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Jose Neil Gomes Goes Solo

After a long stint with bands like Kailasa and Hipnotribe, the popular multi-instrumentalist is now armed with a slew of indie EPs

Anurag Tagat Sep 07, 2015
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Mumbai-based multi-instrumentalist Neil Jose Gomes has been working on 81 songs to release as three-track EPs every month until 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Jose Neil Gomes has been working on 81 songs to release as three-track EPs every month until 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist.

There’s a running joke in the local music circuit where every time an artist promises that their album or EP will release “later this year”, it is often understood as a euphemism for it to see the light of day only after two years. But the situation seems very different in the case of Jose Neil Gomes. The Mumbai multi-instrumentalist has been working on 81 songs to release as three-track EPs every month until 2017. Says Gomes, who has previously played with the likes of Kailash Kher, Hipnotribe, Sunidhi Chauhan as well as alt rockers Tough On Tobacco, “I’m already looking back on these songs because I’m done in my head. It’s just about clearing your cupboard.”

When Gomes moved from Goa to Mumbai in 2007 to pursue journalism, he got pulled into music while playing in college bands, picked up by singer-songwriter Sidd Coutto [from Tough on Tobacco, Zero and Helga’s Fun Castle] the same year and got introduced to the independent music scene. Although Gomes continued playing sessions, his next big break came in 2012, when he joined folk rock band Kailasa, led by singer Kailash Kher. Gomes wrote his solo material while traveling but when sessions work and commercial projects took over, he barely had the time to record his own music. Says Gomes, “I just came home [from gigs] and crashed. I never wanted to record. This year, I made that resolution, though.” What was the inspiration? Well like anyone who’s read a few inspirational quotes would know best, it was travel. After holidaying in Europe earlier this year, Gomes returned to Mumbai in July and tapped sound engineer Pruthu Parab to record his first three-track EP Systematic, which released in August under the moniker Stitch In Nine. Gomes explains that he likes the numbers nine and three, originally conceptualizing nine albums featuring nine tracks each. “But that wouldn’t work ”“ it’s too much running around to do,” says Gomes. Instead, he and Parab are spending 15 days each month to record three songs, with drummer Vibhas Rahul and bassist Manas Chowdhary.

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While Systematic is a mostly guitar-bass-drums offering that’s straight-up rock about systems that are ingrained within us, whether it’s hoarding [“In My House”] or capitalism [“Harmless Lion”], Gomes’ second EP, Sensitive, is a reaction to being bound by systems. Gomes says, “We take everything so seriously. We’re so sensitive about everything.” With a more laid-back, funkier sound, Sensitive, which releases this month, is Gomes’ chance to add a slight bit of electronic music influence, specifically drum and bass. He sings about dependence [“Mr. Candyman”] and living at your pace in a fast city like Mumbai [“Slowbird”]. Following that, Gomes changes themes for a radio-friendly EP called Stereo Out, due in October, where he’ll include a horn section, a string section [Gomes also plays violin and cello] and throw in an all-out electric guitar track called “Catch 23” which takes its name from the time signature it follows and is produced by well-known jazz guitarist Sanjay Divecha. Says Gomes, “It’s the kind of music you’d hear on the stereo, or on the radio.”

While there are plans to release music videos for songs off Systematic and then also take Stitch In Nine live with his existing material, Gomes has quit one commercial project and founded Three Shy Men, a jam band with drummer/percussionist Anand Bhagat and guitarist Karan Sajnani [both from psychedelic/world music band Tribal Flora]. Says Gomes, “For the past three years, I didn’t play any indie gigs and I felt bad about that. Now I just want to stick to it.”

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Stream Gomes’ first three-track EP ‘Systematic’ here.

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