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The F16s Talk New EP ‘Is It Time to Eat the Rich Yet?’ and Growing Closer

The Chennai indie band slap on shimmering synth over deadpan and irony-laced lyrics about love, life and the world on their latest

Anurag Tagat Nov 07, 2021

Chennai indie band The F16s. Photo: Prayoon Sajeev

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There’s an unmistakable sense of ironic dread heard on Chennai indie band The F16s’ new EP Is It Time to Eat the Rich Yet? which was released on October 22nd. Members Joshua Fernandez, Sashank Manohar, Abhinav Krishnaswamy and Harshan Radhakrishnan pepper passing references to state-authorized atrocities and discrimination in India, but lay it over distinctly roomy synths, dance-y rhythms and springing guitar lines.

Fernandez says the references heard on songs like “Easy Bake Easy Wake” and “The Apocalypse” were born out of time spent in the pandemic. “You wouldn’t process anything else apart from what’s going on in the world. We wrote about losing your mind inside a house, being locked up. Politics sort of played a part, so we started talking about things we usually don’t talk about,” the vocalist-guitarist adds.

The band’s bassist Sashank Manohar adds that the lyrics were “vivid” in talking about everyday occurrences right outside their homes. Even with their detailed artwork (shot and directed by Ashwin Mohan) which reflects the EP’s title – an anti-capitalist catchphrase – The F16s wanted to have fun and make people dance without “boring them or preaching too much.”

The finessed, shiny, happy outcome of this is The F16s cementing an unmistakable sonic imprint that most artists in India often chase; one that has gained them a steady following overseas and made them indie favorites in India. There’s buoyant drum work by Prabhu Muraleedharan and joyous horn sections injected by New Delhi-based Rohit Gupta from Peter Cat Recording Co. The F16s teamed up with music agency Pagal Haina as management around August 2020 and had a launch gig for the EP in New Delhi, complete with a cheeky menu, plus the members donning their golden jumpsuits and even giving tour manager Param Saran a haircut on stage.

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Behind these freewheeling antics, the band holds dear that Is It Time to Eat the Rich Yet? is entirely in-house and DIY, right from recording to mastering, conceptualizing artwork and even making music videos – Sashank directed and edited their first music video “I’m On Holiday” and brought on filmmaker/photographer Lendrick Kumar for “Easy Bake Easy Wake.” Fernandez declares the DIY ethic his proudest part about the release. “We were like a full-blown media company, but just a tasteful one,” he adds.

Manohar says it was by no means easy. “I think the fact that we’re still alive and breathing after putting up with each other, that’s the best part,” the bassist says with a chuckle. Within the band, Radhakrishnan says that they never had to delegate or pick up the slack either. He says, “We didn’t even have to tell the other person, ‘You need to do this.’ I think we all owned our position.”

The EP comes on the back of the band’s involvement in Chennai’s two-day event, the Circle of Love Festival in October. The F16s wasn’t on the lineup, but instead, they were all part of it individually; Fernandez performed as JBabe, Krishnaswamy hosted the open mic, Radhakrishnan took on his DJ moniker Henny and Manohar got behind the decks as well. It involved wandering into new territory in some sense, but they were on home turf. “I launched into just reading out trivia from the movie Jeans for a bit, and people got fed up really fast,” Krishnaswamy says about his brief stint hosting the open mic.

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Coupled with the pandemic, The F16s are more tightly knit together than ever. Krishnaswamy says the band members accepted that they were all going into new phases in their lives outside of the band. “For your band to have your back and vice versa, it’s always it’s a good place to be in,” the guitarist says.

With two slickly produced music videos already out and the launch gig done and dusted, The F16s have more in store. Manohar says, “We are working on interesting merch, interesting ways to interact with our fans. Like be a part of the Eat the Rich culture but not really cannibals, you know? Just want to have a good time but also understand what is going on.” Radhakrishnan adds, “It’s going to be a completely curated set and a curated tour, which should start in January.”

Listen to ‘Is It Time to Eat the Rich Yet?’ EP below Stream on more platforms here.

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