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Mumbai supergroup to record debut early next year

Rolling Stone IN Nov 08, 2008

Hashim Badani

This is the story of a band that owes its existence to a club. Six-member Hipnotribe, which is most of Kailasa and jam band Bombay Black ”“ Naresh Kamath (bass), brother Paresh Kamath (lead), Kurt Peters (drums), Sankarshan Kini (guitar, violin and flute), Sanket Atthale (percussion) and Abhijit Nalani (keys). If it hadn’t been for Blue Frog there would have been no Hipnotribe, or so says Paresh. “Dhruv [Ghanekar, Blue Frog partner] called me up one day to asked me what’s happening with Bombay Black and that I should perform at the Frog. I told him that Bombay Black wasn’t around anymore,” recalls Paresh, who has been jamming with Ghanekar since his Chakraview days. But the call fuelled the idea of setting up a band again. “When we’ve toured as Kailasa, we always discussed forming another band for an alternative form of music,” says Paresh. For Naresh, bands such as Avial and Hipnotribe are a sort of musical release. “Kailasa defines us in a public space but as a musician I want to explore different genres that may or may not have a mass appeal,” says Naresh. Bandmate Peters agrees that Hipnotribe approaches music from the artist’s point of view. “We’re thinking what works for us and it’s not about audience appeal,” says Peters who’s been lately listening to bands such as the Brit jazz electronica group The Cinematic Orchestra to hone his sound for Hipnotribe. “I’m working on a more minimal sound,” he adds.

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Strangely, the band name came first and then the sound says Paresh. Vibe Elevator was the second contender for band name but was unanimously voted out. Hipnotribe want to make dancey, intelligent music with dark grooves. “We want to make great songs that makes the crowd go wow and remember the dark grooves even after they’ve left the show,” says Paresh. Hipnotribe’s mad energy is infectious and fused with the varied influences of each of Hipnotribe artists. Peters is seeped in jazz and cut his teeth gigging with his bassist dad Karl, Kini is a hardcore classical fan with a soft spot for Western classical, Atthale has a fusion background having played tabla alongside the likes of Kishori Amonkar and percussion with the Indo-French group Foula and Nalani has electronica leanings.

“There are love songs, crazy songs and funk songs. Hipnotribe is more about the vibe than the sound and we aren’t really thinking of genres when we make music,” says Naresh. Paresh adds this has been the best band that he’s been with till date. “There were egos with all other bands ”“ Bombay Black, Crisis, Witch Hammer ”“ maybe because we were immature then,” he says, “But there’s some kind of a lock happening with Hipnotribe.”

It took five days to put down the first set of Hipnotribe tracks. “Shanky [Kini] had some tunes, Paresh and I had some stuff so we put it all together. It was new material with a new band at a new venue. We weren’t sure what was going to happen and there was this nervous energy,” says Naresh, the younger Kamath sibling, of the show that was held in February. Naresh admits candidly that the debut gig “didn’t go off too well,” but the video recording of the gig turned out to be the eye-opener. By the time Hipnotribe went on stage for their third gig, they understood their sound.

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The band’s songs too are drenched in the band’s free spirit. “Randolph [Correia of Pentagram, Shaa’ir + Func] and I went to Goa on the eve of 2005 and lived the good rock n roll life and came back feeling peaceful,” says Paresh. And that was when ”˜Holiday’ and ”˜Jungle Road’ came to be. If it’s not composing or rehearsing four times a week, then the band is playing XBox together. “It’s like family now ”“ we’ve been playing together for years now. Kurt and I have been playing since ’97,” says Paresh. Hipnotribe hopes to hit the studio early next year, and till then it will be a series of psychedelia, tribal, call it what you want the band says, but uninhibited and unhinged are key to any Hipnotribe gig. Most audiences will agree.


‘The Hunter’: A funk-driven beauty reminiscent of RHCP

‘Jungle Road’: A swaggering meld of thumpy bass and percussions.

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