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Sidd Goes Solo

Tough on Tobacco frontman Siddharth Coutto launches his new solo album this month

Sharin Bhatti Oct 18, 2011
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Tough on Tobacco frontman Siddharth Coutto launches his new solo album this month

Chai, cigarettes, a wide-screen monitor, a cloaked drumkit and a new playlist is how we find singer/songwriter Sidd Coutto sitting in his room, flipping through the virtual pages of his iPad. “I just Googled how to sell your album on Flipkart. I’m going solo,” says Coutto, immersed in his research, while we spend the next thirty minutes, listening to the first scratch of his new solo album, Sunny Side Up, which will release on October 5 and will be available online and at gig stalls.

Funny, dark, satirical, twisted, melodic, the eight songs on this album is everything we have known Sidd Coutto to be ”“ actor, storyteller, singer, performer and jester rolled into one. And now, with this album, he’s turned producer, manager, graphic designer (he sat and made the album cover and inlay all by himself on Photoshop), distributor (that’s why the Flipkart research) and booking agent. But the change is not due to choice, but circumstance. “I am terrible at following up and was tired of waiting for people to get the show on the road. Everyone is busy and I have a serious problem. I am always writing songs and if I don’t record them, I will forget them,” says Coutto, whose creative conscious is forever writing melodies ”“ be it on marijuana, as his famous gig-closing song ”˜Smoke Some Ganja’ that he wrote with his band Helga’s Fun Castle years ago. Or the last one to make it to the album, ”˜Aim to Please.’ Coutto recently released the first single of the album, ”˜Free’ for free download, which seems to be the perfect liberating prelude to what he is now, flying solo.

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“When I started out with the album, there were 20 songs, which my friend chopped down to eight,” he points at friend and gig-aid, Hans Dalal, who’s mixed Sunny Side Up. “That’s all we need, him and I, to fly down, do a gig and come back home. No nonsense, no waiting for people, no bad marketing with only ten people coming up for your gig. This here is my self-best effort,” says Coutto, who has played and programmed all the instruments on the album, including the trumpet. “It took me two months to record and produce the album. I asked some friends to drop in and help. It’s a pro-bono effort,” says Coutto, for whom the album is nothing but everyday musings.

“That’s how I write a song. I pick up the guitar, I strum a rhythm and I start singing. That is really how I work. That’s also what I have been trying to do at all my gigs. Bring that impromptu energy by doing something unexpected,” says Coutto, whose stagecraft really has no craft. He pretty much has as much fun on stage as he would while laughing at some inane joke, which he most likely cracked. And he has maintained that even as the frontman of his three-year-old band Tough on Tobacco, playing drums for Ankur Tewari and the Ghalat Family and while he gets busy being an actor on the screen.

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“Do you know how the entire material on the Tough on Tobacco’s first album happened? I wrote all of it, while waiting for my set call sitting in a vanity van while shooting for Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye,” Sidd recreates the entire sequence of events, even as he tells us he’ll be next seen in Soundtrack, which is slated to release in August.

Coming back to Sunny Side Up, Coutto also has a fair idea on how he will program his live concerts. “It will be me, laptops, iPads and the mike and Hans on the mixer. And there will be a lot of improv songs. It won’t be a tight gig with rehearsed sound, it’ll be spontaneous. I have been dying to do just that,” says Coutto, whose most hilarious impromptu performance was perhaps at a gig, where he ended the night, with an ode to different coloured bras and panties, following a full-disclosure day on Facebook.

“I do have a wish list. I do want to make the music and get on top of the scene and add variety. For now though, I am happy doing what I am, even sitting on my terrace,” Coutto says, who will be selling his album through Flipkart, and iTunes. Plus there will be music videos. “Yes, that is a magic show,” Coutto closes the conversation with a quizzical, raised-eyebrow expression.

Photographs: Roycin D’Souza, Monisha Ajgaonkar

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