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Rainbow Bridge Rebuild Sound

A five-rupee pipe and a few new songs to make it into new Rainbow Bridge record

Lalitha Suhasini Aug 25, 2009
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This is the story of most Indian bands – an endless wait to release ‘the album’ and slim chances of being picked up by a label. But that didn’t stop Chennai-band Rainbow Bridge’s guitarist Sanjeev Thomas from hammering out new songs, plugging into his gear and planning a new album by year end. DIY has been the road ahead for a few decades now for indie acts.

Thomas, apart from touring with AR Rahman for the ‘Jai Ho’ series of concerts, has been furiously working on the new album, he tells us when we meet up in Pune for one such gig. He’s already written two new songs – ‘Free Will’ and another which is yet to be titled – and plans on six more. “Life is simply but a choice/No freedom to free/Respect for who you are/And a vision for who you can be” – Thomas rattles off lyrics from ‘Free Will’ and tells us how the roots of this number are in his jaded views on life. “There’s this social conditioning, which is a big part of all our lives, and how we want each other to live in a certain way, but ultimately everybody is only concerned with himself,” he says. The second track, he lets in, will have a bit of Michael Jackson and R&B in it.

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Rainbow Bridge vocalist Benny Dayal, who is also in Pune with Thomas, is extremely kicked about the project too. Dayal besides lending his vocals will play a five-rupee instrument from Cuddapah on ”˜Free Will.’ “I was planning to use a nadaswaram in ”˜Free Will,’ and Benny played this instrument he bought made from a PVC pipe, a foil and some net. It’s awesome,” says Thomas. “I also have to figure out how all these tracks can be played out on stage.” The album will include older Rainbow Bridge tracks ”˜City Bus,’ ”˜Feel Me Now,’  ”˜Indian Jaadu,’ and ”˜Revolution.’

Thomas has chosen to programme a lot of the music for the album but promises that the entire band will get together for all the gigs. “It’s impossible to wait for the whole band to show up for the recording because they all have jobs. Benny and I are the only two full time musicians,” says the guitarist of the five-member band, which includes banker Wayne Fernandez on bass, percussionist/guitarist Salwin Alfred who works at a BPO and drummer Shyam Rao, who heads the IT section of a multinational.

Slated for a year-end release, this is just one of the things on Thomas’ plate this year. The guitarist also has a solo project in the works boiling away on the backburner – an acoustic album based on Syrian Christian hymns.

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The idea came about unexpectedly at a funeral in fact. “I’ve grown up singing these songs and know them better than any song that even I’ve written,” says Thomas. He agrees he went through a phase in his teens when he felt that “it was uncool to be singing all these songs,” just when his first band Buddha’s Babies came to be.

“These songs are not built on religion but they are a tradition that bring people together,” he says. He’s already uploaded a rough recording of ”˜Ente Sambanth,’ one of the Syrian Christian hymns that he has interpreted on his MySpace page. But for now, he’s busy burning his strings to pay for the Rainbow Bridge album out of his pocket. “I have big plans for the album,” says Thomas who has a studio built into his Chennai home. One of the plans is to shoot a video for ”˜Free Will,’ the first track to be released off the album.

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