so we stopped playing it,” he added. For now, gigs in pubs and restaurants offer opportunities to experiment as Hungry unleashes new sounds and tweaks on unsuspecting patrons, while trying to make sense of and synthesize their many influences including obscure acts like Mayfield Four and Logan, apart from more mainstream bands like Incubus and Red Hot Chili Peppers. They also cover Indian bands like Junkyard Groove and Avial in their live performances.

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The band hope “to have fans all over the country” in a year’s time.  In July, Hungry also plan to put out their first professionally recorded single, “Jungle Funk,” with an accompanying video. “Immediately,” Manikantan said, “we need a bath.”

Listen to “Hungry Boy” :


By Darshan Manakkal


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