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Pentagram Turns Introspective

Why India’s biggest rock band felt the need to look inwards on their latest album

Bobin James Apr 05, 2011

How did ”˜Bloodywood’ come about? Did you tell yourselves that you have to sit down and write an album, or you just put down songs for whenever the album happens?

Vishal: We were about six or seven ideas down. The first one we really wrote was ”˜Must I,’ at Randolph’s place. Randolph and I were jamming and we brought that to the band room and I think the day we played ”˜Must I,’ we also wrote the ideas”¦ all four of us wrote the ideas for ”˜In My Head’”¦

Shiraz: ”¦ and ”˜Mental Zero’”¦

V: And ”˜Let Go,’ from just bashing them out that day. And then they kinda grew from there. Then suddenly we realised that we were on the way. And at about six or seven songs in, we started to listen to what we were talking about. We always said that our environment affects us as musicians, but this time around it was much stronger, especially I think because of ”˜Mental Zero.’ That song kind of drove us in that direction.

Randolph: The “have to sit down and write an album” thing happened two years ago. We were like, “Let’s make a new album. We have to do this. People are asking for the album.” But obviously it didn’t happen then. And I guess maybe because we were feeling it in the back of our minds that this album was to become one of our best works yet. Also, most honest works yet. It was supposed to be something that really flowed from within us, and everyone being really happy and content with whatever was coming out. So I think it was one of those things where it didn’t keep happening for a reason.

Two years ago, I bounced off so many ideas to Vishal that I had and I keep writing stuff. And he was like “Let’s try another one; this is not happening; that’s not happening.” Fair enough. And we tried a few times. Some of it was happening, some of it not happening.

Cut to like four months earlier. I was playing him the same grooves and it was making sense. Of course, he thought they were different grooves. So obviously there’s a time for something. There’s a time when it clicks. There’s obviously something in the universe that makes it all happen at that particular time when it’s meant to happen. And now was when it all fucking connected – like 3-4 months ago. It just fell into place and it was all coming together. And it was beautiful, man. It’s one of the most beautiful ways of writing an album. There was absolutely no stress. There was absolutely no wanting, no trying hard”¦

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No point to prove?

R: No, absolutely no point to prove. This is going back to where we were. With the electronic stuff or with the earlier albums, we had to prove something. We had to make a statement. We were pushing the limits, because there was nobody else pushing the limits. That’s why we made Up. That’s why we made It’s Okay, It’s All Good. To inspire other people, telling them that “Hey, we are doing this. You also do it, do your own thing. Blast it out.”

And now that this thing’s already there, [we said] let’s do what Pentagram’s about, and not really worry about where we’re gonna fit in. We’ll fit in. We’ve established our place.

V: It was organic. It just happened. Like, ”˜This Could Get Ugly’ I had actually forgotten about. Randolph had a loop, a very basic loop – not what you hear on the track at all right now. And I sang to that in that room over there. Just a loop. It just kept going and I sang it over that, and forgot all about it. It was just like an idea. And then three months or so later, he got into the band room in Juhu, and he said, “Man, check this out” and he played it. I said, “Fuck, it’s a good song, man. Where did it come from?” [laughs] So it’s literally like that.

This is probably the most obvious question, but how did the name ”˜Bloodywood’ come about?

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V: It is the most obvious question, but it’s important that people get the idea right. The thing is Bollywood, our mainstream, is so heard and so kind of loud in Bombay but simultaneously in the same place, at the same time, there is this whole other undercurrent, this whole other scene that’s going on which is so vibrant, so unique and so special. It’s just fructifying now, the whole thing. So there’s that similarity which is why the names are similar. But it’s entirely different, which is why the connotations are so totally different. Whereas “Bollywood” is a kind of a bit of a degrading nickname for the Indian film industry, “Bloodywood” represents the collective subculture that exists alongside that without virtually having anything to do with it.

R: It was one of those things where we had the album name from before. We didn’t wanting Bloodywood to be typically anti-Bollywood, or representing the negative underbelly of the city – bomb blasts and all that crap. We wanted it to be representing who we are in this city, more in a blood, sweat and tears kind of fashion. This is us in a hard working city. And ”˜Bloodywood’ just a term that represents this vibe of ours, speaking for the minds of all the others who have the same emotions. It’s speaking the emotional status of the city, the emotional status of the country maybe, or rather the youth of the country. Or anyone in the country who feels that we need a better future.

So “Bloodywood” in that sense, is the new dance, the new music, the new art; it’s the current Bombay that’s working hard towards the common goal, the common change. But it’s really only representative of that. We didn’t really want to make it a theme-based album or anything, because then it would have gone against our instinctive nature of just flowing with whatever comes along. It might become contrived. We just knew we had a brilliant name and it represented who we were.

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