In The Studio: Spud In The Box
The Mumbai-based pop rock band have a storm of ideas for their upcoming 12-track release
Between endless tracking, tedious re-takes and procrastination ”” the process of cutting an album lies somewhere between being a labor of love and a musician’s worst nightmare. But for Mumbai band Spud In The Box, the studio is a playground. Says Rohan Rajadhyaksha, vocalist/keyboardist of the six-piece pop rock band, “There’s a Fender Rhodes electric piano which we bought third hand and refurbished, a sustain pedal which we built out of wood. There’s a grand piano, a ukulele, a whammy pedal. Thirteen electric guitars that we’ve got from different places ”” a seven-string, a Jackson, a 100-year old acoustic Gibson guitar, there’s a Gretsch. We’d have to send you a list and even then we’d forget a few instruments we’ve used.”
When we meet the band, they are at Yash Raj Films Studios in Mumbai and in the process of recording their as yet untitled debut album. Produced by KJ Singh, who has worked with Bollywood composer A. R. Rahman, Delhi folk rock band Indian Ocean, and Rabbi Shergill, Spud In Box are confident that their new album will reflect a more matured sound. Of course, the band is also Singh’s pet project since his son is in it. Beginning as a two-member act comprising vocalist/guitarist Ankit Dayal and Rajadhyaksha, the band formed in 2011 and has grown to include drummer Joshua Singh, bassist Zubin Bhathena as well as guitarists Siddharth Talwar and Singh’s son Hartej Sawhney. Says Rajadhyaksha, “KJ’s been a lot more hands on for the last two years, he was with us on tour and he’s really been a mentor to us.” After releasing their first EP Attention Please last year, the band members have grown more comfortable with each other and with their producers. Adds guitarist Sawhney, “Producers are really helpful because they’re not part of the band and they have no emotional investment in the music. You may think, ”˜Oh, this is the best thing I’ve ever made!’ But as a third party he’ll tell you to take it again, change a part or change a tone. Once a snare sound wasn’t coming out well, so [sound engineer] Shantanu [Hudlikar] added a tiny reverb. It was a minute change, but it changed everything.”
Over the last few years, the band has gained a massive following across the country and has performed at festivals such as NH7 Weekender in Pune and The M.A.D Festival in Ooty. Known for their high-energy sets, the members of Spud In The Box are still learning how to translate their on-stage chemistry in their studio recordings. Says Sawhney, “We’re fucking loud. When you play music live, you think about how the music is going to sound and how it’s going to make people feel. So when you’re going from one to the other, it takes you a while to get the hang of it.”
Though they currently have a catalogue of 18-20 songs for their debut, they plan to narrow the number down. Says Sawhney, “On this album, we flip between genres, but we want all of it to sound three dimensional so there’s layers of keys, layers of guitars, so that every time you listen to it you find something new.” While audiences have heard several of the tracks on the new album at their live shows, the band promises that there will be more than enough surprises. Says Rajadhyaksha, “We wouldn’t want to be in a six-piece band if we didn’t want to try different things. We want to see how far we can take things and how different we can make the music sound. It’s a little more chaotic, but the result will be a lot more colorful.”
The album will feature 12 songs, including “More Than Once,” “Head Rush,” “Until We Fall” and “Make A Wish” and is slated for release early next year. Says Rajadhyaksha, “For a few songs we’re going into progressive territory, some are completely old school jazz or pop. There’s a punk song in there, an alt song in there. But at the end of the day, someone should be able to connect to it, it can’t be indulgent.